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Real Executives Don’t Blog

November 30, 2010

I went out to breakfast last week with some middle-aged man-friends from my church, and the conversation turned to the subject of blogging. One of these friends, a business owner, had a recent experience with a flurry of online chatter, mostly positive, regarding his company. He pulled out several sheets of the posts and comments he had printed out, and marveled at the firestorm of activity that was swirling in the mysterious subterranean depths of the internet, outside of any control or efforts on his part.

“Did you write back to any of them?” We asked, all giddy with his temporary online fame.

“Well, no.” he replied, shuffling his papers back into a manila folder. “I don’t have time to be all up on this blogging thing. I’ve got a business to run.”

And then, he added, with the slightest whiff of disgust, “Who are these people, anyway? Don’t they have anything better to do with their time?”

Everyone laughed and scoffed accordingly.

I was sort of waiting for someone to say, “Hey, wait a minute! Bradley, you have a blog, right? We love your blog! And you are also an excellent and effective leader. Why, you could be our role model! So, tell us, good teacher, how does one become both a great executive leader and blogger?”

But no one said anything, because they have forgotten all about my blog. Yes, I had mentioned it once or twice, encouraging them to read and comment, but that was a long time ago.

The truth is, very few executives have the time or the inclination to blog, or to even read blogs for that matter. I call it “Social Notworking.” They are too busy, or else they find it boring and irrelevant. A waste of time.

Which makes me a fluke, I guess, or an anomaly. A freak, if you will.

So I was not at all surprised to find a recent article in Computer Weekly which reviewed research conducted by a Brazilian marketing executive, Mauro Segura, on the top ten reasons why senior executives are reluctant to blog. Number one, of course, is lack of time. And number three is lack of relevance. Sound familiar? But for me, the most interesting reason for not blogging was number nine, “Perception by Others:”

“Segura admitted of his surprise with this piece of feedback: Executives usually see colleagues who are active bloggers as folk with time to spare. The author added that senior managers are keen to portray themselves as extremely busy, anxious and rushing all the time.”

The thing is, I understand exactly what they mean. I am also very busy, or at least trying to make it look like I am very busy, with a crapload of responsibility. And it’s not like any of us have a book we are trying sell, or services to render, or something else that requires us to get famous. Our accountabilities lie elsewhere, with real, tangible performance. So what would be the point of all that online yammering?

But for some odd reason, I keep blogging anyway. It’s not always easy, but I have been intentional about finding time for it. To be honest, sometimes I feel like it’s too much, and I should quit. But I keep coming back to it. My friend and fellow blogger, Mike St. Pierre (another full-time leader like me, with apparently too much time on his hands), nailed what that reason is in his blog post, The Heart of a Really Decent Blog. He puts it simply like this: We blog because it brings us joy.

Now, tell me what kind of executive doesn’t have time for joy?

I suppose they wouldn’t have time for golf either.

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 2:44 pm

    Hello Bradley,

    Your blog just rings so true every time I read it. Keep writing please…your blog is valuable. In my view, life should never be too busy for a few joys of life, especially when they involve giving – ideas, hope, understanding, faith and the many other gifts we have to give to others.

    May you continue to live a blessed life.

    Ophelia

    • December 1, 2010 7:50 pm

      Well said, Ophelia. I think I’ll print this out as a blessing and post it up on my office wall at work.
      Thank you so much.

  2. daphinas permalink
    November 30, 2010 2:48 pm

    By the way, your fellow executives may not tell you to your face, but those that took the trouble to read your blog have probably spoken to each other about it in your absence and said how well you write, and that you should write a book… Even though they did not tell you, they probably admire you and wish they had the courage.

    … and probably feel that if they acknowledge their feelings to you, you may challenge them to try, and they just couldn’t take that risk…

    • December 1, 2010 7:54 pm

      Hey… wait a minute… Do you work at my company? How do you know all this?

      Well, thank you very much for such flattering comments. It is a very interesting perspective! Yes, other execs may be more guarded than I am about how they feel about their own leadership (and writing) skills. I like the way you insinuate that courage is a factor in good blogging…

  3. Phil permalink
    November 30, 2010 2:54 pm

    Brad,
    I don’t blog, but enjoy reading STC and weighing in on occasion. Mike said it right…blogging bring joy and satisfaction to your life, perhaps in a way that no other activity would. For me, I prefer getting out in nature, or more recently, out on the ice with a stick in hand and a helmet on my head. Keep it up, my friend.

    • December 1, 2010 7:55 pm

      Phil, sorry you weren’t at this breakfast – you would have stuck up for me, for sure!

      And keep up with the hockey, old man! You may yet become MVP for the 40+ team!!

