Unicorns, Mindsets, and Guy Spier
Welcome to the Innovation Ecosystem Podcast. Today’s guest is Dorie Clark. Dorie is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to publications like the Harvard Business Review and Time Magazine. Her most recent book, Stand Out, which I highly recommend, was voted Leadership Book of 2015 by Ink Magazine. She works with organizations as diverse as Morgan Stanley, the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Google. Welcome to the show, Dorie.
Mark, thank you. Great to talk with you.
I’m curious. How did you get started in this business?
I actually got started in the business in a somewhat roundabout fashion. After I finished graduate school, I got my first job as a political reporter. Unfortunately, I had entered the journalism industry at the least auspicious moment possible. After about a year working on the politics desk, I got laid off as the industry started to collapse. I switched over and did political communications in the US. I worked as a spokesperson on a gubernatorial campaign and a presidential campaign. Unfortunately, both of my candidates then proceeded to lose.
I had to come up with another plan for myself. I ended up running a non-profit organization for a couple of years. It was during the course of doing that that I realized that I was picking up skills I hadn’t expected, which is basically how to run a business. Before that, I had just had functional roles in marketing or communications. I realized, “Oh, I should do this for myself.”
Ten years ago, in 2006, I started my own consulting business. Now it takes many forms. I do consulting, a little bit of executive coaching, writing, speaking and business school teaching, but all sort of under that broad rubric of having my own company.
Okay. Super. Of terms, in your consulting, I mean, as I mentioned, you worked with some pretty large organizations and diverse organizations. I’m curious. What kinds of issues are your clients facing in terms of a differentiation and how to differentiate themselves in the market and how to grow through innovation?
I think one of the biggest issues that is facing companies these days is that marketing, perhaps more than any professional discipline, has changed incredibly and dramatically in the past ten years. If you had been a marketer in 2005 or 2006 and then we had put you into a deep freeze and then you suddenly woke up, the world would be shockingly different. If we had put accountants to sleep, if we had put salespeople to sleep, it wouldn’t necessarily have changed that much, but with marketing, you can remember, Mark Zuckerburg was still running Facebook out of his dorm room in 2005. YouTube wasn’t even created until 2006. Now, these are the tools that we need to communicate.
For both individual professionals and for larger organizations, there’s really a question. I mean, now, we have more options and opportunities than ever to get the word out and communicate with people in a very targeted fashion. The trick is, you can’t do everything. You certainly can’t do everything well. You have to triage, you have to prioritize. It can become incredibly overwhelming to try to figure out what is the best strategy that you should pursue. How can you stay focused on it enough not to get your head turned by the latest shiny thing and people whispering in your ear and saying, “You must try Periscope. Periscope is going to be the thing.”
I think that the fundamentals of marketing have stayed the same in that you need to understand who your customer is, who your target audience is, and to figure out the best way to communicate with them. That’s gotten much, much more difficult because instead of three or four choices, let’s say, you have three hundred or three thousand choices that you have to make. I help try to guide people through that in a responsible and ROI driven fashion and also help executives as well, simultaneously, think through in this noisy world how they can be best positioning themselves.
In the past, when there was a lot of longevity in terms of people’s corporate tenure, you could basically say, “All right, well you know the adage,‘Just work hard. It’ll take care of itself.’ ” That probably was true if you spent your life at a company. You would build up a reputation over time amongst your colleagues and your co-workers. Now, people are changing jobs, they’re changing industries. There’s mergers. There’s acquisitions. You cannot bank on the fact that the people that you’re working with or doing business with will just know you or have heard about you. You need to be a little bit more conscious about how people are seeing you and making sure that they really are understanding and appreciating what your actual talents are.
I mean, it’s interesting, because, as you say that, because obviously the professional tenure is much shorter potentially, but also an organization’s tenure as a leader in a segment is in risk. I mean, I think the average life of a company on the Fortune 100 is Moore’s law again I guess, isn’t it? It’s going, declining significantly. It’s not just at the level of the individual, but I guess companies are also facing huge risks of becoming redundant to their customers. Do some of your clients recognize that, or is that only in certain parts of the economy?
