Building your Small Business

So, you have (or are starting) a small business. Now the big challenges are: How do I do this right? and, How do I get noticed?

Here’s a collection of posts I’ve put up over time, based on my experience. Since they are scattered over various venues, I decided to pull them together. Maybe they’ll be of some help:

Getting started

- 10 Lessons Learned Starting a Business

- How I Became a Consultant

Determining your focus

- What’s the Point?

- I’m Pursuing Niche Domination

- Who Needs You?

Personal Branding

- You – Projected

- Personal Branding: What’s your Value-Add?

Naming

- Don’t Make a Name for Yourself

- Product: Winner. Name: Loser

Branding/Marketing your business

- Do you Pass the T-shirt Test?

- Laundry List Marketing

- How to be Unremarkable

Using social networking

- Do you Have an Opportunity Network?

- Getting Started with Social Networking

- The Strategic Serendipity of Social Media

- Feed People

Storytelling

- Telling the Company Story

- What’s in a Name?

Core principles

- Ask the Right Questions

The right people

- Picking Bad Apples

- Hiring for Virtue

Customer Service

- Eat Mor Chikin

- A Boy and his Legos

- Greetings…Done Right

The ultimate goal

- A cult following

Wanting to start your own business, but still working toward the goal? This is for you: Time. Talent. And Magic.

————-

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Twitter: @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Pick a Steve

I’ve been at this digital social networking thing for 3 1/2 years or so now, and it’s been a great (and educational) journey!

But there is one question that keeps pecking away at my forehead, and maybe you can help me with it. In fact, ONLY you can help me with it, because it has to do with you.

Which Steve Woodruff do you want to follow?

Let me explain. While I don’t consider myself to be schizophrenic (yet – but there are still kids in the nest here!), I do possess a few different “personas” on-line. There’s the pharma guy (with a dedicated pharma blog, Impactiviti); there’s the general marketing/branding/social media fellow (Stickyfigure blog), and then there’s the more personal stuff on Steve’s Leaves. Every one of those blogs is its own info-stream.

All of these personas and infostreams meet on Twitter – plus photos, banter, occasional spoofs, and whatever else comes to mind. Twitter is the 360-degree view, and that’s where I have the nagging question.

Do you prefer to subscribe to a person on Twitter (holistically), or a topical info-stream? Are you looking for information (primarily), developing personal/professionals connections (primarily) – or is it a solid mix of the two?

In my case, a number of my followers are from the pharma world – what is your reaction when I start tweeting on general brands or social media ROI? Or if you originally linked up with me due to an interest in branding, is the string of tweets when I’m at a pharma conference useful or just noisy? I’m sure I’m not the only “social networker” wondering about this – and I want to make sure that I’m providing value that YOU want, in a way that works best.

One idea: would there be value in setting up different Twitter accounts that would emphasize different facets/info-streams (one for pharma, one for photos, etc.) or do you just prefer to subscribe to @swoodruff and take the punishment of the full spectrum? I can see benefits and drawbacks to either approach. Is subscribing to a choice of info-streams for/from the same person a good idea or just a pain? What say you?

(full disclosure – I enjoy seeing people 360-degrees on Twitter. I can find info in a thousand places – I like the mixture of info, links, personality, creative ideas, pix, banter, shared parental angst, etc. But that’s me. I want your thoughts!)

See also: The Social Media Isolation Chamber

————-

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Twitter: @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Five in the Morning 021609

fivesm

I hope you enjoyed the Five in the Morning guest posts last week! It’s my intent to pass around the Five spotlight (and link love) to two guest-hosts per week, so that we get the benefit of everyone’s interests and reading lists. Thanks to Arun Rajagopal, Lisa Hoffmann, Connie Reece, and Chris Wilson for helping out while I was busy “conferencing” last week!

Alan Wolk kicks us off this morning with a provocative post: Does Creativity Still Matter? Give it a read and add your comments, esp. if you’re an advertising wonk. Good stuff.

Mining the Thought Stream. Some thoughts on TechCrunch about Twitter’s unique capacity to reveal what people are thinking. Interesting.

Mashable‘s Social Media posts, all gathered together. Great idea. Warning: potential time sink!

How to Communicate Everything You Do. Can you condense your personal message into an effective introduction? Some valuable ideas from Dan Schawbel at the Personal Branding Blog.

