Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional
#85: Jacob Tobia Shares How to Build a Personal Brand Platform with Meaning

Jenn T. Grace – Episode 85 – Jacob Tobia Shares How to Build a Personal Brand Platform with Meaning


Jenn T Grace:              You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 85.


Introduction:              Welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast; the podcast dedicated to helping LGBTQ professionals and business owners grow their business and careers through the power of leveraging their LGBTQ identities in their personal brand. You'll learn how to market your products and services both broadly, and within the LGBTQ community. You'll hear from incredible guests who are leveraging the power of their identity for good, as well as those who haven't yet started, and everyone in between. And now your host. She teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn - with two N's - T Grace.


Jenn T Grace:              Well hello and welcome to episode 85 of the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today I am so excited to bring you an interview. It's been a couple of episodes since we've had an interview, and this is going to be the first of probably eight or nine to come over the next couple of months. So I'm really excited, and I'm not going to make this intro long at all, but I do want to let you know that we are talking with Jacob Tobia today who is a leading voice for genderqueer, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people. We discussed in great length what it means to be genderqueer, or gender nonconforming, and talked to some degree about the political landscape that our country is in right now. Jacob is originally from North Carolina, so we got a chance to talk a little bit about the bathroom bills in North Carolina. But what we really focused our time on was really just kind of dissecting this whole spectrum of gender, and the fact that it is a nonbinary spectrum. And I asked a lot of pointed questions and Jacob had some amazing, amazing answers to them. So I really hope that you learn something from this interview, and then also follow Jacob on social media; they're on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, all over the place, and the website is and you can get all sorts of information about them there. And yeah, so I really hope that you enjoy this interview, it was really awesome, and I will talk to you in episode 86. Thanks so much, and enjoy.


Jacob Tobia:                At a 30,000 foot view, I'm Jacob, I am a genderqueer writer and speaker and media person, and some would even say a personality perhaps. And I grew up in North Carolina and went to school in North Carolina, and now I live in New York City. And my sort of mission right now, and my mission probably for a good bit of my life, is just sort of getting beyond this idea that there are only two genders. Getting beyond the idea that gender is somehow this oppositional exercise, but there are only two options that you can understand yourself within. And starting to see what a world could look like that understood gender as thousands of possibilities as part of the spectrum, as it actually is. You know? And it's something that the idea of sort of like convincing the world of this feels daunting at times, but then other times I also have to remind myself that historically there have been points throughout the world, and across cultures, and across time where people already understood this. I don't think that what I'm saying is necessarily anything new in the context of like people and history. I think it's just something that in sort of the modern world that we live in, and particularly in the context of the United States, is something people need to hear again if that makes sense.


Jenn T Grace:              I think so.


Jacob Tobia:                I do a lot of different kinds of work around that from- I did like reality TV last year, I was on an episode of MTV's True Life, but I also do a lot of writing, and [Inaudible 00:04:24] and that kind of work, and then do some political organizing, and also I'm working on a book, and all that kind of stuff. So it's a broad range of things, and all that's leading towards I think the idea of gender nonconforming, and gender nonbinary folks being able to reclaim our full humanity.


Jenn T Grace:              So if someone's listening to this, and this is a podcast about kind of personal branding for LGBTQ professionals, and if someone's listening to this and they may not be completely entrenched in what it means to be genderqueer or nonbinary or gender nonconforming. How would you give kind of a high level overview of the best way to describe that, to get somebody who may not fully understand what you're saying to really just kind of land the plane for them?


Jacob Tobia:                Yeah I mean I think nonbinary gender is really brilliantly simple when you get down to it, right? Every system in nature, every system in the world that we live in has nuance and is built across a wide array of representations, right? Anytime you categorize something, there are going to be things in between the categories that you've created. Especially when you create two categories for a wide array of types of people. So I think a lot about gender like I think about color. The visible color spectrum, if you try to divide the visible color spectrum into two types of color, you're going to have a very difficult time parsing out many of the shades, and figuring out sort of where they belong. And I think what the nonbinary movement, and what genderqueer people sort of claim is that it's okay to sort of say, 'Well we have this world where we're classifying people as warm colors and cool colors, and I'm actually kind of like a yellow green.' Like I'm somewhere in the middle of that, and actually all of us are somewhere in the middle of that, and no one of us really matches the architype of this sort of general thing that we've created. So in short form, I think that's a kind of good way to explain it and a good way to conceptualize it. The idea that lumping people into two categories of gender is sloppy. People fall all over the map.


Jenn T Grace:              And just as you were talking I was thinking about how there have been times where my wife and I will be talking, and both trying to- because I feel like there's this stereotype that in any type of same sex relationship, that somebody is going to be the more masculine one, or somebody's going to be the more feminine one. There's just kind of the people want to put us all into these very rigid buckets, and we've had conversations before where neither of us fall in either direction to an extreme. Like we're both in this very much a gray area. So that's for us who are more enlightened to the varied spectrum, if you will. What do you say to the straight folks who may be falling in this gender spectrum somewhere, but don't even recognize that they're falling in it? Have you had audiences where you're talking to folks like this? Because I think of- if I think back to a job I had well over a decade ago, there was a woman who I worked with who everyone made this assumption that she was a lesbian, everyone did, and she was not, she was married to a man and just happened to fall on this gender expression spectrum, and everyone just assumed that that's who she was and she was hiding. So do you encounter people that need education around I guess that type of component to it as well? Am I making sense?


Jacob Tobia:                Yeah so I have a few reactions to that, right? I think one feeling that I have increasingly is that there's a really strong degree to which sexuality and gender identity have been conflated in pop culture that's really to the detriment of everybody, right? Because a lot of times- and I think it's really interesting when you look at sort of discourse through the nineties and early 2000's around LGBT rights, or a lot of times in that period, gay rights. A lot of things that we're talked about as anti-gay were actually anti-femme, right? Or anti a certain kind of gender expression. And they used the word gay as a sort of coverall, but like I think it's really interesting talking about this woman at your office who was more masculine and was assumed to be a lesbian. Like the adversity that she faced has probably little to do- like the primary root of the adversity she faced was that she was gender nonconforming, right? Not that she had- the perceived sexuality came secondarily to that, right?


Jenn T Grace:              Correct.


Jacob Tobia:                So I think that it's interesting when we talk about gay and lesbian folks in the context of gender diversity, and oftentimes there are deep gender issues within the community that impact some people and don't impact others because we aren't good at applying the label gender nonconforming to ourselves and others, right? Because it's interesting when you sort of said like, "Oh well how would you talk to straight folks about this?" First my gut reaction, my initial reaction was like well actually I mean how do you talk to gay folks about it? Like I actually think that in this sort of modern understanding of gay and lesbian identity, most gay and lesbian folks that I know are relatively attached to their identity as men or women. Most people who use the word gay or lesbian that I know don't dis-identify with the gender binary.


Jenn T Grace:              Good point.