No, absolutely. I mean, disruption is everywhere. I’ve certainly worked on both sides of that. Right now, I’m advising a company that is one of the much-volunteered Silicone Valley unicorns. They are one of the prime agents of disruption. On the other side of the ledger, there’s many companies in many industries that are faced with a legacy business model, where they’re trying to figure out how to adapt, how to move forward. I think these are more common issues than not these days.
I’m curious, because it’s, without going into too much detail, what do you see in terms of the mindset? When you walk into client A - the unicorn - versus client B - the legacy company - what’s different in terms of the mindsets of the people leading those organizations?
I think that’s a really good question. I mean, ultimately, I think there’s a lot of variety. Probably there’s more variety within each pool then there is differences between the two. Just as you can say there’s more differences between men themselves, rather than men versus women, you know? We don’t want to generalize too much. I would say that if you’re looking at the more typical, traditional mindsets, the archetypal legacy business mindset, it’s a fixed mindset. It’s, “Okay, here’s our business and we need to optimize it. Here is our business, and this is how it has worked. How do we make it better? How do we get an extra 10%? How do we create greater efficiencies? How can we win business away from the competition? etc.” All good questions. All good things to be thinking about.
The unicorns, the disrupters are starting very differently. They don’t have a fixed notion of what their business model is. They’re advancing their business model. They have the freedom and flexibility to play with that a little bit. I think it doesn’t box them in as much.
Interestingly, the question more often is certainly not “how do we get an extra 10% here?” What they’re thinking in Silicone Valley, and sometimes it leads to amazing results, and sometimes it leads to pretentious grandiosity, is “how do we ten times this? How do we go exponential?” Everybody wants to be Elon Musk. I think asking those questions is very valuable. I think that not every business or product line is necessarily right for that, but I do think it is a useful framework to at least ask yourself, “Could we be thinking bigger? Could we be able to see this problem in an entirely different way?”
Yeah. Well, one of the things you wrote about in your most recent book, ‘Stand out’ which really resonated for me, was: ‘You can’t afford to see problems the way everyone else does. Difference becomes your competitive advantage.’ What does this mean for the legacy company, for instance? How does this play out in terms of how execs and entrepreneurs might be thinking about their markets? What could they do to actually embrace difference and bring diversity of thought or perspective into their worlds, if you’d like?
Absolutely. I think it’s a really useful starting point. There are a couple. One is if we look at at the individual level: you, as an executive. I think it’s very useful to begin to ask yourself the question, “What is it about you that is different? What is it about you that enables you to see the world differently from other people?” That might provide clues or a trail of breadcrumbs that can lead you to think about different market opportunities. For instance, I have a friend named Erica Dhawan who wrote a book last year called ‘Get Big Things Done’. She cites an example that I really like. It was about Doritos, the snack chips. They have those in England, right?
Yep, yep. They do.
Anyway, they released a new product. It was guacamole-flavored Doritos snack chips. This was a huge hit. This was really big; a great thing for the company. Erica has this exercise where she asks, “What department in Doritos do you think came up with this idea?” Everybody’s calling out, “Marketing came up with it!” “No.” “Sales came up with it.” “No.” “Okay, is there an innovation department? Did they come up with it?” “No.” You go through everything you could possibly think of. The people who came up with it, it turns out, is the Latino employee group. It was literally this little sub-function created under HR, where it’s the Latino Affinity Group and the say “Hey, why don’t we have guacamole chips?” Everybody loved it.
Similarly, just thinking through what your difference is, whether it’s that you’re a Latino employee and you are all about guacamole or if you have a different perspective, maybe. Maybe you went to different schools. Maybe you have different hobbies. Maybe you have a different cultural background. Whatever it is, but that might give you some insights. Let’s transport that into the corporate level. If you are a company, you want to really go back to first principals and say, “What can we do differently? What are we enabled to do differently?”
