#storytellerjewels Welcome to the telling of story podcast. I’m your host, storyteller jewels. And along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling, to attract, engage and retain a business audience and to unpack why it works for some and not for the many. That try. In this episode I speak with Zahrina Robertson. Listen in as she talks about you get what you put out.
Zahrina Robertson My big bugbear is the visual branding assets of people. If you know at the end of the day, if people are going to put out a 50 cent headshot and not actually understand that they need to invest in themselves visually, then they’re going to get that 50 cent client.
#storytellerjewels In this episode, I have the pleasure of interviewing Zahrina Robertson. Zahrina is a multi-award winning businesswoman who works with speakers, leaders and entrepreneurs with ideas, visual assets styling and develops very unique brand strategies with her marketing background. Zahrina’s impressive client list include Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss and Simon Sinek, just to name a few. Zahrina is also an event photographer, Emirates Tourism, Australia, business Chicks and many international clients, and has also worked with the Professional Speakers Association of Australia for over 10 years. Zahrina Robertson has invited her clients to escape into her world of creativity and explore the possibilities of their online presence. With fun. She is the cheerleader for her clients, whose biggest challenge is recognising their own potential. Zahrina, welcome to the show.
Zahrina Robertson Thanks for having me, Thank you. Lovely introduction.
#storytellerjewels Zahrina, tell me a little bit about the journey you took before becoming a brand strategist.
Zahrina Robertson Well, a photographer and videographer, Really? And branding strategy is part of it. Because before I started this journey, I was working in marketing for, um, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy LVMH and and I’ve always loved that. The side of I don’t know, I just I’ve always been drawn to marketing and that sort of thing. And then, you know, my natural gift is photography and creativity. And then I just married the worlds together.
#storytellerjewels And was that journey an obvious one for you? Like, did you get to that photography of you always enjoyed photography? Where did that passion come from?
Zahrina Robertson Mm, That’s interesting, because I was born with a camera in my cot, I say. But you know like I don’t know. There was just it was a evolution because, I mean, in the day, you know, Mom, mom and Mom and say, Oh, you know, get a real job study or uni, and I’m like, Oh, no, I could just never did anything more opposite than than to go to uni. So I never went. I went and studied, um, and did marketing. And I really enjoyed that. And also training because I love training. So I did training and marketing, and I and I did that as the foundation of me moving forward and corporate. And then, um, and those sort of things happened. I, um, went on and I created a, uh you know, like this whole, uh, energy behind what I thought to be true. And and I just sort of developed that because this marketing was just pushing me. I loved it. Um, And then I started becoming a photographer when I was actually being bullied in corporate by another lady just being bullied and, you know, and that was not pleasant. So I guess when you’re in corporate, you think Oh, my gosh, this is it. But I didn’t understand that there was a world of entrepreneurialism out there. I actually didn’t know Um and it pushed me to the age of really finding out what’s next. What’s next? What now Why, Who am I doing? What am I doing? I’ve got to get out of here because of that, you know that experience is really bad. So and I was propelled and pushed by bullying in corporate. And then I went out and just developed my own belief system. That one. Oh, hang on. I might just go out and do photos, and if people don’t like it, then I’m going to stop doing it. And why would I keep doing it if people don’t like what I want to do? So that was so interesting to put that promise to myself before I started. And as I started, it just got nicer and loving it, and I found my marketing ways, and I evolved it with, you know, with my energy of it all and and and it was like a new it was just a really great avenue to mix. Both loves together my my energy of speaking and then educating and branding and marketing and creativity. It was just utopia.
#storytellerjewels I mean, that’s awesome to hear a lot of people sort of go through the journey of discovery. I guess when it comes to entrepreneurship and they don’t always know exactly what that means until they start doing it. So it’s fabulous to hear that here you’ve been able to blend something that you really truly love with something that hopefully brings you an income and you’re able to survive on. So which is which is fantastic.
Zahrina Robertson So going back to think up. No, it doesn’t. I don’t do things for a hobby.
#storytellerjewels Yeah, of course, of course. And that’s That’s an interesting point because one of the things that this podcast is all about is developing people’s personal brands. What does that really mean? But specifically, What does that mean From a business perspective? You know, what impact does personal brand have on the ability to grow a business? Do you? Do you have a an opinion on that?