  4. Julie permalink
    November 30, 2010 3:07 pm

    I totally enjoy your blog, so I hope you don’t stop. It’s so refreshing to know that people can be successful, yet not turn their backs on what makes them human. Thank you for your efforts and insights!

    Julie

  5. November 30, 2010 3:10 pm

    Most leaders don’t see the benefit of blogging. Additionally, it brings culpability upon their company — perhaps opening it up to legal action of employee srutiny. Some do blog, but under hidden identities — for good reason

    • December 1, 2010 7:57 pm

      David – I read a story in Fortune mag that freaked me out a little bit – about several bloggers for big corporations that were tasked with blogging, then did it, then got fired or laid off because of something they said or did that didn’t look so good to the corporate wonks. So, this may be the biggest reason of all (and a legitimate one!) for execs not to blog – it is risky! So the hidden identitiy strategy is understandable, yes?

  6. November 30, 2010 3:12 pm

    Hi Bradley,
    Recently, I was thinking, “I love the shrinking camel blog! Bradley J. Moore is an excellent leader, a true a role model. (Even Rosabeth Kanter talked about him and he had breakfast with Matthew Polkinghorne.) There are not many like him – a great executive leader who blogs (and interacts with unfamous people)!”
    But now I understand a little better; you make time for joy. And you make time to reply to comments, share what you know and retweet an occasional post on twitter. That’s really cool. Thanks for making that time. It’s probably more appreciated than you know!

    • December 1, 2010 8:01 pm

      Anna – I so knew you would always come through for me! (because you totally “get” me, young lady…)

      And a big SHOUT OUT to you for leading me to this Computer World article to begin with. Yes, ladies and gentlement, it was Anna’s wonderful Twitter feed from @WDYWFT. Follow her now!

      (ps love the photo here !)

  7. November 30, 2010 5:00 pm

    Next time, tell them that blogging is word-golf. 🙂

    I’m glad you blog. I like your swing. 😉

    • December 1, 2010 8:02 pm

      Word-golf. I like it. That should do the trick.

    • December 2, 2010 9:20 pm

      LOL!
      “word-golf”… “like your swing”… that’s AWESOME! #fistbump for LL!

      But Brad, I’ve also found that help helps to sharpen me. I get to work out ideas, bounce them off of others, and hopefully walk away a better manager (or executive in your case).

      Great stuff dude! Keep up the great work!

  8. November 30, 2010 5:26 pm

    Oh, I really like this! I have frankly struggled with all of these reasons. I was reluctant to blog for months and months because of #9. Even now, sometimes I am shy about the fact that I blog in executive circles. “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time!” But secretly, they pull me aside and say, “Wow, It’s really cool that you write for fun.”

    Writing is fun. And blogging brings me joy. I have lots of time for joy.

    • December 1, 2010 8:04 pm

      It is really cool that you write. I think Daphinas had it right in her comment above – other execs and colleagues may say that thing about too much time on our hands, but secretly they are jealous of us! Susan, I am sure your peers admire you more than anything else. You rock, laywer -mommy-writer!

  9. November 30, 2010 6:01 pm

    Wow, I love this post! I’m a blogger (5x a week for 3 years) and a busy literary agent with a full time business and full-time parental responsibilities. “Time” is my biggest challenge, every single day. People I highly respect are constantly wondering when I’ll quit blogging, telling me I’ll be more productive and “have more time” if I quit it.

    I’ve had the hardest time explaining to them why I don’t want to stop blogging. But you captured it in a nutshell: I blog because it brings me joy. I believe I’d be far less productive without the joy of this daily interaction with those I serve — writers and others in publishing. Does it take time? Sure it does. But I believe I’m better for it, my clients are better for it, and ultimately my business is better for it.

    Thanks for this wise take on blogging.

    • December 1, 2010 8:06 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Rachelle. Five times a week for three years? That’s intense. I can barely slap out one a week. You are right – there is much joy to be had in both the writing and the interactions with new blogging friends. And yes, I think we are ultimately better because of it.

  10. November 30, 2010 6:35 pm

    What? Isn’t that PR’s job?

    What some of these oh-too-busy (-looking) people don’t get is that there is a wealth of information that can be mined, especially from customers, through a well-done blog, and woe unto he who can’t find five minutes to tap into the heads of those he serves. That business to run might even perk along more smartly with a creative nod to the masses.

    Keep writing, Brad. As LL said, I like your swing. (I also miss the camel.)