The Brand New blog has been on a roll this month, with some great commentary on re-branding efforts, good, bad, and awful. Scroll down and enjoy!

PLUS – The Personal ROI of Social Media. A Sunday Muse.

————-

Connect with Steve Woodruff

(Image credit – created via Spell with Flickr)

PLEASE NOTE: There is reason to believe that the Google/Feedburner changeover has created “issues” with RSS feeds for my blogs (and others). Here are the feeds for my three blogs; if you’re a reader, would you please re-subscribe just to make sure? Thanks!

:: Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog (that’s this one!)

:: Subscribe to the Steve’s Leaves blog (that’s my personal blog)

:: Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog (that’s a pharma-specific blog, for my consulting business)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 020309

Geoff Livingston over at the Buzz Bin has some meaty thoughts about personal branding vs “team social media” within a larger company. This is a valuable discussion. Personal branding for a solo entrepreneur is one thing, but how do we approach putting a “face” on an organization when interacting with the world at large? Just for the fun of it, here’s a mega-post with a bunch of recent links touching on personal branding, from David Petherick.

Mario Sundar is on a tear on his personal blog. First, Using social media to help your friends find a job (this is a real passion of mine). Then, Perfectionism ain’t Bliss -  just do it and don’t worry about making it perfect. And finally, some lists of Twitter worthies to follow. Mario, for those who don’t yet follow him, is LinkedIn’s chief blogger; he also maintains his own personal blog.

Image Recognition Software/Service – from TechCrunch blog. This is a big deal, actually. There are so many images now published on-line, a huge challenge is going to be finding/sorting/identifying/filtering. Here is one company (Milabra) that’s making a run at it, and their solution sounds very promising.

It’s easy to just listen to the voices that you already agree with. We also need to consider other points of view, lest we become infected with group-think, or an inflated sense of self-importance. This muse/rant by Kevin Palmer is a needed corrective as we consider the place of social media in the world. Guest post is found on Social Media Explorer blog – it must be good, because I rarely point to the same blog 2 days in a row (nice job, Jason Falls)!

Downturn. We’re in it. From the NY Times Small Business Toolkit section – Lessons Learned from Hard Times Past. There’s a surprise quote in there…

PLUS – What Happened to your Nose? The latest from Ann Handley‘s A N N A R C H Y blog. If you’re not subscribing to this wonderful treasure of muses and amusements, you should be (Ann – the Zamboni reference is a stroke of genius!)

————-

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

(Image credit)

PLEASE NOTE: There is reason to believe that the Google/Feedburner changeover has created “issues” with RSS feeds for my blogs (and others). Here are the feeds for my three blogs; if you’re a reader, would you please re-subscribe just to make sure? Thanks!

:: Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog (that’s this one!)

:: Subscribe to the Steve’s Leaves blog (that’s my personal blog – you’ll see a story from there below)

:: Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog (that’s a pharma-specific blog, for my consulting business)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 012009

5yellowSince it’s Inauguration Day in the U.S. we’ll start off with…

Obama, the new King of Branding (from Laura Ries). Barack Obama is not just our new President but a new type of leader, one like we have never seen before. Not only does he understand politics, but he also understands branding. Plus, she ties in the BlackBerry factor…

Don’t just dream. Do something. An inspiring story on William Arruda’s blog, about Mary McLeod Bethune. Sometimes we have a goal that for some reason or another doesn’t work and is not achieved.  Should we give up?  No!

Targeting the right…or wrong…social media influencers. Dead-on thoughts from Mack Collier at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. Can you name a few recent examples of companies using social media to embrace, empower, and excite their customer evangelists?

Where would we be without lots of lists! Small Business Trends gives us two for today: The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List (you may find some new follows here), and a Top Blogs List. Thanks Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)!

The new Computer Science Corporation logo. I think the logo itself is pretty pedestrian, but the angled “projection” elements used in collateral materials is pretty decent visually. From that Brand New blog.

AND, just for fun – if you really have way too much time on your hands, every Super Bowl commercial ever shown. On Adland, via those Brand Flakes for Breakfast folks.

————-

Like this? Re-tweet it on Twitter (just cut/paste):
Get today’s fresh-brewed Five in the Morning posts from @swoodruff right here: http://TwitPWR.com/2rc/

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

(Image credit)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the New Year

ny-eve-nyIt’s 2009 (and a beautiful morning here in Boonton, NJ)! And, I’m convinced, it’s a year when many are going to seize the future, thumb their noses at all the bad economic news, and create new careers for themselves.

