The Myth of the Selfish Blogger and A-Lister

by Marcus Sheridan

It has been said before that the more successful a blogger gets in his/her field, the more selfish they also become in terms of time, money, and helping others.

I’ve come to the conclusion that whoever said this was wrong—dead wrong.

In fact, I’ve come to realize that so called “A-listers” and other icons in the social media and marketing realm are some of the most selfless folks I’ve ever met.

But before I explain what has drawn me to this conclusion, let me also say that a few poor souls reading this post will think what I’m about to do is solely for the purpose of link baiting and name-dropping.

Again, sad indeed, but there will always be those that look for the one cloud in the sky on what is a perfect spring day….but I digress.

Content Marketing World

In many ways, this post started when I attended and spoke at Content Marketing World last year in Cleveland Ohio. This was the inaugural event of what has already become one of the premier conferences of its kind in the world, a fact that is largely due to this reality:

It ain’t just about the money, these people CARE.

What I mean by this is when content marketing pioneer Joe Pulizzi called on his friends in the industry to come and speak at this first-time event, every single one of them answered the bell. Major names like Michael Stelzner, Brian Clarke, Jay Baer, Lee Odden, CC Chapman and Ann Handley—all of which are regularly paid speakers—came, traveled, and participated on their own dime.

And why did they do it?

Because they have a serious passion for this new realm we’re all a part of. There are few uncharted waters left in this world, but social media and content marketing are certainly just beginning to be discovered and understood. For many of us involved, this is all wayyyy more than just a job.

Social Slam

But Content Marketing World is just one example of many. A few months back I started reading all of these conversations online about a unique social media event that was happening in good-old Knoxville Tennessee called Social Slam (April 27th 2012), founded by Mark Schaefer of {Grow}. What impressed me so much about Social Slam was two-fold:

1. Mark wanted to put on a great conference at an extremely affordable price. (Mission accomplished with an $89 entry fee.)

2. The speaker lineup was exceptional. Actually, it was shocking considering the cost. The keynotes were Mitch Joel and Gini Dietrich, two people I deeply admire. Other professionals I really respect like Sean McGinnis, Jay Baer, Eric Pratum, Stanford Smith, and DJ Waldow had also decided to hop in an airplane, take time away from their families, and give freely to others their time, talents, and knowledge.

Again, none would be paid for these sacrifices.

So impressed was I with the story behind Social Slam and the speakers attending that I immediately called Mark Schaefer and asked if I could be a part of such an event. And after a little arm-wrestling on my part, Mark found a spot for the Lion. ;-)

This List Keeps Going

In reality, Content Marketing World and Social Slam are not alone with respect to selfless acts by great people. In fact, Blog World is also loaded with them. I could literally list hundreds of speakers from this event but one in particular this year that comes to mind is John Falchetto of The Adventure Mindset. John will be leaving his wife and daughter in France (where he resides) to fly across the ocean (on his own dime) and spend 60 minutes talking with a group of folks he’s likely never met—all with the goal of positively touching someone in the audience so they make more of their life and achieve their dreams.

If that isn’t selfless, I have no idea what is.

As you might imagine, the examples go on and on, but since I’ve been in this industry for about 3 years now, literally over 99% of the men and women I’ve met and gotten to know have been just like the names I mentioned above.

They care.

They give of their time.

And they have a bigger picture and vision than one simply filled with dollar bills.

Proud?

Yep, you better believe I’m proud to be a part of this group. In fact, I plan on being a part of it for a long, long time.

Your Turn:

I’ve said my experience now I’d love to hear yours. Has your impression of those in the blogosphere been similar to mine? Do you have any examples of selfless acts you’ve seen other bloggers do? As always, you’re invited to share any thoughts or questions below.

Note*** It was recently announced that I’ll be one of the keynotes at this year’s Content Marketing World in Columbus Ohio. To say I plan on blowing the roof off that place would be a mild understatement, and I truly hope to see many of you there!! :-)

Hope to see some of you there!

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Livermore March 8, 2012 at 11:27 am

Marcus, as I read this, I happened to think of a verse that says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In my opinion, the success of the people you mentioned (and I include you in this) is a direct result of the fact that they are givers. I don’t believe that people become successful as a result of being selfish.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Wow, absolutely loved this verse Rebecca. You have a magical way of always bringing out the best ones. ;-)

Thank ya lady!

