Interview With An Executive Who Blogs

executive bloggersYesterday I announced Mike Schaffner as the You Get It winner of the month. I have been intrigued by Mike’s blog and the strategic thought that is behind it. I think you’ll find this interview interesting, I did…

Why did you start blogging?

Our good friend Kent Blumberg actually got me started. I saw what he had done and I felt it was a good way to “brand” myself and to communicate it. My brand is that I’m not your typical CIO (Chief Information Officer), I have a business background of engineering, finance/accounting, and manufacturing operations in addition to IT and that helps me to lead IT to achieve business objectives and support business strategies. Basically, a blog helps get this message out since it gives me a more open format to talk about this than you could ever do in just a resume alone.

How has blogging benefited you and your career?

It has helped in a number of ways. First, it has expanded my network. I now have a number of new networking contacts that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Second, it has helped me refine my message. Having to think about the interaction of business and IT and then to articulate this on a frequent basis really helps you refine and strengthen your message. Third, as a form of “pull” marketing it helps in my marketability. For example, I was recently contact by a journalist for a major print and online trade journal. They will be publishing an article in April about blogging and will be featuring my blog. What fantastic exposure.

What kind of relationships have you made from your blog?

I’ve developed a number of great friendships with people that I’ve met through blogging. Not only has it expanded my network, it has expanded my circle of friends. What could be better?

I have a friend that wonders why a senior level exec would blog – he isn’t IT and you are, so he’d slightly discount your answer if it comes from an IT slant – why would you suggest that a senior exec has a blog (if you do suggest that)?

First let me say that blogging is not for everyone. You have to be willing to invest the time and effort to do this and you have to be dedicated to keeping it up. It needs to be your message and reflect your style and personality. This isn’t something you can delegate to an assistant. I think there are 3 basis reasons why a senior level exec would blog.

  1. As I mentioned earlier it is a great way to brand yourself and is a great pull marketing technique. Even if you aren’t currently looking for a job, isn’t it nice to be known as someone knowledgeable on a particular subject.
  2. It is a great way of communicating with an external audience. Bill Marriott has a great blog. What a great way to interact with your customers.
  3. It is a great way for a senior exec to communicate with his employees. This is especially true where your people are widely dispersed. Blogging allows you to address topics on timely basis – no waiting until you can go see them in person and it allows them to ask questions. Plus everyone sees the same message.

If you’re willing to invest the time and effort blogging can be a very effective communication vehicle.

What are the downsides of blogging?

The only downside that I can think of is the time it takes to do it. It can take a significant amount of time. I spend at least 5 hours per week and frequently more. However as with anything you enjoy doing (and I do enjoy blogging), it is worth the effort.

I noticed that you don’t have your picture on your blog, why not?

One of the reasons I started my blog is partially an age issue. The general perception is that anyone over 40 can’t program their VCR/DVR much less use the computer systems that have become an integral part of the business world. By using new technology in an innovative way, branding via a blog, I hope to overcome the age issue by demonstrating mastery of and comfort with technology. This is a long winded way of saying it had to do with age.

My initial thought was why reinforce the age perception by putting up a picture of a gray haired guy? Since then I’ve decided I am what I am. Any one that reads my resume or sees me knows I’m not 30 so basically it was – get over it. Once I find the time and can locate a good photographer so I can get a good photo at a reasonable price I’ll post one.

In your humble opinion, what are some components of your blog that contribute to winning this award?

Well, I noticed you cashed the sizable check I sent. Seriously though, I hope it is based upon my using technology as a way to establish a personal brand. I try to stay “on message” without an overt effort at finding a job and I attempt to discuss technical issues in business terms without the technical jargon. Part of the reason I try not to push the job search effort is that I plan to continue it after I land – it’s fun.

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