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A Surprising Hack For Keynote Writing & Personal Branding

Building 'Team Julius', Part 2

This is the second piece in the “Team Julius” series, where I share more about the people that help me perform at my best and enjoy myself in the process. Check out my feature of my editor and creative coach Rachel Jepsen here.

DallE japanese paint brush interpretation of the “Team Julius” ethos.

I had been aware of the Speak Like A CEO podcast for a while, but it was the episode with fellow musician, bandmate and investor Bryony Cooper that made me snap to attention. For years, I have been curious about how our positioning and reputation influence our careers. Here was a podcast that devoted their entire airtime to storytelling?

This is how I started looking into Oliver Aust, the host of the show… and the beginning of a string of insights on the topic of personal branding and positioning for me. 

For those of you who know me well: I am an aviation fan. Five hour layover at a big airport? No problem, I’ll watch the tarmac! When I book flights, I check which aircraft I’d be going in… that kind of nerd-level. There are very few people in the startup bubble who share this passion, let alone have worked in the space before. Oliver is one of them, he used to be Head of Communications and Public Affairs at easyJet. I had to get in touch.

Why was I interested in communications advisors, anyways? At the time, I wanted to reach more people with my work while keeping my reputation as a coach and senior advisor to entrepreneurs.

More specifically, I wanted to understand how I can better integrate my artistic and creative work in my coaching brand. How can I be “more of myself” professionally? I had (and still have) a book project titled “Creator Practices” that I just couldn't pin down in scope and how it would interact with my narrative. 

Oliver and I had lunch in a great Thai restaurant near my offices in Prenzlauer Berg in early May 2023. When I asked him, Oliver recalls our first encounter as a “deeply curious conversation, Julius being a true creator at heart.” I still remember the lightness and playfulness about Oliver that drew me in. When you meet him, you’ll experience part English gentleman, part a top-level advisor and part curious child ready for a shared adventure. 

This is Oliver, looking way more serious than I encountered him.

Back then, the Creator Practices project was quite daunting for me and I was intrigued by the lightweight approach he suggested to package and test drive my ideas. Oliver gave me the confidence of not taking this work too seriously. And, looking back, he said “I thought, if there is a way that we could work together somehow, we could learn a lot from each other – while enjoying the process.”

In the meetings that followed, I realized one thing: Positioning is not just something that “happens”. It is a process, and at best, it is consciously crafted and designed. So I shared my Creator Practice vision with Oliver and asked: how can I bring this huge concept to the world in a way that is light? How can I test my idea and find out if it resonates with the people I want to reach?

Oliver captured my personal branding predicament way better:

“Given his many talents and track record, Julius has more options and paths available to him than almost anyone. That’s a blessing and a curse. It makes it harder to balance the need to focus on “the main thing” with his desire to pursue different interests in parallel. 

This comes with another challenge: How can Julius communicate what he stands for, and what he does? Audiences crave simplicity – even from multifaceted people. They want to understand what you do, why they should listen to you, and the results you can get for them. 

And therein lies a conundrum. Focus on a narrow niche and it will be hard to grow beyond your initial 1000 true fans. Position yourself too broadly and you may never grow an audience in the first place because it is unclear why people should pay attention to you.”

As a quick reminder: Creator Practices follows the idea that entrepreneurs and artists at the top of their game share surprisingly similar tactics – and you can systematize and learn these tactics. If you’re intrigued, you can read more here.

This year, the concept of Creator Practices is coming to the test. I am continuing to run my coaching business while releasing my first solo record in 15 years, writing a book and starting a career training company. 

“Since Julius is an ambitious person, we discussed ways to compress the timeline for his biggest creative project – the Creator Practices book. Books hold a special meaning in a creator’s career (I’ve written four). A strong book can elevate and sharpen your thinking, position you as the author(ity) on a subject, and open new doors. 

The downside: It can take years to write, get published, and then promote a book – and yet the vast majority of books fail to find their audience. I therefore suggested we develop a TED-style talk together to articulate the main thesis of the book. This approach can save an author hundreds of hours while birthing a better book.”

This got my attention: pack the whole thing into a 15 minute speech. Preparing it can’t take more than a day! The idea was that the talk would encourage me to simplify, storify and distill my idea. There is a saying that “the audience is the genius”. A talk garners immediate feedback and helps an author to refine her idea quickly. 

Spoiler alert: Writing a good keynote takes a long time, especially if you’re new to the craft. Most manuscripts are too long and complicated. It takes serious editing to whip them into shape. 

But recording yourself over and over again and (ouch) actually listening back to it and iterating your speech is REALLY effective. That, of course, requires you to have the speech transcribed. ChatGPT dictation function does that really well for German and English, I realized. All the other services are expensive and Apple speech-to-text still sucks, even after years.

I wont say it’s easy but it’s become a lot smoother. Try it out!


  • Positioning and personal branding is a craft and it takes a ton of work to get it right consistently.

  • Write your keynotes by recording yourself speak on the topic. Let AI transcribe it and edit the manuscript to your liking. Repeat ten times.

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