Situational Introverts, with special guest: Mark Babbitt

This is part II of my interview with Mark Babbitt, co-author of A World Gone Social and CEO at YouTern. It’s been a couple days since Part I so it should have had a chance to hit bottom by now. Let’s just jump right back in and pick up where we left off … where were we? Oh yes, Actionable Inspiration.

Elton: “I like that, ‘actionable’. It’s not just those inspirational words, those key words I think that even close to a few years ago you heard and still hear bandied about in the conference room or on the internet. It’s taking those things and putting them into practice and that’s the difference from what I’m finding. “

“So, (a little more history) the last three posts I did on my blog were interviews and what I’m doing is I’m trying to tie this leadership, this project management idea across all industries so the first one I did was with an adjunct professor at UNR and we talked about his mortgage brokerage firm and about him and his team and something that he was very passionate about and that was trust; I believe it was a great post. The next one I actually interviewed my brother.  He’s a father of four and he and his family have a goal to move up into a farm or some sort of ranch and so we talked about how the families goals are aligned with each other, with the end result, how that works in his home. And also this idea of leading by example, him as a father, so I tied that into the post. Then, the most recent one was a post with a local lawyer who does personal injury and we talked about again trust, we talked about getting to know the client, getting to know them personally and them getting to know you. And about your staff, relying on them, expanding on that team concept.”

“I’ve also done two other interviews but I haven’t posted them yet but what I’m finding is that engaging conversation that you’re talking about, answering questions directly, is something that well, the social exists out there but sometimes that’s not enough. And people want to talk about what their passionate about, they want to share their experiences associated with these passions and so sometimes it’s that platform, that social that isn’t enough. I’m finding that being a facilitator of those platforms, of these ideas is really bringing people, mind you in the five that I’ve done so far, has really cemented in my mind that there is this opportunity as a leader not only to practice these things but to get in there and it move along those lines of the stuff that goes on when you’re not in the room, allowing for that to happen, creating a path for it to happen or a downstream affect where it just come out at some point. And so, as I’m talking about this, I would like to hear what your thoughts are on being that facilitator in a social world and what that really can produce.”

Mark: “Well, Elton, I think especially as you do these you’ll find two things happen, at least I have. One it sounds like you’re very comfortable in that chief facilitator officer role and that’s important because what you do in the process is you not only show a vulnerable personal brand, I mean it takes guts to do what you’re doing you know? It takes guts to be the guy asking the right questions and it takes commitment to do the research so you know which questions to ask and so that’s not an easy thing to do. But the end results is you’re providing value to those who eventually become members of the community that you’re forming whether intentionally or not. As you do more and more of these interviews and they provide value to the viewers, you’re opening yourself up and you’re providing content that’s worthy of peoples time and it doesn’t get any more social than that.”

“You know before we had social media, and this is where the tools finally do come in Elton, you and I would go have a cup of coffee and we would have this wonderful conversation and it would stay between the two of us and the eavesdroppers at Starbucks right? And that’s it, right? Now, with social and YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and all the rest and now Periscope we can now share these conversations right? And I don’t know about you but I digest them in a unique way for me, even though I’m an author of a book and have another one I’m working on I haven’t actually read a book in forever. I listen to them, I’m a huge Audible.Com fan right. So I listen to them as I’m driving or thinking, or working on a project at home. And I was doing that yesterday! If you would have seen me yesterday I was snow white with drywall dust listening to a book and that’s the way I digest it. Well, it’s the same way with these videos, the kind you’re creating now, I don’t watch them often but I can listen to them while I’m thinking or as I’m doing social medial catchup or writing a new blog post. They actually inspire me to do better things. You don’t have to be Guy Kawasaki or Jay Baer to do what you’re doing. What you’re doing right now is important work and the more of us that take that facilitator role very seriously and provide really good content, value instead of noise, the better off we all are.“

Elton: “That really roles right into with where I want to wrap up at and I mentally noted something that you said but … well that’s lost. Anyway, I also love too, by the way, avid fan. I do some of my best learning that way. The time to be able to sit down and read a book, this semester anyway I’m finding, except for the books of course that have been assigned (haha).”

“So, in my own life, and this is more on a personal level to wrap things up, this idea of more social less media how it’s affecting me and my life, like I said earlier, a few months ago I had zero presence. The mind shift and you even commented on the outward view in how you interact with people and life itself has changed significantly. You touched on something in the presentation the other night, ‘how many of you are uncomfortable on twitter? How many of you are uncomfortable doing blog posts?’ And I raised my hand because social media has destroyed my comfort level.”Mark

Mark: “Just for the record, you were the only one brave enough to raise your hand. Just so you know, just so the audience, just so everyone one knows (haha).”

Elton:  “I couldn’t help it! I was thinking: ‘Me! Me! Me! This is scaring me so much!’ And so before this class, I knew where I was at, I was very comfortable in it and I was intent to remain there. And then getting into Dr. Bret’s class it was like ‘okay, here you go!’ And there is this thing, a feeling that you get when you get when you get out of that comfort zone, kind of anxious energy, a little bit nervous, at least for me, and that anxious energy is now constant, it’s always there. Like there is this eye one me for lack of a better term, and I love it and I see the value in it. Being actively engaged, doing these interviews, asking the questions, you’re right, it’s not easy. I love the idea of it being social, and I think this is the biggest idea I’ve taken out of it personally and incorporated into my life: less media.”

