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Rusty Shelton is the Founder and Chairman of Zilker Media, a boutique agency offering comprehensive marketing solutions for thought leaders and their associated companies. Over the last two decades, he has held high-level positions and is now the Senior Marketing Strategist at Advantage Media Group (formerly Shelton Interactive). Having spoken at Harvard at age 23 about the evolving world of PR and marketing, Rusty has established himself as a respected voice in his field.

Rusty is also a best-selling author and an active keynote speaker, regularly addressing audiences about building thought leadership, navigating the shifting media landscape, and enhancing impact with authority marketing. He taught over 20 Harvard Medical School CME courses and has spoken for organizations, including YPO, EO, SXSW Interactive, and various Fortune 1000 companies.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:05] Rusty Shelton talks about Zilker Media and the services they offer
  • [05:11] How brands can thrive using quiz marketing
  • [11:36] What online brands can do to build authority
  • [15:10] What are the quickest ways to build trust
  • [18:14] Rusty discusses the challenges leaders face in building their personal brands
  • [27:11] Building thought leadership focused on impact
  • [33:09] Rusty’s journey growing an agency and selling it and the lessons he learned
  • [40:47] Zilker Media’s customer success stories
  • [46:06] The value of hiring a CEO

In this episode…

In today’s fast-paced and constantly changing digital world, establishing a personal brand that is both authentic and trustworthy is crucial to your success. So, what can you leverage to do it effectively?

While building a powerful personal brand can be challenging for many entrepreneurs, there are several effective methods that Rusty Shelton, a seasoned expert in this area, learned to help you achieve this goal. He recommends using quiz marketing to generate leads, conducting online brand audits to improve searchability, and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry to stand out. Listen to this episode to discover why creating a personal brand is essential and how Rusty built his own.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, host Dr. Jeremy Weisz welcomes Rusty Shelton, Founder and Chairman of Zilker Media, to discuss the secrets of building people-driven brands. Rusty talks about Zilker Media’s services, quiz marketing, tips for growing your authority as an online brand, the challenges leaders face building personal brands, and how to build thought leadership focused on impact.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “The quickest way to build trust is not to be positioned as a company or an operator with something to sell but instead, a mission-driven thought leader was something to teach.”
  • “There are good narcissists and bad narcissists. It just depends on how you channel it.”
  • “A leader today has to build trust before they get in the room.”

Sponsor for this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

You are listening to Inspired insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 0:22

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspired where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve rusty Shelton of Zilker media. Rusty, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast since and by the way, if you’re watching the video you can see here I have a rusty coffin the book with Adam Whitney here. The authority advantage building thought leadership focused on impact, not ego. So some of the past episodes. I had Michael Gerber of the E Myth he was on and then there’s a you don’t view your Rusty’s heads covering right now. But you can see the one thing there you go. But the one thing I’m actually he has helped the one thing with their promotion and other things. We’ll talk about that. And I had Jay Pappas and on the podcast talking about the one thing which is a great book, never split the difference by Chris Voss, one of my favorite books. And that was a great interview that and many more, check them out on inspired This episode is brought to you by rise 25 and rise 25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast, we do the strategy, the accountability and the full execution production. For us. We call ourselves kind of the magic elves that run in the background and make it look easy for the host and to get the content out and everything else, making sure it happens. You know, for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I have found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world they’re working on. So you’ve thought about podcasting you should if you have questions, go to RiSE 20 And a big shout out. Thank you Lisa tenor is also a past guest. Check that out. Right? She always raves about rusty and the help that you provided her. And Adam witty is a past guest of course, who is your co author here for his books at advantage media. And amazing, just shared some amazing insights. And Dr. herbiers Singh also is instructive. You know, we are meant to meet at some point with all these connections. So thanks to all of you. And Rusty Shelton’s founder and chairman of Zilker media. And they handle PR digital marketing platform development for some of the world’s most respected brands and thought leaders. So I’m most excited about two is we will talk about some of the services they provide. And I think their quiz marketing, what they’re doing with quiz marketing is amazing. So we’re gonna break that down a little bit, and he’s gonna show what they do and how they do it. Because I’ve not seen anyone really doing that what, what they’re doing with with the quiz marketing. He’s also senior marketing strategist at Forbes books. He’s, you know, he first spoke at Harvard on the world of PR marketing at 23. And he’s focuses really his career in helping leaders build thought leadership. He’s written three books. He’s spoken around the world to audiences such as YPO, EO, Harvard Medical School, and, again, check out the book The Authority advantage, they co authored with Adam witty, he’s a proud member of EO, Austin. So rusty, thanks for joining me,

Rusty Shelton 3:43

Jeremy. Thanks for having me. I’m actually rolling off the EO Austin board this year after a two year stint in strategic partnership. So my wife’s happy and let’s get a little bit of time back.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 3:53

A lot of time back. We’re gonna dig into authority, the book The Authority advantage, but But first, I want to just have you talk about Zilker media and what you do.

