SXSWi 2010 & Community Part 3: Rockstars, Ninjas and Gurus are People Too

Why Polaroid pictures? Check out the intro to this project.

Rockstars, Ninjas and Gurus (oh my?)

Featuring: Guy Kawasaki, Tim Ferriss, Pete Cashmore, Barb Dybwad and Scott Stratten

First off, rockstars, ninjas and gurus get a bad rap. All three of these words have a perception problem thanks to the overnight “successes” that are self-proclaimed thought leaders. If you need examples, check out Justin Kownacki’s Marketing Douchebags blog (note: douchebag is a banned word where I work and professionally, I no longer condone its usage…personally however…).

Frankly speaking, there are rockstars, ninjas and gurus in the new marketing industry (meh – whatever term you prefer). You can dodge those words, you can shun/unshun me and you can even ridicule me… but I follow several rockstars, I’ve met a few ninjas and I’ve chatted with a guru or two. So eat it.

Whatever terminology you prefer (or despise), there are innovators. There are people who come up with incredible content. There are blogs that you read and scratch your head thinking “why can’t I bring it this strong with every post.” I won’t name drop (I do that later), but you all know a few even if you don’t want to admit it.

The people you admire are still people.

There I said it! Chris Brogan is human and tells funny jokes. Guy Kawasaki really is passionate about technology. If you are genuine and engage with them, they may even talk back!

I’m not famous and I probably never will be (le sigh), but I’d imagine that if I were… I’d welcome the opportunity to talk to people that treat me like I’m one of the guys. Even though strangers may know that I dig The Office and my friends call me Moody doesn’t mean that I don’t like meeting and engaging with new folks.


This leads me to several examples of cool (in my opinion) conversations that I had with various rockstars, ninjas and gurus in my small corner of the world.

Guy Kawasaki really does like technology.

During one of the exhibit hall days, I noticed that Guy Kawasaki was chatting with someone from the team. I didn’t want to butt in to their conversation, but as soon as they wrapped up, I said “Hey Guy. I’m Chris Moody and I’m a huge fan.” Yes it wasn’t the smoothest intro, but I am a big fan of Guy’s work, I dig Apple and I love Alltop. We chatted for a few minutes and then I had the chance to tell Guy about Phonebooth and the cool things we were doing there (with his approval of course). There was no push, no ask, just a conversation about a cool technology with a really smart technology dude.

Key Takeaway: Guy truly is passionate about technology and cool new products. It is extremely evident and makes me appreciate his work even more. It didn’t hurt that Guy said to Kick butt with Phonebooth.

Chris Moody and Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss cares about his fans.

There is a bit of a back story here, but Marcie Barnes (another awesome person in NC) happens to work with the Four Hour Work Week forum and community. Tim is a cool dude. I can’t begin to serve his bio justice, but essentially… if he sets his mind to something, he does it. Best-selling author, world record holder, Tango champion, Japanese horse archer, etc. The concept of Four Hour Work Week is a perfect fit for the concept of Phonebooth and we talked with Marcie about giving Tim the ability to join the beta program.

There was a huge commotion on the exhibit hall floor and a large line formed. One of my colleagues mentioned that the author of Four Hour Work Week was signing autographs. Small world we live in. I waited in line for over 30 minutes and still hadn’t made it near the front. Tim sent a runner to tell everyone in line that he wouldn’t leave until everyone had a chance to chat with him. I thought that was pretty cool. I made it to the front of the line to find that I couldn’t even pay for the book, Tim was giving them away to fans… awesome. He was engaging with his community and providing value.

Key Takeaway: Tim exemplifies the fact that if you love what you do, it doesn’t really feel like work. He also cares about the people that dig his stuff and was willing to take the time to show everyone that. That resonates with me… and I now have the latest edition of his sweet book.

The Mashable folks are cool people.

Chris Moody and Pete Cashmore Chris Moody and Barb Dybwad

Odds are if you’re into social media, you know Mashable. Even better odds that if you are a female into social media, you know who Pete Cashmore is… yes Emily I am talking about you. Mashable ran a great piece on Phonebooth Free the day we launched and I was looking forward to meeting some of the folks that make them great. We ran into Pete at Tweet House and everyone’s favorite all-around good guy and beer blogger, @SchneiderMike made the intro. We had a very brief chat, but had the time to get a pic together.

@DarrenMurph told me that I had to meet Barb Dybwad at SXSW. Word of mouth is huge in my opinion… so I knew that Barb was cool. We had chatted via Twitter, but as soon as she walked towards the Phonebooth exhibit, I knew it was her (I have a pretty high success rate identifying people by seeing their avatars… I was incorrect once at SXSW though… doh). Barb was even cooler in person than she is online and props to Darren for introducing me. It is always great to meet genuine folks.

Key Takeaway: Mashable is Mashable because of the people. You can find great writers. You can find great content. You can’t always find great people that can put it all together. Everyone I’ve dealt with or talked to at Mashable has been awesome (Pete, Barb, Christina and Josh).

Scott Stratten and Chris Moody

@UnMarketing is the opposite of unfriendly.

Scott Stratten is one of the most authentic people you’ll ever meet. He’s the same sarcastic guy that broke up with a hockey team and he practices what he preaches. I haven’t told Scott this (hello there Scott), but he actually has one of my favorite personal brands. While I do think the bio at could be revamped to reflect his awesomeness… I believe that Scott is the same Scott everyday, everywhere. That’s powerful to me.

I was introduced to Scott through Summer Joy and our love for sarcasm was evident in the first few seconds. Over the course of SXSW, we hung out at a few venues (including TechKaraoke) and my view on personal branding was further solidified.

You can only be the person you are.

Yes that is simple. Yes that is obvious. But it is often overlooked. Who you are in person must match who you are online. If you aren’t in an industry where you can be yourself at a major networking event… run. Run as fast as you can until you find the place where you fit and where you belong. This is critical to me. If you can’t be yourself, you’ll eventually hit a wall and wonder what the hell you’re doing with whatever it is that you’re doing (read that slowly).

Key Takeaway: Make sure that your personal brand online and in person is a strong match. You can fool people into thinking you’re the best person in the world for a little while, but eventually… the truth will come out. Address that from the beginning and be the wonderful, perfectly imperfect person you are.

In summary: Treat others how they want to be treated. Even if you’re a fanboy, have an engaging conversation. If someone digs what you do, appreciate them. Your company is only as good as the people running it. Be yourself and only yourself. What did I miss?