Ep 171 - Your Powerful Story With Tory Archbold

Jun 01, 2022

Tory Archbold - CEO, entrepreneur and business coach - gives women the blueprint to step into their power and build personal brands and businesses that deliver global impact.

Naturally, when the opportunity arose, I simply HAD to sit down with Tory for a chat about how women in business can articulate their story (while leaving out the personal bits you want to keep for yourself) and to connect with their audiences while taking their brand to the next level!

When it comes to branding, how do you help people show up consistently? Why do you think it's so important to have brand consistency? 

I had 60 little black dresses when I ran my PR company, Torstar, for two decades. I don't think there was a little black dress that I didn't love. Even though they all varied in shapes and sizes, I was known as the girl in the little black dress, right?

So it became rinse and repeat. 

I was the woman that made everything happen behind the scenes. The reliable person that understood brand strategy that could deliver extraordinary results with her team. Now when we used to turn up to events, I used to say to my team as well ¨wear a little black dress¨. We became the team of little black dresses.

I think that when you structure your brand or you think about what your brand needs to align with, to attract and to deliver results, whether it's a product or service, whether you're a corporate warrior, an entrepreneur, whatever it is, you need to have a baseline that people remember you for.

I often give the example of Russell Crowe who was sick of being followed and photographed by the paparazzi, so he decided that when he bought the Sydney Rabbitohs, he was just going to wear the same outfit all the time.

What happened was, rather than pictures of him selling for 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 or $50,000, the value of photographs of him decreased BUT the brand he wanted to associate himself with - the Rabbitohs - became what actually stuck in everyone's minds.

He's been doing that for over a decade now and I don't think there's a shot out there, except if it's on a movie set, where he's not wearing some of that merchandise. He's aligned himself with a brand that he wants to reflect his values, his intent and purpose.

You might be known as that woman in the colourful dress, or Russell Crowe might be known as the guy that wears the Rabbitohs outfits, but once you step into something that people don't expect, guess what they do?

They reach out, they connect, and they want answers. 

When I stepped out of Torstar into Powerful Steps, I wasn’t going to be that woman in the 60 little black dresses anymore. I knew that I could literally be whoever I wanted.

So I decided I could wear whatever I wanted but I was going to have consistency in how I presented myself, which is why you can see this painting behind me which is by Mia Galo. It's a bit cheeky actually, and it was in my first office. Now it actually serves as the backdrop for everything that I do with Powerful Steps. 

Now, so many people say to me, “I love that pink painting. Where did you get that pink painting?”

It’s a talking point, but it's also consistency. When you build a brand, what you wear actually delivers a powerful message if it's consistent.

When it comes to crafting your brand story, one misconception can be that you need to drop all privacy and share EVERYTHING. How do you help people craft their brand story and what they want to be known for?

I believe that if you own your story, you own your power.

And I say that whether you're selling products, whether you're selling services, or whether you're working in corporate. Before you even know what you're going to say to the outside world, you need to actually know yourself.

When we talk about getting to know yourself, you can break that down into five categories: 

  1. Where did you grow up? 
  2. What did you want to be when you left school? 
  3. What changed for you between leaving school, and starting on your path?
  4. What is your story of success and survival?
  5. What is your ‘phoenix from the ashes’ story that propelled you into true alignment?

Those are the five parts of the story that you've got to look out for - everybody has them, but different audiences are going to connect to different parts of your story, and not all parts of your story are for the public. 

A lot of them are deeply private, but you CAN control your digital footprint, if you understand the power of your story. 

Look at the synchronicities and the patterns in your story because they will tell you the answer. 

They will show you what your superpower is. They will show you what your values are, what your intent and your purpose is, and that is how you build a powerful brand. 

That is also how you take ownership of the good, the bad and the ugly in your life.

You can manipulate the data by using the power of your story. You can manipulate the data by using key brand words in your SEO, or by doing interviews with the right people so that it becomes a really powerful brand. 

