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Rusty SheltonRusty 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:

  • Rusty Shelton talks about what they do at Zilker Media
  • How Rusty’s team came up with Quiz Marketing
  • What is the quickest way to build brand trust?
  • Rusty’s journey to building Zilker Media
  • The lessons Rusty learned from selling his first business
  • Rusty talks about one of his favorite books – The ONE Thing
  • What kind of talks does Rusty deliver to groups?
  • Why Rusty decided to add a CEO to Zilker Media

In this episode…

How can you amplify your brand and position yourself as a thought leader? In the ever-evolving digital landscape, these are not just supplementary considerations for entrepreneurs but critical elements of success.

Rusty Shelton is a trailblazer in digital marketing and thought leadership and has helped numerous entrepreneurs, authors, and executives build their brand authority. Rusty, a seasoned entrepreneur and marketing expert, brings invaluable insights from his extensive career, sharing real-life examples from his work, clients, and well-known personalities.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, host Dr. Jeremy Weisz and Rusty Shelton, Founder and Chairman of Zilker Media, delve deep into branding and thought leadership. Rusty explores the importance of building a robust online reputation and how to do it, the critical role authenticity plays in standing out and connecting with audiences in the crowded digital space. He also discusses the concept of an authority advantage and reveals how to harness it to propel your brand forward.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:02

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

Jeremy Weisz 0:13

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of 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. Snce and and by the way, if you’re watching the video, you can see here I have a rusty cloth of the book with Adam Witty 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 actually he has helped The One Thing with their promotion and other things. We’ll talk about that. And I had Jay Papasan 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 him out on This episode is brought to you by Rise25 and at Rise25 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. Rusty, we call ourselves kind of the magic elves that run in the background to 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 And a big shout out thank you Lisa Tener is also a past guest. Check that out. Right she always who 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 and Advantage Media. And amazing, just shared some amazing insights. And Dr. Harbir 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. What I’m most excited about too 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 going to 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 the Adam Witty, he’s a proud member of EO Austin. So Rusty, thanks for joining me.

Rusty Shelton 3:34

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

Jeremy Weisz 3:44

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 3:55

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 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.

Jeremy Weisz 4:39

I want to dig into the quickest way to build trust but but I have to ask about the quizzes because I’m fascinated by this. And you’ll see if you’re watching the video, you 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 5:02

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 do the PR launch for that book. It was published by Harper Business, it was written by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. And Claire and Katty came to us a couple of 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 Katty 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 Claire up, and I was like, nobody’s going to take this thing. It’s just way too intrusive. And she said, well, we’ve we’re working 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 thousand. 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, or speaking, etc. You know, they’re reaching a lot of people. 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 book’s 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? And 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 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.

Jeremy Weisz 8:04

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 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 a stale multiple choice thing. And it’s I love what you do with with these two.

Rusty Shelton 8:31

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 were almost 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.

Jeremy Weisz 8:58

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

Rusty Shelton 9:03

Tagging their brother in law and Facebook, that kind of thing. So yeah, this one was a lot of–

Jeremy Weisz 9:07

There’s virality to it.

Rusty Shelton 9:09

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 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 Rise25 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 calling you you’re missing a lot of opportunity there just to nurture those people you reach.

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