Zahrina Robertson Yeah, definitely. Like I mean, it’s just like over the years I’ve developed my thought leadership of personal branding, branding with imagery and videos and your messaging and your voice and your visuals, your visual assets and it’s all really all comes to together about the one message of how you’re putting yourself out there and what and really, who do you want to attract? So my big bugbear is the visual branding assets of people. If you know, at the end of the day, if people are going to put out a 50 cent headshots and not actually understand that they need to invest in themselves visually, then they’re going to get that 50 cent client what at one point, the other point is about the messaging on video. If you’re not going to curate your message correctly with about who you are, what you do, how you help people, how you sold people then, then that in itself was the same. So you can have a great strong video message or you or you’ll fall through the cracks. You know, it’s it’s the same, like the 50 cent photograph. I really believe strongly about this, and I see it and then I see a lot of people don’t you know they hide from showing up on video. They you know. So it’s very interesting and very powerful. Video is the go to Now everybody knows that, Um And if you don’t Well, you know now, Um And really, um, personal branding is about curating how people get to know like and trust. You feel you, your personality get to know you. You know, it’s not just one don’t mention or, like, you know, voice only you get to see here, um, mannerisms. It’s it’s a wonderful the whole encompassing platform of video and the visual assets. It’s really important. It’s crucial to success these days.
#storytellerjewels Now you bring up a fabulous point. One of the questions I ask all of my guests is, Where do you find that balance between the consistency of putting out your information and your brand? So how often do you publish something, whether that’s audio, video, text, whatever that might look like versus both the cost and the quality of the content that you’re out putting? So investing in good video and photography is fantastic but can add up from a cost perspective. So where do you find that balance and what’s What’s your advice there?
Zahrina Robertson Wow, there’s so many ways to do a video now, um, and content and and sharing. It’s just it’s it’s, um, it’s endless. It’s truly, it’s endless. Um, you can be really creative on how and where you want to turn up and show up and make a change of people. It’s like sharing your message. Do it on a podcast, do it on the blog, do it on this and all of that. You know what I mean? So with video and it’s how you do it, I mean video sharing videos and and and what you know on platforms is great. But you need to have a strategy behind it and why you want to do it and where you want to show up and then you know, and start developing momentum. I truly believe that. And then and then just starting with baby steps. And that’s why I’ve developed this 21 videos in 90 minutes. I mean, I love what I do because I know that I helping people fast, consistently and succinctly, is what I’m all about. And so if I’m all about that, then surely there’s other people like that out there. And that’s why, you know, produce this product where I help people get their content right with the videos and get them scene right. I dressed them and style them. I set them all up for success. And you know, when you’ve got an expert who has got your back, um, it is 1000 times easier to feel comfortable to share your message, so, so exciting, you know, like that way to to to actually feel that you can actually be authentically you. You know, it’s really important. It’s really important because a lot of people have that fear of video and and, you know, even fear of photographs and and fear. And I was like, You know, they think they’re going to the dentist to get the teeth pulled out. Or maybe they’d rather go to the dentist, get the teeth pulled out than do a video and get their photos taken. So it’s just so interesting. Um, but now it’s just it’s just almost the norm. But there’s still the Normans. A lot of people introverts have a lot to grapple with, and because I love what I do, I naturally know how to help people.
#storytellerjewels So it’s a great point there. I know for a fact a lot of people are scared to get in front of the camera. Camera shy, scared For whatever reason, not everybody looks fabulous in front of a camera or not. Everybody is naturally photogenic. For example, what do you say? Or what advice would you give somebody who who actually does want to improve their personal brand but maybe does have that fear factor? What might it look like working with you to get them in front of that camera and make them comfortable?
