Today is my last day working for Deloitte Digital/Deloitte Consulting as a Specialist Leader focused on Social Business and Digital Strategy. I will be hanging out with my soon to be former colleagues a little bit at our Deloitte Lounge here at SxSW later today and enjoying the rest of SxSWi and all the #badgeless events this weekend. I hope to see you here in Austin and talk to you about what’s next personally, maybe even do some work with you.
I know you don’t have time to read this whole story, especially if you are here at SxSW, so here are the highlights.
- Deloitte was a great experience, but I want to return to my entrepreneurial roots and start something from the ground up.
- I’m a tech/software product guy, who has been advising others on their products for too long, so I will be building an Enterprise SaaS startup to launch into Alpha in the next 90 or so days. Need my technical co-founder now, starting discussions to finalize who this weekend.
- While getting the product ready, I will relaunch my AdHocnium network consulting agency to do Venture Consulting with startups and work with a handful of big brands.
- I will refocus some of my time on making Social Media Club more sustainable, and sharing more insights around Social Business and Social Reengineering with our community.
- I will finally be writing my book, now that I have learned some more discipline, improved my writing skills and realized I have a unique perspective to share not seen/heard elsewhere.
- I am also getting involved in some other community projects to support the great work of some close friends, like John C. Havens and The H(app)athon Project and raising some money for the High Fives Foundation out of Tahoe.
- I need to hire an assistant right away. Looking for one who lives in San Francisco ideally, to manage the other virtual assistants and contractors for me – and to manage me too! Bonus if you are at SxSW this weekend and find me to talk.
I actually have 8 really big ideas, and would love to start a lab to do them all, but I’ve gotten down to one that’s been validated by a few really smart people in the past two weeks. That said, I am still interested in getting my original Insytes idea produced, and from my work with the American Heart Association, I have a health startup in mind too – but ultimately – I will be working over the next few months to get the alpha built, raise funds and gain the market awareness for the concept that we will need to be successful with this enterprise SaaS product. Only time will tell what the startup actually becomes, and what it is called, so stay tuned. I will launch the site soon to get applications for the alpha, and then will be raising an angel round from friends and family.
For those of you unfamiliar with my history, I have been ahead of the curve quite a bit over the years. At my first startup we were doing webmail a couple of years before Hotmail, but unable to pursue it aggressively. My CTO at the time said we just couldn’t run a bunch of corporate sites, our local content network VCN and tens of thousands of free webmail accounts off of the 486dx33 pseudo server we had at the time. I also created one of the first business plans for what is now thought of as social media command centers, then focused on conversational intelligence via Conversal. Ultimately, my dna is in numerous other now big company technologies and failed startups I advised as they were launching or maturing.
My Time at Deloitte
There are so many great people at Deloitte, like Bill Briggs and Mark White, who I worked with on the past two Deloitte Tech Trends as well as both client facing and internal projects. They taught me a great deal. They aren’t just smart, they are cool and passionate – but their gift for explaining complex topics with just the right words amazed me during every interaction. Then there are the Dan’s, Dan Nieves and Dan Elbert, who helped unearth some of the most important insights around the role of engagement and corporate strategy. My original counselor and mentor Matt Law, my close friends Nelson Kunkel and Adrian Chan, the folks at the Center for the Edge, SocBiz PMO Lead Colleen Chan, KM/Community Manager extraordinaire Stan Garfield, head of Deloitte Digital US Mike Brinker and way too many others to list here. While the travel and work was demanding, and at times I allowed myself to be a bit too stressed, it was an invaluable experience which I will cherish fondly, and for which I am forever grateful to John Hagel and Eric Openshaw.
My role at Deloitte was as multi-faceted as my interests, which is why this was a hard decision in several ways, but easier in others – even more so then leaving behind the security of a steady paycheck. I was a change agent. One of Deloitte’s “Social Media Guru’s” (though I still dislike being called that). I was an internal consultant on digital strategy, social media and social business for our firm leadership, the KM group, marketing, public relations, internal communications, enterprise applications, partners around the world, and numerous other special projects. I was a client facing consultant and proposal contributor around social media, social business, innovation, and platform strategy. I supported over 80 sales pursuits with some of the largest companies and government organizations in the world. I was a mentor and informal counselor to many of my junior colleagues. I lead the marketing, communications, training and adoption strategy work thread for our global Yammer roll-out, which supposedly was one of the most successful in the world. I edited or contributed to numerous articles for publication bylined by senior partners of the firm. I participated in webinars through our D-Brief’s program. I spoke at numerous internal and external events. I was published on our Deloitte Tech Blog and even in the CIO Journal. I advocated for enterprise user rights. I collaborated with our innovation teams. I was part of the “digital dozen” team that supported our acquisition of Ubermind and the subsequent launch of Deloitte Digital. I was, and still am, #drivenby_ transformative opportunities. I was a provocateur who stayed within the lines when necessary, and redrew them when necessary. I was, and always will be, part of the global Deloitte family.
But even with all of these contributions, I was most proud to have helped the amazing executive, mission and communications teams from the American Heart Association with the development of their Social Media strategy, and eventually a Digital Transformation Strategy, to seize the opportunity presented by digital engagement strategy to fulfill their mission. During that work we developed some amazing tools that will enable organizations to manage engagement at scale. There will be much more about the Engagement Matrix and Engagement Wheel to come in the book I am writing in the next few months and the blog posts that will lead up to it. I am also now on the American Stroke Association’s Advisory Committee and expect to continue to support AHA for many years to come.
