When a recruiter or employer googles you, the results they find are a digital first impression of you … and what they see will leave them either more or less inclined to hire you.

Our featured guest today is yours truly, Stephen A. Hart.

Stephen A. Hart is a marketer, brand strategist and host of Trailblazers.FM, a top interview style podcast that explores stories of today’s successful black professionals. The podcast has featured more than 150 black professionals and has been heard by more than 200,000 from 132 countries around the world.

Stephen is a proud graduate of the University of South Florida, Tampa. He resides in Maryland, married to his wife Kristin of 11 years and the #bestdadever to his daughter Layla and son Nigel.




  • How are you progressing toward your goals and your long term vision? 
  • I’m big on those BHAGs, those big hairy audacious goals that we set for the long term. I personally do BHAGs for 10 years out and that then informs what I get done year to year.  
  • If this is the first time you’re hearing me talk about BHAGs, go back and listen to episodes 131 and 132 from last summer. 
  • I’m a very entrepreneurial being, and I host this amazing podcast and speak publicly at different events but these things are still much more fun and passion than it is full time revenue for me. 
  • I’m still gainfully employed to help ensure I can keep that happy wife happy life situation happening at the Hart house
  • I’ve opted to keep the podcast and my entrepreneurial desires to a side hustle more than a main squeeze. 
Takeaway #1: Get Clear On Where You’re Going To Need To Pivot 
  • It was almost a year ago, I heard some thing on the job I had then that gave me pause about my future with that company, and I knew then it was time for a shift. I’d been with them for 5 years and it was time for me to begin exploring what the future could and might look like. 
  • This required me over several months that followed to look at my BHAGs, look at the vision I wanted for myself and what I’d already accomplished.
  • I really had to have a heart to heart with myself and begin asking some tough questions: Who are you becoming? Are you happy? What do you want next? Are you going to be doing this just for the money? What are you still really passionate about? How would my next decision impact or aid what mattered most to me and my family?
  • I discovered that I wanted to remain a marketing professional, but that I wanted to incorporate some of the skills I’d developed on the side as a podcaster and all that podcasting had exposed me to within this sort of new media channel, and I wanted to bring that into my next 9-5 if possible.I wanted to connect with an organization that would embrace all of who I am and see the value I can bring. 
  • I didn’t want to have to show one side of me during the day and only expose the best parts of who I was becoming at night
Takeaway #2: Build Awareness Around That Future Version of You 
  • I began a slow and deliberate process to take much of what I’d taught others to do. I began to focus on optimizing my own personal brand. 
  • My resume and specifically, my LinkedIn profile began to be framed to tell a story about me that I wanted to share. Lesson here is that you are in control of the story others see about you online.
  • This required me to carefully craft the right sort of messaging and brand identity that would hopefully attract a very targeted set of organizations and repel everyone else.  
  • I can’t stress how important it was that my LinkedIn profile expanded on the framing of that resume. 
  • LinkedIn is visited daily by 100m users. Recruiters and employers are now actively using the platform to network, vet and recruit candidates. I used LinkedIn to my advantage in this job search process.
Takeaway #3: Position Yourself As A Credible + Knowledgeable Solution
  • In many cases we put ourselves in debt over our SOCIAL STATUS and positioning. We care so much about the location and size of the house we live in. We care about the brand of car we drive. We care about the schools and colleges our children attend. We put stock into the brand of companies we work for. Maybe you are that person or maybe you’re not. I think each of us cares about some or all of those. Either way, we don’t give equal value or are even aware of our digital status and the impression that is left there. 
  • When someone googles you, the results they find are a digital first impression of you. For a recruiter or an employer, probably upwards of 90% of them are going to absolutely go to your LinkedIn profile. And what they see there, will leave them either more or less inclined to hire you. 
  • My advice is that you must take the time to begin to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  • Give thought to how you’ll need to craft and position yourself visually. 
  • Take the time to craft a succinct, but engaging summary for your LinkedIn profile. Learn to pepper in keywords that will help those searching for the things you do, to find you.  
  • Give a recruiter or employer a quick view of why they want to consider taking the next step to reach out to you. What problem are you going to help them to solve? 
Takeaway #4: You’ve got to JUMP!
  • You’re afraid of the great unknowns. You’re afraid of having to interview for another job. You’re afraid of what might actually happen next. 
  • You’re never going to get out of the room you’re stuck in, if you never open the door to new opportunities. 
  • You’ve got to jump to justify your fear or opportunities. 
  • Nothing bad will happen if you don’t jump, but you won’t change or grow either. 
  • LinkedIn didn’t get me the job. I still had to go through countless job interviews and prove I was the right guy for them, but I was discovered there and I’m certain that my attention to the details are what helped to separate me from the crowd of 700 other applicants.
  • Ask yourself this question: If someone happens to land on my LinkedIn profile for whatever reason: a job, a business partnership, a future date or a future client, would they like/want what they saw? Would they be more or less inclined to take the next step and contact me? 
Takeaway #5: No Matter What: BE YOU! Be Your Own Unique Person
  • I was offered a job opportunity to be where I am today, because I was talented and skilled as a marketer yes, but I believe if you ask my team, they chose me because of my authenticity.  
  • I told them all about all sides of Stephen A. Hart. The guy who was a Marketing & Communications Manager, a top rated Podcaster, a Brand Strategist, a proud husband and father. 
  • I am now being asked to do what I genuinely LOVE and get paid for it. 
  • Anything is possible, but I’d like to believe my strategic approach lead to the success I’ve experienced this spring. 
  • I want each of you to get clear on your vision. If you’ve got to pivot from where you are now, explore the impact. Ask yourself some tough questions to determine how you will need to position yourself for the next move. 
  • Begin to position yourself digitally. Optimize your personal brand and tweak that messaging and brand identity to attract the types of people and organizations you really want to work with and remember this, it’s not everyone, so you’ll def need to repel those you don’t want. 
  • Remember that when you’ve got done tweaking, you’ve got to get out the plane. You’ve got to JUMP!
  • And lastly, you’ve got to remain authentic to who you are and what you’re wanting to do. Don’t paint a picture of something or someone you think they need or want.
  • BET on YOU! Bet on your strengths. Bet on your passion. Bet on the things you love and would love to do if they weren’t going to pay you a red cent. 
  • Thank you to my new work team if you’re checking this out. I’m excited and looking forward to the years ahead. I’m going to give you my all, because you also bet on me.
Hit me up right now on twitter @stephenahart or @tbpod and tell me your fav takeaway



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Join host Stephen A. Hart as he delves into bold conversations with brilliant Black professionals – self-driven founders, best-selling authors, and passionate leaders.

Each episode aims to teach actionable strategies, valuable tactics, and innovative tools, that you can put to use immediately on your journey to blazing your trail.

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