I recently read a quote (paraphrased) that smart leaders pay attention to the successes of the leaders before them. Even smarter leaders pay attention to their successes AS WELL as their failures.
You didn’t invent the wheel
Many have come before you and have done great and terrible things long before you even thought of it, whatever it is. Since I spend much of my time working in social media, I will speak to that specifically.
In social media, there is a convergence of marketers, business owners, communication specialists, tech geeks, marketers, PR people and then some. We are swimming in the same pool now, learning from each other. Nobody gets it all right all of the time. We will all fail (and if we don’t we’re not really in it). The trick is to learn the biggest mistakes from those that made them before you rather than stepping in the muck yourself. I call it “following the rockstar”.
Let’s say you sell toothbrushes
Are you aware of Colgate, Oral B, and Sonicare? Of course you are. Would you check out their website, blog, and marketing materials occasionally to know what they are up to? Most likely, if you are looking to be successful that’s exactly what you are doing. You want to know what has worked for those that are already successful. And knowing what our competition is doing is vital part of doing business.
Now extend that one step further
Not only do you sell toothbrushes but you might be interested in dentists, denture makers, mouthwash, surgery centers, packing manufacturers as well as toothpaste companies. If you are paying attention to what these companies are doing, you’ll start to see some “out of the box” type techniques. Some record videos, others interview clients, some are just straight inspiring with the ways they have represented their business and services. Doing this kind of research will inspire you to get outside of your own rut and think differently. When they do it WRONG and when they do it GREAT, you are noticing. This is “following the rockstar”. Whether they stumble or knock it out of the park, pay attention to your reaction as an observer (or prospective customer) and take that as a qualitative survey result.
If you’ve just started your Facebook fan page, your Twitter stream or your YouTube video series, you’ll be looking to see how others are doing it well and doing it poorly. Leapfrog yourself over those stumbling baby steps and learn by example. Follow a rockstar and you’ll never regret it.
Some of my rockstars
Mari Smith for Facebook, Cory Booker (
Mayor of Newark Senator for New Jersey and Democratic candidate for President) for Twitter use in government, and Viveka von Rosen for LinkedIn. (See my follow up with How to Be a Branding Rockstar)