With that in mind, I thought I’d pull together the year’s first Five in the Morning post with a handful of my posts from 2008 encouraging the networking and entrepreneurial spirit. So….

Do you have an Opportunity Network? (from MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog) – The old corporate safety net is gone. But the new safety network, and the new opportunity network, is here for all of us to weave ourselves into. My faith has grown the longer I’ve participated, that “If we build it, (opportunity) will come”…

Personal Branding – What’s your value-add? (from MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog) – You don’t have a brand worth a nickel unless you are clear in what value you have to offer. That’s true of personal branding, corporate branding, political branding, and whatever other type of branding du jour we’d like to dream up…

You – Projected (from my StickyFigure blog) – My feeling is that if a concept is valid, we should be able to distill it down to a very few words that capture it well. So, with personal branding, here is my take. Two words. You – Projected

I’m Pursuing (Niche) Domination (from MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog)  - What is niche domination? It’s creating, or moving into, a market cavity narrow enough that you can become the big fish, and expansive (or expand-able) enough that you can make a living dominating it…

Be Prepared – Like, Right Now (from my Impactiviti pharma blog) – Your future is in your hands, and you need to be prepared to take the reins at any time. In fact, even if you are gainfully employed, you need to take the reins right now. Let me suggest one simple word for each of us…

But what were my most popular posts of 2008? The StickyFigure Spoofs, of course! And, to launch 2009, here is the latest (or earliest): Social Media Maven named new Head Coach of Detroit Lions.

BONUS – If you haven’t tuned into Rick Liebling‘s Smart People / Smart Ideas series, it’s a good one. Here’s the recap from 2008. You can follow Rick on Twitter @eyecube

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

(Image credit)

Five in the Morning 121208

Story vs. Slogan. Some thoughts on the relative effectiveness of stories vs taglines, from Spike Jones (riffing off a recent Chip and Dan Heath article). Now I’m a both-and kinda guy. Both are potentially powerful ways to transmit and embed a message. A good story and (as Jay Ehret would say) a good tagline together.

OK, so keeping on that theme, David Reich asks if Rudeness is Good Marketing. Including story. Plus, here’s a nightmare customer “service” story for you – from Anne Simons at Brandeo. AT&T really doesn’t want you to leave, without more scars in more places! My tagline to sum it up: I’m in no mood for your rude. OK, so maybe the stories are more effective…

Most E-mailed News. All on one page. Pretty nifty. Hat tip: The Swiss Miss.

I know, I know…it’s so 3 weeks ago. But I figured I had one final word to put in on Personal Branding. Actually, two words. Can Personal Branding be summarized with only 2 words? Tell me what you think.

Using social media to put out the fire (with Scott Monty at Ford as an example). From Noah Mallin.

PLUS – some brief, straightforward common sense from John JantschSocial Media is a Tool, It’s not a Religion. Refreshing.

(Image credit)

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

You – Projected.

Over the past few weeks, there has been some blabbing going on over the social media networks about Personal Branding. I won’t attempt to re-hash it all here – a prior post on MarketingProfs Daily Fix gave a bit of a summary, with some of my thoughts on the subject.

I don’t question the concept of personal branding. I think the idea is valid and valuable. But semantics and varying definitions can confound the discussion.

projectorMy feeling is that if a concept is valid, we should be able to distill it down to a very few words that capture it well. So, with personal branding, here is my take. Two words. You – Projected.

Having narrowed it down, now let’s blow out each word a bit:

You – the real you. Not some faux image you want to project. Not some imitation. If it ain’t authentic, it’s worthless as a “personal brand.”

You – all of you. Not merely your words or pictures, but your personality, your tastes, your values, your thoughts, and your experiences. The most powerful personal brands create attachment because people gravitate toward whole people they can relate to.

You – unfolding over time. All brands take time to establish themselves, and there is an evolving process of growth and expression. The more that others see you over a long stretch of time, the more strongly your brand will make its imprint.

Projected – pro-actively. Personal brands can “just happen” I guess, but anyone involved in any kind of branding knows that you need to actively put forward your identity. I won’t go into the myriad of ways in which this is accomplished; just note that building a personal brand, like building anything, is not a passive endeavor.