Zahrina Robertson Oh, I think it’s It’s that comes down to one word. I’m about fun. It’s like you know, this is This is exciting. It is exciting to help people unpack their passion and love it and and and me curate it with the marketing spin and the branding spin for them. Nothing else spends my wheels and I love it and I’ve got like, I’m doing a I am a video brand accelerated programme and it’s just this is all goes. It takes all my boxes of helping people because I know the difference I can make. And last year during Covid, I created some programmes and I went and did bitter bitter aspects of them, and I’m really, really I love the transformation. I helped people with their confident helping them feel comfortable in their own skin. And now I see them on doing on videos, and it’s just like, Oh, this is so cool. You know, this is very cool, you know, and they all learned it from me to help them ease into it better. So I’m like that cheerleader. So you really do need a good cheerleader behind you, you know, like in someone who’s actually smart. About what? About how and to turn up and what to say about your content and your branding. And it’s wonderful. It just ticks all my boxes can men and women, right? You know what I mean?
#storytellerjewels Yeah. I mean, I can hear it in your voice. And I loved it in your bio where you said where you say that you know, you are the cheerleader for your clients and whose biggest challenges recognising their own potential and I imagine getting out of their own way is part of the challenge. Right?
Zahrina Robertson So it is. But it’s also part of my story as well. So, you know, I myself has been, like a little bit of it myself. I’m you know, at times I feel like, you know, I’ll do you know, like that the hiding of me has been so especially sometimes when you’re going through change and evolving and and you’re thinking and you’re just thinking and you go into that space and it’s very interesting about, really, I guess, uh, you think about who you are and then how do you want to be seen? And you know, and and and and it’s evolving it. It’s very interesting, like for me going through what I preach right does that make sense and that that’s where I’m being. And now I know the other side of the equation is because the you know, like the nine weeks that I help people through is actually all from personal experience. So it’s been really good programme that I’ve developed my from my own story to help people go through for their own story to be seen. So there’s brand of storytelling and relatable, and it’s great content so that they become influencing person about for their niche. So when you work, you know
#storytellerjewels you have worked with a number of fabulous different celebrities and I’ll come back to a question on that in a second. But what other than the famous ones. Can you give me an example of someone? And you don’t need to use names if you don’t want to. But what’s the transformation look like for somebody who goes through a programme with you from somebody who is perhaps a little bit unknown in their space to becoming a celebrity, I guess, Or a mini celebrity in their own in their own world.
Zahrina Robertson I tell you, all the clients I’ve dealt with over the years, I’ve launched them, you know, and I’ve put them out there and help them be really credible and relatable. Um, and I think that, uh, part of it is getting well for me. I hope I hope, really, really support people with their, um, their content and their messaging. So what? And how they’re turning up now and where they want to be? I help them with that gap. It’s really it’s vital. People don’t necessarily, um, they see themselves or something. But when you’ve got eyes of you, of you giving you the clarity, then there’s a mismatch. So that mismatch just needs to be. It needs to really be, uh, straightened up. So I help people with that mismatch and I’m really enjoy doing that, actually, because it enlightens people to what’s possible to bigger things about themselves. And it’s really exciting to see, like I’ve got clients that, you know, say millionaires, right. And they wanted their branding done and there before images and they the way they’re coming across like a you know, a barista living in manly, you know? So I create a from the barista living in Manly, just sorting them, looking like who they really are and making that that message and their vibe turn up. You know, that personality turned up in all sorts of different ways and in all sorts of different images and settings and the same video. I love it.
#storytellerjewels So when you talk about this mismatch of branding, what do you mean by that? Can you explain that to me?
Zahrina Robertson There’s a lot of people I see on linked in. There’s a lot of people that talk to me all the time about their personal brand. And before they even speaking to me, I’m looking them up like you’d look up other people like everybody would look at me, you know, and see, like check her out. You know, Facebook spying, You know, whatever that is, we’re all spying. And we’re getting a vibe about who is this person we’re making a judgement on. Who is this person? And so the judgement, the spying, the whole shebang is all being curated either for you or against you. So at the end of the day, do you want your spies looking at you for you or against you?
#storytellerjewels I think that’s a really interesting point because, you know, I think I’ve suffered a bit from that over the years. I’ve had many different types of careers over the last 30 odd years now and sort of reinvented myself, if you like, over a couple of periods of time. And some people know me from an era that no longer exists. If that makes sense that some people know me from who I was maybe 20 years ago, um and so changing that persona, I’m still the same person. I still do the same, you know, I still have to bring the same energy, and I still have the same quality and things like that in my work ethic. But what I do and who I work for or with has changed over the years. So for somebody like me, what does that sound like? You know, if I was to roll up to your studio and say, Hey, I just need to make myself look like the current Now what does that? What does that entail?
