Mark Schaefer | Social Media Marketing Expert, Author & Educator

Mark Schaefer

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognized blogger, speaker, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} – one of the top marketing blogs of the world. He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written four best-selling books including The Tao of Twitter (the best-selling book on Twitter in the world) and Return On Influence,which was named one of the top business titles of the year by the American Library Association​His latest book is called Social Media Explained: Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend.

Mark-Schaefer_P3My Definition Of Success | My definition of success has changed very much. When I was young, I was full of “piss and vinegar” as they say here in the States. I was a hard-charger and maybe even a little reckless!
Like most people, I have been changed profoundly by life experiences. The birth of a child. The death of a loved one. Unexpected tragedy. Of course these things also change your approach to life and how you live it.
My view of success has shifted from “what” I am trying to accomplish to “why.” I feel rewarded for teaching, for writing, for traveling and spending time with my wife instead of material gain and promotions.


I Am Driven By | My biggest driver is intellectual curiosity. I work in a field that is dynamic and shifting. For me, every day is an adventure in growth and learning. Every consulting opportunity opens up new doors and insights. Every person I meet teaches me something new. I am definitely in the right place at the right time in my life!

My Highlights | I am exceedingly proud of my children. They are incredible young adults who are honest, kind and dedicated to interesting projects.
I am very pleased that I have written books that people love.
I know I have a positive impact on people through my writing and teaching. At least once a week somebody tells me I have changed their life for the better in some small way, and sometimes in a big way.
I can see that I have had a lasting impact on the companies I work with. I know that even 10 years from now there will be continued progress from a plan or strategy I helped create.
I feel that I have contributed to both my online and physical communities. I don’t often talk about volunteer efforts I am involved in but this is also very satisfying to be in a position in my life to help people.

Mark-Schaefer_P2The Difference Between Good And Great | I’m sure many people would answer “passion,” but I have a slightly different take. My very first boss once told me that the great professional differentiator is “enthusiasm.” I believe that to be true. If you can be upbeat even when you are doing a menial job, you simply lift those around you. Don’t you love to work with people like that?

A Key Talent | I could not have foreseen it at the time but the skills I picked up as a journalism major have helped me so much. If you think about it, this is what I was trained to do:
1) Communicate clearly, accurately and concisely
2) Seek truth through political and bureaucratic obstacles
3) Create content under pressure
4) Suspend judgment about people and events until the facts are in
5) Think critically
Isn’t that a wonderful set of skills to have in today’s business world?
For four years of college I had these values and skills pumped into me until they became second nature. Even though that degree program is now decades in the past (and I subsequently have earned two masters degrees) those skills still serve me well today.
It is not necessarily easy to replicate that skillset without some education but for a person looking to make a mark in the online world, a major or minor in journalism is not a bad way to go.

How I Use My Mind | One principle I use is that I virtually ignore my competition. I know that sounds strange but I find benchmarking to be limiting, not enabling. I found myself too caught up in an echo chamber to sameness and if I stay somewhat insulated it actually helps me to be more creative.

Dealing With Doubt | In America, our first president was a man named George Washington. He led our revolution and had a god-like status among the people. But in his first term in office, even Washington was getting criticized and he was probably the most popular American who ever lived!
The lesson is, that everybody gets criticized at some point. It’s part of life. As a very public blogger and author, I get my share but you have to stay centered and stay focused on what is important.



Performing At My Peak | I build in breaks. About every three months, I need a complete digital detox and an escape to nature. If I don’t do that, I start to get edgy and irritable. My creative output also suffers. So I have to schedule in time to relax to stay at my best.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | This is a weird question for me and I am going to give you an unexpected answer. I came from a relatively humble background. I started working selling stuff door to door when I was 12 years old. If I wanted a bike or a toy I had to earn the money to buy it myself.
Last year I got to give a 3-hour lecture at Oxford University. The hall was filled with graduate students and professors and they loved what I had to say. On the train back to London I felt so great, so proud. I think I have come so far from where I started.
I am at a point in my life where it much more fun to see what is coming next, instead of planning for a next achievement. I don’t want to plan so much that I miss the next surprise!

The Best Advice I’ve Received | I was fortunate to have studied under a famous American scholar and author named Peter Drucker. In my graduate school classes he taught by the case study method and he taught us to approach these very humbly. He drilled into us that great leadership is not having all the right answers. It is asking the right questions. That advice has helped me be a very successful consultant!

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