Projected – accurately. If you’re a down-to-earth person, then writing blog posts with flowery Victorian language (even if well-crafted) will not be an accurate projection. The person you “see” in a picture, an avatar, a profile, a series of tweets, and on a blog must be the very person you meet in a restaurant.

Projected – by others. Here’s your reputation. Ultimately, the power of a personal brand multiplies when you have a great reputation among others. And when others actually do have an accurate knowledge of you, and word-of-mouth you to others, your brand is on its way to being well-established.

As simply as I can explain it, that’s a personal brand (at least from my perspective). What do you think?

(Image credit)

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

“Why Don’t They Get It/Me/Us?”

Mack Collier has started a good discussion on his blog (The Viral Garden) about the use, or non-use, of self-promotion among social media types.

Now I’m against blatant, obnoxious, noisy self-promotion by any person or company. Hate it. But I’m all for prominent, “sticky”, clear, and repeated communications by any person or company about what they do. Because most of us are in business, and new business doesn’t happen if people don’t have a clear grasp of what you have to offer.

I’m going to use Mack as an example, because he’s a good sport, and by putting up this post, he’s “asking for it!” It takes 3 fairly involved clicks on Mack’s blog to get a grasp of what he does for his living, and even when you reach the post where he explains his social media consulting, it’s really not clear what types of companies he is aiming for, and what exact and tangible deliverables he has in mind.

Let’s just say (I’m making this up) that Mack was aiming to be the top social media we’ll-get-you-started-in-this-brave-new-world for, let’s say, retail organizations (I do believe in having a defined focus and niche whenever possible). Then it would be great if, prominent right on the sidebar as you come onto the Viral Garden, there was a summary paragraph such as: “Mack Collier helps retail organizations navigate the uncharted waters of social media by applying community-building strategies that lead to higher sales.” Or something like that. And then had it on his footer on blog posts. And on e-mails.

You see, it’s not enough to say you’re a _______ consultant. I’m a pharmaceutical consultant, but that could mean a lot of things. In particular, I have developed a unique network to help pharmaceutical training organizations find optimal suppliers for outsourced training development needs. But here is the ironic thing – though I have blogged about this for 2.5 years, sent out a weekly e-newsletter, sought to explain the business model numerous times through words, graphics, video, analogies (“I’m the living eHarmony of pharma training… I’m a matchmaker/broker…” etc.) …people STILL often don’t get it! I regularly have to explain it “live” before the light goes on. Why??

It’s because what I do doesn’t really matter to them, until it does. Our limited attention bandwidth is totally absorbed with the immediate and day-to-day. My business model is irrelevant to people 99.9% of the time. However, if I have self-promoted (or, if you prefer, self-explained) effectively, regularly, and added value without being obnoxious, enough of the message sinks through for that critical phone call, e-mail, or referral, when the time is ripe. We HAVE to promote ourselves effectively and winsomely in a very noisy market, and explain over and over again what we do and how we do it, if we want to gain business.

Of course, I’d be happy to refer Mack, or a bunch of the rest of you talented folks I’ve met via Twitter and blogging (my entire business is built on referrals) – but I can only do so if I have a clear grasp of what you do, so that if the need arose with one of my clients, your “metadata” is stored in my noggin. That’s effective marketing 101. That’s self-promotion. And it’s more than OK. It’s absolutely necessary!

Also see Lisa Hoffmann’s take here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Social Media Museum has Bloggers all A-Twitter!

(Austin, TX) Today marks the opening of the long-awaited Social Media Museum (SoMeMe), a new mecca for worldwide networkers to come and gawk at really wOOty stuff that has fed into the historic Soc Med revolution.

conniereece1Curator Connie Reece, resplendent in a new pink-on-pink outfit financed by the Republican National Committee, cut a symbolic pink boa to mark the grand opening. Thousands of bloggers and tweeters attended virtually by watching a video stream from Jay Ehret‘s pate-mounted camera phone.

“This is a dream come true!” gushed Connie, fumbling with her smartphone to try to text message iJustine about the event. Matt Dickman quickly took over that task, with his patented “two-fisted Blackberry” technique, uploading a live HD podcast. “I can’t thank all the contributing bloggers enough, especially CB Whittemore, who picked out the carpet and cleaned the bathrooms, and Director Tom Clifford, who wore that cool beret, played 70′s rock tunes, and directed us while we did the work!”