I remember when I was in college, I had an experience that left an impression on me. I was interning at an advertising agency. We were doing a pitch for a sneaker company. We actually didn’t end up getting the pitch, which was really too bad, but I thought that the campaign that they proposed was actually really excellent. This was a second-tier sneaker company. It was going up against Nike, which was and is the big dog in the field. We knew that Nike had all the money. They had all the star endorsements. They had Michael Jordan. They had everybody. We’re not going to compete if we’re playing the same game as them, you know? We would just get whoever the secondary, suckier version of Michael Jordan is if we wanted a celebrity spokesperson. They said, “All right, well, how do we turn that to our advantage?” The pitch that they came up with was, “Nike is the brand of the pretty boys. Nike is the brand of the people that get paid a hundred million dollars to play sports. We are the brand of the weekend warriors. We are the brand of the people who are so authentic, who are so passionate, you don’t get paid any money at all. That’s okay. You’re doing it for the love of the game, not for the money. We’re the brand of the people.” It’s finding that difference, that weakness, in fact.
This is something that I talk about in my book - ‘Reinventing You’ - that you have to take a difference, which may, in fact initially present as a weakness. Because, if you’re looking for advantages, the fact that you have a lot less money than Nike certainly looks like a disadvantage. How do you flip it on its head and make it an advantage? That’s what we need to do.
Yes. Some of the readers, for instance, are sitting in large organizations, sitting on a good idea, sitting on an interesting business model, or sitting on a way of working which they feel can make a big difference in their organization. How would you suggest that they think about developing that and actually moving that into the organization and having the impact that they think that it has the potential to do?
I think that just as there’s the myth that has been debunked of ‘just work hard and everything else will magically happen’, the similar thing is you can’t just have a great idea and then assume that all you need to do is just tell people and they will bow down and say, “Yes, that’s an amazing idea. Of course we’re going to do that.” Sadly, it usually does not work that way unless you are literally the company’s CEO. You need to get people to buy into it. How do you do that? I actually wrote a piece a couple years ago for the Harvard Business Review, folks can Google it and get it for free if they’d like, it’s called ‘A Campaign Strategy For Your Career’. It’s sort of based on my time working in politics, working in electoral politics. I try to draw parallels between how a political campaign is executed and how you need to be thinking about your professional career and how to build influence in it.
One of the strategies that I talk about in there is called Power Mapping. The basic idea of Power Mapping, this is particularly relevant if you have some kind of an idea that you want to advance, is that the very first thing that you need to do is you need to really get clear on who the decision makers are. Sometimes that can be a little bit murky. You might think, “Oh, well it’s my boss that I need to persuade.” The truth is, it may not just be your boss. Your boss may have to bring it to a committee. It may have to go to his boss. You really want to do your homework, and you can just get this by asking around and asking questions, but who ultimately decides? You start with that and then you work backwards from there. You literally create a map with circles and lines and whatever and try to map out what your relationship level is with these people. You can code it green if your relationship is really good and really strong with them. Yellow if you know them a little bit but not that well, and red if they just have no idea who you are and you have no relationship.
What you want to try to do is that for each person who is a decider, you want to try to move it forward by getting each relationship to be green or as close to green as possible. If someone is really hard to get to, maybe you can’t influence them directly yet, but maybe you can influence the people who influence them. You want to bring it out to the second or third levels. Maybe you can’t necessarily get the SVP of operations yet, but you can make friends with her secretary and maybe in a few months the secretary will like you enough that she can help you get on the calendar to have an appointment, or whatever it is. It’s about playing the long game with relationships, and really understanding where and how decisions are made.
This is, in many respects, the beginning of creating a following, essentially, which is a three step process you write out in your book, right?
