Vaynerchuk, Having Chops and the Question of Expertise

It's a funny thing.

A few days ago Gary Vaynerchuk, the social media expert and consultant (among other things), did an interview with Tech Crunch TV during which, in part, he talked about the 99.5% of 'experts' in the social media space being nothing of the kind.

In fact, he called them 'clowns.'

That has gotten him a lot of kickback.  A lot.  Enough that he decided to put up a separate video clarifying - but not stepping back from - what he meant.  (It's at the bottom of this post.)

Two things here.  First, he's absolutely correct - and not just about social media.

The reality is, when a new business opportunity presents itself or a new space opens up, a lot of people who know some stuff but who are not, in fact, experts present themselves to organizations as if they are.  Experts.

It does the particular space as well as the clients a real disservice.  It's expensive and it can be dangerous. (I've seen newly minted "management consultants" put businesses out of business.)

As Vaynerchuk states (and I love this expression), the experts you hire need to have 'business chops' as well as simple knowledge of social media mechanisms.  You want to bring people in who can help your business - not just get you up on Facebook, et al.

So, whether you're hiring or contracting - be smart.  Most important, be knowledgeable about what you need and want in your social media strategy.

Second, a rather timely announcement.

I have applied my business chops to the arena of social media in my new Working Paper, "Using Social Media to Differentiate Yourself - Locally and Globally."  It will help you with your strategic thinking as you figure out how to use this amazing new world to create and build new worlds of your own.

It won't tell you how to get up on or better use Facebook and the rest - but it will advise you on how to position yourself to get the biggest organizational bang for your social media buck.

From Cadbury to Google - Environment, Productivity and Profits

The Google-plex, that main compound in the Silicon Valley where the concentrated majority of Googlers work, tends to be spoken of with reverence.

Not only is it a place of great and mysterious algorithmic development leading to previously unknown riches, it's a seriously cool place to work.

And so should yours be - whether you call it a campus, your corporation, your small business, your home office or your garage.

Because there's a direct and quantifiable correlation between the environment you create and work in with the level and type of productivity you achieve.  And that leads to profits, innovation and new worlds.

The Cadbury brothers knew that.  According to Deborah Cadbury's fascinating book, Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers, beginning in the 1880s, the Cadbury's knew that if they provided the best possible environment for their people, their people could and would do more.

Starting with education (free) they eventually built a community surrounding their plant outside Birmingham, England.  Low cost homes with gardens.  Recreation areas.  A beautifully landscaped built environment that complemented its surroundings.

That's where Milton Hershey got his idea from - and he built Hershey, Pennsylvania with the same outcomes in mind.

And both companies grew and continued to grow.

So when you think the Google-plex, don't think, "I wish I had that here."  Instead, because all it really presents is the newest iteration of a centuries-old, doable and replicable idea, decide, "How do I create that here?"

Your very quantifiable return on investment - now and in the future - will show the value of that decision.

FedEx, Fred Smith and the Innovator's Challenge

Last week, FedEx - a bellweather stock for the global economy - raised its 2011 expectations to 2.9% from 2.6%.  They also announced that they expect 2012 to be even better than 2011 - and, as a result, are considering speeding up their planned Boeing 777 orders.

That's the second time this year they've raised expectations - and that's good news for FDX shareholders and the economy in general.

Yet the most important fact to remember about the company is that when Fred Smith, its founder and still Chairman and CEO, wrote up the business plan as a business class assignment, his professor told him it would never work.

That didn't stop him.  In 1971 he founded Federal Express and by 1973 the company was providing overnight deliveries to 25 cities in the United States.  A very few years later it was nationwide, profitable - and it never looked back.

Now, as the FedEx Corporation, it has over 300,000 employees worldwide and is so ubiquitous that it is a verb.

Fred Smith saw his vision clearly and he went for it.  It didn't matter that the "experts" told him it would never work.

All of which leads to one question:  Are you following your dream?

If you're not - start now.