“Wait ’til everyone sees what we’ve got here! In the Welcome Center, we have a continuous 45-second loop of Guy Kawasaki answering the question, ‘What is a blog?’, just the thing for nOObs stumbling in here with their postage stamps and FAX machines. Plus, we have a ‘Guess that blogger?’ Shel game for those who aren’t yet immersed in our superstar A-list rockstars.”

A continuous feed of Wine Library TV runs in the restrooms, with Gary Vaynerchuk bringing the thunder 24/7 to a captive audience. “And check this out over here!” Connie beamed. “It’s the Ike Pigott Personal Brand Exhibit, where visitors can assemble their own faux personal brand on-line and walk out with a keepsake avatar!”

soc-med-museumSpeaking of personal branding, the kids have not been neglected. In the Dan Schawbel Personal Branding nursery, young ones are schooled in the art of establishing their Generation-whatever brand right from the get-go, while toddler care in the Jibber-Jobber-Jr. room was designed by Jason Alba to help the little ones start planning their careers right away, complete with a complimentary on-line profile.

“And I’m so proud of ‘Shannon’s Slapshooters’, our special chick-blogger room featuring inspirational video-casts by Shannon Paul, Amanda Gravel, Beth Harte, Charissa Cowart, Lucretia Pruitt, and other luminaries of the fairer gender. We tried to get a wax statue of Arianna Huffington in here, but had to settle for the Ann Handley padded bench recliner.”

John Moore’s Brand Autopsy room promises to be a big draw, where John (and other guest bloggers) will dissect the branding and marketing efforts of various hapless organizations as a special hourly feature. In addition, Robert Scoble‘s upcoming trip to Mars to throw a blanket over the formerly-tweeting Phoenix explorer and mount a super-secret Nokia Nscoble camera phone on its robotic arm will be prominently featured, along with a 3-d hologram of the immortal Matt Bacak.

The Ancient History wing will feature such kewl exhibits as Jason Calcanis‘ blog, a life-sized Fail Whale, Mack Collier‘s modem (oh, wait – that’s contemporary), and a stuffed Pownce.

fail-whale-tshirtA final stop for visitors will be the Armano Blogger Wear and Hat shop, where the latest soc med fashions will be prominently displayed on life-sized avatars. A karaoke stage will also be set up in case the Catchup Lady ever visits.

For directions, just consult Douglas Karr‘s BrightKite posts.

———

(Previous StickyFigure spoofs)

Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Follow Steve Woodruff on Twitter

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I am not a “Salesman”

For two decades, my primary professional role was Sales. Yes, I did marketing as well, and some biz dev strategic stuff, and some management, but my primary role was getting business.

I succeeded. And never felt comfortable doing it.

used-car-salesmanI’d see “real” salespeople – folks who could establish rapport at the drop of the hat, or relentlessly drive a deal to its conclusion, or blast past yearly quotas by July, and I’d feel thoroughly inferior. Yet there I was, in Sales (ummm…high-end healthcare stuff, not like the guy you see over to the right!)

Over time, I came to realize that my discomfort stemmed from a mis-match – pushing a product, or hitting numbers, or winning a deal, simply didn’t drive me. I want to help people. I want to think things through, and solve problems. I care more about telling the truth than making the sale. I am an analyzer, not a promoter; a native introvert, not a schmoozer.

But, people bought from me because they trusted me. So I succeeded anyway. Until hitting the wall and finally admitting to myself, “I’m not a Salesman.”

This was a liberating realization. Now I could be free to tap into what I truly was – a problem solver. A resource-finder. A connector. A consultant. And I decided to go off on my own and create my own job/role/company built around precisely those things.

Can I sell? Actually, yes. I can be very persuasive. People listen to me and follow my advice – not because I’m a promoter, but because I’m a listener and a problem-solver. And is there a place in this shark-infested business world for someone who wants to help other people, for someone who cares about doing what’s right, for someone who wants to build a network in order to do good?

Yes, there is. And that’s why I’m sharing this. Are you mis-matched in your role, driven by something other than what that job requires? Get honest – don’t be afraid to look in the mirror and say, “I’m not a….” Then work on identifying who/what you really are, what your value-add truly is.

Perhaps you can make a new professional life for yourself. It’s worth the effort, time, and risk. And if you do it, let me know if I’ve “sold” you!

