Doers and Talkers

An impromptu conversation happened last night over on Twitter. The topic began as a discussion over a hypothetical show (video, podcast, whatever) that would reflect the community and not just have the same people. The conversation began because of a discussion over perceived sexism in the social media community where men could do anything, but women could only be “consumed” (hey, it’s a legitimate use and context for the word!) if they were “sexy”.

To pop this proverbial bubble, the idea was presented that a community-driven show should be created where “panel members” would include an equal cross-section of the community, regardless of sex or race.At one point, a panel was suggested that I noted were all “talkers” and not “doers”.

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Photo Credit foolfillment. Used under Creative Commons

Naturally, some took offense to this characterization, but my question is why? There is an equal need for both and is non-hierachal. In fact, it may be too simplistic of a thought considering the diversity that exists across sectors, bloggers and industries.

I think it’s important to establish a premise for talkers and doers. What are they, why do they exist and what do they contribute to the ecosystem?

Talkers

Talkers are visionaries, by and large. Not always. Sometimes they are just pundits. They are the idea people, often challenging the status quo and causing people to think based on data, research and innovative thinking. They share their ideas readily and often bring a different level of communication to the fray.

Talkers are often CEOs, PR, Marketing, or members of management teams and they frequent the conference speaking circuit.

Doers

Doers are often mistaken for developers. Though developers generally fall into the category of “doer”, the definition is far wider than just physical “doers”. Doers are usually the ones that have ideas and instead of talking about them, they gather the resources (financial and human) and set about putting plans into actions.

Entrepreneurs are often doers. They are the ones with the ideas that have the guts or experience to run with them. Though they may sometimes be talkers too (small business CEOs for instance), their bread and butter is in the action. Smart doers listen to talkers ideas and filter them for actionable items that make sense for the ecosystem.

These are my definitions. They may be simplistic, but I think they provide a great framework for this conversation.

I think there is a symbiotic relationship between doers and talkers. One cannot exist without the other and gets its lifeblood from the other.

For instance, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester is largely a talker. Though he comes from Hitachi where he was largely a doer, by his own admission he’s more of a talker now.

I think there’s a negative connotation to talkers. That they are just windbags excelling in the art of punditry. But talkers bring ideas to the table that often shape the course of what is going on in the ecosystem. Talkers need doers who will take their ideas and run with them.

Doers, of whom I would classify Dave Troy of Twittervision have ideas but instead chooses to innovate on ideas and create new things. In this case, David (whom in disclosure, I realized a few weeks ago I interviewed with back in the 2002-2003 timeframe when he was the CEO of Toad) has taken ideas surrounding Twitter and made a visualization for them. He also recognized that there was a need for something like SocialDevCamp East and created it (with help).

Others like Jason Calacanis straddle the line between talkers and doers by challenging the status quo of spammy search engines and proposing a concept of human-powered search and running with it. People who can straddle the gap, place themselves in the most valuable position of seeing the cloud, recognizing it’s potential and doing something about it (pardon the reference).

Marketing Plan Series: Part 3 – Problems and Opportunities

As we discussed in Part 2 – Situational Analysis, there is room for the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis. However, what I like to do is take a separate section that really dives into the opportunities and problems deeper so that they can be addressed by specific marketing strategies.

Identifying and Maximizing Opportunities

This is where you look externally for areas your competitors are not fully covering, then go a step further and think how to match these to your internal strengths. Try to uncover areas where your strengths are not being fully utilized. Are there emerging trends that fit with your company’s strengths? Is there a product/service area that others have not yet covered?

Once you have uncovered these opportunities take each one and discuss how you will market them. Will it be a mixed marketing campaign? A targeted sales effort? What resources will you need (e.g. new collateral, selling guides, web site content, e-mail marketing)?

Addressing and Overcoming Problems

Problems are not necessarily a bad thing. They are just issues that need to be overcome. It is better to get out front of problems that may exist than have them rear their ugly head when you are selling or raising money. Problems could be strong competitors, your product lacking critical features that you are not able to roll out yet or a long sales cycle.

You should list each problem and discuss an approach to overcome them in a sales situation and with specific marketing messages that counter what a customer might be thinking.

Next time in Part 4 – Strategy

In our next part, we will discuss the strategy section which lays out a plan for the situational analysis and the problems and opportunities must be addressed by the marketing plan.

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere. In Case You're on a Deadline

For all the times I rant about PR pitches around here, I actually do get some good ones. Generally, these pitches are timely to me or my audience and are respectful in how they ask for press.

Thus was the case today when a guy named Sergei [last name withheld for privacy] emailed me about a web based project management tool called 5pm. His hook for this pitch (at least what caught my attention) was:

It’s a new web 2.0 tool that we launched recently. 5pm is an online
project management application that looks different from anything else
on the web in this category, but still feels familiar.

Web 2.0 was not the hook, but it was interesting to see that adjective used nonetheless. What hooked me was that it was different from anything else, yet still familiar. This is good because I’ve not been a fan of all the other web based PM tools out there.

I did a little investigation and am smacking myself for not seeing VentureBeat’s “Strong Project Management” endorsement from January. Or this from my new favorite company, Mixx from last year. (Of interest to Mixx fans is that Saturday night is the opening salvo of the new official Technosailor.tv which will be aired on Saturday nights at 9pm Eastern. As part of the format, I’m including a Mixx hour – which may or may not be an hour. ;-))

The Mixx story had a fantasticly engaging comment from one of the 5pmers which explains some of the thinking behind the product:

In terms of features – we implemented what worked for us and skipped what we thought is redundant. It’s difficult to find the right mix, as there is no such a thing, since each team works in their own way. That’s why we were developing our own project manager for about four years now (we had an old version called PTManager). And that’s why there are so many PM applications out there. It’s about finding the right balance, as the core features are common.

To mention new features, I would point to two things. Firstly – the interface. We spent a lot of time designing an interface which is very fast to navigate. Everything is within a click or two. We consider the UI being very important, since any pm application is just a tool. Less time navigating and clicking around, means more time for actual work. For example, coders usually hate to spend time on reporting, so our model for them was “get in. get out. fast”.

Second, I would like to mention our Flash timeline. It gives an alternative view to the projects and tasks and helps visualizing the durations and deadlines (kind of simplified Gantt). In time we plan to make it fully editable, which means you will be able to drag the tasks around the timeline. We think it will be pretty cool.

So this is just version one of our new tool. There is more to come – the feedback from our users will dictate that.

Hardcore. In fact, I may use this because, honestly I can’t stand using Basecamp and desktop-based apps are really no-go when it comes to client work. The one thing that I would really like to see before committing, is Freshbooks integration. I use Freshbooks for all my quotes, estimates, invoicing, time tracking etc. And all my clients have the ability to check in and see whats been done. Integration with Freshbooks is an absolute must for me.

I registered my 14-day free trial, poked around at it for a bit, and I can see how it is different.