Embracing Personality with Phil Pallen

Phil Pallen has spent the last three months traveling abroad with his partner. He lists the places in dizzying succession: “... Barcelona, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Morocco...” — and he’s not done yet. Pallen, during this interview, is in Ottawa to see family and is headed to Montreal via train for Pride festivities soon after. Despite it all, his energy is ever-present via video call. It makes sense that he studied broadcast journalism. There’s such presence and personality emanating from him, even at the tail end of his travels. He is most definitely on, but that’s not to say it’s a performance.

The branding strategist, social media expert, and keynote speaker carries an energy that is fed through experiences, pursuing knowledge to develop an understanding of cultures and peoples. Having established his company in 2011, Pallen’s been able to build that professionally, working with branding clients, and creating a successful YouTube channel, as well as a podcast. The life he says he is used to now is constantly changing location and working remotely.

“I would say my number one value is freedom. It’s much more important to me than money,” he suggests. “It’s just the ability to live my life on my own terms and I really love to travel because I get bored easily.”

Originally from the town of Belleville, Ontario, Canada, Pallen’s drive for more has been longstanding.

“I grew up in a town of less than 50,000 people and I wanted to work in entertainment, I wanted to work in TV, I wanted to do bigger things,” he recalls.

Brushes with the entertainment industry would come. His first ever social media campaign was for a contest to intern for Charlie Sheen at the height of the media frenzy surrounding the actor in 2011. From 90,000 applicants, he made it to the top 50. One thing led to another and he landed an internship with Ryan Seacrest, but was fired before he started. According to Pallen, he was considered a liability after generating too much controversial press. He broke out on his own instead– a decision that would redefine his trajectory, proving that sometimes the most unexpected turns lead to the most remarkable destinations.

Now he’s able to satisfy his desire for an expansive world in his travels. When asked if trips are for work or pleasure, he doesn’t have a singular answer. “It’s never one or the other, it’s always both.”

Sometimes this means creating content in the places he’s staying. He laughs about some crochet pillows at an Airbnb that ended up in a recent video, but this instance of honesty underscores a growing value he calls out in this era of digital content creation.

“We’re favoring reality,” he says. “Building a brand is not about a façade.” He also emphasizes consistency, suggesting it as an actual responsibility for creating in 2023.

“I hope that if someone reads my book or reads my Instagram caption or reads my email or watches my video, that they feel that that experience online is consistent with the person I am in real life,” he says. “That is a win.”

Pallen says achieving this consistency is really about what makes people unique and how to recreate that in digital communication. That means building self-awareness, knowing one’s strengths, and channeling that into content. Pallen mentions days when he’s not feeling great and brings self-deprecating humor to work with him. But that’s him, that’s his personality. Given the ways that we have inevitably become a part of the product through content, he says, we should consider how we can position ourselves to thrive. Creating a brand should be fulfilling because it factors in your true self.

Building the confidence and self-worth to even show up online is achieved in part through revelation of self. “What you say is content. Content on its own isn’t unique.” It’s personality, he argues, that sets one apart. “You might think that an idea you have might be original but go ahead and Google it and you will find some variation of that existing in history before this.”

In the end, it all comes down to you, your vantage point, the way you’re able to deliver the idea.

“Personality is the unique way that you and only you deliver that information. It's not just what you have to say, it's how you say it, and that’s what keeps us coming back to you for more of that perspective.

Pallen talks about branding as a formula which connects art and science. The art is about the creative, artistic, and more ambiguous aspects. He emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with creative people, be it photographers, graphic designers, or even just people with a good aesthetic sense to help make choices. The science is in breaking it all down and creating a process for creative output.

Alongside the freedom he’s cultivated in building his business, he says the social aspect of his work carries its own reward.

“My job gives me unprecedented access to fascinating people,” he reflects. “I've been in rooms where I'm like, ‘I can't believe I'm in this room giving my opinion.’”

Given his spirited momentum, it seems that those rooms will only continue to multiply for Pallen. From presenting at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, to virtually visiting the homes of his audience, his embrace of personality and its potential for connection and expansion continues no matter where he is.

Are you ready to start learning? Click here to explore Phil's course on planning, calendaring, and scheduling your content and start creating with his templates made in partnership with Adobe Express!

Try Adobe Express today