Jacob Tobia:                Don't identify outside of manhood or womanhood. And so I think that there's a lot of education that we need to do within our own community around creating safer spaces for gender expression, and allowing people the ability to express themselves. So I think it's making the imperative for understanding one that only applies to heterosexual folks is really limits the scope is a way that doesn't keep the LGBT community accountable to its own prejudice, because we have a great number of prejudices baked into our community because we are a really wide diverse community, right? Like there have been masculine gay men who have been worse to me as a femme than straight men have been. Like and I think it's important to mark that, that this isn't- like gender nonconformity is not innately understood by people because they are gay or lesbian if their gender identity has always fallen within the lines. So there's sort of that thought. I know it's a complicated kind of like answer.


Jenn T Grace:              No I think this is great.


Jacob Tobia:                The other thought that I have around sort of how you talk to people who identify in a binary way about the fact that they are also on a spectrum of gender. And I think it's actually not very hard. I don't think it's rocket science to talk to people about where they fall on the gender spectrum because everyone, even people who identify as men or as women, have had moments where their gender was policed, or they've policed the gender of somebody else. And the one thing that's been really cool that I've seen involved in my work over the past year or so, I started doing more and more speaking, more and more public speaking, and talking all kinds of places. I gave a talk at Princeton Theological Seminary to a very religious audience, I've given talks to high schools and middle schools, I've given talks at colleges to radical queers, I've given talks to corporate audience; I've been talking in a lot of different types of rooms, but it's interesting because every room, no matter what the sort of political leanings of the room are, or how queer the room is or not, it's been incredible that kind of the same core message resonates with people in the same way. When I ask people, "When was a time when you were told that you were not good enough because of the way you were performing your gender. When was a time that you were told that you couldn't do something because it wasn't something that boys or girls do?" And every single person I have ever spoken to in my entire life has an answer to that question, and has a moment they remember when their gender was policed. And I think that that's where we can really think about like this is something that's fundamental to all of humanity, right? Like everyone experiences this, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to sort of mainstream the discourse because it necessarily is baked into everyone's experience. So I just got better at tapping into that and talking to people honestly about that. And probably my biggest moment of triumph in that regard was that I spoke to a high school in lower Manhattan actually, and I was talking to this group of high schoolers, and gave my whole presentation, and at the end of it I said, "I'd love to hear from some of you. Like when are moments that you have had your gender policed, or been told that your gender was not acceptable?" And it's easy I think given where we come and sort of how we talk about femininity versus masculinity culturally; it's easier for young girls to talk about ways in which their gender has been policed or their gender has limited them. I think that young women and femmes are taught from an early age to think about their gender broadly, right? I think to think about their gender as a [Inaudible 00:13:20]. Whereas I think that a lot of young boys and young men and young masculine people aren't taught to think about their gender as something other than a static entity. They're not taught to interrogate it or think about it. So in the context of a high school assembly, it's pretty easy for a girl to stand up and socially acceptable almost for a girl to stand up and say, "Oh well I was told that I couldn't play this sport because that wasn't girly enough." Or "I was told that I wasn't allowed to wear my hair a certain way because that's not what girls are supposed to do." But getting young men to stand up in front of their peers in a classroom setting and say something about how their gender has been policed is a lot harder, and one of the biggest markers of success for me, is if I can get men in the audience to talk critically about their gender, then I know that people have really heard me. And I was in this assembly, and I was talking to 150 high school students, and it was the end of the assembly and at the end of it I asked that question, and a few girls answered, and then I said, "Is there anyone who identifies as a guy who would be willing to answer this? Is there anyone who's courageous enough to step up to talk about it? I mean I've told a million examples in my life of when this has happened, but like is someone willing to talk about this in their own experience? Because I know that ya'll have been through it." And this one guy just raised his hand and he seemed to be like one of the cool kids or whatever, and he was just like, "Yeah I'm Brazilian, and in Brazilian culture guys dance a lot. And when I moved to the US, people told me that I wasn't- that it was too girly to dance the way that I dance. But like I'm going to keep dancing the way that I dance because I'm awesome." And I was just sort of like- it was a real moment for me when he felt able to speak to the ways in which the policing of masculinity had hurt him, or had sought to interfere with his authenticity. So I think that this bridge is not that hard to build, we just need to create the space for it. I think you just need to create the time and the place for people to think about these things critically.


Jenn T Grace:              And do you find that there are more people or even a percentage of people within the LGBTQ community that are more critical of what you're doing? Because for me personally, I find that there is a very big divide, a little bit of what you were touching on a few minutes ago, between people who identify as lesbian and gay versus even people who identify as trans. There seems to be this divide that not everyone understands each other. And then there's the argument that not everyone should be lumped under the same umbrella. So for you who this is what you're doing for a living, you are out there advocating on behalf of this particular subject, do you find that trying to move the needle within the L, G piece of the community tends to be a rough road at times?


Jacob Tobia:                To be frank, I generally have really positive interaction with folks who identify as lesbian. Because I think that within queer women's communities and within lesbian women's communities, there has always been kind of baked in an appreciation for gender diversity, and like you could be butch or you could be femme, and if you're a queer woman both of those are attractive positions. Like I know butch women who date other butch women, I know femme women who date other femme women, I know butches who date femmes, like I know femmes who date butches, and that is sort of baked into the experience of so many queer women that I know. And there's sort of this- I think this real freedom there in queer and lesbian women's communities that I deeply admire. I don't think that most of the queer lesbian women that I've talked to have really had any kind of deep issues with the message that I'm bringing. Because also I'm very quick to note that the message I'm bringing into the community is not really a new one. It's not a new one at all. Like gender nonconforming people have been part of the queer community since the queer community started, and will always be. I think it's just that in the context of the current LGBT movement, one that has focused for a decade now on assimilation and sort of mainstreaming our bodies and ourselves- and making ourselves palatable to the 'moveable middle.' I think that in that context we've really lost a lot of our roots. We've really lost a lot of the natural and fabulous understanding of gender diversity that queer community has always had in the interest of gaining political rights. So the people that I really have issues with are the gay men. What it really comes down to for me is just unresolved trauma. There are so many gay men out there who were just bullied mercilessly, or have felt isolated for their entire lives, and they finally get to a city where they can feel okay, and then they have a very defensive, aggressive and closed minded masculinity that when they see someone who's femme and unashamed and happy about it like I am, it can be hard. Because it's kind of like when you haven't recovered and you haven't healed, and you see someone who's done that healing, it can engender a lot of jealousy, it can bring about a lot of pain, or there's like some trauma that you just haven't coped with that you don't know how to cope with, and you're not ready for someone like me to sashay in the room and remind you of that.


Jenn T Grace:              Yeah.


Jacob Tobia:                And you know my thing is I'm kind of like- it's hard for me because I want to get angry and frustrated with cis gay men for being so exclusionary, and in the context of political worlds I do. Like I also am a queer historian in my academic community, and the sort of degree to which gay white men in particular sort of whitewashed and masculine washed the gay rights movement, and made gay something synonymous with being cisgender, and with being gender conforming, and with being two dudes in tuxes at a wedding alter. Like the way in which gay men proactively created and then recreated images of the most palatable types of gay men I think is an incredible front against our own community that like one day I think we'll be able to see in its full historical context. Right? Like I think one day we'll be able to understand the fight for marriage equality as a fight that deeply harmed so many within our community, and told so many within our community that they did not have worth or value in the quest of getting those who wanted mainstream worth or value, who had not healed from their isolation as children, who had not healed from their queer trauma, to sort of stay in a place where they didn't have to feel. I don't know, I get all heavy about it, that's where it lives, that's where these things live. And I think that the proof in the pudding is just that like if you go on any sort of dating app, if you look at any gay magazine, like what bodies are there? Who is celebrated and who is excluded? And it's not hard, you don't have to look far. One of my friends, Jamal, is currently directing a film called 'No Fats, No Femmes,' and it's all about exploring these mysteries and these lineages of white supremacy and masculine supremacy, patriarchy and body shaming within the gay community, and how we got to a place where all of those things seem to be so profoundly socially acceptable.