Marcus

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Spatch Merlin March 23, 2012 at 7:33 am

Rebecca, this verse is very inspiring. I was even thinking about a tune that contains these verse in the lyrics.

Give and it shall come back to you. Biblical principles are most likely what the business world needs to apply in their ethics.

Spatch Merlin
More Web Site Traffic Guide

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Adarsh Thampy March 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

Marcus,

While I agree that the content marketing niche maybe a bunch of people who are truly passionate about what they do and loves to help out others even when they aren’t getting paid for it (in fact losing money at the same time), I’d have to say NO to some other niches.

The best example of good people in the content marketing world I know is you, Marcus. You have responded to each of my comments and also for the rest of your TSL community here (You even read my e-book and gave me a testimonial), irrespective of our popularity. This is indeed what makes you one of these great guys who are completely dedicated to the cause.

I hope I don’t come off as being here singing praises for you. But what needs to be done, needs to be done. Whether it praising or bashing :)

I have experience in some industries and even in marketing itself that once people reach some level of fame, they grow too big for their boots. I don’t want to name anyone, but it’s there. I guess you are surrounded by a lot of awesome people that you hardly can recognize those who are a pain in the a**.

And how can you notice them? People who have this arrogant attitude never reach the levels of the people you mentioned (including you). So I cant blame you for not being surrounded by jack a**es who think they are the epitome of their niche and doesn’t care anymore for anyone other than themselves and a few of their business partners who brings them more money.

I’m glad I am in this niche because I find very few people like that here who truly believe in the power of content or providing value.

Cheers :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Adarsh, incredibly kind words brother, and I very much appreciate what you’ve said here.

Your points are very valid. There are folks that end up going down darker roads. It’s like that in every walk of life. Some more than others. But I think sometimes those negative peeps end up being the representation of an industry as a whole, and that’s why I feel it’s important that articles like this get written and a positive light gets shined on the good works of others.

You’re a good man Adarsh, and again, thank you.

Marcus

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Gini Dietrich March 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

It’s a hard balancing act. When you have companies and organizations who pay your full rate and travel and then you have start-up organizations who ask you to give your time, it’s difficult to determine who has to pay and who does not. I do one freebie a quarter. I used to do one a month. Maybe I’ll eventually only do one or two a year. But it does get more difficult the more time crunched you begin.

There are other ways to give your time, too. Blogging, social media, video how-tos, podcast demos…it doesn’t have to all be getting on a plane and speaking for free.

One last note, thank you for the kind mention. I don’t consider myself an A-lister so maybe I have a few more notches to go before I am perceived as selfish.

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Rebecca Livermore March 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Gini,

You make some good points here. I do think that the more you grow the more demands are placed on you, so there could be a perception that you are less generous as time goes on simply because you have to say no to more and more.

In the middle of it all you have to maintain that balance between generosity and paying your bills, not to mention other important things like time with family.

I do think, though, that the person with a generous heart will still have a generous heart throughout various seasons of life, but that generosity may be expressed in different ways.

Rebecca

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Gini Dietrich March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Totally agree with your last sentence. In some cases the generosity can be by recommending an up-and-comer who needs the speaking time to build their resumes.

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Rebecca Livermore March 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Gini, I agree with this and such a recommendation may not take a ton of time, but it is a very generous thing to do because when you recommend someone else, to some degree you put your own reputation on the line. Not to mention the fact that it can really help someone out.

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Lisa Marone March 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

One of the people I see do this often is Danny Brown. I met a lot of bloggers I wouldn’t have known about through his blog post about bloggers in 2012:

http://dannybrown.me/2012/01/01/12-bloggers-you-really-should-read-in-2012/

What I like about Danny is he never asks for anything in return, nor blows his own trumpet, which some of the bloggers mentioned in Marcus’s post do a lot. Let’s face it, they give up their time to grow their personal brand – it’s not purely for the love of community.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

Hi Lisa! Yep, Danny is a great example of someone who truly “gives”. He may not necessarily do it with speaking, but his works are just as helpful if not more as he is always willing to reach out to others and lift them up.

Thanks so much for the comment Lisa and I hope you have a great Friday. :)

Marcus

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Lisa Marone March 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Thank you Marcus – and of course, you do some good things yourself, which should be applauded.

