Who Are My Marketing Heroes?

It’s very important to have heroes in whichever field you choose to work. There is no doubt that I have plenty of folks who I look up to in the WordPress and web development community (Chris Coyer, Collis Ta’eed, Vladimir Prelovac, ad infinitum) and they deserve their own post in the near future, but today, I want to drop some love for my marketing heroes—guys like Tim Ferris, Jason Fried and Seth Godin—all of whom I can honestly say make me a smarter and more effective business guy than I would be without them.

Sans Tim Ferris, Item-9 wouldn’t exist. I listened to the Four Hour Workweek audio book several times while I was traveling through Costa Rica and Panama in March 2009. I hadn’t listened to an audio book since I had a go at Huckleberry Finn in fourth grade and I thought that approach might have been easier than actually reading the book. It wasn’t. I learned then that I’m a visual learner (photographic memory and such) and audio is the worst way for me to learn (imagine how poorly I did in my Spanish classes).

Anyway, Tim’s audio book allowed me something I don’t normally do while I read books—I wrote. Specifically, I brainstormed ideas for a business to start when I got back to the States. Before the trip, I had just quit my full-time web development job in Chicago and without the inspiration and case studies I listened to in the Four Hour Workweek, April’s rent (and May, June and July’s, as well) wasn’t going to be met. The book was the catalyst for starting my own consulting company and the rest is history.

As a Chicagoan, Jason Fried is obviously one of the bigger influences on how I run Item-9 Consulting. His company, 37signals, provides two very important tools to my business: Basecamp for project management and Sortfolio for advertising. I’ll admit that I got on the Basecamp bandwagon a bit late and that I often complain about the pricing (oh, how I complain), but the truth is that there is no better PM software available.

And Sortfolio—where would I be without Sortfolio? There probably wouldn’t still be an Item-9 Consulting without the revenue I generated through that site over the last two months. The well was almost dry, but since January 15, 2010, I’ve had a 600% increase in revenue, due 100% to the clients who found me on that service.

Besides these two great services, 37signals is also responsible for the brand new book Rework that I really hope redefines the way all business is done (of course, the recession already started this process two years ago, but again, I’ll save that idea for another post).

Last, but not least, I’ve got to write about Seth Godin. For those of you who don’t know, Seth is marketing. Every word he writes becomes the marketing gospel and he’s been a direct influence upon every English-speaking business person over the last twenty years. I find it hard to have an idea about marketing that this guy hasn’t written about.

Today, he republished some thoughts on the problem of the high school mentality permeating long after graduation and then into college and the work place:

Yet most of my classmates refused to choose. Instead, they treated college like an extension of high school. They took the most mainstream courses, did the minimum amount they needed to get an A, tried not to get into “trouble” with the professor or face the uncertainty of the unknowable. They were the ones who spent six hours a day in the library, reading their textbooks.

These guys don’t just write about marketing—they write about life. Their words help rookies like me continue to move towards some kind of actualization and help veterans who are surrounded by sheep whip their coworkers into shape. I’m thankful for their help and I invite anybody interested in improving their 9-5 day to check them out.

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