Serve Your Community and Stop Pleasuring Yourself [Seriously]: An Interview with Chris Brogan
This is part of our Entrepreneur Interview series.
Chris Brogan has a way with words. We just didn’t expect to see the great analogy he provided in this interview... even though it definitely gives it the human touch he’s so famous for. When you read on, you’ll totally appreciate the clever pun that just happened!
Chris is Publisher of Owner Magazine, CEO & President of Human Business Works and a much sought-after keynote speaker. He tells us why he’s passionate about helping people improve their worth by growing their capabilities and connections and his thoughts on being considered a “veteran” user of social media.
Staying Human Behind The Screens
Why did you start Human Business Works?
I started Human Business Works so I could work with companies to keep their digital interactions on the human side of the scale. For unknown reasons, businesses looking to use channels like social networks and email marketing felt they should be somehow impersonal and coldish, and I felt I could help companies improve revenues by learning how to do what they needed done, only with a much more human touch.
The Road Beneath You
What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is also the best part: I get to create the road I drive along. Only, that means that I must always be planning and projecting and working towards goals that I set out for myself. Employees, by comparison, simply are paid to do the job their boss tells them to do. My boss ends up being the community I serve, and so it's a bit more open ended.
Surround Yourself With Brilliance
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I don't think one person could sum up my greatest inspiration. Sir Richard Branson is a close call on that. My parents are both great inspirations for believing in me. And beyond that, the steady flow of brilliant minds I've had the pleasure to spend time with always leave me something worth thinking about and emulating.
You Can’t Fake Authenticity
What is the value of social media without authenticity? Is social media marketing for everyone?
Social media's just a channel, so is marketing via the social web for everyone? No. Definitely not. I sat with the CEO of Priceline once. He said, "What would I tweet about? Deals? Answering complaints? Neither is worth it." And he knew clearly what he wanted and didn't want to accomplish via the channel. I think that authenticity is a lot easier to spot, as is its omission via the social web. If your company just isn't authentic or can't demonstrate that in how they value the community, then that's a problem.
An Analogy As Plain As Day
You recently wrote a piece on your blog called “Stop Making Content Just to Make It”. At Onboardly we abide by the “F*ck Yeah” filter. If content doesn’t make us say “f*ck yeah,” it doesn’t get published. What’s your ultimate filter?
My ultimate filter is value to the community I serve. If I think it's great and no one else does, that's masturbation. I can do that all I want (and I do), but you're not getting anywhere until someone else is in the picture. Serve the people you hope to have business relationships with and all is well.
No One Cares About Your Envelope Styles
You’ve been hailed a “veteran” user of social media and have obviously seen a number of social media platforms come and go. What platforms do you expect to really take off in 2014? Any up and comers you’re already fond of?
The only reason I'm a veteran is because way before there was a word for all this junk, I was using it for my own purposes and seeing the value. I was just quicker to report, I think. But time has given me some perspective. I don't really cover social media and its tools. I could care less. It'd be as interesting as comparing envelope styles. But what I know is this: mobile, mobile, mobile. Simple networks, not "we have every feature" networks. And every network out there values MORE followers. I think there's value in learning what to do with a smaller number of people who really matter to you instead.
The 50/40/10 Split
In understanding what Onboardly does (PR and Content Marketing for Startups), how have you used either strategies (or both) to grow Human Business Works?
Content is about 40% or more of what I do to grow my business. Community is 50%. Marketplace is 10%. I live and die by content to tell my story and to market what I sell. I agree with your plan.
Break It Down To The Nines
Any tips, tricks, or things you have never shared before (that you will for us) that have helped you launch or grow your company?
That I've never shared before? I'm working on a process right now that takes three target goals, breaks them into three projects, and turns those three projects into three daily processes per project. So, 3 big ideas, blasted down into 9 things to do EVERYDAY to succeed. That works for any part of life (and mine's across my life in total), but it applies nicely for business, too.
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is Publisher of Owner Magazine, a business magazine helping you improve your worth by growing your capabilities and connections. He is CEO & President of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company. He is a sought-after keynote speaker who has addressed crowds of thousands, been on the Dr Phil show, and once presented to a princess. Chris has consulted with companies you know like Disney, Microsoft, Coke, Titleist, Pepsico, Google, Motorola, and many more. He is the New York Times Bestselling author of six books and counting, including The Impact Equation, with Julien Smith. He lives in northern Massachusetts, where he frequently plays Minecraft with his kids.