Yes, exactly. What you’re alluding to is in ‘Stand Out’, where I talk about this question of how you build a following around your ideas. How do you do that? A good idea is great, it’s necessary, but it’s not sufficient. You need other people to start talking about it if you’re actually going to have it gain traction in the world. The three-step process is: first, you need to build a network. Second, you need to build and audience. Third, and finally, you need to build a community.
This first step of building a network is about one-to-one relationships. It’s about you getting a core of trusted people around you who can provide basic advice and support to you. We have this kind of cultural myth certainly in the United States about the lone inventor in the garage - “Oh, they just tinker and they create something and then the unleash it to the world.” That’s a myth. That’s usually not how it happens. Instead, what you want to do is have a small community around you of people whose opinion you respect, who can actually tell you, “This idea is good. This idea is rubbish. Focus here.” That’s important.
You build your network so that you can get that crucial, early feedback. Next, once you’ve passed that stage, you want to build your audience, which is one too many relationships. This is where you start talking to people who do not already know you or have a relationship with you. You start talking about your ideas so that they can essentially discover them. You might do this by making videos or doing a podcast like this, or maybe you’re blogging or maybe you’re giving talks, whatever it is. It’s about communicating your idea to a broader public. Then, finally, is the step where it becomes community. This is the magic tipping point here. When you have enough of an audience, when enough people have started to listen to you and say, “Oh yeah, I like what that Mark is saying. That’s interesting”, then you can flip a switch and with a few things that you do - creating an online forum or a Facebook group, or maybe getting a meetup, going in person or something like that - you can begin to turn the audience into a community, which is where they’re not just listening to you, but they’re also communicating with each other and they are also bought in enough that they become an evangelist for your idea and they start telling other people about it.
This is a really crucial step, of course, because if you really want your idea to catch fire, you can never be the only person talking about it. No idea in history has been successful because literally one person was talking about it. I mean, even Jesus had apostles. You need people to help spread the word.
It’s interesting. As you talk through that process, Dorie, that’s exactly the process that I used when I set up and led a large business in a large organization. We didn’t do podcasts, but we made videos. We shared the idea with very disparate functions. We created a following, essentially. I think the insight, as you say to me, is clearly one that is better oriented towards someone building a following in the bigger wide world. In a large organization, the steps work exactly the same. Even the technologies are probably very similar as well.
Absolutely. If we’re transposing into one organization, it’s very easy to build your network of the close colleagues that you like and respect and want to listen to in terms of sharing your ideas more broadly. This can be done on a company list serve. A lot of companies have an internal communications tool, like a Yammer or something like that where they’re communicating, or maybe an internal blog. Those are great ways to do it. Building your community is actually even easier. You can have lunch time meetups of people who are interested in X, Y, Z topic and just bring them together. Before long, you’re able to get some momentum going.
Of course, these are skills that are equally valuable as you alluded to at the beginning, as careers change far more quickly than they used to perhaps, in the previous generation. These are useful skills to prepare you for the inevitable, potentially, of when you have to reinvent yourself.
This is fascinating. Going back a little bit to the process that you went through where you developed your first book; the thinking around it, the research you did. You interviewed a number of very, very interesting people, like David Allen and Tom Peters. I’m curious, what insights did you gain from that process? Less about the end product, which was your methodology. I’m more interested in what struck you as you going through that, because it’s quite a diverse group of people. It’s also a group of people who presumably have got some quite unique perspectives on things.
Yeah, absolutely. One of my favorite takeaways from the book, this is one that has lingered, especially because as I’ve gone and talked to audiences about Sam David, I get a lot of comments from people or questions. They say, “Oh, this is great, but I’m busy.” You know? Clearly unlike everyone else. “What do I do if I’m too busy to spend time creating thought leadership or taking action on this?” David Allen, the master productivity expert, had an expression that I really loved and it’s almost like a zen koan, because you can just think about it a lot and turn it over in your head. What he said was, “You don’t need time to have a great idea. You need space.” I think that is actually a profound thing. It’s an explanation, a raison d’etre for his work, which is about how you simplify, how you clear the decks and why that is important.