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Gini Dietrich March 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

What?! Danny sucks! :)

Yes, I totally agree with you. He does it very, very well.

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John | Married (with Debt) March 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Just found a few great sites through this link – thanks for posting!

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Geoff Livingston March 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I rarely do freebies. The most valuable asset I have is my time, and as such I give it away to people, causes and events that I feel that the investment will cause change in. Otherwise, I charge.

The more well known you get, the more likely you have to charge just so you are not run crazy throughout the day doing nutty webinars, traveling, etc. I need to see my family! Cory Doctorow says this is why he charges ludicrous speaking fees. It’s not selfless or selfish. It’s just an evolution of building a reputation. I think giving time is a different animal than this post suggests.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Hey lady, it’s nice hearing your take on this. As for the A-list label, hope that didn’t bother you, but everybody kinda sees you that way these days. ;)

You know, I understand exactly what you mean by this balance thing. You have a big heart and want to help, but at the same time you have your limits….plus Mr. D and Jack need some time with their lady. ;-)

I think it’s natural that you’ll transition to less and less “freebies”. Heck, last year much of my stuff was free. This year, it’s about half and half, maybe even 60/40. And I know the percentages will continue in that direction next year.

But I think it’s about intentions and other ways of giving back. You do that incredibly well Gini. You’ve got a big heart, whether you do 1 gig a quarter, or 1 a year— your other actions speak much louder as to the type of person you are.

Appreciate ya tons,

Marcus

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Leslie March 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I’m a beginning blogger, (two months tomorrow!) so I really don’t know about the “big guys” but even at my level, I’ve already learned enough to start helping others — and that for me is what puts the “social” in social media.

I’m enjoying “meeting” new people, creating relationships online with my peers, spreading what I’ve learned, offering support, and creating community. In fact, I’m enjoying it much more than I ever expected to.

And really enjoying your blog and your mindset, Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Hi Leslie! Thrilled you’re enjoying this blog/social thing and I hope you only continue to make new friends and enjoy the journey along the way. :)

Thanks so much for taking a moment to comment,

Marcus

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Harriet March 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I think its a pretty selfless when bloggers allow guest bloggers on their sites. If someone is willing to give their time and blog space to others then it shows that they’re just not all about themselves.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Although I think guest bloggers are a great thing Harriet, I don’t think it’s always a good fit. For example, because I only post twice a week here on TSL, I don’t currently take them. If I ever get to the point where I start posting more, I think I’ll then start taking them. But a not as known blogger getting on another’s platform with more eyeballs can sure make a big difference.

Thanks so much for dropping by Harriet :)

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB March 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

The term A-lister needs to be retired, buried and forgotten. It doesn’t mean anything. I know a lot of the people you listed but that is primarily because I have been around forever.

Name them outside of the small bubble we occupy and no one recognizes them. That doesn’t take away from the good work they do nor does it mean that we shouldn’t promote helping others.

I love hearing/reading those stories and think that there is great benefit in pushing that. There is so much to be gained from giving people a hand up to that next step.

The point is that some people are unnecessarily intimidated by terms like A-Lister and doubt their own self worth. While I am not someone who believes that everyone is an all star I do believe that there are quite a few stars out there who have something of value to offer.

They aren’t always being heard from because they don’t market themselves well or haven’t had the benefit of creating a platform years ago.

But I do have to agree with you that there are some fantastic people out there who really are selfless.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

“A-lister” is not an inclusive term in our industry Jack. It’s common in just about every industry and just because you and I both don’t really love the context of the word, it’s in the vernacular and said all the time. And it’s especially said a lot when referencing those persons that have experienced “popularity” in this field.

Clearly, there are too many hidden gems out there that don’t get noticed like they should Jack. I agree man. And that’s exactly why I appreciate list posts of others because they always introduce me to folks I don’t know.

Good thoughts Jack, appreciate the comment,

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB March 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Hey Marcus,

You should know that I agree with an enormous amount of what you say and write. It may not always come out because I tend to share what I disagree with, but thought you should know.

And yes, that is my lead in to saying that I vehemently disagree about the usage of A-lister- more than 20 years in business in multiple industries I have rarely heard it used.

But even if it was used daily the point is that it has become meaningless and therefore useless. I like more precision in language that deals with measurement.

Perhaps that is just me, but we don’t always have to just accept what is going on around us. It only takes a few to start changing things.