Rusty Shelton 3:53

Sure, so Zilker media, we’re an agency focused on helping clients and companies build people driven brands. So really, the focus for us with the agency is taking all of the things that we’ve learned on building thought leadership for authors and publishers through the years with some of the biggest books in the world. And we’re now taking that and applying it to institutions, to companies to nonprofits, who many of which are still leading with a corporate logo that, you know, people are more skeptical about than they’ve ever been. And so the quickest way to build trust, as we’ll talk a little bit about today is not to be positioned as a company or an operator with something to sell but instead of a mission driven thought leader was something to teach

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 4:48

it well. I want to dig into the quickest way to build trust, but I have to ask about the quizzes because I’m fascinated by this. And you know, you’ll see if you’re watching The video can see where the Zilker media and you can see the PR brand strategy, digital marketing, quiz, marketing. But I want to hit on the quiz marketing for a second and how you came up with it and what this is exactly.

Rusty Shelton 5:12

Sure. So this was a light bulb that went off for us with a launch that we did for the book. You can see in the middle here, the Confidence Code. So this was eight, nine years ago at my previous agency, Shelton interactive, and we were hired to go to the PR launch for that book. It was published by Harper business, it was written by Claire Shipman and Katty, Kay, and Claire and Kathy came to us a couple months before the book came out. And they said, Hey, we want to do a confidence quiz related to this book. And we want to allow people to go in, take the quiz, figure out, do they have low, medium or high confidence. And so we said, Alright, we’re gonna figure out a way to do this. And I’ll never forget Jeremy, when I got the attachment for the quiz, Claire and Katie had worked with some researchers at Ohio State University, I got the attachment, I opened it up. And I clicked through this thing. And it is, like 50 Questions long, some of the most intrusive demographic questions like the first version of this thing was just breaking every rule. And so I said, a call clear up and I was like, nobody’s gonna take this thing. It’s just way too intrusive. And she said, Well, we’ve worked on so long with them, we can’t back out now. It’s like, Alright, we’ll see how it goes. Well, I’ve eaten more crow on that quiz than almost any other one that I’ve worked on through the years. So we’ve today had almost a quarter million people take that quiz. And in that first year, 100 plus 1000. People, it was a huge lightbulb for us. Because Jeremy really the the key thing there is when authors or individuals go out and do a bunch of media, whether they’re doing interviews, or speaking, etc. You know, they’re reaching a lot of people but but unfortunately, that that softball question that gets asked by the host at the end, hey, where can our audience go for more information? Usually, the answer to that is, well, hey, books out on the market, you can go grab it on Amazon, or head over and learn more about how to work with me and and again, that’s like a Hail Mary pass, we might have one person out of 100, that’s ready to buy that book immediately, or one person out of 1000 that’s ready to reach out to learn more. So instead, what happens when you’ve got a great lead magnet, in this case, a quiz which we see perform hands down better than any other lead magnet? The answer to that question is not hey, go buy my book. It’s a I’m sure a lot of members of your audience are curious how confident they are, we get that question so much. We’ve teamed up with some researchers and created a free confidence quiz, you can go take that at the confidence Well, you siphon off, as you know, a much larger piece of that audience. And most importantly, you extend your interaction with that group of people, you give yourself a chance to nurture them. And so quiz marketing for listeners and viewers, if you have not tried that, at the very least it allows you to give great free value. For people that come into your website at the best it is hands down the most effective, elegant next step to take somebody from real estate somebody else owns and bring them back to a place where you can own the connection to them.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 8:14

And you can make it fun, like if you’re looking at this right, so I pulled up the we saw the Confidence Code. I love your austenite quiz. You’re rusty, because you make it fun here. You can see doesn’t do these questions, but you have these gifts, like what time of day, should you eat breakfast tacos, right? And so you can make it fun. It doesn’t have to be just like, stale multiple choice thing. And so I love what you do with with these two.