That's how you build a business, by taking people on a journey through the power of storytelling, whether you have a product or service is irrelevant. When you understand the power of what you're creating, and you use those five points as lead magnets, anything is possible.

What you built with Torstar is incredibly impressive, especially through your 20s, leaving a business like that is a really hard process. How did you exit and did you have doubts? 

I built my first business on my intuition. I've always been able to see the runway, not only in my business, but in other people's business as well. So there was this feeling in my stomach for about three or four years, because I hadn't told anyone about the success and survival part of my story. 

I had to create space for new beginnings because when you have the space, you can then really start tapping into your intuition again, and my intuition kept saying to me, “all of this is leading to the next journey of life.” 

The game-changing moment for me came when I had been letting everyone else run my business. I had to trust them, because I had to focus on myself when I was overworked, burnt out and I knew that there was a new journey coming. At the time, we were launching Kate Spade into Australia and I remember my team saying “I know you're not a morning person Tory, but will you come along to this launch? The team is coming in, the global team’s coming in, and I think it's important that you meet them.”

So off I go and we get to chatting. I asked “what other brands are you launching?”, and they said, “we're launching Victoria's Secret in six weeks into Australia.”

Of course, when I launched Zara into Australia, that was like a big bucket list brand to launch.
We had 22,000 people come through on the day of launch; a million dollars in sales. They say it was the biggest retail launch in Australian retail history.

But Victoria's Secret? It was  a billion dollar brand! Why weren’t we considered for this?

I’d become irrelevant, and I had relied on other people to run my business. 

Fast-forward six weeks (and a LOT of emails, phone calls and advocacy from my connections), I'd won the Victoria's Secret business, I'd won Steve Madden, and Drew Barrymore’s spa beauty launch into Australia.

The universe always has things in store for all of us and as I was launching these brands, my gut intuition again told me that this is the last time. 

I found everyone in my business a new job in what they love doing as well. Everyone was happy and I was ready to trust that it was  time for new beginnings. 

I'm happier than ever because rather than selling my business for the millions of dollars that I could have got for it, I actually trusted in myself that I can do this again, but it's going to be bigger and better because the 20 years experience I've had creating and building brands will give me the runway and the benchmark for what's to come.

How was Powerful Steps born and how did you know that this was going to be your next one? 

I always say follow the signs because the signs will show you the way. 

I actually had been approached by Marie Claire magazine to do a story on single mums with global careers, and I knew it was time to share the power of  my life story. Everyone thought it was this global powerhouse creating and building brands, but when I went home, my life was not what they were saying it was.

Finally, I was able to actually share the power of my story and my daughter's story. I was always afraid of being judged if I said anything. I was afraid I would lose clients. I was afraid that I would lose everything, and the opposite happened. 

I came out with my story and the doors just opened. 

I learnt very quickly that we are the sum of our story. Our power, IS our story and I quickly understood that all of these women were reaching out to me saying, “I can't believe you've done that, I wish I could do it.” 

That was then I knew: that's my business. I'm going to help them create and build powerful brands, because I've done it for the best of the best. If I can show others that I can do it for myself, and transition from that little black dress into anything I wanted, then other people can do it too. 

How has your evolution taken place, and how have you navigated it?

Rome was not built in a day! 

For Torstar, 80% of my business was global and only 20% of my clients were local, so I decided to switch my thinking up. I wanted to build a grassroots business and focus on the Australian market. I'm going to get to know the Australian market, and I'm not going to tap into any of my global connections until year three of my business. 

So I have just been foundational; building the systems, building the platform, but most importantly, listening to what people want. I’ve held back what I would call is the “marketing firing squad” because I know how to build global impact, but I also know you've got one shot at it.

If you don't have the backend of your business right, if you don't have those systems in place, the customer experience, or the advocacy, you have no business. That's what we've been working on. 

This year is the year that we will launch into the US. I'm already mentoring a lot of high net worth individuals over there and I love it because they're going through the same thing that you and I went through.