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John | Married (with Debt) March 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Marcus – I have not heard of any of the people in your post so I won’t accuse you of name dropping :)

I did recently see Andy Bailey of CommentLuv sponsor a blogger who could not attend a conference.

Other than that, I see a lot of big name bloggers who claim they help the little guy but never put their money where their mouth is. You might be the only one I know of who actually responds to all comments.

The most selfless acts of helping are those that were not even requested.

I guess I’m too little of a little guy to have seen this in action so I remain skeptical.

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Rebecca Livermore March 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm

John,

Regarding the big name bloggers who claim to help people, but from your perspective don’t — I would say that we don’t always see what people do to help others. In fact, I would say many of the most generous people do things in such a way that few people even know they are doing it. So I personally wouldn’t be too quick to decide whether or not someone else is helping other people, because honestly, I probably have no clue what they are doing to help other people.

I do understand your skepticism, but I’m wondering if the skepticism is working against you, because what we receive in life often matches our beliefs. That is indeed a tricky balance, because on one hand, part of the joy of receiving is when people do things for us that we never would have expected them to do. (In other words, not feeling entitled.) But I think an overall positive approach to life and how we think of others pays off. Or at the very least, it makes me a really happy person. ;-)

Rebecca

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

It’s tough to get a good feel sometimes John for some of these folks. I think the more you interact, the more you’ll see what I’m talking about. Honestly, I would not have known there were so many great people in this business until I’d been doing this for about a year.

I can honestly say there are many people that don’t see “little guys” and “big guys” out there John, so keep the faith bud. ;-)

Marcus

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John | Married (with Debt) March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm

@Rebecaa – you make a lot of good points. The real selfless people usually don’t advertise. I’m more concerned about those who do say the are selfless. I am a natural skeptic and contrarian, and it does cloud my views of the world.

@Marcus – I’m always looking for new bloggers (newer than I) to offer encouragement and ideas. I feel a duty to “pay it forward” because of the encouragement I’ve received from those “above” me on the food chain. Blogging is definitely not an industry where you get ahead by being ruthless to your “competition.” In fact, I don’t think of any blogger as competition, but rather a potential collaborator or friend.

I just renewed my domain for another year so I’m all-in on this blogging thing baby! :)

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John Falchetto March 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Hi Buddy,

Well you know how often do I get to go to NY and hang out with my man Marcus :)

Saying that I truly believe that you are right the ones who stay at the top of their game and last for a while are those who help selflessly.

Gini makes a very good point, when it involves plane tickets, hotels and days away from the business and the family, it’s not an easy choice.

I believe the decision becomes easier if we keep one thing in mind: legacy and building something bigger than ourselves.
There is a time for everything, a time for selling and a time for serving.
Both go hand in hand.

In order to build something bigger than us we have to help others, it’s simply impossible to do it any other way. Helping others doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

For me it’s really about helping others figuring out a way to align who they are with what they do.

Congrats on the keynote gig in Cleveland,looking forward to BWENY !

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

There is a time for everything, a time for selling and a time for serving.

Love that man. Absolutely loved that.

You have no idea how excited I am to spend some quality time together in NYC my friend.

Hugs to the ladies :)

Marcus

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Joe Pulizzi March 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

All I can say Marcus is Wow! You continue to inspire me. Thanks for letting me hang along for the ride.

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Ryan Hanley March 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Congrats on your success bro…

Look at what Chris Brogan does… If you read his blog and you’re on his free email newsletter it’s amazing the amount of VALUE you get for NOTHING!

Look at Ana Hoffman and Danny Iny doing an amazing powerful webinar a couple weeks ago… For FREE!

Dude you freaking reached out to me on a Skype call… You know how much VALUE I got from that. What did you ask in return? NOTHING.

If you ask me, the truly successful bloggers… the People that transcend just “blogging” give away more and more as they become more popular.

Pretty incredible actually…

Thanks!

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

This was cool bud, as always. You know what’s funny? I spent about 4 hours having dinner with Brogan and a few others last night. The guy is one of the most incredibly genuine and kind people I’ve ever met in my life. Truly an amazing fellow.

BTW Ryan, now that I’m thinking about it, are you going to go to an industry event at some point? I’d love to hang out bud and show you just how kind in real life some of these good folks are.

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley March 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

You know dude… I’ve never even considered it. I guess I still think of myself as kind of a Hack. But maybe then I need an Industry event to learn more from cats like yourself.