Jenn T Grace:              And they're perpetuated in advertising and marketing. Yeah I totally agree. So I am not a queer history buff in any way. I have my own experiences and I have at least my limited knowledge, but my thought now is that I should be looking into it because I feel like if we look at what marketers and advertisers are doing, or large corporations, or even big and small companies that are reaching out to the LGBT community, they're really reaching out to that one segment of the community that you were just speaking so specifically about. Where it's masculine men, white, in perfect shape, and people are like, 'Oh yeah, we're LGBT friendly, or we're welcoming of the community,' and in reality all they're really looking at are affluent gay, white men specifically who are very specific in gender conforming. So I guess maybe that's where all these marketers and advertisers originally got that thought that that's how they should do it, is from what you're describing now.


Jacob Tobia:                Yeah and I think the view is just so deeply myopic. Right? And this is something that even in my own work, like right now I'm working on selling a book proposal, and it's interesting because I think that a lot of people who in sort of the corporate world particularly, it's not just that they have so little imagination. It's that they've been taught for so long that these are the stories and the ways that you have to talk about being gay. And I still think using the word gay is important there, or being trans even now, I think there's starting to be some of a discourse around that, that it has to be kind of this very polished, rounded out, self-serious reverent thing. And that like the only worthwhile endeavor than to building a base within the LGBT community are tapping into the rich, white, gay men who buy vodka. Like it's sort of- I think that that's really the approach that people take in a lot of the corporate world, at least when it comes to sort of marketing. And it's interesting because I think that that actually creates this really nasty feedback loop where what we have now is we have this series of corporations that are used to telling gay men- particularly gay men what their desires are, and then gay men learn those behaviors and see those behaviors modeled by others. And then like you have this sort of feedback loop of a company says, 'Oh you want to buy a lot of vodka and fancy underwear and designer jeans, and those are the things that matter to you as a gay man. If you're going to blend in, you need to be able to deal with all of those, right?


Jenn T Grace:              Yes.


Jacob Tobia:                And then the companies say that to you, and all the magazines that you're reading like if you go to Out Magazine or Advocate or something and look at the ads. And then you internalize that as a gay person, and then create the demand for that to be advertised more. And so I think that we have this way in which the sort of marketing endeavors that have been undertaken by a lot of consumer brands aimed at the gay community specifically have created a specific kind of gay identity that is so bad for us as a group, right? And it's just funny to me because it's like when are we going to sort of disrupt that economy? Right? When are we going to say that we're not playing that game anymore? When are we going to acknowledge that there's an entire generation of young people for whom that has no resonance? There's an entire generation of young people for whom Tumblr and social justice meme, and Gender Fabulosity, and Gender Transgression, and authenticity, and power, and talking about feeling and all those things is much more relevant than any vodka ad could ever be.


Jenn T Grace:              Absolutely.


Jacob Tobia:                How do we create a broader, more expansive public face around all of that?


Jenn T Grace:              So when we're looking at what you're doing. So you had started off saying that you have been in corporate environments talking to people, and just kind of educating them around this stuff, and you've been in environments where it might be a middle school, high school, college. For you personally, where are you getting the most enjoyment as far as knowing that you're making a difference? Because I feel like- so my whole thing is teaching around the LGBT community kind of at large, and I also am in corporate settings as well as speaking with schools. So I have my own frame of where I think you can really make an impact, but I feel like everyone just has that 'I love talking to this particular audience because I can just see the lightbulb moment,' or whatever it happens to be. So for you, like where are you really finding that you're just completely inspired and want to keep giving of yourself, because you can see the impact happening so quickly.


Jacob Tobia:                Well I think there are two answers to that, right? The speaking engagements that feel most difficult are often the ones that are most rewarding, right? But the ones where I have to really sort of work where I'm sort of like dodging bullets the whole time, where I'm kind of doing a unique sort of acrobatic to make sure that my message is heard by everyone in the room. Those are definitely more challenging, and certainly aren't as comfortable, but are I think probably the most important kind of work that I do. So for example, if you start saying what is the most naturally energizing, fabulous place for me and the kind of stuff that I do? The most fabulous engagements that I do are definitely on college campuses, right? Because people are at a point in their identity in their development, they're at a point in their lives where they are ready for the kind of analysis that I'm bringing and they're energized about it, and they want to hear it, and we are moving this thing together. So those spaces are really exciting and rewarding but they're also relatively easy, right? Like I'm not scared going in to speak to a college queer straight alliance. Or a queer student union at a university. Or even like a women's studies conference. Like none of those things are particularly scary for me because I know that I'm going into really sort of friendly territory where people are not only like capable of hearing what I'm saying, but they like actively want to, right? The rooms that are a little more challenging are the corporate engagements that I do, and the primary school engagements that I do. So like talking to high schools and middle schools is definitely a unique challenge because you are constantly going back and forth between making sure that you're speaking in a way that isn't going to bother administrators, but also acknowledging that actually the students you're speaking to are way further along in their development than their administrators want to admit. Right? So learning to sort of find a way to make these complicated ideas about queer liberation, and all that stuff accessible to a really young audience in the context of being super biased by teachers and administrators. Figuring out how to do that dance takes a bit of choreography, but sometimes when you're able to pull it off it feels like more of an accomplishment because you're balancing something that's more nuanced. And I think the same thing goes for corporate spaces, right? Where you have to be able to challenge people just enough. Like there is sort of- and you have to be able to have just the right amount of the irreverence, and just the right amount of sort of outside instigator energy without sort of turning people off completely. Because the change in the corporate world matters. Also I can be transparent about the fact that corporate audiences can be a challenge because a lot of times in corporate audiences I may be speaking to an organization where a lot of their structure and what they do in the world is something that I don't- I'm not really here for all the time, right? But do I know that a lot of the bad behavior of Corporate America comes from the fact that patriarchal people with a lot of masculine trauma are running it? Absolutely. And is me being able to be there hopefully a step towards healing some of that trauma for people and creating a space where men are able to interrogate the way that masculinity has traumatized them, and think about how that's shaped their behavior and the way that they feel they must relate to the world? And then will that in turn potentially help them think about how they think masculinity has informed the way they feel they must approach business, and must approach other people, and must approach accountability, and community in the broader context? I sure hope so. It's hard to say at any point if you're really making the transformation that you want, but that challenge too is more rewarding when you're able to do it right because it is such a challenge.


Jenn T Grace:              Yeah. So let's go back for a second. How did you decide- because in looking at your bio, and knowing that you're from North Carolina I'm not going to not ask you about the bathroom situation at some point. However, in looking at your bio, you have a lot of places that you've worked, everything's advocacy related. At what point I guess did you realize that you had a voice that could be bigger than you, and that you had a platform that you could stand on and go in and start speaking publicly? And then also the fact that you're working on your book proposal right now. So I guess was there a specific point in time where you just knew that you almost had the obligation to bring your message to the world to help educate people around this?


