Jason Falls is one of the leading thinkers, consultants, strategists and educators in the emerging world of social media marketing. He is the editor of SocialMediaExplorer.com, one of the web’s most widely read social media marketing blogs, and founder of ExploringSocialMedia.com, a learning community focused on providing education and counsel for those needing help with digital and social media marketing.
My Definition Of Success | Success means waking up everyday happy to go do what you do. It’s not defined by money or status. It’s defined by peace of mind. If I like getting up and going to work, feel like I’m contributing to something bigger than me, getting adequate time and allowance to prioritize my family when necessary, I’m successful. All the rest is gravy.
I Am Driven By | My biggest driver is the parental notion that I want to provide more for my children than was provided for me. While I grew up firmly planted in the middle class and was never without necessities, I also grew up in a small town where social cliques ruled the day. If you didn’t have the right clothes, car or house, you weren’t accepted. That had a profound effect on how I view the world. I’ve always just wanted to provide for my children at a level that they were never in the group of not accepted. Honestly, I’m sure that drive is very superficial and immature, but it’s programmed into me like a bug that can’t be fixed.
The Difference Between Good And Great | Good and great is really a fine line and subjective. I think the people who are great at what they do are just more passionate and naturally inclined to do it. There’s a big difference between being able to do something and loving doing it. I can build spreadsheets and balance budgets and work in numbers all day, but I loathe that kind of tedious work. Similarly, my accountant can get up on stage and do a talk that informs and entertains a crowd, but she’d be miserable doing it. Greatness is more predictable if you put someone in a role where they not only can do the job, but they love doing the job, too.
A Key Talent | If anything, my strength is lack of fear of being bold. I’m a risk taker and a rebel by nature. So leaving a good job for a high-risk opportunity feels good to me. Throwing out an idea that I know will be unpopular just to get the conversation started and push the thinking feels good to me. I’m not afraid to admit I’m wrong, not afraid to fail and not afraid to be the bad guy. So I’ve developed a line of thinking in many situations that forces that behavior, but in a manner that is helpful.
When I’m in a brainstorming session for a client, I intentionally throw out the most ludicrous ideas I can think of because I know it will push everyone to think bigger and better, while giving them some parameter of where not to go. When I’m interviewing someone and they give a sterile, stock answer, I say, “Okay, now why don’t you answer the question instead of avoiding it,” because I know it will force them to think harder. When someone asks my opinion, I don’t sugar coat it because I know the hard truth sometimes makes the idea better in the long run.
The best how-to advice for this notion is simply this: Listen to that voice in the back of your head that starts his/her sentences with, “But …”
Principles I Live By | Have fun and be kind. That’s actually the comment policy I implemented on my blog years ago. If you can’t do those two things, I don’t want you around. Those principles broadly define more specific behavior, too. I hold honesty, transparency, integrity and loyalty in high esteem for myself and others. That falls under the be kind principle, in my book. I also value laughter, irreverence and the ability to swim against the flow if need be, which is a lot of fun. All of that can be done while being kind. You don’t have to be an asshole to be irreverent. Perhaps that’s another quality I’ve figured out over the years of value.
Lessons I Have Learnt | The most valuable lesson I think I’ve learned is that no matter how bad things seem, good people always land on their feet. I’ve been out of work, told I wasn’t good enough, turned down by an important prospect, made costly mistakes that affected whether or not people wanted to work with me … and every single time I’ve thought, “Well, I guess I have to flip burgers now,” I’ve found a way to recover and grow. A recent situation found me at a company where there were likely layoffs impending and all my co-workers were worried. I just kept saying, “Good people land on their feet. This too will pass.” And they did and it did.
Dealing With Doubt | I face self-doubt everyday. There’s a bit of impostor syndrome that comes from growing up in a small town and being told you don’t belong with the cool people. The impostor syndrome is where you constantly feel like you aren’t good enough, smart enough, etc. You keep thinking you’re going to be found out as a fraud and that all the accomplishments and successes you’ve had are somehow tainted or have been blown out of proportion.
But I’ve learned over time that there’s no reason to fear trying. Self-doubt will always be there. Fear doesn’t have to be. So I continue to work hard, reach higher, try more. Until someone locks me up and says, “You don’t belong here,” I’m going to at least act like I do. Apparently, enough people believe it too. I’m still kickin’.
Performing At My Peak | That’s a good question. I think when I’m feeling in a funk or not capable of writing, doing the work, etc., I’m pretty good about stepping back and letting the moment pass. I’ve also found that if I put myself in modes of operation — sometimes it’s environment, sometimes it’s the music I’m listening to — I can quickly get back on track. More often than not, when I’m looking for inspiration in writing, I need to go sit in a coffee shop. People watching helps me think. That’s one example.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy. One day, I may even be brave enough to try it myself, but I love watching a good comic craft a story and make me laugh. It keeps me light and fun and thinking and puts me in a good mode to be productive. I’m also big on intellectual stimulants. Blogs typically don’t do it and social media channels aren’t even close. So I try to read more traditional media coverage of the news of the day and rely on the more experienced, trained journalists as resources for my knowledge.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I’d love to achieve a financial standing at some point to be able to just write full-time without needing to work otherwise. Maybe it’s a fiction book that takes off, maybe it’s winning the lottery … I’d just love to get up everyday and write my own prose rather than constantly having to write for work-related purposes. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the writing either way, but I’d love to just write my own books and the like at my own pace without having to bow to other’s deadlines, etc.