“Being social is not about everything that I’m doing right now on these platforms, it’s about everything I’m doing right now off these platforms. The platform is giving me a voice for all those actions. It is giving me a place to put those things so that can be received and interpreted and consumed as needed, as necessary. Right now there’s not a huge audience or a big following but that’s not the point I think. I think the point initially for me, in this exercise I’m going through, is creating a mind shift within me that is going to affect not only my coworkers but my personal life. And so to wrap things up, I would like to hear, on a personal level maybe, a little bit more into how this has, what we’ve been talking about, has taken root in your life.”

Mark: “Well as we talked about and as I talked about in the book, social did not come naturally to me at all. I’m basically an introvert. My wife calls me a ‘situational introvert’. You know, I love getting up in front of people, I love talking about my passion, I like to make people laugh once in a while, make people think. But basically I’d rather be at home drinking a beer or on the river throwing a line in the water, right? So, it did not come naturally to me at all, but here’s what I found. I found that I could express myself say on Twitter, one-hundred and forty characters at a time. I could express myself much easier hiding behind a keyboard than I could in person. And, I have a little Irish In me and sometimes things just come out of my mouth and I’m not exactly known for having the best filter in the world …”

EltonElton: “… I can relate to that one-hundred percent …”

Mark: “… so, at least when I’m keyboarding I get to think for a second before I hit the send button where you, you saw me in my presentation, I said a couple things that got me into trouble. And that, that comes naturally to me and social didn’t. I had to work my way into it and I found it a comforting stream for me eventually. Now you throw blogging and you go from one-hundred and forty characters to six-hundred to eight-hundred words at a time and you get to expand on those thoughts, right.  And then you start doing interviews and eventually you write a book and the whole thing just kind of grew. And it has absolutely and completely changed my life. And here’s how: I’ve always been what I’ve considered to be a social leader and as a leader I can be a dictator, I have five kids, I’ve coached sports, youth sports for almost thirty years now, I have three companies I’m helping to run, I can be a decent dictator …”

Readers: My apologies, the computer I was on “hic-upped” and so a string of Marks words were lost here. I decided the context could be lost if, what would have been a large chunk, was omitted. So let’s continue.

Mark: “… groupthink, and this social allows me to do that. And I’ll tell you how else it’s changed my life, Elton, really quick. Is, I have met more people on social media that I would have never met otherwise. I know people that have helped me with YouTern, helped me with SwitchandShift, helped me write a book. Brilliant brilliant people that I’ve looked up to for years and would have never had a chance to meet otherwise. And on social we can meet all those people, and we can reach out and jump on a Skype call or have a Zoom meeting. And you’re talking with somebody that you’ve read his book twenty years ago and now you’re having a conversation like you and I are having right now … it’s freak’n amazing how social opens doors and starts conversations and connects people that have something in common. And for that alone social has completely changed my life. I mean, I was at this thing in New York the other day and I literally looked around the room and I looked at the people that were there and it was like a who’s who of social, a who’s who of authors and I just sat there and I thought ‘holy crap, I’m sitting in the room with these people’ right, ‘this is amazing.’ So this is how much social has changed my life and so I admire you for jumping in with both feet I admire you for leaving your comfort zones behind and I’m telling you, you keep doing that and really cool things are going to happen because you’re gonna meet people that you would have never met otherwise and you’re going to do things you never would have imagined before.”

Elton: “Well, it’s happening already, this interview right here is kind of blow’n my mind, I’ll be honest about that. So, I don’t have anything more, you really hit on the four things I wanted to touch upon. I appreciate your time so very much and enjoyed your book immensely and I want to wish you the best.”

Mark: “Well thank you Elton and any time I can help you, please let me know.”

Elton: “Absolutely! Absolutely. Have a great day.”

Mark: “You too Elton.”


I’ll reiterate what I said in Part I, “WOW!” Even when I transcribed the video I got excited all over again on where social has to potential to take me as a project manager and as a leader. I hope that you perhaps are at least glimpsing some if its potential now too. Not only from a digital perspective, but from a personal perspective. Because remember, A World Gone Social is not about the media or the platforms, it’s about that chance to embrace that Social that exists in all of us, that social that makes us nervous and anxious and has the power to positively affect us all in a very big and a very real way.

A Few Notes:

  • This post was not a plug for Marks book though if you decide to pick it up, you won’t regret it. It was however about sharing an intimate coffee style conversation with a world that hose gone social.
  • I tried to keep the syntax of mine and Mark’s conversation in tact as much as possible so that the emotion we were both expressing while talking about social and leadership had an opportunity to be transferred to our “eavesdroppers” in the “coffee shop.” I hope it was somewhat accomplished.
  • This post is in continuation of the interviews I’m conducting with other project managers and leaders from a WIDE variety of industries and fields. See my 1st guest speaker post for a more detailed description.

Image credit: Photo Clips by Author


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