Jacob Tobia:                I don't think that I really came into it with an understanding of obligation really. It was more that like I wanted to be able to be myself and feel good in that, and necessarily had to learn to explain that to other people. It wasn't like I sort of came about all this work necessarily selflessly. I think it's that I sort of tried to enter into the professional world, I tried to sort of like start moving, and I realized how little space there was for people like me, and I realized how hard the world was fighting to keep me in a box I guess. To keep me within sort of a safe, masculine space. And really what that did for me, was I realized look, if you ever want to sort of be able to be yourself, you're going to have to explain this to people, and you're going to have to figure out a way to do it. And you can do that in this sort of bubble, like you can explain that to a small number of people and create a safe space for yourself, and feel good in it, like build your cool queer community in New York where you can feel good, and don't worry so much about everybody else, but that never felt satisfying. I don't like the idea that I can only be accepted or heard, or affirmed, or seen, or valued in one small specific space. Like I don't like that idea at all. And so I think it was also for my own stubbornness, about being like, 'Dammit I should be able to go anywhere and speak with anyone, and be fully validated and heard and understood by them. Like that should not be something that is impossible, or should not seem difficult in the world.' And so I think that a lot of that is what really inspired me to sort of push into this advocacy work, and to take it on in a substantial way which was just a desire to get my humanity back. And a sort of unwillingness to accept a world where I'm supposed to be erased. And so I think it's necessarily gone more public because- the other thing I'm deeply committed to is when I always think about my activism, I think a lot about my younger self. I think about kids growing up in suburban or non-major urban center areas, who have a sort of culture and an understanding of gender that is informed so much by national media, and by what national media is telling them around how gender is allowed to exist. And I want to make sure that my work is able to be heard and seen in those communities, like the ones I grew up in, right? Which is why I refuse to just find my safe community in New York, and stick with that. I want to build my safe community here, and use that as the sort of strength for me to then go out into the rest of the world and really stick it to them.


Jenn T Grace:              So in talking about the media, what do you think those messages- at least from your vantage point, do you think that young queer LGBTQ, gender nonconforming, however we're defining that; what do you think those messages are that they're getting in those suburban areas? Especially when we look at the really heated political landscape that we're in right now, and the fact that even our Attorney General made such a profound declaration just a couple of days ago as we're recording this in May of 2016. What do you think- do you think that younger people are getting- I guess it doesn't even have to be younger people. Do you think people are getting mixed messages? Or are they getting a really kind of clear cut message that's not inclusive? What is your kind of take on that?


Jacob Tobia:                No I think they're definitely getting mixed messages. I think that in most of the country, MSNBC and Fox are seen as two legitimate sides of the opinion. And in that context, like what the hell are you supposed to think as a young person, or as any person, right? When both perspectives are seen as fully valid, and one is deeply transphobic and the other is deeply supportive of the trans community? I think that trans people right now are in this moment of visibility that is healing and builds awareness to some extent, but also creates as many challenges of actually living as trans, as some of the invisibility did, right? Like I think that as a community we have been flying under the radar for a long time, and now we're out in the open and that's a vulnerable position. I think that vulnerability is starting to come out, and that's what all this bathroom bill stuff is about. Like when you come out of the shadows as it were, although I would argue that trans people have never been in the shadows, but when you come into a kind of mainstream visibility there's going to be a reaction because you're putting yourself out there in a major way for the first time. Or at least for the first time in recent memory. And so I think that what's happening right now is that half of the world is telling young trans people, 'Oh there are all these role models and icons, and trans people are making progress, and you should be proud of who you are, and you should own who you are, and that's wonderful.' And then the other half of the world is telling young trans people that there's nothing to be happy about, and that they are abominations, and that they don't deserve the same rights and freedoms as everybody else. It's definitely a step forward from where we were, where most trans people prior to this were just told by everyone that their identity was an impossibility. Right? So it's better to have conflict than nothing, certainly. But I think it's also important to remember that like that conflict is real for people. It takes a lot of emotional energy to navigate, and it's not going away anytime soon. Like this is a much, much longer, more prolonged conversation, even than gay rights or LGB rights were, right? Like I think that if we think that the trans community is going to see progress at the same rate as like the sort of gay and lesbian community has, I'm not even sure about that because we're talking now about gender, and not one aspect of gender nonconformity, but about all of it. And so the other thing I think about too is I worry that right now particularly the visibility of trans people, there's only a certain kind of trans person who's very visible right now. And for the most part, the trans people who are visible are passing gender conforming trans men or trans women. And those are who are held up as sort of the icons of the community. And while I don't see gender conforming and gender nonconforming trans people as in opposition, I think that the desperate visibility that's imposed on our community gender media is a challenge that we're going to have to overcome and think about, right? And think about how do we respond to this as a community in a strategic way, not just sort of like accept that it's an inevitability and move along. Because right now the most marginalized trans people are not even close to visible. Because I think about the bathroom bills issue. Like think about whose selfies have blown up, like whose have gone viral, or who's been the big spokespeople around this bathroom bill stuff; most of the spokespeople have been passing trans folks who actually aren't in a lot of risk when they use a public restroom anymore, right?


Jenn T Grace:              Correct.


Jacob Tobia:                And the people who this bill is mostly targeting, and the people who have issues in the bathroom, and have issues in either bathroom no matter which bathroom they go into, are gender nonconforming people, genderqueer people, and lower income trans folks who cannot afford to transition in a way that 'allows' them to pass. So I think that that's kind of the conversation we need to be having in this new media landscape around trans identity, is which people in the trans community are being heard, and which people in the trans community are being silenced, and who is imposing that silence, and who is granting that visibility, and how do we engage with all this?


Jenn T Grace:              Yeah, how do we engage with the folks that are being silenced, and have their voices recognized? Because no one's recognizing them currently.


Jacob Tobia:                That's a tough question. I'm not going to act like I have all the answers at this point.


Jenn T Grace:              Yeah and I don't think we can compare it completely apples to apples between the L and the G of the community to the T in terms of covering and passing and all that. But I do see that there is a parallel within the L and G specifically when the conversation comes up of people who are passing as straight. So the perhaps masculine looking man, or the feminine looking woman who doesn't 'look' gay. So there is that- I feel like there's that perception that the media kind of continues to portray as well, which is also harmful. I don't think it's nearly as harmful as what's happening within the trans community, but there's definitely that happening as well.