What would you suggest? Is there anything near New York coming up?

We can connect off the comments on this if you want.

As always, Thank You!

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Geoff Livingston March 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

What is selfless about weighing a speaking opportunity for free in exchange for exposure?

Here’s what selfless is: Giving yourself without any expectation of any return whatsoever. You want to see selfless, work in my corner of the sector. Nonprofits see it with anonymous donors, volunteers, and sudden activists, all who act on behalf of a greater good, not to pimp a friend or get some PR.

Now, I am friends with a lot of these people, and I respect them, and many of them do good, selfless acts, but let’s not mistake PR and friends promoting friends for selflessness.

One more thing, Marcus. This world is not new. Social media has been around for more than a decade.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:49 am

I think it’s interesting Geoff that you automatically see anyone speaking in an environment like this as one who is purely doing it for exposure.

In my opinion, Gini D. certainly doesn’t need any more “exposure”. Nor do a lot of these folks. I have 4 children and incredible responsibilities outside of work. There have been times when I had no desire to do an event but did it anyway because it seemed like the right thing to do. And usually, when I’m done, I understand why.

Btw Geoff, I don’t think nonprofits is “your corner”. You have no idea how much work I’ve done in that area as well. I lived in Chile for two years with poor people who didn’t have floors in their homes and toilets in their bathrooms. I didn’t get paid a dime then and the hundreds of non-profit hours I’ve spent since helping others has been the same. But I see non-profits as a much bigger thing than any “corner”.

I see it as good works.
I see it as kindness.
I see it as helping a widow with her groceries.
I see it as bringing a hot dinner to a family that hasn’t had one for months.
I see it as offering marriage counseling to a couple who is in trouble– for free.

I see it in all walks of life Geoff.

But again, that’s just me I guess, and it appears you and I have a very different way of seeing service to our fellow man.

Marcus

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Geoff Livingston March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

You are right, Marcus: We have very different ways of viewing your blog post. What you dub as service to man — selfless giving of speaking time — is not my view. I find greater anonymous acts to fulfill that definition, but even those have the motive of being selfless whether for personal development, religious beliefs, or principle.

My differing views are based on three key factors: 1) I am a professionally trained sales and marketing executive, who has sold well over $40 million in the past 10 years. This experience tells me every consumer action — particularly buying and brand related actions — has a motive. 2) In my corner of the sector — a colloquial way of saying I have vertical domain expertise (certainly, a sales lion understands the importance of domain expertise) — over the 11 years I have served nonprofits, I have come to understand that all acts of giving have a motive. 3) As an event organizer for 19 years, and as the lead organizer on more than a dozen conferences, I know every speaker speaks for a reason.

In the case of 1, I graduated from Georgetown University’s Communications, Culture and Technology Masters program with honors. I was a Dale Carngie Sales Advantage champion, beating out Fortune 500 execs, and then became a coach. No matter what, I am well trained, and I have excelled in my training. My training is the reason why I have the foundation to deliver ROI to the tune of $40 million over the past decade. I don’t shoot my mouth of idly on my blog or here. I am a professional. I rarely pull these cards out, but in this case and given your topic it is needed.

Here’s what my training has shown to me over and over again: Some people believe they are buying casually or for a reason, some may not even know why. Whether it is a emotional, unconscious or simply rational, people always buy to get or to achieve something. Similarly, they always do things to achieve something. Giving time may be to curry favor, be liked, promote a brand, learn how to speak, invest in a personal relationship, pay back a favor, and yes, speaking to simply feel better because you helped someone out. There is always motive.

In the case of 2, I am going to ignore your comments about the nonprofit sector. I appreciate your service to Chile in the form of a mission trip or the like, but that is not professional nonprofit marketing and fundraising experience. Your experience only validates my point that people give for a reason, in this case to fulfill a religious or personal principle that selfless giving is the right thing to do. It is clear that you feel better for it.

Marcus, did you know that your body produces a chemical reaction every time you give, and that feeling can be recalled through memory? I do, because of my experience working in this corner I have seen the professional academic studies that’s been verified through research and practice. I also know people give for other motives: Tax right offs, personal tie to the cause (my mom has cancer), to help a friend, family tradition, to feel a part of a movement or to feel better about a calamity (disaster). I have seen other reasons, too in my 11 years working with nonprofits part-time and full-time.