Where this came from, for him, was for years he was working with executives. He had been a coach for 20+ years prior to writing his first book, ‘Getting Things Done’. What he discovered is that a lot of these executives that he was interviewing or working with couldn’t focus. They would theoretically be going on a strategy retreat and their brains couldn’t focus on all the things that they really needed to be thinking about and talking about, even though they were at the proverbial cabin in the woods. “Okay, now we’re going to talk about the big picture issues.” Their minds were so taken up with minutia of their day-to-day life. He said they were constantly thinking, “there’s all these phone calls I haven’t returned.” Moving towards the 90s, it’s like, “there’s so many emails they haven’t responded to.” They have all these meetings or these projects, or these unfinished tasks. It was just taking up so much space in their heads that even, in theory, when they had all the time in the world, they were away for a weekend or a week or whatever to come up with big ideas, they couldn’t do it, because there wasn’t space in their head.
I think the point that David Allen made, is that a really good idea can come to you instantly. We’ve probably all experienced that when we’ve been out on a walk or taking a shower or something like that. You need to have the preconditions in place to enable that to happen. You need to feel okay about what you’re doing in that moment, otherwise your brain is always going to be somewhere else and you’re never going to be able to come up with good ideas. I think in a society where we have so much pressure to constantly be moving or to do a million things at once, that’s why it’s important to have systems so that you can consciously choose and say, “Now I’m going to focus on this,” and really be able to dive in and give it your all.
I think I read in your book that you chunk out three or four hours slots to actually do some of this kind of deep work, essentially. That’s how you structure, how you drive your productivity. It strikes me that you are quite a productive individual.
Oh, thank you. Thanks. Yeah, and it really varies based on the mode that I’m in or the tasks that I’m in. I’m actually, as we’re speaking now, I’m in the midst of doing research for my third book. My days look very different. I mean, sometimes people ask a question, like, “Well, what’s your daily ritual? Or what does your day look like?” It’s actually always different. I don’t have a standard thing that I always do, because I try to work in phases. Right now in the research and interview phase, it’s really different. In this next six week period, I am going to be doing book interviews. I’ve got one right after this, actually. I’ll have done seven this week. I’ll probably have 40+ done by the end of the month. It’s very intensive. I mean, I’m spending hours and hours a day just on Skype calls like this, interviewing people. That’s my deep dive. Around the edges, I’m trying to answer emails and get stuff in. This is the necessary prerequisite so that I can have the material ready.
Then in February, March, April, I’m going to be shifting into the sifting and reflection mode, because once you have the material, then it’s how do I transform it into something? That’s the place where I need the half day chunks so that I can be able to put it all together and figure out I’m going to be writing this chapter today. I think that’s how I structured in these waves.
Going back to some of your clients, I just wonder: having been in a large publicly-quoted organization with all the pressures associated with that from the external and this. I know what a calendar diary does for you. You can be from seven in the morning until eight in the evening without time to grab a cup of coffee. I’m curious, some of your clients will be in that situation. How do they create the space to think, to reflect?I think David Allen also talks about creating a mind like water. If you put the system in place, then you are actually able to absorb and act on things far more proactively. I mean, what does best practice look like in this world of I don’t know how many different inputs coming at us just as we’re speaking here, for instance. I mean, what are you seeing here in the market?
I think that it’s interesting. I’m a consumer of productivity porn like a lot of people. I love reading books about how you get more done doing this, this and this, etc. It’s always interesting for me, but I think what I’ve come to is that there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ system. Everybody’s going to be a little bit different. I think it is important for everybody to test things out themselves, to pilot it, to figure out what works best for them. I think that one thing that really is crucial, and it’s going to be different for everybody but the principal is the same, which is that you need to optimize for when you are most productive and energetic. Oftentimes this starts with circadian rhythms. The question i:, are you better later in the day or earlier in the day? That’s the first thing you should figure out. Then you should take those blocks of time and try to schedule accordingly for your most important work. If you’re most clearheaded from first thing in the day, 9–11 let’s say, maybe that’s the place where you just don’t take meetings then. That’s when you do your writing or your thinking or whatever is most important for your job.