I also worked with some incredibly passionate people from the United States Postal Service, working diligently to find a path to continuing viability in our digital future for one of the hardest working federal agencies I have ever seen from the inside out. They were connecting everyone of our citizens for news, love and commerce way before the internet was here, and continue to provide that service to every door in the United States today. I will be speaking atthe National Postal Forum, on insights around creating Mail Moments using outside in and customer experience design thinking on March 18 in San Francisco.
All in all, there were just so many great moments, teams, clients and experiences, it’s hard to share them all here. In fact, some of the best of them I will never be able to talk about due to confidentiality agreements etc… but it was awesome.
Next Up, AdHocnium
AdHocnium is a network consulting agency I started with some incredible people back in 2009. My title then, as it will be now, is tied to what I believe I do best for clients, I am a Creative Catalyst. The network never really got off the ground as I made some mistakes in the operations and the commitments I requested of the bright people who affiliated together to form it. I know what to do differently now, so I am going to do it and seek someone else to manage the essential operations so I can transition away to my startup full time once I get funding for it but still stay involved in the great work opportunities it will generate working with clients who really get it.
There are a few core ‘services as products’ AdHocnium will offer including:
This isn’t the normal advice you might get from a traditional consultant. This is the holistic kind you will only get from an agency with our unique set of connections, experiences and brain power.
- Amplification (promotion and awareness)
- Digitalization (strategic thinking/planning)
- Validation (of your ideas, products or campaigns)
- Innovation (creative insights and big ideas)
- Connections (business development, alliances and partnerships)
- Education (bringing you the knowledge you need, when you need it)
For startups who can’t afford the best and brightest (because they are smart and scrappy and want to use their funds for maximum impact) we will offer reduced fees to a select few clients in exchange for some equity in their company.
Social Business Strategy
We know everyone leading the social revolution and will create a workshop to bring those leading authorities to you to empower you to uncover the transformative opportunities of becoming a Social Business. The scope and scale of these projects range from a one-time workshop to a full blown assessment and strategic plan.
More on all of this will be available over the coming days…
Other Important Work
There are a few other select activities I will be diving into over the coming weeks…
“Serve the Market”
I’ve been putting off the writing of my book for way too long. With the experience of the last two years at Deloitte, and my previously developed insights, I am going to get my book done this year. The working title is “Serve the Market” and will include things like customer experience life-cycles, clearing the trust filter and the engagement curve. It will also feature some invaluable tools you can use to manage engagement at scale and insights on how to better connect your organization for the maximum creation of shared value. More to come on this in April.
Social Media Club
As mentioned earlier, I will be spending some time invested in growing Social Media Club again. I don’t think anyone out there is doing a great job of supporting internal/corporate social media and social business practitioners, so that will be one area of particular focus. I will also work to develop a new SMC media literacy program, which was at the core of what I was trying to accomplish when I founded SMC. I’d also like to support some research projects from other great organizations we have long supported like SNCR and the Community Round Table.
The H(app)athon Project
I am also proud to announce I was asked to join The H(app)athon Project Advisory Board and have accepted. A brainchild of our dear friend John Havens and his colleagues, this is a really big idea, supported by the United Nations and some of the biggest corporations and academic institutions in the world. In short, they are a pioneering group of people who believe that GDP is no longer the best economic indicator of success – that instead, happiness/well-being is a greater overall measure of quality of life and economic prosperity. So Happathon aims to generate ideas, and ultimately an app/service, that fuses together big data, social data, Internet of Things, Quantified Self and a few other ‘movements’ so that we can see, in near real time, a relative happiness score for different regions/countries/states and communities. I am co-hosting the San Francisco kick off event on March 20 at NextSpace Union Square in San Francisco. Join us.
I don’t have enough money yet to be making personal donations to a lot of great causes, nor do I have the time, but I have a network and I have some ideas that might help them. Bringing this all together, I am hoping to help raise more funds for American Heart Association and others.
Right now, I am starting with a little online fundraiser and perhaps an in person party in North Lake Tahoe to support the High Fives Foundation. After meeting and being inspired by the story of Grant Korgan at the #Snowcial conference last week, this great organization came clearly into view. When Grant shared his story of his recovery from near spinal destruction after an accident, it moved me to tears. When I learned how not only his wife, but the founder of High Fives was there for him, to motivate his recovery, I decided I wanted to do something to help others.
Turns out, I won a snowboard in the beginners category of our Snowcial EpicMix Race, so I thought why not raffle it off to raise some funds and some awareness for them. More on that later today, or you can place your advance order for the raffle tickets by emailing me at Chris@adhocnium.com. They will be $10 each and we will be set up to take orders online shortly.
Well, that seems like a lot of stuff I am taking on once again. Too much for any one person to do perhaps. But I don’t plan to do it alone, nor will I be doing it all at once. I plan to get leverage and I plan to eventually move to focusing 95% of my time on this startup I am building once it gets funding. Turns out, most of the other things I am doing, especially the book, will be very beneficial for the newco.
While it is hard to be leaving Deloitte, right now is the perfect time to seize on these great market opportunities and return to my entrepreneurial roots. While I never really had a ‘boss’ at Deloitte and was given leeway to pursue whatever I thought best with my time, I never really could call my own shots completely either. Ultimately, Deloitte is an audit company and has a responsibility to the public that requires us to have absolute independence, to not speak about the companies we audit positively or negatively. This was really good training and helped me shake off my role of being a ‘vocal critic’, but also kept me out of the last political cycle among other things in which I really would have liked to have been actively participating.
Who knows, I may end up back there someday, but for now, I am excited to be back within the startup community, and working my ass off to change the world for the better using technology, my insights into human behavior and change management. Pay attention to this space, there is a lot that is about to happen…