3) As a an event organizer, there three reasons why people speak 1) money; 2) personal branding, and 3) Performing a favor or service to more than likely sustain or build a relationship, or to feel better (see nonprofit experience).

Now, Marcus, I appreciate your personal experiences. I don’t appreciate blanket posts that tout social media kool-aid. Your experience is yours, but it is not grounded in research, facts, or with hard numbers or case studies outside of your relatively short social media experiences . As such, I encourage you to dig deeper and learn more.

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Ian Altman March 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Geoff,

Without trying to be rude, it appears that somebody woke up on the wrong side of the keyboard. With respect to your comment about not shooting your mouth off idly here… all evidence to the contrary.

I know something about sales and marketing, too. But, as I heard at a program that Chris Brogan delivered last night, being an expert is like being called good looking… If someone calls you an expert, that’s OK. But, if you call yourself an expert, then you come off as a jerk. Fortunately for Marcus, in a room of hundreds of people, Chris singled out Marcus as THE single greatest resource for inbound marketing expertise. As humble as Marcus is, he had to just sit there and accept the label. Chris Brogan certainly did not single me out, and I don’t recall him mentioning your name, either.

I think that most of Marcus’ readers greatly appreciate his kindness, generosity, and counsel. Maybe it was not your intention, but when I read your post, I felt like I was reading a self-promoting, arrogant rant from someone who was trying to justify their existence and perspective. I’m guessing most readers will disagree that your credentials added nothing to the dialog other than convey arrogance.

I will agree that everyone does things for a reason or motive. However, many of us do such things with selfless motives. I volunteer for a non-profit called NFTE – they teach entrepreneurship to low income area high schools. They find that bringing CEOs to work with these students gives them a vision of what they could attain, and shows them that we care about their future – something they often fail to get at home. I cannot fathom how that will help me professionally, or financially. But, I do it because I feel that it is part of giving back to the community. It’s part of being a human being.

I guess what comes back around could be called Karma – but it’s not something you can count on or plan for. In fact, my belief is that if you are looking for your reward, you might never see it. And, by not expecting it, it is that much more satisfying when someone does something nice for you. There is a difference between giving because you feel good, and suggesting that people have ulterior motives. I’m still trying to understand the motive for your venom directed at Marcus and those volunteering at a conference.

I regularly volunteer to speak with entrepreneurs about how to make them outrageously successful in their businesses. In many cases, I volunteer with economic development groups to address audiences of attendees who cannot afford to hire me. I don’t try to figure out how to monetize it. That’s not why I am helping.

So, though there may be some eventual benefit from those who are generous with their time, I can tell you that if there is such a thing as Karma, the tone and nature of your posts could be putting you in a negative equity position. Being new to this group, my hope is that whatever put you in the funk today, gets better tomorrow. Keep in mind, if it does not get better, you do not have an obligation to come back. It’s like listening to people complain about a radio or television personality. If you find it offensive, don’t listen to or watch it. For someone who disagrees with Marcus, you sure are spending quite a bit of time here.

Each other post on this thread has been thoughtful, respectful, and appropriate. So, if you need a reference for what is right, you don’t need to look very far.

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Jens P. Berget March 9, 2012 at 1:05 am

Hey Marcus,

I believe that there’s a reason why these people have become so popular and A-listers, and one thing is that they have a lot of knowledge, but the main reason is that people really like them, and they have done amazing things for people. Business is all about people, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a genius if you don’t treat people right. There are exceptions, but I believe that this is what it’s all about :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

That’s exactly it Jens. Business, when it boils down, is all about people. These good folks get that. It’s also why I see big things for you in the future as well. You care, and you give of your time, but you’re also a capitalist—which is incredibly commendable.

As always, thanks for coming by Jens,

Marcus

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Ian Altman March 9, 2012 at 1:07 am

Our own actions tend to shape our perceptions. For example – notice that trustworthy people trust others, whereas the weasels of the world tend not to trust others.

Marcus is so generous with his time, that it is easy for him to see the selfless nature of those volunteering their time to help other entrepreneurs. Others might be more skeptical if they tend to want to see a tangible ROI for their actions. Neither position is incorrect. It’s just people seeing the situation through different lenses.

