A few days ago, I named my favorite CRM vendor related human beings. Now I want to tell you about what might seem to be an eclectic grouping with the only common thread being that they don't work for vendors. But, all in all, these are amazing people who you should know. Many of them you might know. Some you may not. But what I want to let you know is how good they are as people, not just their remarkable skills and competence - which are, I admit, part of this. All of them are accomplished human beings. I hope that you have the same opportunity that I have to know them for who they are. Its my honor. The list....
- Independent Analyst - Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research - This one is easy. Denis is not only perhaps the most astute and foresighted analyst in the world of CRM, nay, varlets, not just CRM but SaaS, and now Energy, but he is a man blessed with a good nature and great sense of humor - the sense of the ridiculous that characterizes the most human of sentient beings. He is simply lovable - and you should listen to him too, because he really gets the next big thing. In fact, go to his site and get his CRM, Sustainability & Peak Oil white paper. Now.
- Corporate Analyst - Michael Maoz, Gartner Group - Michael is one of the most respected analysts in CRM - for his straightforward candor with vendors, regardless of what anyone thinks, and for his ability to just find the next trend almost flawlessly - see the intent driven enterprise stuff he does - but I'm not lauding him for that. Without too much detail, several years ago he put his family over his career because he loved them - period. While that sounds easy enough, it isn't as those of you who get LARGE promotions know. He is a good man with an intense devotion to those he cares about - family, friends, and yet he balances that with his superb analytic skills
- Analyst Who Walks the Walk - Brent Leary, CRM Essentials - Brent is amazing. Its not often you run across an analyst on the fast track who is also DJ-hip and actually uses the tools that he writes about and is funny and smart. Brent is all of them in spades. I run across analysts all the time who are academic and don't even know how to use what they write about. That ain't Brent. And damn if not only does he use them, but he's a regular guy with zero pretense, sharp insight, especially in social media & small business, and loves what he does.
- Best Under-the-Radar Analyst - Louis Columbus, Cincom - Technically, Louis works for a vendor which is why he currently is an under the radar analyst. But the man has insight. Damn he really does. And he is happy to present it to others, through his writing on the Cincom blog, The Perfect Customer Experience and through his tweets on Twitter and through his writing on CRM Buyer and other venues. But there is so much more to him - kindness that seems to be part of genetic coding, it runs so deep. When I was recovering from being hurt in the nearly fatal car accident, he showed a level of concern that moved me and, no doubt, aided my emotional recovery. But he is like that with everyone. A good man, a man with a soul. Plus, the dude loves baseball the way I do.
- Best Thought Leader in Her Own Right - Ginger Conlon, 1to1 Media - Officially, Ginger is a journalist and editor-in-chief who work for 1to1, part of the Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, uberbusinessguru empire. But here's the thing. Ginger is a thought leader who drives a lot of the industry thinking around particularly the use of social media. She is smart, funny, warm and balances a personal life with a business life that ain't often that easy. She does it with grace and class, too - and is a blast to hang out with. She's a powerhouse in her own right. And mine right too.
- Best PR Person to Deal With - Aly Sax, UbiquityAS - I deal with PR people enough in a week for a year. I get about 20 requests a week for something or another and phone calls and other things on occasion. They are rarely from an internal person at a vendor - but they are from all shapes and sizes of PR firms - big, small, traditional, hip - you name, I get something. But once in a great while, someone stands so far out that I fall in love with them - in a platonic way of course. This would be Aly Saxe of UbiquityAS who handles both Pat Sullivan's fascinating venture Flypaper and Tien Tzuo's new success, Zuora. Aly is someone that I can blab with all day and would if the time was there. She is not only a great PR person, but a great person - who shares my love of animals and makes no bones about it either. She is a person who cares about all living creatures, not just the companies she represents. She is interested in who she is talking to, not just what they are in title and reputation. That is something else for anyone, much less a PR person. Aly is the cat's meow. She'll know what I mean.