Rusty Shelton 8:40

Yeah, it’s you gotta make it fun for a lot of the different versions of this the narcissism test that you brought up there. We’re almost at half a million people that have taken that and this is one for your listeners. This was based on a book called rethinking narcissism. And the basic premise of this is there’s good narcissists, and there’s bad narcissists, and it just depends on kind of how you channel it and so this one you know, as you can imagine, Jeremy you got a lot of like tongue in cheek, Facebook,

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 9:07

people probably sending it to their friends like I think you should take the narcissist quiz,

Rusty Shelton 9:12

tagging brother in law on Facebook, that kind of thing. So yeah, this one was a lot of fun. There’s a virality to it. Oh there is in the cool thing is media loves talking about free quizzes. And so when you have something like this during the interview, a lot of times the host will have taken it ahead of time, you can talk them through results. But the biggest thing that I would encourage people to think about Jeremy, if if anybody listening to this is spending a dime, on PR on advertising on marketing, and you don’t have a great lead magnet, like a quiz or like a free download, you know, as Rhys 25 has or others, you’re missing an opportunity because you may be driving a lot of interest into your website, but if you don’t have a way for them to extend their interaction with you and your company, other than and calling you, you’re missing a lot of opportunity there just to nurture those people you reach.

Jeremy Weisz 10:06

And then I think you can correct me if I’m wrong, rusty, but people can go to the authority marketing book. Right? And there you have a quiz there. We do.

Rusty Shelton 10:17

So the authority mark, excuse me, actually, for the new book, The Authority advantage You can go in and there’s some free resources there. You can access an authority assessment, etc.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 10:31

Yeah, yeah.Yeah. Because you think I saw that you have an authority IQ or a 30? Quiz, right? Exactly.

Rusty Shelton 10:38

Yep, got that built out. And, and it’s a good way for people to kind of dip their toe in the water with where they are right now. And you can get some free resources related to the book as well.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 10:48

Yeah. But what’s cool about that, though, is when you because I saw it, and I’ll try and pull it up here. I know that the URL probably goes directly here. But you can kind of see when you take the quiz, you can kind of see the thought process, your thought process, right? So like, when you look at this Google page one search results, well, you should probably go on Google, Google your name, and you have certain methodology on that and see where you come up. And these are things to improve on. Obviously, that’s what the quizzes, so maybe you can walk through a few of these. Just what your recommendations on how to improve these, I don’t know which one do you find is the lowest hanging fruit for people when increasing their authority?

Rusty Shelton 11:36

I think the biggest thing, Jeremy is just to kind of put yourself in the shoes of somebody that’s been referred to you, let’s let’s kind of walk through an online brand audit for a second. So if I’ve just sold my agency here in Austin, and I’m looking around for referrals on a great financial advisor, you’re one of four or five people that gets referred to me. First thing I’m going to do is go kick the tires, right on that recommendation, I’m gonna try to figure out okay, is my buddy that outlier and having a great experience with you? And so, on my brand audit, put yourself in my shoes. Again, I’ve been referred to you. If I’m going to Google and pop it in your name, number one, can you be found? And if the answer to that is no, there are one of two reasons why right? Either you’ve just kind of intentionally been a ghost online up to this point. And it’s so cool, we’re going to try to walk you over that today. The second more common reason is, you either have a name that is common enough that you share it with tons of people. So think like David Scott, or, you know, Jim Smith or something like that, or you have a really unique name that you’re unlucky enough to share with, you know, an NBA basketball player or an axe murderer from the 70s. And so part of what we want to have people think about Jeremy is, if you can’t be found right now, does it make sense for you to change your name, we tell the story in the book, where we talk about David Meerman, Scott, who’s one of my favorite PR and marketing authors, he was kind enough to write the foreword to our book, his name is David Scott. And what he recognized really early in his career is as he was going out and speaking and getting referrals, if people were getting referred to David Scott, they’re gonna have to pack a lunch and go 10 pages deep on Google to find him because of the competition around that name. So his name, and your listeners

Dr. Jeremy Weisz 13:18

You’re not going to mistake the middle name, you know, Meerman Yeah, right.

Rusty Shelton 13:22

Right. Right. So David Scott’s a very crowded piece of real estate, when he adds in his middle name Meerman, he walks across the street, right to a piece of real estate that’s empty, and immediately own search. So tactically for your listeners? Do you have a name you can own? And if the answer to that is no, let’s add a middle initial or a middle name. And then let’s go with that full stop. In other words, that’s what’s on your LinkedIn profile that’s on the front cover of your book. That’s how you’re introduced on stage, etc.