Chris Brogan Podcast Interview
The Journey to Building an Influential Personal Brand
This podcast aims to share the journey of Chris Brogan from corporate employee to New York Times Bestselling author, international speaker and social media rock star. When you listen to this podcast, you’ll glean that Chris is as humble as he is accomplished. I observed that about him the first time I met him in 2008.
From Cubeland to Celebrity
Chris enjoyed his work as an employee in the wireless and telecom industry. He was inspired by Les Brown, (author of Live Your Dreams) as well as other authors with inspirational works such as Tony Robbins and Steven Covey. The light bulb for Chris was when he realized that as “any old employee” in corporate America (his words), he shouldn’t depend on the H.R. department to develop him. So, he set off to develop himself. Not surprisingly, his corporate career began to blossom once he acquired this mindset.
Chris always enjoyed writing about stuff for which he has passion. As a kid growing up in Maine, he was more interested in Batman than the Red Sox. In the 90s he started writing on bulletin board services about his favorite topics. Another light bulb for Chris was the enjoyment of connecting with people online around his passionate topics. That’s when it became obvious to Chris that geo location was not an inhibitor to connecting with people online.
Chris started blogging around 1998, when it was known as journaling. He wrote fiction stories and all kinds of stuff including fitness and health topics. He even wrote for a literary magazine while in school. But, Chris always knew that writing was not a lucrative career, so he had to find a way to combine his passion for writing with some kind of business. In his telecom job he was a “translator” between the tech guy and the business guy. This talent for “translation” combined with his passion for writing that eventually would be the catalyst to propel him to fame.
Not An Overnight Success
In 2005 Chris started doing some podcasts. His blogging started to take off, but not overnight. Chris remembers his excitement when he reached his first 100 subscribers, a milestone he says took 8 years to achieve! In 2006 Chris teamed up with Christopher Penn to hold Podcamp, a conference on podcasting, blogging and video blogging. Then, Jeff Pulver hired Chris to run a Video on The Net conference. That put Chris on the road where he met lots of interesting people and things started to take off from there.
Best Selling Author
In 2008 he released Trust Agents, a N.Y. Times Bestseller which he co-authored with Julien Smith. I selected an excerpt from Trust Agents to discuss during our podcast. The chapter I chose is the Human Artists chapter (chapter 6). I read this excerpt from page 184. “In social media, human is the new black. People are the next revolution, and being active on the human-faced Web is your company’s best chance to grow its business in the coming years.”
Unbeknown to me, this excerpt is the theme of his next book with Julian Smith. Chris points out that not many businesses are embracing the human artist theme. Some companies are using the new social tools but not in a human way. Sales copy applied to the social web is not human. And, sales copy will not replace a human relationship. He points out that digitizing of relationships on the social web is like the “Hamburger Helper” that you can add to make it a more fulfilling “meal” in between the face time. I asked Chris what types of businesses are demonstrating sincere adoption of the human faced web. He mentioned tech companies like Dell, Comcast and IBM as well as real estate professionals who understand the importance of human relationships.
The Social Enterprise
We spoke about this new buzzword the “social enterprise.” The tools used by enterprises include documents, phone and email. These tools don’t work well for human communication. The social tools are being consumerized. Some of the people leaping into the social web are vendors who use it as a sales platform. But, there is a lack of understanding of how to shift out of email into the social web’s culture. The reality is that many people have not made the culture shift. Chris agrees with my longstanding opinion that the social enterprise is a mindset shift. Chris feels this culture shift issue is not where he best fits. He wants to help companies with external messaging to find more sales. I don’t blame him.
The Chris Brogan Enterprise
Chris has figured out the business side of writing and content production. He is involved in many business ventures. He leads the charge on the annual roadshow of the Inbound Marketing Summit, which usually occurs in three or more cities annually since 2009. He heads up New Marketing Labs, an inbound marketing agency. They focus on educating their client to success. Then when the client is comfortable they drive their own strategy.
Chris recently launched Human Business Works, an online education and community platform. HBW is building various education projects for different verticals. The first HBW initiative is 501 Mission Place, a community for non profits. It’s facilitated by Estrella Rosenberg. Its focus is to help non-profits improve operations and fund raising. The next HBW initiative is Kitchen Table Companies, which will be for small business and entrepreneurs. It is scheduled to launch around the end of 2010. HBW communities are online paid membership communities with options for educational content and peer-to-peer networking that will help its members keep their business flourishing.
I asked Chris how he can keep all these business ventures moving and stay committed to 8 hours sleep each night. Chris builds teams for each of his business ventures. He lends his vision, leadership and personal brand, then gets out of the way as the respective leaders and teams for each venture run the day to day. Chris uses 3 words to guide his strategies each year. In 2010 they were: Ecosystems, Owners, Kings. He explains this creative approach to annual goal setting on his blog.
Chris’ Advice for BernieBorges.com for 2011
In this podcast, I inadvertently pre-announced my 2011 initiative around BernieBorges.com where I will combine my passion for helping jobseekers and business development people through education and best practices pertaining to how to use social media to build personal brand and find new employment. Chris’ advice was brilliant in its simplicity. He warned me not to assume that my target audience is always found online. He advised me to go find them where they hang out. Job seekers often don’t have great networks, so his advice is for me to help them build their networks. Just so happens, that is exactly my vision!
Predictions for Mobile
Chris says he’s not a predictor of the future. There is a fine line between predicting the future and understanding where it’s headed, which is what he says describes him more accurately. In the case of the future of mobile his advice is for us not to limit our thinking about mobile just for mobile phones. Mobile applications are already showing up on other platforms including cars, billboards and tablet devices.
The opportunities for productive and social mobile applications are only beginning to surface. The future for mobile will be limited only by innovative thinking.
In addition to Chris Brogan’s interesting journey from cubeland to social media fame, Chris is a devoted family man and a genuinely nice guy. I urge you to listen to the entire podcast to get a glimpse of Chris you may not have previously seen. I’m confident you’ll enjoy it.