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Inside Influence: Conversation With Chris and Heidi Powell

I spoke to Chris and Heidi Powell - social media influencers, transformation specialists, former co-hosts of ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss," and the creators of the comprehensive fitness app TRANSFORM - about their best advice

Photo Credit: James Patrick
Photo Credit: James Patrick

Adam: What is something about you that many people who follow you don’t know?

Chris: I never intended to be a personal trainer and coach. While I have always been passionate about fitness, I actually planned to be an airline pilot. I got my private pilot’s license when I was 17, then went on to receive my commercial, instrument, multi-engine, and instructor ratings while I was attending college. I actually had an airline interview scheduled for Sept 13, 2001 – which, needless to say didn’t happen. Shortly after, I decided to give up on flying and pursue my passion – fitness. It all worked out pretty well!

Heidi: That’s a tough question, because I think I might actually err on the side “over sharing” on social media! But one thing many people that follow me might not realize is that I love the business side of what we do. I was born into a family of businessmen with three brothers who toughened me up and taught me the ropes. It’s in my blood, and I love pairing the fast-paced, yet methodical, strategy with our passions!

Adam: How did you get here? How did you become an “influencer?”

Chris: I initially became an influencer through traditional media – television, radio, and print. That work translated over to social media, where I’m still learning how to use this revolutionary platform to connect with followers.

Heidi: By doing what I love, and by being me- plain and simple. There really is nothing else to it.

Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in working with influencers? How do you decide who to work with?

Chris: Make sure that the influencer’s message resonates with your audience, has a similar tone to yours, and that their message can bring genuine value to your followers. Connect with the influencer before committing to a collaboration and get to know them.  

Heidi: Make sure you are choosing influencers who can truly and passionately represent your brand. Sometimes they might be a little pricier if you are hiring for a for-pay deal, but your dollars and efforts will go MUCH further when there is authenticity, appreciation, and passion behind what they are promoting. Also, keep in mind that when you work with genuinely passionate (and genuine!) people, the doors are opened for a relationship that could equate to much more down the road.

Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming influencers?

Chris: Be totally authentic and real. My wife Heidi always told me: “People don’t want perfect, they want YOU!” Post share-able content and bring value to your people! Educate them, inspire them, move them and make them laugh. Finally, be consistent. You don’t have to post every day, but avoid cluster-posting and then going dark for days.

Heidi: It sounds so corny, but you MUST believe in yourself. I promise you there will be more people that do not believe in you than people that do. You cannot let that take you down or detour you from the journey you are on. If you are going to make it in this industry, you have to use that negativity and lack of belief from others to fuel your fire.

Also, KNOW YOUR MESSAGE! There will be opinions flying at you from a million directions as you start to build your brand, but you have to stay firm in your beliefs and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Adam: What is the biggest misconception about the influencer world and life as an influencer?

Chris: It seems that most people think when you reach a certain number of followers, you automatically have a built-in business. That is NOT the case at all! To build an ongoing business that lasts, you need to create something of value and surround yourself with a solid team to run operations, advertising, marketing, monetization, finance, etc.

Heidi: I’m sure you’ve gotten this same answer a million times, but the biggest misconception is that influencers have all “made it.” People have this idea that when you have a large following, you’re suddenly rolling in the big bucks and living the high life. That is absolutely not true! I have friends with 2 million plus followers that are still struggling to figure out how to monetize and maximize their brands. POPULARITY DOES NOT EQUATE TO FINANCIAL SUCCESS OR HAPPINESS.

Adam: What has being an influencer taught you about branding and marketing? What are your three best marketing and branding tips?

Chris: 1. Do as many collaborations with other influencers as you can – of course making sure that their message has some sort of overlap with yours. 2.Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Know your audience and continue to speak to them, giving them content that they want and need. Consistency will anchor your brand! 3.You are doing your followers a disservice if there is no regular call to action. Before we learned this lesson, we spent years inspiring and motivating, but never giving the steps necessary to grow and progress. If you don’t tell them what to do or where to go after your message, you will leave them lost. It is your responsibility to lead them to the next step!

Heidi: One lesson I have yet to mention is that it has taught me to be flexible in my approach. What worked for me last year as an influencer most likely will not work for me this year. The world is constantly evolving, as are you and your followers. You have to give people what they want today, not what they wanted yesterday.

Second, you must listen to your audience. You need to learn how to both LISTEN and DELIVER what they want without compromising your message or brand.

Finally, BE CONSISTENT. This is a difficult thing to do with our busy lives, so try and commit to a pattern of posting or delivering content that actually works. Be realistic about what you can do.

Adam: Who are the best leaders you have been around and what have you learned from them? What do you believe everyone should know about leadership?

Chris: In our years, we have worked with a LOT of bosses and a few leaders. No single leader comes to mind that truly stands out, but we have learned some very important characteristics that we choose to take from the few.

There are bosses and there are leaders. Bosses tell others what to do, and typically operate through fear, using the constant threat of being replaced. Leaders will jump into the trenches to work WITH YOU, challenging you to take on greater responsibility until you have the skill and experience to handle the job on your own. They use positive reinforcement, accountability, and regular reporting to gauge your performance. Leaders are fair, communicate clearly and authentically, and seek to understand all perspectives when making difficult decisions.

Heidi: As crazy as it sounds, the best leaders I know are people that actually work FOR me and Chris. We have some of the best employees and partners, and I’ve been lucky to have a few really great ones that have lead their teams or departments like champs. And believe it or not, my assistant has some of the best qualities I like to see in a leader. She’s compassionate and will never speak an ill word about anyone, she takes responsibility when she messes up, and works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.

A few more leaders:

BK Boreyko is the most generous CEO I’ve ever met. I love this man!

My Grandpa, who is the most generous and unconditionally loving business owner on earth.

Finally, Chris. I mean, I can’t think of a leader that can successfully enroll more people in a mission to change the world. Not only does he get them on board, but he empowers them all to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve anything they set their minds to.

One thing everyone should know about being a leader is that the best ones listen far more than they talk. They understand far deeper than they seek to be understood.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Chris: Being a parent- I know it’s not much of a hobby, but it seems to have taken all of the “hobby time” I had in the past. But honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world! The most obvious (and sincere) answer on how it has shaped me is that it has shown me what unconditional love is. It has also opened my eyes to the power of being a role model, and how it doesn’t matter how much you tell them to do something, they only will want to do what they SEE you doing yourself.

Any other “free time” is spent working out. We only need to cut out about 30 minutes to 1 hour daily for ourselves. Physical Fitness is so much more than just being in good shape. It teaches discipline, consistency and priorities –when you create the time to work on your health, you are happier and healthier, so you can be your best self for everyone around you.

Heidi: My hobbies include chipping away at my to-do list. LOL #KiddingNotKidding. I need hobbies! Any suggestions for me?

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