Jacob Tobia:                Well it's ironic, right? Because actually what's happening now in the trans community is the same thing that the gay community did to the trans community in like the eighties and nineties and 2000's, right? The people who are gender nonconforming are being pushed to the back, and that's what's been happening in the LGBT community and the queer community for decades now, right? In the nineties, the logic was like God forbid we put a gay man with a lisp as a spokesperson of anything. Or a gay man who has like slightly more fluid wrists as a spokesperson for anything. God forbid we put an actual stone butch woman as a spokesperson for anything in our community, or ever as sort of a focus of media attention. And the same thing is true- and that was about gender conformity or gender nonconformity, right? Gender conforming gay and lesbian people were picked to sort of be the voices. They were the only voices that really 'made sense' in the time. And now we have the trans community doing the same thing to itself that was done to it by other people, where we are only preferencing the voices of gender conforming people and pushing gender conforming and passing trans people to the front of the line, and ensuring that anyone who's gender nonconforming- like God forbid you wear lipstick and have facial hair. Like we're pushing those folks to the back, and so I think the very radical proposition of genderqueer and nonbinary activists right now is just sort of refusing two things. A, refusing to be pushed out of the trans community or silenced as a member of the trans community. Like ensuring that we don't sort of have to create this world where trans is seen as trans people are trans binary people, and nonbinary genderqueer people are something else. Right? Like sort of rejecting that logic, and also just rejecting invisibility. Just refusing to be invisible and using all the tools within our power to refuse that. It's an exhausting fight, sure.


Jenn T Grace:              Of course.


Jacob Tobia:                But it's the most worthwhile fight that I've participated in in a while.


Jenn T Grace:              Yeah, absolutely. And where do you think- and I'm trying to figure out what the best way to phrase this would be, but where do you think the folks who are part of the trans community who have 'assimilated,' and they truly want nothing to do with the fight for equality within the trans community? So the people who are passing as gender conforming, the person that you 'would never know' that's part of the trans community, and it is the people in the media right now that you were just saying are getting the most attention when they're doing the selfies in the bathroom. It's the folks that you would just never guess. So where do you think- and those people are obviously advocating because they're taking selfies in the bathroom to prove a point. But what about- and I don't know what percentage of the trans community people would fall into in this, but I know plenty of trans people who have no desire to be labeled as such, or have any involvement in moving this equality needle, moving forward?


Jacob Tobia:                I mean my view about that, it's an issue of coming out. It's the same question of like, 'Oh do all gay people have the responsibility to come out?' It's that sort of same interrogation, it's just in the life cycle of a trans person you have two opportunities to be in the closet. In the story of the binary trans man or trans woman who has access to the resources necessary to transition in a way that allows them to pass. You have two choices about being in the closet. You have to come out of the closet when you decide to transition, and then you have the option to go back into it, and then sort of go stealth after you've transitioned and you are able to sort of embody the gender in a way that doesn't flag for others your trans experience. And when it comes to coming out, like I'm not going to prescribe for anybody what they should do. I'm not going to tell anybody that it's wrong to want to finally live your life and feel happy in it. But I am going to say that like we need to not kid ourselves if we act like a world in which trans people have to be invisible [Inaudible 00:42:03] after they transition. Like let's not kid ourselves and act like that's a world where we're free, right? But let's acknowledge that people have an incredible amount of hurt and pain, and sometimes after a long journey you want to rest a little bit, you're exhausted a little bit. And you know I think I do something equivalent to that, but it's on a more day to day basis, right? You know there are definitely moments when I'm just like, 'I don't have the energy for this right now. Like I'm not going to wear a dress. I kind of want to, but I'm not going to because I'm exhausted.' When I travel, I almost always wear like jeans and a tee shirt and I look like just a normal dude. Because I just don't- I'm like traveling is so exhausting already, I don't want to have to deal with TSA in a skirt, I just don't. You know? And so I have my own moments when I sort of re-assimilate in order to just like feel okay for a little bit. And so I think those moments, we're allowed to have them, they're an important part of healing actually. But for me it's about I do that so I can save my energy for a longer fight, and for bigger battles, right? Because it's like I don't need to engage in every small battle every day. I don't need to advocate and explain everything to every person who stares at me or catcalls me on the subway, or whatever, right? Like I need to save my energy for the real battles, and for the big battles that I can do. Like I need to save my energy for my activism, and my advocacy, and my broad structural work. Because if I try to fix every little thing every day, then-


Jenn T Grace:              You'd be exhausted.


Jacob Tobia:                Yeah, and I think the same thing goes for gender nonconforming or for passing trans people, right? The idea of whether or not to sort of disclose or live into the fullness of your identity is a daily decision that you have to make based on kind of like where you're at, you know? So I just don't want to moralize about it. I don't want to act like one position is this really moral high ground, and the other is somehow shameful. I think it's about us being exhausted, and I think it's about us having struggled for a very long time.


Jenn T Grace:              It's about finding a balance.


Jacob Tobia:                Yeah and sometimes just wanting a release from struggling for a little bit. You know? I'm not going condemn any trans person for how we curate our identities and think about them, because it's tough. It's tough out there.


Jenn T Grace:              I think that was very well put. So I know that we're getting close to an hour of recording, and I honestly feel like we could record for five days because there's so much to talk about. But one of the things in your bio on your website I thought was interesting, and I thought maybe you'd share a little bit. Is that you have worn high heels twice to the White House. I'm more curious- less about the high heels and more curious about what brought you to the White House to begin with.


Jacob Tobia:                So every year since the Obama Administration started, the White House has an annual LGBT pride reception that happens in June during Pride Month. And so I've been to it twice, once when I was a little baby queer in 2012. It was the year of Amendment 1 in North Carolina which was an amendment that banned all legal recognition of same sex relationships in the state, and it passed in 2012. And so the White House extended a lot of invitations to North Carolina activists who had been fighting it. And so I got to go as part of that. And I wore a big pair of like- they were black, leather five inch heels.


Jenn T Grace:              Jeez.


Jacob Tobia:                I was like if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this.


Jenn T Grace:              All in.


Jacob Tobia:                And then last time I went this past June, and that time I had a really cute pair of slingbacks that were I think only three inches. So a little bit more modest. So it was fun though. It was cool sort of like strutting around the east wing, and all that stuff. Like looking at all the pictures, and sort of being in that space, and being like as queer and as fabulous as I am. But also it's not like- that certainly doesn't- I think everyone has complicated feelings about the White House as an institution, but I think that there's been some incredible work that's been done. So it was certainly really fun to go, and they had lovely snacks.


Jenn T Grace:              It's all about the food, right? So if someone who's listening wants to reach out and connect with you, I know you are available on a lot of different social media outlets, but where would your preference be to have people connect with you?


Jacob Tobia:                If you want to reach out to me, just go to and there's a little contact path that you can send a request to, and we can get in touch that way. You can also email just and that should go too.


Jenn T Grace:              Perfect. Well thank you so much, I feel like this was such an enlightening interview for my audience, and I really appreciate all of the work that you're doing for the community, because we know that it's not easy day in and day out. So I feel like you're onto something amazing.


Jacob Tobia:                Well thank you, it was great talking with you, Jenn.


Jenn T Grace:              You are very welcome, I appreciate it.

Thank you for listening to today's podcast. If there are any links from today's show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all at JennTGrace. And as always I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.


Direct download: Epi85-LGBTQ_Interview_with_JACOB_TOBIA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EDT

#84 - Build Your Personal Brand by Learning from the Experts


Jenn T Grace:              You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 84.


Introduction:              Welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast; the podcast dedicated to helping LGBTQ professionals and business owners grow their business and careers through the power of leveraging their LGBTQ identities in their personal brand. You'll learn how to market your products and services both broadly, and within the LGBTQ community. You'll hear from incredible guests who are leveraging the power of their identity for good, as well as those who haven't yet started, and everyone in between. And now your host. She teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn - with two N's - T Grace.


