Meet Your Course Instructor

Shauna Mackenzie VanBogartShauna VanBogart

Since childhood, I have had a keen interest in how we present ourselves and the impact it has on how we build trust, like-ability, and ultimately credibility.  My own self-awareness and passion for impression management led my mother to one day proclaim, “You should look into a career as an image consultant!” Who knew such a thing existed, let alone a professional in my very own hometown who kindly let me job shadow her for a day.

Fast-forward past an undergraduate degree in communication studies, entrepreneurship and a minor in business administration, where I found myself at a crossroads of following a corporate career-path or jumping into the world of self-employment. I chose the latter and formed an image consulting company (Mackenzie Image Consulting) at the age of 22.

Three years into my business, I discovered an even greater passion than working with individuals on their appearance, behavior, and communication: helping entrepreneurs personally brand themselves.  Three long years as a business owner trying to build a company around an expertise taught me more than my fair share about the right and wrong ways to establish credibility among my audience. Not only was a fighting an age-battle (“What life experience could a 22 year-old possibly possess to consult people effectively on image?”), but on paper my company was young even though I had been building myself as an expert through self study, education, and informal practice in my subject area for nearly 10 years.  To express the credibility of my expertise that I knew I possessed to an audience who had yet to be convinced, I learned tactics that were subtle yet powerful in establishing a presence.

This insight and knowledge led to an expansion of my first company. Passing off Mackenzie Image Consulting to my intern-turned-employee freed my time to build a new consultancy around helping experts turn their specialty into an entrepreneurial venture (Mark’d). My sweet spot is helping aspiring entrepreneurs who are passionate about an expertise but are overwhelmed with how to turn that expertise into a business; and the biggest difference between an entrepreneur starting a product-based company versus a consultancy or coaching company is that credibility plays a much bigger role in the latter.  The success of this new entrepreneur depends entirely on how well he or she is able to establish credibility in the minds of their intended audience – offline and online.

Through my business adventures, I learned that personal branding was just as important for face-to-face interactions as it was for an online presence. The online presence is what particularly intrigued me because it allowed entrepreneurs to scale their company, build a more powerful audience, and expand their reach. As social media has continued to flourish, I started studying and analyzing all the ways individuals were building credibility exclusively on the internet and what I discovered was incredible – there was definitely a distinct pattern and process for doing so.

To put more of a foundation to what I had already discovered to be true about impression management and credibility, I enrolled in a graduate program at Gonzaga University in Communication Studies and Leadership. I’ve spent the past three years and my thesis focus on discovering what specific impression management strategies help individuals appear more credible online.  Which leads us to here … The Credibility Course.

For more of a formal bio, you can read more about me on Mark’d or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.