I've been very calculated with the people that I take on, and also the community that we're building, because it's got to be people that are aligned with my values of, passion, integrity, and delivery. It's got to be high vibrational women that want to deliver global impact because I've got the skill set that can make that happen, but it has to be in alignment with my vibration because my role is to get them from A to B, and when they're at B, it's getting them from B to C and so on. 

You never stop growing as an entrepreneur or a corporate warrior. It's the people that you choose to have as a wingwoman that actually help elevate and activate that dream into reality.

Do you think it is worth getting third party media and partnerships to help take you to that next level? 

I built both of my multi million dollar businesses on coffee dates. It’s less than $10 for a mutual exchange of energy, so for the last 20 years of my life, I have always had a coffee date with someone in my tribe, exchange “how can I help you” and vice versa. 

When I started Powerful Steps I was like, God, I’d love to be on Oprah's podcast. I'd love to meet her and just have a cup of coffee and a chinwag.Now of course I'm not just going to call up Oprah, but you've got to work out how to navigate to get in the room, right? 

So how can I make it happen? I reached out to someone that knows her ex Chief of Staff and I asked, “can you introduce us?” 

How did I ask for that? Through a coffee date. 

So there I was, having a virtual coffee date in lockdown with her ex Chief of Staff. She wanted to do something with her new business, I wanted to do something with my business, and I said, “This is all about a mutual exchange of energy, how can I help you and vice versa?”

We ended up having a really great podcast chat, and that's how you advance; connecting but understanding that it's not a one way street. Connecting and understanding it's a mutual exchange of energy. If you help someone else they're always going to help you, and so when you pick up the phone to advance, you don't need to spend all this money on marketing. You're advancing with your own community but it's actually in alignment with what you stand for and where you're going and vice versa. 

That is the power of how you build a business.

Is celebrity still a thing? Is the influencer market still a thing?

I think celebrity is over. I think influence is in.

When we talk about influence, it is all about the way people carry themselves. It's the power of their message, what they stand for, what they do, day in and day out. I think today’s impact is all about influence, not celebrity. 

Gone are the days where you spend millions of dollars flying a celebrity out, because now you can do it on a Zoom call. The studios in Hollywood have probably woken up to the fact that they can save a ton of money and invest it in really powerful messaging and people of influence.

Will some one person rule the world as a celebrity? Absolutely not. Will a lot of people of influence be able to get a message out there? Absolutely. 

You just need to tap into the right advocates and when we talk about advocacy, it's not people with hundreds of thousands of followers, it's about the engagement and the community. There are so many businesses with less than 5,000 followers that are multi million dollar businesses, and they're multi million dollar businesses because they have the right audience and they have the right influence.

You're doubling down on your story too, and bringing a book out soon. Tell me about that. What are you writing about?

Three years ago before I got married was my book deadline, but I just decided to get married and focus on love and building my business. The timing for that wasn't right.

Also the power of your story evolves, it changes and goes through so many different turns in life. I feel like the timing for me is right now, so the book is all about finding your power. Finding your purpose. Unleashing that superpower that's within you, and showing people the roadmap of not only how I've done it, but how the people that I've worked with and partnered with have done it too. 

It's going to be a pretty powerful book jam-packed full of advice, and I always think a good book is a book you remember because of the stories that are told.

I want it to be a 360 experience for people who can immerse themselves in but also realize if I could turn that challenge into a possibility and shine a light for others, so can the readers. would love for people to know that it doesn't matter how old you are, you can take a small step, because a small step is a powerful step.

When you look at your business, what is the story that stands out for you that you are most proud of?

The story that sticks out for me the most is when I was a single mum for 12 years of my life and my first business. I feel that the lessons that my daughter grew up seeing in my business - the highs, the lows, the game-changing moments, have transformed her into the most empowered young woman now. 

I would like to think that even as a legacy piece, if any woman in business has the opportunity to pass a baton or shine a light for the next generation, that would be the greatest story and the greatest gift to remember.

Listen to our full interview with the extraordinary Tory Archbold right here on the Her Empire Builder podcast! 

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