Zahrina Robertson Well, firstly, you just don’t roll up at my studio right thing. Number one, we’re not allowed to. And Number two I, you know, it’s It’s not about rolling up. It’s about understanding. And I take my clients through a customers and I have a conversation with people and and I work out their strategy going forward. Working with me, I curate their brands. Um, it’s not like, you know, there’s a lot of photographers and people out there You go, you know, stand in front of the wall and there’s dodgy brick wall and smart, and that’s boring. And so that’s not what I do. So I take people through a whole lot of layers about their branding, and it’s about it’s not even just the visual part of it all. It’s about the messaging behind the branding, behind the images and the videos that’s really important to break down.
#storytellerjewels I love that because You’re right. You do. You can go pay for photography almost ubiquitously anywhere. Um, and it is there a fair bit of that is just turning up, turning the lights on, standing, standing and smiling. But I love the fact that you take people on on the journey and of discovery of discovery of themselves. Um, and the viewpoint that you take, you know what? What does your what’s the impression that people have of you, I think is really important and really important going forward. So I love love what you do. Um What I what really attracted me to you as well was the fact that you’re not just the person behind the camera, either. You seem to have done a pretty good job at stepping is one of the camera yourself, right? So tell me about that. Because I do see a lot of creatives who hide Hide is maybe a harsh word but hide behind the camera and are very good at what they do, but don’t necessarily do it for themselves. How important is it to do it for yourself?
Zahrina Robertson It’s interesting. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to be the brand or be the person in front of the lens. No way. And then I was like, No, my work to speak for itself. Um, go to my website, check out my work. It’s fine. Forget that. So then I guess that everybody just rubbed off on me. Um, all sorts of different people rubbed off on me, especially the clients, because they’re geniuses of what they do. They thought leaders, speakers, entrepreneurs They’re go getters. Their coaches, their consultants. Mama Mia. Women men love them all. 100 year old client I had as a female woman in business dealing with her, you know, two young kids, like I’ve done the whole shebang, the gambit of all sorts of walks of life. Um, but I never wanted to really feel like Oh, no, it’s not needed. I don’t need to do that. But then everybody just rubbed up on me. But then again, they triggered my marketing sense and my branding. Knauss and I wrote books I’ve written, you know, one competitions. I’ve won a lot of awards and, um and I speak on branding and I find that standing on stage and talking and empowering people is nothing more fulfilling than helping them do that. And I love it. I just love it. I think it’s really a part of me. I know that I like, um, risk taking. I like putting myself out there pushing myself and my limits and my boundaries. I don’t just stay in the one. What do you call it? The one lane, Um, and it’s been really enlightening. I mean, I remember when people go Oh, you’re speaking, you write in the book and you’ve done more books and all that sort of stuff. And oh, are you leaving photography? No, no, I’m just adding the feather to my cat. I mean, were you know, there’s a big part of the story is that you know, you’re here for a short time, make the most of it, so why not? You know, And that’s why it leads me to the art story in the art journey and and and doing what I want to do and how I want to do things. It’s been really and also working with people you want to work with. It’s important. You know what I mean. The vwhole lot is important.
#storytellerjewels Absolutely. Are you able to quantify perhaps the difference that your own personal brand has had on your business. Compared to say, when you went in front of the camera, when you were only behind the camera versus getting in front of it and building your own brain
Zahrina Robertson totally, Totally. Because now you know, like I’ve got my you know, my nine week branded video brand accelerator. I’ve got online programmes I take people through. They know me, they trust. They like me because they’re getting to know me or they’ve gotten to know me or they know of my work and I’m doing my reputation. So it’s all hand in hand, and then you just work with the people that really want to work with you and get your vibe and your energy. And if you’ve got something to help people with and you just do it and you attract those people, it’s all values based. But at the end of the day, if I didn’t do what I was doing, I didn’t write a book. If I didn’t get up on stage, if I didn’t take the risks of of putting myself ovut there to speak about what I know to be true, then I sort of still be the boring one dimensional photographer than that. I know that I’d be frustrated soul with Do you know what I mean? I I know I’d probably be frustrated, but then again, because we’re always evolving, I wouldn’t even know what to think. I just know that that I’ve always known since I was a little that this is something bigger out there for me. And I guess I’m just on that journey of learning and pushing myself to that point. Mhm. What? What? What is that big thing that’s out there? You know, it’s, you know, it’s it’s interesting. It’s very interesting,
#storytellerjewels something that seems to be pretty common across all the people that I speak with, particularly those who who more in front of the camera these days than they ever used to. Whether that’s camera, whether that’s in public, somehow speaking books, authors, whatever that looks like, that it was not necessarily something. They just go straight to the deep end into they Often, you know, it’s a journey of evolution. They start with something quite simple. Um, you know, perhaps it’s their first video of their first photo shoot or something like that maybe they start writing a little bit more or perhaps speak at their local chamber of commerce or something like that. It always starts pretty small, but does tend to evolve into bigger and better things once they realise the impact and the power that it actually has. Is that how your journey has progressed?
