Every year, I meet people doing really good work. In some cases, ground breaking work.
And I like to bring those conversations here so you can share in the learning. Which is the idea part of this blog. Plus make new connections.
First off, I was excited to have the opportunity for a follow up with Doc Searls: The Cluetrain Manifesto, 10 years later. During our conversation he offered some perspective. From the interview:
The Industrial Age is nearly two centuries old, and isn't ending. Over that time we have become very good at selling. The flywheels in the selling machine are huge. So far the Net has offered to sellers countless ways to improve what they're already doing. That's why "the automation people" appear to be more successful than "the conversation people." They've been at it longer, and the Net gives them more ways to get better at what they already do.
The "conversation people" also have two problems. One is that they work for the sell side. This subordinates their work to sell-side systems, imperatives and defaults. The other is that their tools are inadequate.
And from his writing Where Markets are Not Conversations. His word of advice? Persevere.
Then, I was lucky to meet Donna Fenn in person after coming across her book on Gen Y Upstarts. She turns the myth about a detached and entitled Gen Y on its head and describes how they are starting companies at an unprecedented rate, and their approach to business is unlike anything you’ve seen.
A highlight from the interview:
I always say that collaboration is the most important theme in the book and yes, I do find it more pronounced among GenY entrepreneurs.
This is a very team-driven generation. They grew up with pee wee soccer, group projects at school, group activities after school, and then they spearheaded the social networking phenomenon so that even when they were alone, they weren’t alone!
So I think that while they are very driven, they are also extraordinarily comfortable in cooperative environments. They aren’t afraid to ask for help – they all seem to have mentors and they tend to seek out groups of other young entrepreneurs for networking.
They share their ideas fearlessly; they’ll run the risk of being copied because they feel that if they don’t tell people what they’re doing, they won’t get the advice and counsel they need to be successful.
And, by the way, if an idea is that easily copied, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea after all! It’s a pretty mature attitude, I think.
They also had entrepreneurial role models. He word of advice? Sunscreen.
More recently, we talked about content strategy with Kristina Halvorson. This post got a lot of attention and link love. And well deserved, because she does good work and her energy is infectious. The best advice from the interview:
before you take another step, do a serious reality check about your content products and people. If you don’t know where you are now, you can’t make a map to get to where you want to go. Having all this information provides context for making smarter, more informed decisions about what to prioritize. You’ll stop spinning your wheels or just trying out random tactics to “see what works.” That’s what it takes to create a real strategy.
Making a serious investment in planning pays off. I didn't ask her what her one word of advice is. Although I could guess it might be: start now.