- "Goodest" CRM Practitioner - Scott Rogers, David's Bridal - David's Bridal has been my client for more than six years. In that six years, I've had dozens of other practitioner (non-software/consulting providers) clients, mostly Fortune 1000, sometimes smaller and dealt with hundreds of other people who are CRM focused. No one, I mean no one has ever earned my trust the way that Scott Rogers has. Not only is he immensely knowledgeable about CRM, but he is a fundamentally good person with a big heart. I trust him totally and that says a lot. He is one of the main reasons I continue to like CRM at all. Simply because he is who he is.
- The "Charitable Heart" Award - Bruce Culbert, CEO Isymmetry - Bruce has been someone who I've known a long time. He's a man of influence in CRM. He's been a big player in the field - heading up eBusiness at IBM; SVP of CRM and Supply Chain at Bearing Point; head of professional services at salesforce.com and my business partner in BPT Partners. Millions of dollars are the world he walks in. But even bigger than the numbers is the hear of this man. What most people don't know is how he works in his personal life. He is the single most charitable individual (along with his wonderful wife Sue) I've ever met - taking kids who would otherwise be lost into his home and heart, helping out and being loyal to family and friends in ways, which while I'll leave as private matters, are beyond what most humans would ever even consider, much less do. He lives life governed by good acts - and that is rare and wonderful. I'm proud to know him.
- Best CRM Person in Academia - Dr. Jeff Tanner, Baylor University - If you met Jeff, you'd never guess the man has so many academic successes that he could be a snot like several other academic "names" I could think of. But this just ain't Jeff. He heads up Baylor's CRM MBA program, is the Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development, has written the best selling textbook on selling of all time and multiple other books. But this guy is sweet, funny, very southwestern, raises thoroughbreds because he loves them, not just because he wants to raise Majestic Prince and just radiates a down-to-earth demeanor that makes you want to hang out with him. And he's so DAMN accomplished. Smartest Guy in CRM - Graham Hill, CACI Customer Solutions Group - Graham is one of these ravenous sorts of fellows, with a droll wit, a memory that is extraordinary for how much it holds and a set of brain waves that combines things in ways I could only imagine. He is also fearless and acerbic and yet an amazingly nice guy who only wants things to be good. You need to be following his thinking because its, well, um - brilliant.
- Most Under the Radar Good at What He Does - Bill Howell, MyCRMCareer - I met Bill Howell through Bruce Culbert. Bill worked for Bruce at IBM and has been a friend for a long time. I have to tell you something. I am blessed to have gotten to know this guy. I'm sure you can tell me of others who are incredibly capable, and I have no doubt they are but I've NEVER met a person who is totally effective, humble, warm, kind, and at the same time, knows when to tell my chattering self to shut up when necessary - without losing an iota of good humor or humility when he does. Wow.
- Best Writers in the Biz - Dead Heat - Marshall Lager, CRM Magazine; David Sims, TMCNet. I can't tell you how much I love these guys. They are amazing - beyond amazing really. Both are spectacular writers with totally different kinds of styles. Both are brilliant in their field - and others I think - and both are great human beings. Marshall is one of the most natively funny writers I have every read - anywhere - with that amused, sometimes self-deprecating sense of satire - yet his analysis of the trends and the twists and turns in CRM are as good as or better than many analysts out there. He is a good person with a heart of gold, that I'm honored to call a friend. David is of a more literary bent in his First Coffee column which he writes for TMCNet. He is a master of metaphor and almost a throwback to the New Yorker style of literary humor that I am drawn to. We share a love of American humorist S.J Perelman for his command of the English language. David wrote the best line about me I've ever seen when, in one of his articles, compared me to S.J. Perelman for "(my) striking use of black type on white pages." He staggers me - though he is wrong - I don't think A-Rod is underpaid. Best Management-level Editor - Dead Heat again - Josh Weinberger, CRM Magazine Chris Bucholtz, InsideCRM - These two are very different - in style, personality, and even management approach. And both are responsible for keeping their respective publications at the top of its game. Josh is a 2.0 fella - who uses the tools and has a management style that says his charges are adults and deserve the room to grow and evolve. He does it all with a wicked sense of humor and a warmth that isn't the norm in the world of journalism. Chris is a killer editor who knows what he has to do at InsideCRM and has that sense of irony about his job that makes InsideCRM a fresh presence in the CRM world. A good man and a believer in doing the right thing.