Jenn T Grace:              Well hello and welcome to episode 84 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn with two N's T. Grace, and today is going to be a much shorter episode than usual, and the reason for that is that I am in a transitionary period, if you will, of lining up a lot of interviews for you over the next coming couple of months.


So at this moment I have a lot of interviews planned, but I don't have them recorded to bring to you yet. So we are in the second week of May at this point, and I have interviews lined up that will bring us all the way through the end of August. So it's going to be an action packed end of spring and into the summer, in terms of talking to really, really amazing people. So I figured in this episode, like I said it will be really short, but I want to at least give you a preview of who is to come on the podcast, so that way you can make note to tune in to one of these many guests that are going to be really awesome for you to listen to.


And yeah, so let's just go through the lineup I have so far of planned recorded interviews.


So I have one, two, three four, five, six, seven- so I have seven interviews planned, and it's a great mix of people doing different things, and personally branding themselves in really different and interesting ways. So I'm not going to tell you all about them, because that's going to be their job to tell you how awesome they are and what they're up to. But at least I'd love to give you a preview of who's to come.


So the first, and this doesn't necessarily mean this is the order in which they will come out, but the first on my list is Jacob Tobia. So Jacob is a genderqueer advocate, writer, speaker, and artist dedicated to justice for the transgender, gender nonconforming, and LGBTQ communities. So Jacob and I were introduced to one another through a mutual friend, and just the conversations that we've had together, I've been so excited to have him on the podcast. So that will be happening soon.


Also we will be having Gloria Brame who is an American Board Certified Sexologist, a writer, a sex therapist, and I believe she's still based in Georgia. So I'm excited about this one as well. She's written a lot of books and we're connected on LinkedIn, and since a lot of what I'm doing lately is helping individuals with their personal branding, but through creating a book, she's just a perfect fit to have since she's written so many things. So we'll talk to her.


Also we have Jonathan Lovitz who is regularly speaking at conferences, and to the media about LGBT economic empowerment, and the vital roles that businesses play in creating equity for the LGBT community. So he's regularly commenting, or being interviewed on MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, The Advocate, Out Magazine; so he is a very strong advocate and champion for LGBT equality from a business economic level. So it's going to be really interesting to hear his thoughts on kind of the lay of the land of what we're looking at in our country today, and just all the great things of how much advancement we're making in terms of moving forward from an economic standpoint. So I'm excited to have him as well.


And then we will be talking to Michaela Mendelsohn, I believe that's how she says her last name, I'm not 100%. And she is a transgender activist and the founder of the California Transgender Workplace Program. So I'm really excited to talk to her, especially having founded a workplace program, I think that's going to be really interesting. And she, like all of the others, has a strong personal brand within the space that she works in.


And then we will be talking to Jag Beckford who is the founder and producer of Rainbow Fashion Week, which is tied to New York City Pride, and if I'm not mistaken, Rainbow Fashion Week has a lot of people who come to it in terms of- like you would any other type of fashion week. So this should be really interesting, and both Michaela and Jag I do not know personally, whereas the other few I know at the very least through emails, and some of them I've actually- I know much better. So these two folks came from Mona Elyafi if you remember her from- I don't even remember what episode she was on, but she was on one of the episodes quite a while ago, and she's a PR person in Los Angeles. So she sends me amazing people on a regular basis that she thinks I should connect with. So both Michaela and Jag were both great finds from Mona, so I'm really excited about that.


And then we have two others to go. So we have Robbie Samuels who is a speaker and a consultant, in addition to doing a whole bunch of other things. One of his known things is the Art of the Schmooze which is an interactive fast-paced and fun training that helps hundreds of people yearly gain the confidence they need for networking, and raising their consciousness, and basically just helping them be better networkers. So I'm really excited because he's really done a good job building his personal brand, the Art of the Schmooze, and he has a podcast as well, and I think he'll be really great to talk to, especially if you're listening to this and you haven't really built your personal brand yet. So you'll be getting there but you might need a little bit of help, and you might need somebody to kind of push you out of the nest, and I feel like what Robbie will talk about will help kind of push you out of your nest if you will.


And then finally, I don't want to say I'm more excited about one versus the others because I'm really excited actually about talking to all of these folks. But the last one on my list is Lindsay Felderman, and the reason I am so excited to have Lindsay as a guest- and hers will definitely be airing sometime in June would be my guess, it's probably going to be the latter half of June, and Lindsay is one of the graduates from my recent author program which is now called the Purpose Driven Authors Academy. So she and six other amazing people started working with me in February of this year, 2016, and she is the first of the seven individuals to have a book created from this program. So the program is called the Purpose Driven Authors Academy, and you can go to, you can go to,, or you can go to my website and click on the button on the home page.


So regardless of how you get there, you'll see what the program entails, and so Lindsay and six others just went through this program, and I seriously feel like a mother hen, or some kind of like mama bird who is just so excited to see her babies fly, and Lindsay is the first of seven who is having her book fly out into the world, and I cannot be happier. So her book is really- so the way she describes it is that she wrote this book because she wishes she had had this book when she was coming out. So that's kind of a good teaser of what this book is all about. And oddly enough I actually have the proof copy sitting on my desk right now. I just read it for her and made some thoughts, and changes, and just giving her a little bit of feedback which I will be recording after I'm done recording this podcast.


So the Purpose Drive Authors Academy is really for a specific type of person, and I changed the title- it was actually just called Group Author Program before, which is so blah and doesn't really say much, but I still had seven amazing people come through it. And when I started to really look at the seven people who were in the group, and figure out what they were all trying to accomplish, and what they were trying to do, some of them are writing about LGBT specific stuff, some of them are writing about overcoming cancer, and overcoming obstacles, and working in the disability rights movement; so there's a big kind of spectrum of what everyone is writing about, but the commonality is that they are all so incredibly purpose-driven. So I feel like a lot of people hear the phrase of mission-driven, but purpose-driven I think is even more important. So it's great to be driven by a mission, so my mission is to help LGBT people, it's just really at the core of what I'm trying to do. But I feel like saying that I'm purpose-driven is a much better descriptor of that, because I want to help more people. So in the last- no it wasn't the last episode, it was one prior to this so it must have been episode 82, I spoke specifically about how to impact a million people, and how that's my goal, is to impact a million people. And I recognized not that long ago that my way of doing that is to help the people who are helping the people. So if we look at the seven people who were recently in this author program that ended on April 30th, all of them are people who are helping the people. They are all super purpose-driven, they are all trying to make an impact in this world, they are all trying to make a difference, they're all trying to make the world a better place, and it just gives me so much joy and excitement because of all of the authors that I've worked with in the past, most of them have had a purpose-driven component to it.


So you probably remember me talking about Tony Ferraiolo, and his book, and which is called Artistic Expressions of Transgender Youth. And he and I worked really closely on that book together, and I cannot express how much joy I get knowing that every child who picks up that book, or every parent who picks up that book, that almost everyone's reaction is some form of tears. Just some form of tears, whether they're happy tears or sad tears, there's definitely tears always involved. And it just means that it's making an impact. So if I can help more people like Tony, and more people like Lindsay who's all about making an impact, and the other people in my group, then why wouldn't I, right?