I think sometimes people stress out about that, particularly if they are a little bit lower down in the organization. If they are not the definitive boss, they always worry that they have to be universally available. The truth is, I think that oftentimes we con ourselves into believing that. If you’re in an organization, you can’t block people unilaterally and say, “No, I’m never going to meet with you.” As long as you have a good counter offer, people understand that you may have something else on the calendar. If they say, “Hey, can we meet at nine o’clock on Wednesday?” You just say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I have something else then. Could we do it at eleven instead?” That’s playing ball. People are not going to say you’re a jerk for that. I think just taking the initiative to carve out the time on your schedule. Something, personally, that I have done, I have found that for some people, maybe that 9–11 every single day is when they want to block out as their most precious time.
For me, what I like best is to have days that are on days and days that are off days. By off, I don’t mean that I’m doing nothing, but I mean that it’s a less high pressure day and it’s one where I can do longer projects. I will literally sandwich all of my meetings in a week, into two or three days. I will leave two days where I don’t have anything. Things may come up, I may add things to it. That’s often a day where I might to do something, like a doctor’s appointment that you need to fit in. I’m not going to have a business meeting that day. I have more flexibility to be able to do a longer writing project or something that’s just a little bit more intensive and complicated.
Yeah, it’s very similar to Dan Sullivan’s concept of front of stage and back stage days. It’s a very nice distinction, actually, because it does, it changes your energy. One can be equally productive, but there’s different types of energy you need to bring to those activities.
Guy Spier was the person who introduced us. I was curious when I saw on your website that his book, ‘The Education of a Value Investor’, was one of your emerging favorites. What was it that you particularly liked about Guy’s story, which is quite an interesting story?
Yes. It really was. I got an advanced copy of Guy’s book. It was mailed to me. I read it while I was on a cruise. I liked it so much that when I got back I thought, “I have to meet this guy”, which is not usually my reaction. When I got back I got in touch with the publicist and then a couple of months later when he was coming through New York, we were able to connect. What I really liked about the book was mainly that I think that more and more what is going to be important and necessary to break through the noise of just so much communication, everybody’s writing, everybody’s blogging, everybody’s communicating, is just hearing a natural, authentic voice and someone who’s willing to be really honest with you. Guy’s book was interesting and it was engaging, but fundamentally it was not a book from on high about how you should invest. It had some interesting investment principles in it, but it was basically this redemption story about a guy who, in his own reckoning, started out as a little bit of a dick. He was able to kind of understand that and come to terms with it and become a much nicer human being and decide how he wanted to live his life in a very conscious way.
I think that telling that story, rather than trying to make yourself look perfect all throughout, is very valuable for people, because when they see that transformation, it enables them to see what’s possible for themselves. I think the more honesty, the more openness we have, the better, because it’s just helpful to other people. I really respected him for putting the book out there, because I think it’s very, very well done.
The other thing about it, I guess, is a lot of the practices that he put in place. They are subsequently very in much line with what you propose around, the self awareness, but also how do you actually start building relationships, build a network, the whole idea of proximity and creating a network of people who you can support and who can support you. It’s a great book, fascinating book.
Final question: you mentioned you’ve got a new book. Can you say a little bit about the subject and when can we expect that?
Yes, absolutely. It’s early days for the book. We probably can’t expect it for another couple of years, because we know these publishing things take a while. The book is basically about how to monetize your ideas in the new economy. I’m tackling a whole wide range of things, but the basic idea is that studies are saying increasingly that within the next handful of years, between 5 and 10, more than 50% of the workforce, at least in the United States but probably in many western European countries as well, will be freelance or contractors of some kind. As a consequence, whether you want to or not, we all have to become more entrepreneurial and likely we need to develop multiple revenue streams. We can’t necessarily count on one employer to be our be all and end all. I am going to be exploring the other ways that people can make money.