  11. November 30, 2010 7:42 pm

    Bradley I’m obviously not a “real executive” since I blog too. But the reality is it makes me more effective, rather than wasting my time. I also get joy from blogging (mostly). But even more it helps me to think through the difficult aspects of my job. The mechanical things, the financial decisions, even the strategic thinking – those are easy compared with ethical dilemmas, client and employee care, community responsibility, justice, etc. If I wasn’t blogging (which was true almost all my career) then I wouldn’t be thinking these things through. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m a far better executive as a result of blogging. I bet you are too!

    • December 3, 2010 6:19 am

      Graham – this is so true about blogging – it actually helps us think. For me, I think it is one of the few activities that can help me process what is going on in my life and career and spiritual journey. And, yes, it does make us better executives. Well said.

  12. November 30, 2010 10:30 pm

    They always have time for golf, which I think most executives would consider “real” social networking. Blogging is cheaper.

    A problem comes, though, when executives decide that because they don’t have time for blogging, then it must be a waste of time. The same reasoning is applied to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And it’s easy to think this way until your company endures a social media firestorm, and you discover that you should have been doing this stuff for years to build the relationships you need to have.

    Good post, Brad.

  13. December 1, 2010 12:06 am

    very interesting about the torrey pines state natural reserve and the tree as well. oh, and i see there is a torrey pines golf course just south of there.

    i use to play golf with my dad. at the marissa recreational area course. it is a nine hole, so if one wants to play 18, they have to go around again. my grandfather helped to build the rec. area. it is where i was a fish each and every summer, when ever i could get some one to take me out there. later on i worked at the entrance, signing people in.

    well, i’m glad that you write and do the blog thing.

    btw…cool shot. i like the tree captured in the background.

  14. Gordon Atkinson permalink
    December 1, 2010 9:48 am

    Ridiculous hypocrisy. Everyone has something we do on our own time. Blogging is simple writing, which is no more time consuming than golf or – more likely – watching sports on tv.

    I’d say writing is a more intellectually healthy thing than either of those.

  15. December 1, 2010 9:59 am

    Bradley,

    Another beautifully written blog entry. I always get mentally wrapped up in your descriptions of previous interactions with people.

    There are probably innumerous reasons as to why executives teeter about blogging.

    How come you are so obsessed with what executives are doing with their time?

  16. December 1, 2010 1:36 pm

    I think part of this whole blogging thing is fighting through those fears of being authentic. Authenticity is not a trait that has been appreciated in leaders in the past, though I believe this is gradually changing. Authenticity can shatter the illusions of control, strength, power and wisdom. Authenticity requires one to be self-reflective.

    For me blogging has become a way that I am held accountable in my writing as well as a great source of feedback and encouragement. Had you told me 2 years ago I was going to be writing a blog I would have laughed, but today it is something that I love and value.

  17. December 1, 2010 1:42 pm

    Blogging is different from mere reporting. Blogging involves becoming vulnerable to some degree. It invites scrutiny of your ideas, practices, and even your intelligence. After spending so much time climbing the corporate ladder to reach the executive level, I think many simply do not experience this sort of vulnerability or scrutiny on a daily basis. Perhaps it’s this fear of becoming vulnerable in a rapidly changing technological environment that keeps them entrenched in their corporate offices where they are insulated from both?

  18. December 3, 2010 5:38 pm

    That’s it! Joy! And, of course, you’re absolutely right. Who doesn’t have time for joy?

  19. December 4, 2010 9:57 pm

    Hey, wait a minute! Bradley, you have a blog, right? We love your blog! And you are also an excellent and effective leader. Why, you could be our role model! So, tell us, good teacher, how does one become both a great executive leader and blogger?

  20. December 5, 2010 3:51 pm

    I like Brad Harmon’s comment.

    And I think it’s very healthy and wise and brave to acknowledge the different facets of our personalities, the unique ways of expression, and the many hats we can and do don in our professional and private lives. I was watching a documentary on a Canadian executive and came away with the impression that he felt just as passionate sharing his love of art and his collection as he did talking about his climbing of the corporate ladder .

  21. November 29, 2011 9:38 am

    Wow, I got to read two really good posts from you today! I am glad you have so much time on your hands to dedicate to this blogging thing!

    I just found this post from a link on Loren Pinilis’ post on secretly loving to be busy.

    Anyway, thanks Bradley for this confirmation. I needed this today. I have only been blogging for three months now, but I can relate to all you said here. In fact, though he is my business partner, I have not yet told my father about my blog for fear of hearing, “You should not have time for that!”

    It does bring me joy. It makes my day when just one person tells me something I said resonates with them and makes them want to be better at something. I will continue trusting God that He will use it as He wills. I will be faithful to keep typing!

    By the way, thanks for impacting me TWICE today! I hope that makes you feel joy!

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