Friday, March 27, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Sean O'Driscoll (60 of 45)

Sean O'Driscoll, CEO of Ants Eye View and former GM of Microsoft's MVP Community has become a good friend over the last couple of years (I think this is what my man, Mike Walsh, was talking about in his latest blog post). I first met Sean via Mukund Mohan and did a joint podcast with the the two of them. It was one of the first handful of podcasts I ever did so I'll apologize to Sean in retrospect for subjecting him to that experience. Since then, we run into each other at ForumOne events, online and most recently, walking down the street in Austin during SXSW.

One of the reasons you should pay extra close attention to Sean's responses is that he is truly a "Community" guy. As the former community manager of Microsoft's MVP community, he's not just a "social media guru" but someone that has lived and breathed community management and building. He's now taken those skills and joined forces with one of my other friends, Jake McKee and now helps companies think about their online community building efforts.

With that said, on to the answers:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I’m good at knowing what I’m bad at and being able to own that and resource around it! I guess beyond that, I’m a good translator in that I can generally help two groups of people who seem unaligned better understand what each other are talking about and how to get on the same page. This is the way I see it in social media – my job is to help translate this phenomenon into actionable strategy for business executives.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
Accidentally of course! I was in Compuserve in 92 as a customer service rep for Microsoft. Then 10 years and many different MSFT roles later, I found myself running the Microsoft MVP program which identified, thanked and engaged the top global contributors to Microsoft product communities. 5 years in the trenches of leading that global program was an education I likely could never replace!

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?
Hah! I can only answer one way – Ant’s Eye View, the company my partner, Jake McKee and I founded. It’s a simple mission, do work that matters with people you can learn from – I’d love to have $10M to spend on growing that ambition. We are all about helping big (and sometimes not so big) companies re-learn how to have conversations with their customers – We take the “ant’s eye view” in saying you can’t treat your customers like markets, you have to get down, eye to eye and genuinely engage with them if you hope to build authentic differentiation around customer experience!

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
How many have said Obama? Easy choice and a lot to admire. I think as an entrepreneur in my late 30s, I’ll pick a category of business leaders instead of one person. I admire people with the vision, courage and will to leverage credit and do whatever it takes to chase their dream as small business people. I’m at a different place in my life as I start the journey – it’s scary and wonderful, but it feels way different to me at 39 than going all in at 22, 24, 28 or whatever. Props for that ambition – I wish you well re-inventing what the world does and how it gets done.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
I doubt I would, but doesn’t mean there shouldn’t or couldn’t be one. I would join (and have done so) a BBQ community!

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Because I do what I do with a customer experience dream, let me just share these two thoughts:
  1. Customer Experience Management is NOT about better escalation management – come on people!
  2. Peter Drucker said “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” Great statement that I’ll modernize this way: “the purpose of a business is to create customers who create customers!!”

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