Jason Falls is a Forbes Top 20 Social Media Influencer. He is authored two books regarding social media and is a professional public speaker. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. His social media clients include AT&T, Bacardi, and Jim Bean. Check out his social media services at Social Media Explore.
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What are 3 must-read books for a person either trying to become a better person or looking to start their own company?
Wow. That's a wide net. I'm fairly practical, so I'd say Getting Things Done by David Allen, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
What networking advantages has publishing your two books given you?
When you have a published book, you're automatically more credible than someone who doesn't, at least in the eyes of conferences who hire speakers, clients who hire agencies and the like. Publishing a book brings with it -- right or wrong -- an air of qualification and expertise than you don't necessarily have without it. As such, it puts you in front of more people more often than you'd have otherwise.
What advise can you give to someone who wants to be a professional public speaker?
Know that your content has to be outstanding or you can't survive. Without strong content, you've got nothing. But once you have that, you're not done. In order to have impact and longevity, you also have to be a performer. It's no different than being an actor or a standup comedian. You have to know your material, block it appropriately, work in smart visuals and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The more polished you are, the better your response will be.
Have you ever experienced some type of personal adversity that has shaped who you are today?
Certainly. The biggest was probably the two major career transitions I experienced. I left a broadcast production job at age 25 to come home and be closer to my then girlfriend, now wife. It was foolish in someways. I'd achieved a lot at a young age and made it to a big network and a big job. And I moved home and waited tables for a (brief) while. Years later, I decided to get out of a college athletics PR career of 15 years and jump into mainstream marketing and PR. I put a deadline on the calendar, left my job and hoped for the best. I networked my ass off and got a nice job that led directly to the career I have now as a digital marketing strategist. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I faked it until I figured it out and learned that I'm pretty resourceful, pretty resilient and can, in fact, figure it out. But being behind the gun to find a job or not pay your bills and support your family is adversity that will quickly show you what kind of a person you are.
How did you become a contributor for Entrepreneur.com?
A friend recommended me as a speaker at one of their events a few years back. I got to know the editorial staff and offered to write a few social media articles for them. As time went on, they found more and more to ask me to contribute and I soon became rather regular. I write there when I can and when I have something strong to offer. It's a nice gig.
What is the biggest life lesson you’ve come across due to your involvement with social media?
You can't let your online relationships get in the way of your offline ones. The minute you start prioritizing social media stuff over your family, you're sunk. You need to balance what's really important with all this online stuff. I'm not saying social media isn't important at all, but it's easy to get lost in exploring conversations, relationships, topics and the like with your online friends and forget that you need to take out the trash, ask your wife how her day was, play catch with your son and the like. Everything has its place. Social media is no different.
What is the biggest piece of advise you can offer someone in Generation Z?
That's a good one. I think I'd remind Gen Z that while they've grown up as digital natives, there are a couple of generations ahead of them that know this space, too. I'm in my early 40s and I've had a computer attached to me for the better part of 20 years. So don't let your youthful enthusiasm get ahead of you. Also, an observation about the younger generation -- many of them have a great deal of potential. But don't confuse potential with ability or experience. An account executive I worked with once was told he has great potential -- and she did. She was fantastic. But she mistook that for ability. She started bossing the creatives around, was over-assertive with clients, and became rather arrogant about her "ability." It takes a combination of potential, experience and wisdom to be in that kind of position. So remember you still have to serve some time, learn everyday and earn your stripes. That will keep you in good standing with folks in the industry, regardless of age.
In conclusion, Jason has shown us the advantages that accompany becoming an inspired author, the importance of having strong content as a speaker, knowing how to leverage challenges to your advantage, how networking can land you a spot as a writer for Entrepreneur, and the importance of not allowing social media to overcome your "real" life. This is one of the most beneficial tips is knowing how to balance the things that matter with the things that can wait.
And for Gen Z, stay humble, but stay hungry. Its the passion and the potential that makes us so great. Push yourself to be great, and never, ever give up.
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