(Image source)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 120508

The Brand Chef is a Jerk! Hey, I didn’t say it, Andrew Clark did – and he’s the Brand Chef! Making the best of an awkward networking reach-out…

When 2 companies merge that have disparate brands, does it make sense to smoosh them into one? Or is there a middle ground, preserving 2 brands within a company? The NameWire guys are wondering about Qantas and British Airways. My take – keep the two identities, but create a subtle “flag” identity that overarches both (“part of the Imperialistic Empire Airline Group…”)

Straight from the mind of Armano (sounds like an ad for and Italian suit designer, I know…). The Paradox of Please. Take 45 seconds and absorb. Brilliant.

As promised, CB Whittemore has launched a series on Bridging the Old and the New with Social Media. First up: Mack Collier. Having met both of these individuals, I wholeheartedly recommend that you follow them on their blogs and via Twitter. Good people.

Lead Yourself. Valeria Maltoni on Dr. Srikumar Rao, with video included. And you know what I said above about CB and Mack? Same for Valeria. Good people.

The guys from Heath (Chip and Dan) take on sloganeering in Fast Company. Are your taglines and slogans made to stick, or made to stink??

Ever wonder if you really belong in your role? My personal confession: I am not a Salesman.

OK, time for a little Friday fun. Happy skies, part 1, part 2Really bad timingTemplar University (great for enhancing your personal brand!)

Don’t forget to Be Happy today (look at the collateral effects!)

(Image credit)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 112408

5-dotHow NOT to: Build your Twitter community. Good tips from Sarah Evans. Oh, and the other side of the coin – How TO.

Growing through delegation/outsourcing – valuable thoughts here from Chaitanya Sagar. I’ve walked this same path and probably have other decisions to make in the future…and I agree that outsourcing (rather than do-it-all-yourself or hiring) is a very valuable and important strategy. There is potential business strength and growth on both sides of this equation.

Drew McLellan on the Best Way to Grow your Business. You might be surprised at his answer – but then again, I hope you’re not. Plus, this poignant remembrance of an effective leader.

42 Content-building ways to Attract and Retain Customers. From Joe Pulizzi over at Junta 42 blog.

Building your Brand through Networking. Walter Akana interviews Liz Lynch, author of just-released book Smart Networking: Attract a Following in Person an Online.

(Image credit)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

My Value-Add

If you’ve subscribed to my blog(s), followed me on Twitter, met me in person, or all three, you’re probably…well, a very gracious and patient person! So who is this Steve Woodruff dude, anyway?

Being somewhat analytical, and having undergone decades of compulsive self-examination over the decades (including trying to understand my unique professional strengths), I’ve decided to try to narrow down my core strengths – my value-adds – to some key terms, as an adjunct to a post I’ve written for MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

So, for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. I am an aggregator. I am very curious, like to pull together lots of information, map out the big picture in my mind, and then put it together in some kind of sensible way. This can have strange manifestations – for instance, when I go to a shopping mall, I almost always walk through the entire thing. That is a weird thing, I know. But it can be useful too – see this Marketing Bloggers portal.

2. I am an opportunist. I always look for what is not there, and try to figure out how to make things better. I am wired not to be content, but always to look for improvement – a good trait for an entrepreneur, an occasionally problematic one for a husband and father!

3. I am a planner, a strategic thinker, a designer/builder. I don’t do random.

4. I like to help people, in my own way, which usually has more to do with figuring stuff out (consulting, counseling, branding, finding resources) than feeling-level stuff. I do wish I could take an empathy pill sometimes.

5. I’m a connector, which is somewhat bizarre considering my native introversion. Whatever – nothing makes me happier than helping people by connecting them with the right people/resources.

6. I’m a communicator. Best at writing and public speaking; still overcoming my awkwardness in large crowds and unstructured environments. My strongest gift in communications is clarity. However, I envy great storytellers and hope that that little muscle will grow with time.

7. I’m a curious learner and thinker. This blog (StickyFigure) explores branding, marketing, business, social media, and related themes. My Impactiviti blog covers pharmaceutical training, communications, and marketing (that’s my paying business). My personal blog (Steve’s Leaves) has various rants and ruminations about parenting, philosophy, politics, personal stuff, wine, and whatever else. And if there was time, there are lots of other areas I’d like to explore and share!

8. I’m loyal. Persistent. Stubborn. Principled. Call it what you will. I don’t believe leadership is shown by giving up or giving in.

To sum up – give me a fallow field, and say “It’s yours – create what you will and maximize it.” I don’t need a lot of help or guidelines. Just a chance to make something.