Zahrina Robertson Yeah, it’s all for the little baby steps, you know. And um, yeah, yes, it’s all baby steps and and and And that’s where the the fun is. You know, it’s just I love it. I just I really do love it. I I find it quite empowering. You know, it’s baby steps. I mean, it’s just amazing that he’s got to baby steps in your own time, in your own way. I mean, what customers it like. You know, I’ve been watching you for, like, 10 years, five years, years, You know, things like that already. Now. Okay, you know, so, so interesting, so interesting. People take it at different stages of where they feel ready, and it’s a deep feeling, you know, it’s so interesting. It’s deep or its pushed. It’s, um, it’s, you know, it’s it’s peer pressure. People around you trying to, you know, doing things that you do. It is really interesting. Really interesting.
#storytellerjewels You’ve also worked with a whole bunch of pretty famous celebrities. How did you get into those kind of gigs? And what was it work like working for somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger? It was great. Oh, my gosh. It was lovely. Yeah, I love that. How did it come about? Yeah, No, I was again personal branding reputation. Obviously, I can deliver on what I’m gonna do and say and so that was exciting. So that’s what I did, and I got asked to do it. And, um, I was the only female photographer to be asked to do that. And it’s great. Yeah. Great opportunities come my way. I love it. I just love what I do. And recently I’ve been, you know, photographed the the the psychologist Lady on, married at First Sight and and then and then the other lady I photographed is the Ninja Warrior. She’s great. She’s wonderful, you know? So it’s all it’s all it’s, it’s and it’s so interesting to to work with people, you know, even that the TV stars, I mean there is, can be as what we call it, timid and shy, as most people can be. But, you know, put a camera and or put them where they want to be. It’s very interesting. It’s very cool.
#storytellerjewels You also mentioned that you started to do some art and have started to blend some of those some of your works into what you do. Tell me a bit about that and how that came about.
Zahrina Robertson I just one day I just was just I don’t even know I was just doing. I was just thinking and doing and looking for something that could be a creative act. Like I tell you the truth, I’m really, really good at what I do. I’m a master and the mistress and the queen of what I do like I know how to pick up a camera and take a great photo. One photo. I know how to do it. It’s no question about it. It’s and then I was just sort of like, What can I challenge you to challenge myself? And I ask that question to myself, and I’ve you know, I’ve written books and you know, when I speak on stage, but I just want something What is it that I can do for myself? Maybe? And then I just He never painted in my life, ever. And I just picked up the started playing, playing around with paints and things, and I started developing that and it got addictive. And then it got to a brand, and then it got to a business. And then it’s like My God has exploded and then it’s only just really being launched. It’s really only going to be launched this week next week. So it’s been very interesting. Journey, um, watching it evolve and grow. And it’s something that I love doing the art the arena gallery dot com Zahrina artists on Instagram And this is something that I like working with. It’s a balance. It’s it’s like some people like to write. Ah, and I and I like to. I work with colour and flow of paint and very interesting. You know,
#storytellerjewels You’re clearly very talented because you do take beautiful photographs and you’re right. You know how to take a good photograph. But your artwork is beautiful as well. So you do have a creative streak. It’s not good. I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted to paint, but I just I guess I’ve never picked it up. So it’s just one of those things that I’ll get to someday, I’m sure.