So I bring that up because I do have a second round of this program starting, which starts on June 6th, which is a Monday. The first class technically is on June 7th which is a Tuesday, and it really is going to be an action packed thirteen week program, as it was this first time, that really is the soup to nuts of personal branding, writing a book, and marketing the book. So it is not one dimensional where it's just here's ninety days, let's put words on a page. It's great to put words on a page, but ultimately you have to know exactly what your plan is for the book. So what is your vision? What are you trying to accomplish? If you want to write a book because you want to have best seller status, that's one type of way of going about it. Or if you want to write a book because you want to save one young person from committing suicide, that's another type of approach. And both of those goals are amazing, but you have to have a really clear strategy of how you're going to market your book, and how you're going to position it, and all that great stuff. So this program really dives deep into all of that, and also gives a good amount of spotlight time. I don't really have a good name for it, but we'll call it spotlight time where it's laser coaching. It's hey, alright we have ten minutes live in front of everybody, let's laser focus on what your particular problem is. Is it writing, are you blocked on the title, are you blocked on your outline? Whatever it happens to be. And there's a lot of that kind of built in throughout the program.


So I know that when I had talked about this program, I don't think it was the last episode, it must have been episode 82 when I was talking about it, I had a handful of people actually reach out to me which is always exciting. So if you're listening to this, please reach out to me, I love hearing from you. I just had a Twitter conversation with a fellow professional lesbian the other day and I was super excited about it, who said that she listened to this. So please, always reach out to me, I know that you're probably- you're a silent participant just listening to this maybe at the gym or in the car, but I always love to hear from you, and I always try to adapt my materials to be in alignment for what you're looking for. So please, if you have any thoughts or questions, hit me up.


So a couple of you have reached out to me, as I mentioned, and wanted a tentative outline if you will, of what this program entails. So I want to run through week by week, and just give you kind of a high level overview of what you can expect to see if this program is a right fit for you.


So the program title is Purpose Driven Authors Academy. I can tell you that one out of the seven people in the current group- or actually the recently graduated group if you will, that one of the seven people wasn't necessarily 'purpose-driven.' Her book is around communications tips and helping people who- I'm trying to think what her tagline is. Helping smart people sound as smart as they are. It's some kind of catchy tagline like that. So hers isn't about overcoming cancer, or working with the disability rights movement, or any LGBT focus. But the value that her book is going to bring to the world is equally as important because there are a lot of people, especially corporate people, that she works with and trains on helping them sound as smart as they are, and really kind of prepping them for presentations, and all that kind of stuff. So while the title is called Purpose Driven Authors, and it certainly attracts a certain type of individual, if you're a financial advisor, or a lawyer, or a travel agent, or anyone who has a business that's looking to write a nonfiction book to help increase their business; so whether or not you're trying to use it to increase sales, or to give it away to your customers, or to use it to build your platform which is what I usually recommend, so that way you can charge more for speaking engagements. All of those things are 100% still relevant to what's covered in this course. So while I'm trying to draw in purpose-driven people, it's really my way of weeding people out, and I think I've said this in the past as far as even calling myself a professional lesbian, it really weeds out the type of individual who would want to work with me, or give me the time of day. And that just saves me time, it saves them time. So it's kind of the same thing with this purpose-driven title.


So even if you don't consider yourself to be purpose-driven, I don't want the title to scare you away from considering this if you really are looking to write a book. So let me explain the course outline, and I'm just going to go week by week, and if you have questions, reach out and ask. Like I said I'm going through this lineup because I had a couple people reach out after episode 82 asking me if they could have more details. So it occurred to me that when you have thousands of people listening to something, usually only a couple of people are the ones that raise their hand and send an email. And I know I'm guilty of this too, I listen to a lot of podcasts and I've never once tweeted, never once gone on Facebook, never once reached out. But yet I love their podcasts, and I listen to every single one. So I am just as bad as the next person in terms of not following the 'call to action' on a podcast, but regardless I'm doing this because it was requested and I'm sure other people out there are interested too. We'll just go through this for a couple of minutes and then we'll get back on topic, and probably close out because again, this shouldn't be too long of an episode.


So the tentative schedule begins on June 7th as I had said, and that is a Tuesday night, and it goes through August 30th which is also a Tuesday night. So each Tuesday evening at 8:30 Eastern Standard Time, we will be doing a live webinar presentation. And if for some reason you are not able to make the webinar presentations live, that's actually not too big of a deal because I do have them recorded and they are available within an hour after the session has ended, so you can certainly catch up at a later date. One of the participants in this last go-around missed the entire first month and didn't skip a beat. So she just followed along in the Facebook group, she watched the recording the next day, she was perfectly caught up to speed by the time I think the fifth or sixth week when she finally joined us, she was still completely in the loop with everyone. So it's not really a big deal if for some reason Tuesday evenings or a couple of your Tuesday evenings over the next three months are a little bit screwy.


Additionally I recognize that this is in Eastern Standard Time, so if you're in the UK this would not be an ideal time either, or maybe if you're in Australia, so I know I have a good amount of Australian listeners, so I know that the timing may not be ideal. So if that's a concern of yours, please just let me know and we can certainly talk about what we could arrange to make it easier for you.


So week one, which would be June 7th, and the theme of this one is vision and writing. So it's introductions, making sure everybody knows who each other are, and the group will not contain more than twenty participants. It's probably going to be closer to ten, but I have a cap at twenty. And even if I have- I already have four people ready to roll so even if it were just those four people, then I would just roll with those four people. So it really- the size doesn't matter too much, I had seven in this last group, I know that we could fit in more without it messing up the group dynamic at all, and I think the more we end up having eventually is just going to help everybody else because one of the big benefits is that we're building a community here. So the seven people who've gone through this already, they now have each other to lean on, so when they do launch their book- so when Lindsay launches her book in June, she has six other cheerleaders and me, so she's got seven people who are all going to send emails out on her behalf, going to put social media out on her behalf to say, 'Hey Lindsay wrote this book, I really believe in it, you have to check it out.' So it's almost like you get this built in cheerleading crowd for you, and built in sales force if you want to call it that too, because it's going to be- the people in your group are going to help you because they want to help you succeed. So I have a whole structure set up as well for the alumni’s as well. So we have seven alums of the current group will be helping the people who are in this next group as well when it comes to launch time. So it's kind of cool and I want to make sure that everybody really builds a relationship outside of me facilitating it, which seems to have worked this first go-around.


So okay, back to the topic, introductions. And then we go through a program structure just explaining what to focus on, what the homework is going to be, things to remember kind of going forward. We'll talk about action items and how many we have to have per week to make sure we stay on schedule. We talk about having a contract with yourself. So I literally make you print out a contract with yourself and sign it and put it somewhere where it's visible, so when the going gets really rough, you know that you made this commitment to yourself, and that you'll keep on moving forward. And then talking about your vision. So what is your vision and how does that actually dovetail into writing a book.


So that's week one. Week two is June 14th and the theme for that is also vision and writing; you'll see that vision and writing is the theme for the first five weeks. So week two is all about starting with the end in mind, knowing what your goals are, narrowing in on your idea. So you might have a dozen different ideas of what your book is going to be, it's a matter of like really narrowing in and picking a pony and riding that pony. Understanding how long your book should be, that's a big- that was a big kind of topic last time. And then mind mapping a book outline. My mapping is the hands down best way to figure out what should be in your book.