Though every event people speak at might drive SOME exposure, the folks Marcus mentioned are not starved for attention. I tend to agree with Marcus that they likely are going to help give back to the community.

I just donated a $10,000 workshop to a local charity. I have zero expectation of any calculated ROI. Perhaps that’s a poor use of my time. But, as Marcus shows by example, when you give value for free, people find ways to do business with you. For some people, just doing the right thing to help others is sufficient ROI. Anything that comes after it is just a bonus. Someone asked “why didn’t you give a smaller workshop so you could upsell the other package?” The question did not make sense to me. My goal was simply to help the non-profit raise money at their auction. I guess that’s my lens.

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Ian, I’m not just telling you this because I like you, but this comment really nailed why there is such a different outlook on this topic and the actions of these good people. It also explains why I have a difficult time even starting to understand why someone would only see this as “self serving”.

Great wisdom my man, you’ve really got a way with words.

Talk soon,

Marcus

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Stuart - Limitless Believing March 9, 2012 at 4:08 am

Hi Marcus,

There are good people in this world, and they will continue to do good deeds for as long as their heart remains good. Sure there will be those who believe, deep down, that they need to receive more than enough compensation to justify them going. But thankfully, these people are few and far between.

Those who believe in the power of helping others, whilst still helping themselves, will be those who are in the best position to move forward in their careers. Those who always put others before them fail to understand the concept of ‘paying yourself first’ – in The Richest Man In Babylon, George Clason advises that out of every amount of money you receive, 10% should go to you, and it should go to you first.

The emphasis on paying ourselves first applies to more than just money – it also applies to time, energy, and love. If we don’t have time for ourselves, how can we operate efficiently? If we don’t have energy and love for ourselves, how can we provide those for others?

Then there are those will put themselves ahead at the expense of others, those who fail to grasp the concept of service, and who prefer to horde their money and profits away. Sometimes these people get found out, and they fail to reach the levels of success they so crave. You won’t find these people at SXSW or BWE!

The limiting beliefs of ‘putting others before myself’ and ‘getting ahead at the expense of others’ have different ends, but neither are desirable. A balancing act where we spread the love/energy/money by loving/energising/paying ourselves first is both welcome and enjoyable to watch :-)

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Nicole Schuman March 9, 2012 at 9:18 am

I enjoyed reading this post. :) Some misconception about A-list bloggers. And I’m so glad that you are one of them. Plus you really had that drive. Great job! Keep up the good work!

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:14 am

Frankly Nicole, there really is no definition of “A-lister” as it seems to be defined differently by everyone. Notwithstanding, I use it because so many folks mention the word. But yes, there are many, many good people in this industry. I meet new ones all the time.

Thanks so much for dropping by Nicole,

Marcus

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Al Smith March 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

Hey Marcus. Another good one. One of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes; “Giving starts the receiving process” I truly believe we get so much more by giving to others. You and the people you mention, do this selflessly. It is a pleasure to know a few of them. I enjoy passing on all the gifts I have been given and will continue to work on myself and remain teachable. Another great saying i learned in recovery is;”You have to give it away to keep it”

Think about it. It is eaxctly what you are doing. So proud of you and the example you set for others. What is an A-lister ? To me, they are the people that give and help others. We all have that potential. Hope to see you soon.

Take CARE, brother.

Al

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

Love all your little drops of wisdom Al, I really do man. You’ve got a great way of putting things and yes, the concept of “giving it away so as to keep it” is as powerful as they come.

Thanks for all the kinds brother,

Marcus

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John Verba March 10, 2012 at 1:42 am

This seems like the perfect place to put a comment that I considered making about your “Should every business have a blog?” post…which was that when my family lived in outer Capitol Hill and went to a Mennonite-backed “Church for all peoples”…that stated that part of its mission was to work on “reconciliation” in that mixed, rich/poor setting…and which advocated, most of all, “no top-down leadership”…

That one of the experiences I’ll always remember was being introduced to a group of inner city kids of around 6 years old, during childcare duties, and being told that “Latasha can’t keep her thumb out of her mouth,” and “Joshua can’t stop talking.”

So then I said to Latasha, “Take your thumb out of your mouth,” and to Joshua, “Be quiet,” and they did, and then I had MBAs and PhDs (who were high up in Health and Human Services and the like) kind of marveling at what I’d accomplished.

