I first met Scott Baradell in a private Facebook group, of all places. He was hanging out in there with other smarties and I liked his sarcasm and wit, so I figured he’d make a good friend.
And I was right!
He is the founder of Idea Grove in Dallas and is one of the first PR professionals to use inbound marketing to build his firm.
A few years ago, we both happened to be in Austin at the same time so we had breakfast (which he paid for because he rocks) and I also got to meet his gorgeous wife, Maria.
At the time, she was expecting their third child and today they have four kids. I often read her Facebook posts and wonder how the heck she does it!
Idea Grove, which is a tech PR firm, is actually Scott’s second business. He co-founded Brightpod, a venture-funded technology consulting company, which was acquired by inPhonic in 2001.
Part of the reason I have invited Scott to sit on today’s Inquisition hot seat is because of his experience building companies, as a PR professional. The other part is because he’s an exceptionally cool guy.
What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?
Gosh, that’s a hard one. There have been many.
I guess the biggest was early in my career, when I allowed my greatest strength, my writing, to actually hold me back professionally.
I defined myself very narrowly as a “writer,” which in a business context can be confining.
“Writers” don’t usually become CMOs or CEOs.
I traced it back to my introversion and lack of confidence in my other skills, which ultimately led to me getting an MBA and taking other steps to become more well-rounded.
What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?
It surprises people that I can have a temper.
Most people peg me as a Type B personality, but there’s some Type A in there that leaks out sometimes.
I’m at my best in my daily interactions with clients and my team when I can find my inner Zen.
But when I identify a larger or systemic problem that needs solving, the Type A guy comes out and I can’t relax until I figure out a solution.
I try to keep that side in check as much as possible, for everyone else’s sanity, as well as my own.
If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?
I’ve already made it, I think.
My dad died of a heart attack at 64, and his brother in his late 50s. My brother had a stroke at 46, and another one last year. So the genes could be better.
And, yet with all this history, I go and start a business in my 40s and have a fourth child at the age of 49.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to be working and raising a family right up till the end (even though I’m pretty good at eating my veggies).
But I couldn’t wish for a better life. I’m very lucky to have what I have. I couldn’t ask for more.
What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?
I’m tired of hearing about “content.” I truly, truly am. And I say that as the head of PR agency that has distinguished itself through our focus on content marketing.
The term “content” itself is a very commoditizing way to describe the result of what should be a highly strategic, creative process.
The term “content” suggests our job is to make widgets when we should be making, if not art, at least something closer to art than widgets.
The whole reason Idea Grove entered the content marketing space is to leverage the creative thinking that drives our PR programs to help our clients in other ways.
What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?
Spin Sucks, of course!
Why Does Spin Suck?
I started out planning to be an historian and then segueing into journalism.
Looking at it broadly, spin propagandizes, deceives people, and undermines democracy.
It’s obvious, for example, that the evolution of our corporate media has brought our federal government to a standstill, and that many people believe things that aren’t true, because they are being willfully misled.
Having said that, “spin” is different from honest advocacy, and the latter is what we try to do for our clients.
Where You Can Find Scott Baradell
He also is a popular speaker on the topic of PR and SEO, and the rubber-hits-the-road issues of integrating these disciplines.
Connect with him if you’re looking for someone to present to your group on the topic.