5 on the 5th Interview: Ian Anderson Gray
This month I want to introduce you to Ian Anderson Gray. Ian was someone I saw start popping up in my Twitter news feed via other people I follow and so of course I started following him! I got to know him via many Twitter conversations and admire what he’s doing in the UK. Read below my interview with Ian and then go follow him on Twitter!
Name: Ian Anderson Gray
Title: Founder of Seriously Social & Partner of Select Performers Internet Solutions
Company: Seriously Social
Twitter handle: @iagdotme
Question 1: Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and used to write my own computer programs on my ZX Spectrum computer as a child. However I originally studied music at University and trained to be a classically trained singer at music college. Soon after I graduated, whilst I was singing professionally and being a singing teacher, I decided to set up a web agency with my dad (he had recently retired from his job). Originally it was more of a hobby and a part time job, but having kids some years back changed my focus and I decided to jump into the mad social media and marketing world with two feet. I also had the realization that I love social media and technology and I love helping and teaching people. Being a consultant as well as training and writing about a subject I love and having the flexibility to spend time at home with my family is just wonderful.
Question 2: How do you keep continuing your education and staying up on all the latest trends and changes?
It’s a tough issue in most industries, but particularly in the fast moving social media and technology world! I’m not a fan of the word “expert” or “guru” because we’re constantly learning, and there will never be an end to that process. I can’t remember who said this, but it could have been a scientist towards the end of his career that said that his “ignorance now had some kind of structure to it”. I also loved what Mark Schaefer said at this year’s Social Media Marketing World – “I’m not an expert, I’m a student”! So, firstly I give myself permission to not have to keep up with everything. I’ve tried that and failed miserably! However, there are some ways that can help. Firstly, I couldn’t do without Feedly. I use Feedly to keep on top of all my favorite blogs and news sites. I get notified whenever there is a new article and I tend to add it to my reading list by sharing to Evernote or Pocket. I also have a nifty IFTTT recipe that shares my Feedly reading list to my Twitter followers via Buffer (I am a geek after all!) As well as that, I keep a close eye on articles shared by people on my main Twitter list, my Google+ circles and another favorite tool, Triberr.
Question 3: What do you love the most about working in your industry? What bothers you the most?
I love the community of people. I’ve met the most amazing people in the blogging and social media communities- many of which have become great friends. I love the openness and the ability to help each other move forwards.
The flip side is the problem or money and the value in what we do. It can often be taboo to talk about money, but it can also seem perfectly acceptable to ask to “pick someone’s brains” for free. Being a consultant can be hard because we are putting a price to our thoughts and our brains and for a quality service! But you’d never ask if you could pick some apples for free in your local grocery store!
Question 4: What is the hardest situation you’ve encountered in your business and how did you handle it?
I admit I’m not good at confrontation. Thankfully I’ve not had to deal with it very often in my business. In the past when a customer treated me very badly, I just walked away as I didn’t want any hassle. These days, I’ve learnt that good communication, structures, procedures and documentation are all vital. However, at the end of the day I’ve tried to learn to make decisions as a business and not to take things personally.
Question 5: What is the best business advice you’ve been given and why has it stayed with you?
The best advice I’ve received isn’t totally business related, but it certainly relates to professionals and business owners. It’s the battle of resistance and obstacles to creativity. I was recommended by a number of people (notably Mike Stelzner and Mark Traphagen) to read the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Whilst I don’t personally enjoy the writing style, Pressfield does articulate the constant issues I’ve had with growing my business. Whenever I’ve known I should be doing something (whether that’s writing a new blog post or launching a new webinar series) I find myself battling against the idea and moving on to something far less productive. The same thing happened when I was speaking at a conference recently – feeling like I wanted to run away! In all these cases, once I saw the resistance, I battled through to the end and found that the rewards were so worth it. Mike Stelzner said something like this recently- that the experience of fear when you are about to do something is usually a good indicator that you should be doing it. It’s like a big green light saying “Go, dog go!”
One for the road…
Bonus: If you could come back to life as any person from the history, who would it be?
There are so many choices- one of Jesus’ disciples, a famous scientist, an athlete and more. However, I think I’d like to say the baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Probably not your usual answer, but I love his music- I could listen to it all the time. Being able to have music flowing from your brain to your pen like that and being able to see and hear his music being performed every day would be amazing.