So we go into that in a good amount of detail in the second week, but then the third week we actually do a live laser coaching for everybody on what their mind map looks like, and helping them kind of dissect it, and figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. So that's all of what week three covers.


Week four ends up putting us at June 28th and it's all about writing techniques, and what to be working on while you're writing. So this is only a thirteen week program, and we want to make sure that everything that you're doing, every day that you're focused on writing in some regard, which we identify how much you should be writing based on what you want your book to look like and all that kind of stuff. But while that's happening there are a lot of other things that you should be working on at the same time, so we cover that in week four.


Week five is themed vision and writing still, and this is individual spotlight. So at this point we are going into our second month together, and people are in various stages of the writing process. So in this last round I had someone who had 50,000 words written before we even started on the first day, and I had someone who didn't start writing until like the second to the last week. So if you are listening to this and you're thinking, 'Jeez I don't even have anything written yet, I have an idea but I don't really know what to do with it,' you would fit right in. So there will be somebody like yourself and then there's going to be somebody who comes to the table with a lot of words but no organization for what to do with those words. So regardless of where you are in that process, this program can totally work for you.


So week six which is July 12th, it's all about marketing and personal branding, and that is understanding your personal brand, assessing your existing marketing. So we go into really deep detail on how to understand what you stand for, and I give a lot of exercises, and worksheets, and some kind of peer accountability of building your personal brand. And again, some people come to the table really clear on what their personal brand stands for, and others aren't entirely sure, or they want to transition or change the focus of their current brand. Again, regardless you'll totally fit in so it works out really well.


And then week seven which is July 19th is also personal branding. So there's a lot of homework that I assign in week six, and so week seven, part of that is an update and explaining how people did, coming up with the three ways to describe yourself, and then we go into a marketing audit about and around your website and your blog if you have a blog. This is a really big one because as a writer or as somebody who's building a personal brand, your website is the most critical resource to make sure is in check. So that is covered in detail as well.


And then week eight which is July 26th, it will be how to choose a title and a subtitle that work. And now this is a really fun- I think it was a really fun week within the program, because picking a title and subtitle that work is actually really hard. You might think you know your title, and then as you start talking about it, all bets are off and it's like, 'Wow I really need to change that.' So it's really interesting for sure.


So week nine is August 2nd, and that is choosing a launch date, reviewing our titles and subtitles, and then how to acquire testimonials and get a forward written by somebody that you admire that would make sense to write the forward of your book. So it's very tactical, very hands on, and I should have mentioned that the theme of these weeks are all publishing logistics. So this is all the logistical stuff that is a pain in the ass, that no one tells you about before you decide to write a book, and then all of a sudden all of these things start to fall out of the sky and you have no idea what to do with them. So the whole program is just trying to make all of that overwhelm, less overwhelm.


Week ten which is August 9th is also publishing and logistics. This goes into deep detail on the cover, as well as print and eBook formatting. So there's a lot of different nuance around the print and eBook formatting, and the differences, and we cover this in good detail as well.


And then week eleven is more publishing and logistics, which is August 16th, and this is harkening back to your number one goal, making sure that we're staying on track here. It also goes into finding your ISBN number and your Library of Congress number. So that is a beastly pain that a lot of people overlook, so we talk about that. Pricing your- retail versus wholesale, pricing strategy and how to price yourself properly. Learning how to leverage your network of people when you come to the time of launching. Getting advanced readers lined up and ready to roll to help you when your book is finally available. And then generating buzz, which is kind of a preview for the final week.


And then week twelve which brings us to August 23rd is an individual spotlight week where we go in- this is the second to the last week, everyone's nerves are a little bit on high, and we just want to make sure that everything is squared away and covered. So we'll go into detail on everyone's kind of consensus the lay of the land. And mind you each week starts off with kind of a quick check-in as well, and there's a very active Facebook group where people are asking questions, and getting answers from each other as well as me. So you never have to wait an entire week to get your question answered, but it really helps to come prepared on the Tuesday nights with your questions.


And then the final week, which I was told was the most exciting week by a few of the participants in this last go-around, is marketing and your launch. So it's all well and good to have your personal brand platform built-ish and then having a book written, but if you don't know how to market or launch your book properly, it might become a paperweight and that's the last thing we want. We want your book to impact the audience in which you're serving, so we want to make sure that the launch is really carefully thought out. So in this one, it's going through kind of an inventory checklist which we cover in a previous week, and just making sure that you have all your ducks in a row for when you actually do the launch.


And then ways to generate buzz. So this was also kind of previewed in week eleven and it goes into more detail as well. And then the theme of the whole thing is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, because when you launch anything, even including this course for me, launching it, there are plenty of times where it's just uncomfortable. Like there's no two ways around it, it's just uncomfortable. So it's a matter of being okay with that and making peace with that. And then the big part of this is the ten day book launch strategy. So pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.


So I know that that was a lot of information, but that is the lineup for the thirteen week Purpose Drive Authors Academy program, and I know that there's probably a ton of you that this makes perfect sense for, and I truly want to help you bring your message to the world, because I feel like it's so important and such a missed opportunity for you to be sitting on your story that could be really impacting others. So I wanted to go into detail on that because it was asked for, and because I think it's helpful for you to understand. So again if you're interested you can go to or go to my website, and on the left hand side there's something to the effect of Become an Author Today, or something like that.


That I believe wraps up episode 84. So we're probably about 30- less than 35 minutes and these episodes are usually 45 to an hour, so it's a little bit shorter than usual. So I hope you're excited for all of the guests that I have lined up through at least the end of August, and of course I'll be working on getting other guests as well. So if you're listening to this and you think that you would be a good guest, please feel free to reach out to me. Just go to my website and you can go through the contact form, just give me a couple sentences on why you think that you would be great, and your website, and I'll go check you out and see if you'd be a good fit. But you can see that it's all about personal branding, and how to take your brand to the next level, and sometimes that has to do with writing a book, sometimes it doesn't.


One other thing before I let you go, is that I am working on a new webinar which is about personal branding specifically. So I will let you know when that happens. It's going to be probably any time soon, sometime in May is my guess that I will have this webinar up and running, and it's going to be just a ton of information on some of the foundational things to be thinking about when building your personal brand. And again, a book may or may not be part of your future. But if it is, of course I have this program that I can help you with, and if it's not I have tons of free information regardless.


So that is that my friends, I so greatly appreciate you continuing to listen to this podcast. I feel like I've been doing this podcast for a very long time at this point, and I genuinely, genuinely, genuinely appreciate you listening. And I love that I'm getting new listeners every day, and that some of you are reaching out to me. So even though I said I'm just as bad as anyone else, I would love to hear from you if you are listening to this for the first time, if you're looking for advice or information on anything, please let me know. I try to go out of my way to be accessible and I don't ever want to lose sight of that. So if you need something, don't be a stranger, feel free to reach out to me, and I will talk to you in episode 85 where we will have one of the guests that I mentioned. I don't know who yet, but we shall see. Thank you so much and I'll talk to you in 85. Have a great one.


Thank you for listening to today's podcast. If there are any links from today's show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all at JennTGrace. And as always I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.



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