By @SimonCocking

Tony Wenzel @TonyWenzel Retail Digital Media + Software – E-Commerce + Analytics + Football Reader, wine and beer savant, SF Giants fan. Writer, seller, gym rat, software nerd.

You have many interests! How do divide your time to them all?

I was in my 20s before I realized there were not enough hours in the day to do all the things I had to do.  I make a conscious effort compartmentalize and block time for specific activities, but I ashamedly admit to being a frequent multitasker.

Will we see you over at a Web Summit or something similar?

I’m blessed to say I’ve gotten to experience a lot of the world, but Ireland is still on my to-do list.  My mother visited Ireland frequently as a child.  I am the son of a Catholic father and an Episcopalian mother.  My maternal grandfather was an Orangeman from County Clare.  My paternal grandmother secretly baptized me of her own volition when I was a newborn.  So, my father was raised Catholic, my mother was raised Episcopalian…  I was raised football – and not the kind you guys like in Eire.

What is good about NYC for you? How was last 12 months, what went well? Anything you’d do differently? Plans for the future?

I have lived in several major cities in the US: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Boston, and New York. San Francisco is will always be my “hometown”, but New York City is unlike any other place I’ve lived; it’s simply fantastic.  It’s got everything an over-cultured dilettante nerd could want.  It also has a vibrant and resilient economy that’s not subject to the swings you see in the Silicon Valley.

For me the last 12 months have been a time of reflection and goal setting.  I’m blessed and grateful to have a personal board of directors who have pushed me to set new B-HAGS (big hairy audacious goals [a reference from the Jim Collins book, “Good to Great”]).

The next step has to be about learning something new and the opportunity to apply my leadership skills. And to be able to do that in the right environment. My wife is CMO of a software company rated by FORTUNE as a best place to work in America. I’m impressed by what gets accomplished when everyone in an organization is aligned, engaged, and committed to the same goals. Drucker is right: culture eats strategy for breakfast.  There’s a reason culture was the word of the year in 2014. Culture is your brand.

What’s your background, what led you into what you are now doing? You have a great following in twitter, is this part of how you do business?

Upon reflection, I can’t say I had a grand plan.  In high school, football held more charm for me than academics.  In college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play guitar, play football, play lacrosse, or be a writer; I tried them all.  I tried law school. I got an MBA in Finance.  The one constant in my life has been a deep sense of intellectual curiosity.  It’s served me well, especially in technology, where connecting fast-moving dots is important.  In fact, I’m a connector by nature and you see that in my Twitter following.  I am passionate about bringing people and ideas together. I still love when someone comments on a post; the feedback is great.

Heck, we met on Twitter!

 How much time does it take to stay on top of your social media digital footprint? Where else are you active as well as twitter? 

I’m not sure if I’m on top of it or underneath it.  I do a lot of reading in the evenings and early mornings.  As an avowed dot-connector, I find information that fascinates me all the time.

I compulsively share content with individual contacts and on social media sites.  I try to keep a modicum of context.  For example, if an interesting topic is not business-specific, I’ll post it on Twitter.  If the topic is business-focused, I might post it on LinkedIn, which also posts them on Twitter.  I enjoy writing for LinkedIn Pulse and just wish I had more time to do it.

On the video side of social media, I am a huge fan of Lynda.com.   It’s a great place to learn about new technology. Apple University is insane.  I took a brilliant course on the Early Middle Ages for free – for which some kids at Yale paid $80,000.   I am also a huge TED Talk addict and MinutePhysics fan.  And Bryan Johnson’s PhilosophersNotes on YouTube is not to be missed.  If you watch one of his reviews in the morning, it will improve your whole day.

Blogging, who do you follow?

My staples are WSJ, Washington Post, and LinkedIn Pulse.  LinkedIn did a very visionary thing with Pulse, there are literally thousands of contributors and there’s really good stuff there.  You get big names like Jack Welsh and Richard Branson, and equally good reads from workaday folks. I’ve liked content from Travis Bradberry.

Top tips to companies trying to do well on social media?

I’ll put on my business hat to address this one.  I think the trick for corporations is to really have a handle on who their customers are and who they aspire to be so they can provide the kind of information that helps them on their aspirational journey .  That’s easier said than done, but there are models like Language Mapping that will quantify the true differentiation of your brand communications so you invest appropriately to ensure your message stands out.  There are also Business Strength Matrices that empirically quantify the relationship between interactions, perceptions and behaviors in a rigorous, actionable, and predictive way.  The startup which I advise produces this sort of work.

Not all Irish companies are convinced of the value on inbound marketing, and having an online strategy –

In most instances, inbound leads are lower cost and have a higher propensity to close than do outbound efforts.  The inbound prospect has done her homework and has a frame of reference.  Wouldn’t you want to cultivate that interest? It’s a matter of aligning their buying cycle with your sales cycle.

Do you spend time articulating why there is value, or just focus on those that want to develop one?

Rather than try to articulate whether there is value I would employ a strength matrix to quantify the value of those marketing and sales expenditures in terms of contribution to the business.   Organizations like the Marketing Account Standards Board (MASB) are doing a great job quantifying the business value of marketing expenditures with empirical rigor.  They’ve worked hard to ensure organizations are measuring the right things (validity) and are measuring them the right way (reliability).

Being a big user of social media, how do you manage life / work, and online / offline balance?

My wife tells me to put down my mobile phone a lot, so that helps!  I have Kindle, WSJ, Washington Post, TED, and other apps on my phone because it’s so convenient to access them when I travel. Our twins are nearly six-years old, which forces balance. We have a rule: no phones when we’re with the kids. When it’s their time, it’s their time 100%. It’s been a great lesson in recent years: no matter where you are and what you’re doing, be in THAT MOMENT absolutely and completely.

And generally, I try to focus my attention on positive stories or the upside of negative stories. TED talks are wonderful for this. There’s plenty of bad going on, so I try to ask myself where can I be a leader and have impact in service to people?  How can I change the outcome?

Anything else to add / we should have asked you?

In terms of my efforts to live a more purposeful life, I love the work that Brene Brown, Eric Greitens, Jim Dethmer, and Srikumar Rao are doing. All of it centers on serving others and teaching people how to live from an identity that determines one’s actions and creates more personal positivity.

I’m grateful to you for this opportunity.  Please let me know how I can support your efforts and connect dots for you!

 

 

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