Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: David Armano

Personal Branding Under The Microscope

Short Version
David Armano, widely considered to be a really smart guy has left Critical Mass to join a startup company called Dachis Corp. Some people are happy about the above and think this is great. Others are completely pissed.

Long Version
For the last 12 months there’s been a lot of discussion in the interactive space regarding “personal brands.” Not familiar with the concept of personal brands? Let me give you the down and dirty.

For years employees have been cogs in a company’s machine. Employess were expected to live, breathe, and die for the greater good of the organization. But, the rapid evolution of interactive marketing towards “social media” started to change that concept. People mattered. Yes, people mattered. Frank Eliason from Comcast, the man Business Week called “the most famous customer service manager in the U.S., possibly in the world” is perhaps the best example of this evolution.

The people that are pissed about Armano’s decision to leave Critical Mass believe the following:

  1. He was brilliant in getting Critical Mass to fund the trips for his speaking engagements.
  2. He was brilliant in getting Critical Mass to embrace his personal blog, tweeting, and column in Adweek.
  3. He became the outward face of Critical Mass.
  4. He established and built a reputation in the industry because of Critical Mass’ willingness to fund his “personal interests” and “ego.”
  5. He leveraged #1 and #2 to jump to a “better” more lucrative position – and in doing so has left Critical Mass in the lurch.

This comment from a reader of Brian Morrisey’s article on David’s departure captures the spirit and sentiment of those who are pissed at his decision to bail.

Critical Mistake

April 10, 2009
Armano is giving up the sweetest deal of all: Critical Mass paid him a salary to build his own brand at the expense of theirs. So today Armano is a social media rockstar and Critical Mass is still an unknown agency. He’s always feeding us some line about learning from people. Love for him to teach us how he managed to pull that one off.

It’s an interesting point and one I can understand. It’s similar to college basketball coaches that are given an opportunity by a school, paid well, and treated like rock stars – only to abandon that school for a more lucrative or better known school. The people in Memphis are saying this very thing about John Calipari’s decision to leave them for Kentucky.

Here’s the facts, as I see them:

  1. Critical Mass is a great shop
  2. David Armano was a smart guy before coming to Critical Mass
  3. Critical Mass enabled David Armano to become the well know welebrity (his word, not mine) that he is today
  4. David left for a great opportunity
  5. Critical Mass is weakened by his departure

To me it’s that simple. Companies cut employees all the time. Sometimes for good reasons. Sometimes for silly reasons. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it happen, and recently I was part of it.  Whenever we leave an organization we hopefully do it on our own terms and for good reasons.  I left Fallon in 2000 while I was working on BMW Films because the culture had changed too much.  Publicis’ acquisition of the agency really altered the company and made it a place I no longer wanted to be at.  I left Leo Burnett 3 years later for the same reason.  I’ve seen people leave for a title, 5K a year more, and because the company stopped offering free beer on Thursdays.  The point is, people leave a for a variety of reasons.

I’m happy for David. I wish him well. But, this situation definitely shows us the danger of companies investing in personal brands. David has clearly benefited from Critical Mass’ direct investment into his brand, and I’m sure on some level so has Critical Mass.  How much we’ll never know.  What we do know for sure is that Critical Mass invested a lot and now 2 years later they have a massive hole to fill.

Can You Spare Some Change

Twitter is fast becoming an over saturated destination for people to “beg” for money. Whether it’s money for Daniela (which I gave $100.00) or Sarah Evans asking for sponsors to fund a conference, twitter is fast becoming the hip place to ask for money. You’ll hear people like Chris Brogan asking for only $10.00 for a good cause. I mean, heck what’s $10.00. Well it’s not much till you keep giving $10.00 to every single cause or request on twitter. And trust me there are 1,000s.

Twitter is starting to resemble an episode of South Park titled, “Night of the Living Homeless.” In this episode:

“The number of homeless people in South Park is increasing as they eat, sleep, and beg for change across the town. While the adults try to find creative solutions to deal with the homeless, the boys are trying to figure out a way to solve the problem for good.”

Here’s a video to show you how I’m starting to feel.

Folks I’m all for a good charity. Really I am. As I noted above I gave David Armano $100 for the Daniela cause. His DM to me indicated I was the first person to donate. But, at what point do we need to draw the line? At what point does twitter simply start to resemble a bunch of people screaming for your money, while you’re just trying to have a conversation with some friends.

It’s gotta change, because I don’t have anymore change to spare. Oh – if you want to support the Susan G. Komen foundation please buy this book…you’ll learn a lot about social media in the process. I wrote chapter 2 and we could really use your spare change to make a difference.

10 Great Links

I’ve been compeletely swamped the past few days and I know I’m completely guilty of not offering enough meat in these posts.  With that in mind, I’m opting for a quantity approach in this post.  Here are 10 great links that I’ve stumbled on and are worth sharing:

  1. SEMPO Study on the impact search has on sales.  This is a PDF white paper.
  2. Wii Fit Viral.  Offers proof that viral is sometimes indeed pure luck.
  3. Competitive Intelligence.  Avinash waxes on what competitive information is important for site metrics.
  4. Why Agencies Are Failing.  Great article from Joseph Dumont.
  5. The Marketing Spiral.  David Armano reminds us all that the concept of a linear path to purchase does not exist in today’s world.
  6. WuChess.  Members of the rap group, WuTang Clan, created a PAID site that brings together their two passions: Chess and Music.
  7. Human Centered Design.  David Kelley of IDEO explains the future of design.
  8. Chart of the Week.  From Marketing Sherpa.  Using heat maps to show what’s happening on a web page.
  9. Ning.  This site/platform lets you create your OWN social network.
  10. FWA.  Great aggregator of top sites on the web.  Will inspire you.

Enjoy.