It’s a little bit of a smorgasbord. You can pick what feels right to you, but I’ll be exploring different ways to do it and interviewing people who have really excelled in their various strategies. I’ll be talking to people who do professional speaking, coaching, consulting, people who have done things on the internet with affiliate marketing programs and podcasting. You may have heard of John Lee Dumas, who’s a very successful podcaster. I interviewed him a couple of days ago.
EO On Fire, right? That’s his podcast, right?
That’s him. Yes. Until he really showed what was possible, I think most people thought, “Oh, podcast, that’s nice. You can create a little thing and maybe make a hundred bucks a month with advertising. Maybe if you build it up enough, you can get some consulting clients or something like that.” John Lee Dumas just absolutely maxed it out and he’s able now to bring in some months as much as $500,000 a month in revenue. It’s just mind blowing.
From what, specifically?
Well in case anyone’s interested, he actually posts his income report publicly. Anyone can see how he’s making his money. Some of it is affiliate fees for various services that he recommends and has links to. A lot of it is advertising, because he has a huge number of downloads. There’s the CPM, which is the cost per thousand of what advertisers pay to reach his audience. A lot of it is his online community he created called Podcaster’s Paradise that teaches people to become good podcasters. People pay a membership fee for that. He has a mastermind group that people pay to be part of. He’s created a lot of diverse revenue streams that have all kind of converged in an interesting way. I’m interviewing people who have just been able to really think outside the box in that fashion.
To what extent, and it’s impossible to answer the question, but I’m just curious -how much of this is driven by new technologies, versus how much is here to stay if you like? Do you have a view on that yet?
I think a lot of the new possibilities are driven by new technologies. In fact, in the book, I’m going to be talking about things that are, I’ll say, more traditional. I mean, people have been making money as a consultant for decades and decades. That won’t change. Making large amounts of money on podcasts or webinars or something is a very recent vintage. I don’t actually think those things are fads. I think that all of them, in one way or another, are going to be integrated into the repertoire of things. Some, their level of importance in the broader public may change over time, but they’re not going away. I mean, just like people thought that radio would die when television was invented. Radio hasn’t died. It’s maybe not necessarily as critical to the cultural conversation, but it’s still absolutely present and people can still make a living in radio. I think for all of these technologies, I’m not necessarily focusing on individual things. If we were to dive into the social or digital world, I mean, “Oh, is blab.im going to stay around? Is Periscope? Is Meerkat?” Maybe or maybe not, I’m not necessarily diving into that.
For something that is a channel that’s like a webinar, there’s a million things you can do with a webinar. I think that that, fundamentally will stay, because it’s nicer than a teleconference. It’s nice when people can see you, or when people can see, you know, what you’re doing on your computer screen. It’s a better experience and I think people will stick with that.
Yeah. It’s interesting, because having been in the corporate world for twenty years, the larger your organization, in many respects, the smaller your world. Now, going onto the entrepreneurial side of things, it’s extraordinary what one sees when one starts looking. I look forward to that book.
Dorie, just wrapping up I had three questions I sent through to you earlier on. You’ve touched on one, which you already talked about with your morning ritual, or you say you don’t have rituals.
Yes. I do try to get caffeine, though, at some point.
Okay, fair enough. Second one is, what have you changed your mind about recently?
Yes, yes. That’s an interesting question. I would say that, in terms of a more personal thing than a professional thing, one of the new year’s resolutions that I have (I always try to start my new year’s resolutions a little bit early, just so I have have some momentum) is that every week, at least every week, I was going to read a book this year that had nothing to do with business. I read a lot of business books, but I was not necessarily reading that much outside of it, and I thought, “Okay, it’s time to go back to being a little bit better rounded.” Actually, some of the best books that I read last year, I started reading them in late November, were by a gentleman named Neil Strauss.