And, taking all those things together, I’ve created my own business – as a consultant/connector, helping pharmaceutical clients and vendor-partners find each other. I make money by creating win-win business connections – and I grow my business and brand by networking and by writing (blogging, newsletter, etc.) Seeing a market opportunity, I created the business model, and, by the grace and blessing of God, persisted to make it a success. After 20 years of working for others, it was time to build a business around me – my own personal/professional brand. And 2 1/2 years later, I couldn’t be happier.

What about you – what is your value-add? What are the key terms that define your personal and professional value to the world? Where can you maximize your success – within someone else’s business, or by creating your own?

(P.S. See how my friend and colleague Jane Chin identifies herself here with key terms)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 110308

Ways to get new Blog Readers. 10 great tips about using on-line presence strategies, from Problogger.

Is that a whiff of Lanolin around your marketing? Don’t follow the sheep, says Jonathan Kranz at MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

A roundup of top blog search engines. From Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal.

Steve Rubel predicts the future regarding smart phones and cloud computing. I think he’s pretty much on-target. What do you think?

Free e-books from Chris Brogan. As in, FREE. Fish Where the Fish Are. Personal Branding. Grab ‘em!

PLUS – I love being a Dad. From C.C. Chapman. Yeah. And, for a quick Monday visual, Tel Aviv sunset from Jeff Pulver.

I’ll be at Ad-Tech NY for the first part of this week…will try to get out Five in the Morning each day, but no guarantees! Visit here for live updates on the conference, however, M-W.

(Image credit)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 103008

10 Branding brownie points, offered by Ed Roach (of the Brand Corral blog). Not high-tech stuff; just simple ways to add significant value.

Laura Ries, on How and When to Attack (in Marketing). With good/bad examples.

Small Business Trends introduces Jim Kukral as a (video expert) contributor. Here is his post on how and why a small business should use Twitter, including a screencast (Jim is good people, by the way. Be sure to follow him if you’re not already).

Why I blog. From Susan Murphy (SuzeMuse). I think Suze speaks for many of us.

Dan Schawbel interviewed at MSNBC website. Theme: social networking and business.

PLUS: Free Wi-Fi at locations nationwide for iPhone users? Sweeeet!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 102908

From John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing: Customers are your most effective sales force.

Chris Wilson (Mr. Fresh Peel) on the Rise of Personal Branding. An interesting book is recommended.

Seth Godin ‘fesses up to some pretty spectacular failures. Lesson: keep going!

What was the most effective channel for getting birthday wishes? David Berkowitz discusses his experience. There was one clear, dominant, unquestioned leader!

Matt Dickman presents some very interesting data about the relative preference for IM/SMS/Email among different age groups. Neat stuff!

BONUS: Kill the Buzz. Now! Read the Comments – that’s the best part!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 102208

Jason Falls presents a very interesting case study about a holistic customer relationship approach (including social media tools) by a home builder. We need more like this!

What is LinkedIn good for? A LOT! Look at this list (with great links) assembled by Stephen Smith, from the SOBCON website!

From Aaron StroutTop Ten Lessons Learned using social media. Quick, simple, straightforward stuff here.

Showing Up – some good starting-up lessons about using social media from the personal branding guru, William Arruda.

High-Priced Hand-me-Downs. Some unknown long-tail blogger posted this one about luxury items that justify themselves as legacy inheritances.

PLUS – Whhhaattt? You’ve never visited Despair.com?? Surely you jest. Go there right now and laugh your head off!

BONUS Video – Beware the “Me Monster“! This 4.5 minute video by Brian Regan will Crack. You. Up.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Five in the Morning 100708

Drew McLellan asks: What do you think of this Domino’s dancing pasta guy ad? My answer: I love it!

Would you like to (perhaps) get featured on the “big” news sites (like CNN, NY Times, etc.)? Problogger shares a few tips.

Igor‘s free, downloadable company naming guide. Wow.

Does color matter for your brand? Check out this quick overview from the Swiss Miss.

Bloggers: What Not to Wear! From Copyblogger.

BONUS: Earth from Above hi-def pix. Amazing!

Wax-free Bloggers

Are you without wax?

Let’s hope so. Because the blogosphere tends to punish pretense, and reward sincerity.

