The first time I saw the term "professional crush" was on my friend Andy Wibbel’s blog, and it refers to an episode of Seinfeld where George Castanza has a "non-sexual crush" on one of Elaine’s boyfriends. Unlike Matt Dillon, Benecio del Toro or Matthew McConaughey (I know, such the prototypical hunky blond, but ladies, can you blame me?), I CAN mention the following names to my husband without him getting jealous.
These are people I have run across online in the last couple of weeks that jumped out and hugged me with their magnetic brands. Each is smart, bold and very distinctive in his or her own way.
I harp over and over again about the importance of a clear niche, honest writing and a brand that matches who you really are. This is what I am talking about! They are great examples of how to stand apart from the crowd not by using tired hyper-marketing tricks, but rather by letting your true self shine.
So here goes: my passionate professional crushes of the moment:
David Seah. I found Dave via a post from my Twitter buddy Fred Schechter who blogged about meeting Dave in person for the first time. Intrigued, I popped over the Dave’s blog and immediately felt a rush of excitement. He was smart, funny, cool and had a really distinct brand. Not only that, but he has a pet project called "The Printable CEO Series (TM)" where he gives away gorgeous forms just dripping with productivity and lifehacking methodology. A smart, generous and creative man who can design a form more attractive than most people’s wedding invitations — who could ask for more?
Communicatrix is the brainchild of Colleen Wainwright and is a smart, wacky and very honest look into the world of words. Colleen has one of those blogs that you stumble across and just can’t get enough. The other night, even though I had huge circles under my eyes and was nodding off at my computer, I read her back posts until the wee hours of the morning. As she says, "some people connect with stories, not how-tos." I couldn’t agree more.
Peter Shankman at first glance could be an action-loving cohort to 4-hour workweek phenomenon Tim Ferriss since he loves testosterone-induced activities like jumping out of planes. What has impressed me about Peter, however, is how, in a sea of bland PR professionals, he has created a truly useful service based on the principles of social media and free information exchange. It is called "Help a Reporter" and he collects requests from journalists and summarizes them in a newsletter to expert sources. I love to scan for stories that apply to friends and blog readers, so I responded to a few myself. In one case, I replied to a reporter’s request 5 minutes after receiving Peter’s email. She said "Thanks so much for your referral — thanks to Peter, I have already received 40 qualified sources in 20 minutes." How is THAT for doing your job?
Jonathan Fields. Anyone who says "this ain’t your momma’s self help blog" is a friend of mine. Jonathan is funny, sassy and wise, and offers really good information. He is actually a direct competitor, as he offers coaching and career advice to prospective entrepreneurs. I say, who cares? If you work with Jonathan, I am sure you will get your money’s worth. I don’t say this based on meeting him in person or even talking to him on the phone. We have had about three 140-character Twitter exchanges, enough to make me think "this guy ‘gets it’ and would be a blast to work with." That is the result of really great copy and good content on your site — people feel they know you, like you and trust you before even meeting you.
If any of you look at these sites and say "Yuck, not for me!" that is the point! Great brands should attract a certain demographic and repel others. Because I am obviously the target market for these businesses, they speak to me.
What do you think? Who are your "professional crushes? And how far does your brand need to go to jump out and hug a complete stranger?