He wrote ‘The Game’, didn’t he? Which is very entertaining.
Exactly. Yes, exactly. Neil Strauss is known for these books about, I don’t know what to call it, males behaving badly, essentially.
I think the females are behaving quite badly as well, I seem to remember, but yeah.
Yes, yes, both really. I had always thought that I would hate the books, because ‘The Game’ is about pick up artists. He has a new book that came out, which prompted me to go back into his new book called ‘The Truth’, which is basically about how he decided to get married to his now wife and all of the shenanigans that lead up to him finally making the decision to do this. In hearing about it, I thought, “Oh man, this guy sounds like a jerk, just writing about his exploits.” I read the books and I have to say, I changed my mind about that, because I think they were very interesting. I think they were very well written. I think that he had a great level of self awareness about himself. His level of honesty is much like Guy Spier’s, although on totally different subject matters. Guy Spier is not a pick up artist. It was impressive to me. I have to give him a hat tip. I think he created a couple of very interesting and thoughtful books about the nature of modern relationships. I give him a thumbs up for it. I thought they were very good reads.
Brilliant. Third question, what advice would you give to your younger self? Your twenty-five year old self, for instance?
My favorite piece of advice that I would give, is something which I and a lot of people I think have come around to concluding. I hadn’t yet started my business when I was twenty-five, but I started it shortly thereafter. I was twenty-seven when I started it. When I did, I had this half-hearted email list. I had an email list, but it was like, “Oh, maybe every few months I’ll send something.” Especially in the social era where people get distracted because of all these social platforms -“Oh, it’s so wonderful to have a bazillion twitter followers” -doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. That’s not how people are really seeing your stuff or connecting with you. It’s your email list. That is how you can communicate with them. We were talking earlier, as I mentioned in my book, ‘Stand Out’, the importance of having community is really critical and the way that you can build and sustain a community is through your email connections with people. I would have emphasized that much more and been much more focused on that early on. I think that would have been really important.
Great. Wonderful. Dorie, thanks for your time. Now, where can people get in touch with you?
Thank you, Mark. The best place is on my website, which is dorieclark.com. . I’ll also mention to your readers, that if they are interested in the concepts of how to build a following around your ideas, I actually have a free resource that they can download directly from my website. It is a free 42-page workbook that I adapted from my book, ‘Stand Out’. It’s a self assessment workbook where the series of questions that walks you step by step through how to develop your ideas and then how to share and spread them. Folks can just get that straight off my home page at dorieclark.com.
Super. Yeah. I’ve looked at that and I have to say, I wish I’d had that several years back in the corporate environment, because it really does help you multiply and think very hard about how you move your ideas forward. Thank you for that Dorie. Thanks for your time and we look forward about hearing about your new book when it’s ready to hit the streets.
I appreciate it Mark, thank you so much.
But wait…there’s more?!
This post has been adapted from The Innovation Ecosystem podcast. Listen here for the full interview and the story of Dorie Clark and to download a PDF version of this entire conversation.
Mark has spent much of his 20+ year career seeking out people and resources to help him innovate and grow businesses. He has worked at BP, The Hay Group , and most recently Syngenta, where he led the creation and development of a $2B Specialty Crops business unit. Wherever possible, he tries to learn from other people’s experience, especially if they bring a fresh perspective to a situation. Follow Mark on Twitter at @markehb.
Roddy Millar is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of IEDP (International Executive Development) and has managed the editorial content and direction since its inception. He oversees the development of the website and has helped design and launch Developing Leaders magazine, as well as managing the financial aspects of the business. In 2000 Roddy took over as editor of the original International Executive Development Programs directory from Philip Sadler CBE, the former Chief Executive of Ashridge Business School. Follow Roddy on Twitter at @RoddyMillar.
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