Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Experts in the Industry: CC Chapman (42 of 45)

CC Chapman, co-founder & managing partner, The Advanced Guard, is a cool guy. I first met CC last year at this time at SXSW even though I had followed his blog and Twitter stream. Since then, I've had a chance to sit on a panel with CC last fall at a New Marketing Labs bootcamp and have also had a chance to get to know him a little better than in 800 word or 140 character bursts.

Here's your chance to get to know CC Chapman a little better if you haven't had a chance to keep up with the volumes of great social media knowledge he provides (like the free Facebook Fan Page white paper he put out yesterday). Let's see how CC answered the five questions from the Experts in the Industry series:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you're good at it.
I've always been the person that people come to with their problems because I listen well and always have advice on how to fix the problem and this makes me very good at helping individuals and brands of all sizes to take their problems or goals and determine ways to leverage technology and initiatives to become successful. 
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In 1996 I co-founded a micro-budget independent production company called Random Foo Pictures. The web was just starting and we were figuring out every way we could leverage it to connect with people who wanted to see our work. I quickly learned that it was about the connections more then anything else. Getting to know people and becoming friends with them would help you find whatever you needed.

My degree from Bentley is in computers but I always wanted to use the creative side of my brain more then the other. Whenever someone tells me "you can't do that" it makes me want to do it even more and looking back I've shaped my career around that. Always pushing forward and figuring out what was next and how I could be part of it.

When I launched The Advance Guard in 2007 (with partner and friend Steve Coulson) it was because I realized the only way I was going to be happy was to be my own boss. I saw how other people were doing business in the space and I wanted to do something different because I didn't agree with a lot of what I saw. I can tell you that I've honestly never been happier. 
If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of "social," which company would it be and why?
My first thought was Ning because I think they are an amazing company, but then I realized they've got enough money at the moment most likely so I would have to say I'd invest it in Akoha. This startup in Montreal is trying to do things very differently. They want to have fun, be a successful business and also bring social good to the world. 

I had the pleasure of sitting and talking with founder Austin Hill and some of his team for several hours and I left with my mind hurting from the level of business and creativity that they all possessed. They are written off by some as just a feel good card game, but I can see that on top of wanting to help the world they've got an interesting business model that breaks out of the current common thinking towards something very different. I like that about them and if I had the money to invest that is where I'd put it. Anyone can make money, but making money AND doing good is something I wish more people would do. 
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
There use to be this great television show called Dinner For Five where the host John Favreau got five different people around a table for dinner and conversation. I'm always thinking about who I'd want at my table. Prince would be there because I'm a life long fan of his music and he is one of the most creative people on the planet when it comes to music and marketing. Quentin Tarantino would bring the color to the table because you don't know what he is ever going to say and he is the reason I got into movies. I've always wanted to meet Bill Gates because he is such a successful business man, but now he is doing so much in the philanthropy world as well. Jane McGonigal is one of the smartest women I've ever seen speak and I'd love to sit down and talk with her. Finally, I'd have President Obama there was well because of his dynamic personality and the fact that he is the first President I've felt close enough to know even a little bit about. Can you just imagine what this group might talk about? Sure, I'd love to talk to any one of them one-on-one but as a group I can't even begin to think about the variety of topics we would cover. 
My gut reaction was no because toothpaste is not something I'm passionate about so I don't need that community in my life. But, then as I thought about it more I don't know. I grew up in a family that always used Crest and still to this day I use Crest. Would joining a community get me discounts or other special offers? If so then maybe I would join, but I can safely say I would not be an active member of the community. I've got to be passionate about something to invest time in it.
Freeform – here's where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
One of my favorite phrases is to "take the road less traveled" and it is something that has guided my personal and professional life. I like to embrace change and work with companies who are not afraid of it. I think that is why all the social media tools, networks and connections scare a lot of people because they see them as major change and most people are not comfortable with that.

If you work or play in this space and want to take things to the next level you need to realize this. You can't tell companies that they need to be in this space because that is not a good reason for anyone. None of this is a silver bullet that fixes every companies problems. I remember the first time I saw a graphic web browser and saw the potential that it held. But, it would be years before most companies were doing anything worthwhile with it and even today some people are just starting out. 

I think too many people forget that we are ahead of the curve. It might not be bleeding edge any more, but it is certainly cutting edge for most of it. I hope people start sharing results, helping each other and working with companies to do it properly. Every time I see a marketing campaign that feels like a traditional marketing angle with some social media pasties stuck on it I cringe.

1 comment:

  1. Great profile of an incredible guy. First thing I noticed about CC upon meeting him was how much goodwill he engenders. It's rare that everyone continues to say "CC needs to see this", "CC will help", "CC helped me".

    Meeting him in Montreal & introducing him to Akoha quickly led to me being able to say the same thing. He understands that giving & sharing are core to the social bonds that create community.

    He's helped Akoha immensely.

    Great profile.