Some strange events lately have led me to write this post. You may or may not know, but I receive a criticism about me (my ideas, people’s perception of me, how I comment, how I don’t comment, whatever) about once a week. Some times, it’s a post for the intention of link bait (getting more people to engage based on calling someone who has an audience onto the carpet). But lots of times, there’s a real kernel of value to a criticism, especially if it’s about some aspect of my work or my ideas as posted here. (I’m less interested in debating my hairstyle or my parenting choices, but you get the point.)
What Makes for a Good Criticism
A good criticism (and by good, I mean useful) is one where someone latches on to something that bugs them about me, and then they explain it in a way that they can point to examples of me doing this thing, and how they’d have done it differently. For instance, Danny Brown, a long time critic of mine, said he didn’t like that I answered people in my comments section in a snarky way, and so he unsubscribed to my blog (which was a surprise, because he still comments on it pretty regularly, I feel). Perfectly good criticism. I can be snarky. It comes usually after a bunch of people take a bunch of shots at perceptions of me, versus at specifics. Danny is spot on. I shouldn’t be snarky. I should let him and others be snarky, because it’s better suited on them.
What Makes for a Bad Criticism
Criticisms where people can’t really pin down what bothers them, or criticisms against perceptions of me are really hard for me to work with. “Chris Brogan is arrogant” is a bit tricky, because first, I disagree, and second, I think I’m confident, which is sometimes confused with arrogant. When I push for this one, people then often come back and say, “Well, such and such said you were,” or “I tweeted you and you didn’t reply.” Let me handle that last one: I don’t live on Twitter. I live in this much larger box, and I sometimes spend my time on Twitter, just like I sometimes spend time on LinkedIn. If your feelings are hurt that I didn’t reply back to you, I apologize, but then, that’s more a situation for you to consider, not me.
What Makes for the Worst Criticism
The critics I have the hardest time answering are the ones who compete with me, and feel somehow upset with me due to perceptions or issues arising from competition, but without the clear and obvious statement of that competitive experience listed. I get this one a lot. I get people who are saying (without saying), “I am blogging about why Chris Brogan is a jerkbag because I’m selling what he’s selling slightly differently.” I used to get this somewhat more often in the way old days.
What bugs me is that I’m not very competitive. My goal? Helping my prospects and clients. I spend my extra hours trying to figure out how to do that better. It irks me that other people somehow have the time and the inclination to write blog posts complaining about why they don’t like me, instead of spending their time taking prospects from me. Wouldn’t that be more fun? Wouldn’t you rather show my prospects your amazing work, instead of writing about why you think I’m a poopypants?
The Whole “A List” Bologna
Several people have a thing against the “A List” of social media marketing, and some folks consider me to be on this list. First, okay, I’m one of the top social media marketers, or at least the top KNOWN social media marketers. Let that one sink in. I’m not the best marketer out there. Hell, I know 1/149545th of what Christopher Penn knows about marketing. I know less than Sean Bohan. I know less than plenty of people.
I’m the most KNOWN person (or one of them) in Social Media marketing. If that makes me the A-list, sure thing. Does that give me magical powers? Did I do something specific to get here? No to the first question, and yes to the second question. To the second, what I did was work my ass off. I worked, I experimented, I took on clients and figured out things, I came up with ideas, I wrote a few books and got them published. I did a whole lot to get to be the most known person.
That, however, doesn’t mean that I consider myself godlike. You have to spend no more than about 20 minutes with me in person to determine that I am about as human as the next guy. I pay someone to put on my pants one leg at a time, just like you. I don’t consider myself infallible. In fact, I am the first person to admit to things I didn’t even do, just because I’d prefer to learn than to worry about who gets blame or credit.
One of the saddest things I’ve heard in recent weeks is that when someone writes a criticism about me, there’s this whole silent group who secretly says, “It’s about time.” Or “finally, someone stands up to Brogan.” Really? Is it that hard to do? I’ve got a four year old (almost 5) boy who tells me when I’m wrong. My eight year old daughter isn’t that shy. You can’t tell me when you think I’m in the wrong? I somehow doubt this.
When You Disagree
Please, by all means, disagree with me. Please point out the flaws in my ways. Please tell me when you think I’ve got it wrong. (Besides, you’re doing it wrong.) Write your post. Email me. Tweet it. Whatever. The delivery mechanism is fine.
Just be clear in what you’re criticizing. Show examples when you can (because that helps me learn). And if you’re just trying to bait me because you’re competing with me, save us both the effort, and go lure my prospects to your better offering. Because then we’ll both learn.
Believe me, I’m not over here worrying about you. I have my priorities: family, colleagues, clients.
Criticize at will.