Mar 212007

Leaders Discredited from Leading?

Leaders Discredited from Leading?

In Bill McCloskey’s Email Insider column on Mediapost today (hopefully the link will work; sometimes Mediapost isn’t open if you’re not a subscriber), he decries the lack of passion and industry evangelists in the email marketing space and compares it to the search world with at least one example involving Dave Pasternack, co-founder and president of Did-It.  He then goes on to say that there are a few evangelists in the email world, but that two of us — myself and Rich Gingras, CEO of Goodmail, don’t count because we “have a vested interest in being passionate.”

While I appreciate Bill’s main point and appreciate his recognizing that I do evangelize our space and am passionate about it, I have to take issue with his comment on a few points.  I have already privately emailed him about this, and Bill and I have known each other for a long time, so this isn’t meant to be an attack on him at all.

First, the internal inconsistency in his argument is glaring.  By his definition of “vested interest” (company founder/leader), Dave Pasternack has about the same vested interest in what he does as I have in what I do and Rich has in what he does.  So why does the passion count for search and not for email?

Second, I’d argue that we as an industry need more passionate CEOs and founders and executives to step out and be evangelists for our cause.  Just because we started companies or run business units — we’re somehow discredited or unqualified to speak out and lead the charge on something?  I think it’s the exact opposite!  The industry needs more of its leaders to do just that.  And Bill of all people (CEO of Email Data Source) should know that.

But finally, I’d argue that we (meaning we humans) all have a vested interest in what we do, whether it’s Baker or Mullen or McCloskey or Melinda Krueger or Stephanie Miller.  All people who work for a living , at any level (and I am certainly on that list), have a built-in reason to support their field/cause/company — they want and need it to succeed.  But beyond that, high quality people are always emotionally vested in what they do, even if they didn’t start a company or have equity in it.  They throw themselves into their work and treat it like a cause.  Discredit all those who have a vested interest in something as legitimate evangelists — you eliminate most evangelists, at least in the corporate world.

All that said, I agree that more people should be out there sharing their passion for the email space and evangelizing it, and kudos to the Bakers, Mullens, Kruegers, Millers, McCloskeys of the world (and there are more of them than that group) for doing just that every day.