Joe Binder Turned His Weakness Into His Greatest Asset

Written by Tom Fairey

14 March, 2022

WOAW Founder on Handling Adversity and Social Media Influencing

By his own estimation, Joe Binder was the “dumb kid” growing up. He was teased incessantly and ridiculed by his friends.

Like many kids in his situation, he could have internalised the criticism and let it guide him to lowered expectations. Instead, he fought back and used that negative talk to catapult him into something great.

“I knew that I wanted to be successful,” he told me during a recent interview for my podcast, Back Yourself. “I knew that I wanted to work hard. At the time I just really did not know how to do it and I didn’t have the infrastructure.”

What happened next was a remarkable transformation. He skipped school lunch to study instead in the library, and shunned hanging out with friends in favor of reading and research. When it came time to go to university, he was in for a surprise: He made it into Cambridge.

“Getting into Cambridge was a massive shock for me that was a solid piece of evidence of the fact that if you work your ass off there will be results and it will pay dividends down the line,” he said.

While uplifting, the prospect of going to Cambridge was daunting — all those smart people, and him. This sent him back to studying — this time, to learn what to expect.

Inspiration From the Humans of New York — in Cambridge

Binder searched the internet for something that would show him what to expect at Cambridge and was disappointed to find there was nothing. He expected to find profiles, something akin to the popular Facebook page Humans of New York, where people with compelling personal stories are featured along with a single captivating portrait.

He wanted something that would similarly show Cambridge students, shining a light on what student life is like while also dispelling the myths that have grown up around the school.

“I said to myself, As soon as I get there, I am starting this,” he said. “And so I did.”

Binder proved the concept that you define yourself — not other people. Bullying, of course, is not a good thing, but it is something that can be used to drive you forward. For Binder and a lot of other people, myself included, it is not the identity you want for yourself, and you know you can change it. For Binder, it was “I know I am not stupid, and I am going to prove it to everyone.”

Binder did create his Cambridge version of Humans of New York on Facebook called Students Of, and spread the concept to other U.K. schools as well as to universities in the U.K. and Italy, along the way managing a team of 20 people and enjoying success while also brainstorming ways to monetise it.

That started by more clearly understanding who their audience was and how to get them to migrate to Binder’s pages. Meanwhile, Binder was focusing on his own brand, building a loyal YouTube audience and reputation, and scaling it so the content engaged with more people, which in turn builds his audience and reputation in a positive feedback loop.

Let Your Reputation Precede You: People Should Know Who You Are Before You Enter the Room

Having people know you before you walk into a room is a key metric in building social media campaigns that can drive results, Binder said.

“That is the most valuable thing ever,” he said. “It has changed the game for my business and changed the game for the clients we work with.”

Binder drives that home by using online and social media opportunities to position himself with successful clients and create immediate name and face recognition. Then, when potential clients contact Binder, they already have a strong grasp of what is about and what he can do for them.

That knowledge led to the creation of WOAW, the company Binder founded in 2018. WOAW is a small, privately held company that helps founders and CEOs in the U.K. build their personal brand on social media.

4 Simple Things You Can Do Today to Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile

Binder and WOAW specialise in professionally optimising social media pages, but he shared  four easy things anyone can do right now to boost their LinkedIn page:

  1. Get a fantastic profile picture — preferably shot by a professional — that immediately tells visitors what you do
  2. Focus on your banner, which is the most valuable real estate on your profile page, so that it educates visitors about who you are and what you do
  3. Write clear, engaging About and Experience sections
  4. Consistently post content that draws people to your profile, with that content focused on just 2-3 topic areas

The Takeaway

Everyone gets pushed down in life — how you react to that determines how you will react and adapt to adversity. Binder turned bullying into a positive, using it ultimately to launch a business aimed at creating a compelling public persona.

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