So what does wax have to do with it? Well, the etymology of the word “sincere” is actually disputed, but one of the proposed derivations is from the Latin words sine cera, meaning “without wax.” Purportedly, less-than-sincere sculptors would seek to hide flaws in their work by using wax to mask them. Thus, a true work was without wax, or sincere.

Whether folklore or truth, it does provide an interesting analogy. Because you can’t blog for very long with a mask on. People respond to sincerity, and the wax detectors in the blogosphere tend to be well developed. So, if you’re thinking of blogging, make it a first principle to be without wax. Because if you aren’t worth listening to as you are, then a blog isn’t going to fix it. The rest of us blogging sculptors are learning to create, converse, and collaborate with our flaws increasingly in plain view. If you’re a flawed human being, join the rest of us, and let’s see who you are and what you have to say sine cera.

(Image credit)

Zemanta Pixie

Starbucker Caught with Glass 3/4 Empty

Terry Starbucker, the renowned “Ramblings from a Glass Half Full” blogger, was spotted yesterday in a small bar in Boulder, Colorado, nursing a wine glass that was three-quarters empty.

Blogger audiences – half of them, anyway – were stunned. RSS subscriptions dropped precipitously as disenchanted readers abandoned Starbucker like a beached Twitter Fail Whale.

“I can’t believe it,” cried Claudia Woodstock, sometimes 70′s hippie-rocker and owner of the Berkeley T-Shirt Shop, Half-Tees. “I have spend half of my adult life following Terry’s half-full philosophy, including subscribing to his blog way back in 1982 when he started out. If I’d had half a brain, I’d have seen this coming.”

Past attendees at SOBCon, which Terry helps lead along with Liz Strauss, were nonplussed or, in some cases, half-plussed. Tom Clifford (Director Tom), filmmaker and beret fashion icon, quickly came to Starbucker’s defense. “Hey, I once released a film that was only 7/8 complete, and no-one blasted me for it! In fact, no-one even noticed! Of course, I’m better-looking than Terry, but still…you can’t be half-full the whole time.”

Starbucker was remorseful that his glass somehow managed, for a few brief moments, to be significantly less than half-full. “Honestly, it’s never happened before. I always ask the bartender for a “topper” when the glass is at about five-eighths. However, I got to tweeting the Marketing Diva on my half-charged iPhone, and before I knew it, I’d gulped a few eighths too many. Then who should walk in with his video camera to document my embarrassment but Robert Scoble. I’m totally plurked now!”

Asked if he planned to change his blog title to the less specific “Babblings from a Small Snifter Containing an Indeterminate Amount of Potable Libations,” Terry was noncommittal. “I’m half thinkin’ about it,” he mumbled, before leaving 3/4 of the way through an interview.

Zemanta Pixie

What’s your Value-Add?

Call me an idealist, but I think true professionals yearn to add value. There is no fulfillment in collecting a paycheck while being unproductive (except for the chronically pathetic “worker,” but that’s another post).

So, in your current role, what is your value-add? How are you making life better for customers? How is your company benefiting from your contributions?

One of the key indicators that it’s time to “move on” is that you begin to conclude – over the long-haul, not just during a bad week – that you are no longer adding significant value. Either you have changed, your company has changed, the business environment has changed, or some combination thereof…whatever the reason, you are not in an optimal role any longer.

Or, perhaps, the role was a mismatch to begin with. You read “First, Break all the Rules,” and “Now, Discover your Strengths” and you realize that your strongest abilities are not really being leveraged in your current role.

What to do? Find a way to move on. No-one wins when you’re not adding the kind of value that you could/should. Determine where your “gold” is – where you are most productive, gifted, and fulfilled; and then find the place that needs you.

I walked away from two professional positions (each after ~10 years) when I concluded that things had changed sufficiently that I could no longer provide optimal value. Amicably, with forethought and planning, I fired myself and embraced new opportunities that were a better fit. Had I become less capable or knowledgeable? To the contrary. It was just a matter of recognizing that I could no longer add value that way I needed to. And that’s OK.

Business conditions will continue to change rapidly. We needn’t assume that we’re going to be in one place forever, or that our contributions will be the same over time. One of my philosophical and practical goals in all areas of life is to create and build, get it established, then move on to new challenges. That’s how I add value – not by a lather-rinse-repeat cycle of repetitive tasks.

How do you add value? Are you prepared to take a clear-eyed look at your current role, ask yourself and others what your greatest strengths are, and look into new opportunities?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 153 other followers