The second thing that sticks with me is when a press secretary for a senator told me she stopped volunteering at the after school Neighborhood Learning Center because the 4th grade girl she was teaching to read, “Didn’t appreciate what I was doing for her.”

So…the 20-something top-university grad was seeking validation from the 4th-grade inner city girl, and the 4th grader was falling short. So the press secretary had to give up and look for it elsewhere.

And the third (of many moments that seemed straight out of the Dave Chappelle Show there) was when a woman from the hood stood up in the middle of an earnest discussion on reconciliation and racism and fairly shouted, “You all ain’t racists! You got nothing wrong with you! You need to stop talking about this and get out there and DO something!” And I (naively) thought, “Hah…that’ll shock them awake.”

But no. She left and what she said wasn’t even discussed. The group went back to debating “collective guilt” or something. Something unsolvable that could keep them busy.

One could understand why WCF, “Washington Community Fellowship,” was known as the “Wine and Cheese Fellowship” by some people on the Hill.

My point, having to do with the earlier post, was going to be: How important and caring is it to just be agreeable versus to say, “I’m going to give you advice you don’t want to hear, because I’m not here for what you can give me…

“…I’m more here, for the stretch I’m here, because helping people who historically get the most and best help feels really redundant. So let me give you the kind of help I got from the crazy mentors who saw something in me…

“But let me just mention…they had really high expectations. They didn’t hold back. And they weren’t out to be liked by me. It just seemed really important to them that I left it ‘all on the court’…whatever court it was.”

So…I don’t know…I actually think it’s a hopeful and healthy thing that Geoff, Ian and Marcus can get a little riled up at each other (over giving and caring and sacrifice : ) ) in a setting where it can sometimes seem like one guy says it’s up and the other says it’s down, and the voice of authority says, “Wow…I can’t disagree and I love your passion!” Because…do people come here to hear everything they do is right and they couldn’t be wrong if they tried? (And to leave if we dispute that nothing is more important than to have everyone be happy?)

Or is it a place where people can and will say, “I would not recommend that; that’s not going to work for you…(for example) when you’re passionate about absolutes, it’s a misplaced passion and you’re going to pay a price for it…you need to back up and see the differences in the situations…and approach them differently.”

I mean, I can see a little girl with her thumb in her mouth, act flummoxed, scratch my head and have people pat me on the back for being as caring and concerned as they are.

Or I can tell her to get her thumb out of her mouth. I don’t know what Geoff might say about my motivation in that moment, or how Ian might respond.

I just believe she can do it. And I’m pretty confident I can survive the fall-out, whatever it might be. So what SHE needs, at that point, totally trumps what I need.

Maybe some of the generous speakers also really want to be where others of their kind are describing their own paths to understanding. Maybe they’re giving AND receiving. Maybe they’re just going to where they feel they need to be…and in twenty years, they’ll look back and remember how it all started…and love that they got on that plane.

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Ian Altman March 10, 2012 at 11:47 am

John – well said. I enjoyed reading what you wrote, and look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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John Verba March 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Thanks Ian. That’s nice to hear. It’s been fun writing this stuff while planting some seeds in other areas and ways. We’ll see what all pans out. ; )

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Elena Anne March 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

When you succeed in your job and you have reached your goals doing it with hard work and effort, you want to help others who do not have your experience. You show them the way to achieve their goals without making the mistakes you made. I know 2 successful bloggers who help me whenever I ask for their help. They interrupt their work to share their experiences with me. I agree with Rebecca with “Give, and it will be given to you”
Nice post Marcus, you are doing well debunking the myths!

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Deepak Singh March 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

An interesting article Marcus. I agree with the point you mentioned social media and content marketing are certainly just beginning to be discovered and understood. Yeah its just the beginning of social media and we have to see many changes, ups and downs in social media world.

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Ryan Hoody April 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hi Marcus,

Thank you for posting. I too am a firm believer that those who give frequently will receive more in return. If only everyone could adopt a similar philosophy, we would have less problems in the world. A lot of problems arise anytime people generalize. Unfortunately, a lot of our media outlets focus on the negatives, meaning we hear more stories about the bad people, and less about the people we should be emulating. Perhaps a paradigm shift is coming, however, and it won’t be long before 90% of our stories represent what we should be striving for. A great read Marcus.

-Ryan

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Good stuff Ryan, love your approach man…and let’s hope that is the case.

Best,

Marcus

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