Zahrina Robertson Oh, no. But I said that I said that. My gosh, I said, Oh my God, I honestly think as well as planning and creating the work that you see on zahrinagallery.com like I was looking at going Hang on. Some people do this when they’re 80 60 something and whatever’s and later I’m like Oh dear, I’m enjoying it. I’m doing it now, you know? So why not? I mean, there’s even look. I mean, at the end of the day, there’s people who are doing it now, you know, and enjoying it, you know?
#storytellerjewels So what advice would you give? Someone who wants to improve their personal brand but just maybe doesn’t know where to start?
Zahrina Robertson Well, they were gonna call with me, and that’s that. And, um, I think basically, I think that it’s it’s it’s basic. Start your what your values are. You know, start where your values are, who you what you stand for, who you are as a person and then go from there and then, you know, And then things will start to evolve, really. But I always get guidance you want to get. Somebody is not a yes person. Someone who really pushes the buttons about what your decisions and things like that. That’s what I like doing. I love doing that. I like pushing back on people what their thoughts and beliefs are and then coming to the middle ground. It’s really interesting.
#storytellerjewels Imagine people’s beliefs are part of the thinking, part of the reason that they hold back as well. Is that true?
Zahrina Robertson Very true. Very true. You know, we only grow. We only grow up with what we know, you know? And so do you. Do you find, um this happens naturally for people like of all ages Do people eventually get to a point where they go? You know what? I just need to clean my act up. Or is it still only a select few that they go down the formal branding, if you like. No, that’s interesting. I’m, you know, again, it’s like the 1% is are you? The 1% are in the world. Are you not, you know, like the 1% is that the Richard Branson’s and the you know, the Ellen asks. You know, these people amazing mind. Amazing. You know, they just do it right. So there’s the people and and Yeah, I think I’m I think encouragement. And I don’t know, I guess this is two things you’re you’re either you’re the 1% of them you’re not. You know, you’re either doing it or you’re not. You know, the people that are doing it are doing it. I love that There is only a certain amount of people that are go getters like that, and they are the select few. But they do tend to succeed because they keep pushing those boundaries. They keep trying new things. They do take risks. They’re willing to put themselves out there. I think it’s a hugely important asset if you if you want to be good, not just your personal brand, but your personal business, your business, whatever that may look like. And you and your wealth, Um, it’s imperative that you get out there that you actually push those boundaries. I think we should all do that a little bit more.
#storytellerjewels Yep, definitely, definitely. I’ve really enjoyed having a chat with you today, Zahrina . I’ve got a closing question that I like to ask all my guess if someone paid you a million dollars to pick your brain But you only had a few minutes to share your thoughts. What would you say to them?
Zahrina Robertson if they paid me a million dollars? Did you say? Yeah. Oh, um, if the premier million dollars, what would I say?
#storytellerjewels How would you help them? But you only had a few minutes.
Zahrina Robertson Help them buy help them by asking them. Where would they put that money? Help other people putting it back on them? You know, like trying to work out like it’s not about, You know, it’s kind of like, not about me. And it’s not about you. It’s about how other people are going to help other people.
#storytellerjewels Nice Zahrina, how can people find out a little bit more about your Where can they find out about you online?
Zahrina Robertson Uh, it’s zahrinaphotography.com and people can book in time to, um, have a brand consultation with me, which is great. And then, um, Sydney, I’m based around the world because I’ve got this brand X video brand accelerator about to be launched. So, um yeah, money on my website linked in Instagram. It’s always Zahrina Robertson. Zahrina Photography is that Did I hate for Harry? R I N a mhm fabulous.
#storytellerjewels Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
Zahrina Robertson Thank you. Thanks for having me. Thank you. Bye. Thank you.
#storytellerjewels I enjoyed that chat with Zahrina and it’s clear that she has a passion for work. And I love the way she describes herself as a cheerleader for her clients. It’s great to have somebody on your side that is willing to be there and help push you to get some good work done. She is an advocate of the quality aspect, and I agree there is a certain quality that you need. But I worry that some people maybe won’t execute in order to go for that perfection. So to me, execution beats perfection every time. But I do agree that a certain quality is necessary to stand out from the crowd. I can’t wait to bring you the next episode. Much love chat Soon.