What we preach:
I've been in interactive, advertising and social media for nearly two decades and in that time I've learned a handful of things. One is about people, more so the people that already get your brand, product or service and are willing to evangelize it. They do this simply by using, talking and supporting its claims as 'their best in class'. A new movement in social media is rightfully sweeping across most campaigns I initiate, it's the construction of "Brand Ambassadors" or "deputies" if that makes for a more palatable alignment. So I thought, wouldn't it be cool if some of these people would just come to you so we don't have to find them? How would I entice people to become one? Wait, what if I wanted to be one? But they didn't know I wanted to be one. And so it began...
You've all known for a long time that my icon metaphor is that of a Swiss Army knife. Based on its practicality for being my key buzzword, a "HYBRID". This is a very important word for me and I'm going to tell you why.
When I started in the interactive industry there was no industry. There was a handful of people that I met that were creating websites and posting photos and writing posts to support them. I look back at this time (for me was in 1994) and I laugh fondly knowing that all we were doing is making "blogs". I could bore you with all of the trial and tribulations that I've gone through since that time but one thing is clear, I'm still here.
The reason for that is that the one guarantee with interactive, technology, social media and advertising/marketing as a whole is change. Therefore I've had to adapt to hundreds of different challenges in different ways.
What we are:
Do I shoot video (at the time I didn't) "sure I do that", do you know how to podcast my content? "sure I do that". One can say that in my career I've 'faked it to make it' and others such as myself will look at that as bravery, knowing that I'm smart enough to figure it out even if it's being done on the preverbal fly. These people are the heros in my world, the thinkers, the doers and the people that screw up and learn from it. With this erratic pattern I've picked up a myriad of various skills that have served me as a follower, producer and eventually a leader. We're "Hybrids."
Early in my career people would look at my resume and think 'who is this guy, it's like he's touched everything.' And my career was deemed erratic and transient. I didn't want to be. I wanted the home-base, the like-minded co-workers, the security, the respect, the standard growth curve and the gold watch. Well, not exactly. But no, I've been called an abstract, a 'job-hopper', someone you don't want to put too much time in, in fear that I'll fly the coop. Well I'm here for you now aren't I? Let's get it done.
The world looks at resumes that have two year stints on them as a BONUS now! "Wow, this guy can give us some firm insight. He's been around and can really dive into his experiences and evaluate our processes and give us some [real] directive." Now being eclectic isn't herpes, it's chic. Hybrids are the new McGyver. You bring them in and they think you out of the worst situations. They look at problems abstractly, they take things too far or bring them so close to the vest thye make Occam's razor look like base-jumping. Therefore they ARE the kitchen sink, the secret weapon and the ace in the hole.
What we've become:
So why a Swiss Army knife? Yeah, I guess it fits, but it's not WHO I AM. I break convention and see what falls out! I put it back together again, but in a much different way. "I Improvise, Adapt and Overcome" as the United States Marines Corps would say, and I do it with respect for process but about as classy as an M1 tank. I'm a Leatherman, if anything. Indeed I am.
Leatherman, bold, brass, original, yet constantly progressing; and above all else, never failing.
I looked back at my career and I can tell you that one thing has been within arm's reach for most it, my Leatherman. I've roadied for band when it was on my hip; I ran secondary camera on television shows and it was there; I shoot my photography in studio and it's there! I don't have to question it, wait for it, it does what I do and it simply works. And for every industry, now on my third, I can tell you buying one is better than Christmas because they evolve faster than the tech industry. When has a functional "tool" changed and become even better? When was the last time the hammer became a better tool? The Leatherman progressively becomes a better and better tool, as they progressively push the design and its functionality further.
Since I started writing this post progressively I've also been reading Guy Kawasaki's "Enchantment," which is in no doubt the new manual for all future entrepreneurs that believe in Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." In a section called "Embrace the Nobodys" he talks in specific terms that celebrities and perceived influencers are not the real power behind product reviews. What do they do? They get something, look at it for ten minutes and have an intern write up an article not ever knowing the real promise or value of a product. A 'nobody' on the other hand is someone that is so loyal to that product due to their dependency and love for how it benefits them, they'd never think of something else! I'M A NOBODY FOR LEATHERMAN! Woot.
SO WHAT SAY YOU LEATHERMAN!? Want to deputize a hybrid blogger, photographer, videographer and social content storyteller as a brand ambassador? I think your product would look a hell of a lot better as my hybrid identity than what's currently there. Plus, there's a lot of life in your investment.
Additionally, I think creating a campaign around finding "Leatherman" might just be the social ticket of a lifetime. Let me paint a picture for you of the Leatherman Tool Group, looking for people as 'brand ambassadors' for your product that they too are as utilitarian as your tools. People that not only respect the need for versatility in their lives, but by their vary nature [NEED] the hybridization.
So let's talk...