Skip to content

Why I Started a Second Brand and Changed This Site

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
3 min read

You may have noticed that this site looks pretty different. There’s a reason.

Well, there are a few reasons for it.

You see, when I started my personal branding journey a few years ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The thing about an expertise-driven business is that the person - the expert - is an inseparable part of the brand. It seemed that building my personal brand in lockstep with the expertise I was gaining was the right thing to do. In many ways, it is.

But I didn’t want to become “the guy.” As in “the marketing guy” when I started, or “the sales guy” now. My interests are much bigger than that, and I’d like to pursue a lot of those interests. I didn’t feel that was possible under my personal brand because it’d be too confusing. The thing about a brand is that it must stand for something. I want to write about how we make decisions, how media works, why we choose to believe certain things. You know, much bigger topics and many of them stretch far beyond business. The common thread of my personal brand is that *learning is the path to improvement.* It’s the path to empathy, and it’s the path to better understanding the world and each other.

I’m happy to be “the learning guy,” but that won’t help me sell my training and consulting services. At least not now.

The name of my new site and business is Serve Don’t Sell (SDS). The brand name is also a statement of the values of the company. It has something to do with sales, but it’s a bit different than other sales services providers. Even to a total stranger, they know it has to do with sales and service. That’s my market. The name is crystal clear and different, especially with the negative “don’t sell.”

My goal for SDS is to move upmarket and sell to larger companies. People at larger companies are much more used to buying from brands and not people. SDS gives me the chance to fulfill that expectation. Building SDS as a brand also gives me the option to remove myself from delivery. It could allow other people to conduct SDS train without me if I decide to grow the business that way. It’s an option to reserve.

And now to this site. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I like to do. How I like to spend my time. How I want to portray myself to the world.

About a year and a half ago, I started posting videos on LinkedIn to grow my personal brand. I figured, what the heck, what’s the worst that could happen? Soon enough, my videos were attracting thousands of views, often over ten thousand. I didn’t like keeping up with it.

I knew what people responded to on social media, and I didn’t like the game one bit. People like controversy, and they especially react strongly to things that make them angry or laugh. I love to laugh, but I don’t often express myself through humor in my writing. My personal hangups with social media play a role here, too. I believe that social media should be more about the social and less about the media. It should be a place to make connections and communicate with people, not a procrastination tool. The newsfeed is making us insecure, destroying our attention spans, and making us unhappy. I didn’t like contributing to that. It felt like cognitive dissonance.

In June of 2018, I began recording my podcast, Modern Sales. It’s the opposite of social media. The episodes are long-form, clocking in at twenty or thirty minutes instead of five. They’re scripted, they’re well-researched, and they’re designed to make you think. I like the podcast, and I’ve gotten some great feedback about it, too. Making the podcast was a stark contrast from the short attention span that social media caters to. I quite like the podcast and continue to publish weekly.

Which brings me to now. Since committing more deeply to the podcast and enjoying it so much, I have more clarity on what I want to give to you. I want to provide you with long-form content. I want to explore ideas and topics much more deeply than three minutes allow. I want to make you think. I want to challenge your perception of the world and my own.

That’s why this site looks so simple. The site’s primary function is to deliver my writing to you and stay out of the way. I want it to be functional and about the ideas, not a flashy design.

You know, a funny thing happened. The more versed I become in technology - sales, marketing, Internet, all things tech and software - the more inclined I am to limit how much of it I use. I want to limit how much of it I put in front of you, too.

This site is here to deliver my thinking to you. Thanks for being here.