29 Dec 2008

Keep Innovating or Prepare To Be Run Over

You’re getting soft.

You’re sticking to what was once big and you’re not moving beyond that. You’re not hungry.You’re not forward-thinking. You’re out there sitting in the pit of fake celebrity and you don’t even notice the others coming up around them to steal their glory. It’s kind of ridiculous how badly you suck.

You have to keep moving forward.

I have to ask. TechMeme has met TechFuga, America needs a reboot, Sphinn is reusing the same titles, and you’re ending 2008 still preaching the same gospel you used in 1998. Isn’t it all starting to feel a little old?

I can feel myself getting bored and restless. I’m looking for things to poke you with. Both to wake you up and to help amuse myself. Hell, Michael Gray is still picking on BlogHer because he has nothing else to get upset and outraged about. He’s trying to find the passion to care about something. About anything.

There’s going to be a lot of Top 10 posts over the new few weeks. Lots of posts reflecting on what happened in 2008. Fake awards to congratulate some of last year’s finest. It’s fun, the whole patting ourselves on the back thing. We get to talk about how smart and funny we were last year. Problem is, while you’re harking back on the good times of 2008, the smart people are looking forward. They’re looking at 2009, 2010 and 2015. They’re making goals and plotting the course for how they’re going to get there.

As cliché as it sounds, right now is a very good time to figure out what your goals are for the new year, both personal and professional, and start coming up with very actionable steps for how you’re going to get there. If New Year’s resolutions have taught us anything, it’s that they’re meaningless unless you account for the “how” of it. You want to lose 20lbs? Awesome, so does everyone else. How are you going to get there? You want to expand your business and overtake a new sector? Cool. How are you going to get there? You want to be become a better company than you were last year? Good for you. How are you going to get there?

If you don’t take the time to document the “how”, you fail.

Every time.

Innovation thrives in the building of sandcastles. Your place in the industry and the world is not permanent. If you don’t innovate and keep moving, you’re going to get left behind. We’ve seen it happen time and time again in corporate America and yet we never think it can happen to us. We’re incredibly dumb.

  • We write that one awesome blog post, we got a lot of links, and then we sit back and keep referencing it ad nauseum.
  • We create that one tool that got a whole bunch of attention, and then we let it sit.
  • We figure out how to get sites to the top of the search engines today, and then we stop building on that knowledge.
  • We become known for doing something and then never evolve beyond that one thing.

Your contentment allows you to be pigeon-holed into being boring.

If you’re still harking on-page SEO techniques only, maybe it’s time to step out of the €˜90s and become competitive again. If you’re TechMeme, maybe it’s time to take a look at TechFuga and ask yourself why people are excited about them. Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on the €˜A-list’ and €˜celebrity’ tech blogs and start paying attention to sources like FriendFeed and Twitter if that’s where news is really breaking and being discussed. If you’re a company working your butt off to keep up with your competition — maybe it’s time to start being proactive, instead of reactive.

If you want to be innovative and forward-thinking, you have to get out of your own head. Remember what your goals were before you were weighted down in the day-to-day BS.  Hire creative people and then draw the greatness out of them. Hire folks that think differently than you do. Put them in groups and challenge them to release their talents.

Get out of your own way.  Give yourself the time to be creative and to fully think of ideas. That means sometimes tuning out Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, YouTube and all the other places that are stealing your attention. The Internet lends itself to creativity but it also opens up a world of mass distraction where we divide our day up into 10 million snippets spent on 10 million things. You can’t come up with and nurture a great idea when it’s stuck as one snippet of a million. You have to spend time molding them or you’re going to wind up with a dud (kidding, moms!).

Successful companies aren’t the ones that are the most intelligent or creative. They’re the companies who never lose the fire to succeed.

It’s like that kickoff call we’ll have with clients. When we talk to them to figure out what their goals are and where they want to be. Not just today, but in the long term. That’s always the most exciting part of a project for me. The dreaming & planning stage. Where you decide what you want and then we lay out a course to help you get there. It’s awesome.

There’s a new year approaching. Keep moving forward.


  1. Joe Hall December 29, 2008 at 9:39 AM

    Awesome post! And it comes at a good time when we see so many things with IM changing. And btw, I love Meet The Robinsons!

  2. Lisa Barone December 29, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    Joe: Thanks, Joe. Credit for the video goes to Susan Esparza of Bruce Clay who mentioned it to me once and I have been stealing it ever since. 🙂

  3. Virginia Nussey December 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM

    Seriously inspiring words! Just the kick in the butt the New Year calls for. Oh, and a Meet the Robinsons reference in a blog post? Major win.

  4. Mike | PlanetChiro December 30, 2008 at 1:44 PM

    I love that first paragraph Lisa (in fact, I love the entire post). I can see your future as a motivational speaker on the horizon!

  5. Will Scott December 30, 2008 at 1:53 PM


    Not to parrot Michael, but that first paragraph is breathtakingly good.

    I hate to admit I only started reading your stuff since your move to WBP and you rock.

    Way to end the year and start the planning season.

  6. Lydia Mazorol December 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    Only boring people get bored! Glad to see – and read – of all the creativity going on there for you! Have a great New Year!

  7. Bonnie Burns December 30, 2008 at 2:04 PM

    Ok, found your post from Twitter, and as I do not want to suck, I read it….and glad I did. Sweet post for sure. As an SEO consultant, you are so correct, SEO is not just on-page optimization but so much more! Sure, I miss the good old days of SEO, It was easy, it was fast. Now, there is so much more involved, much more of a challenge, so much more to do. Today, organic SEO is old stuff, new techniques, and being much more creative. Personally, I like all the stuff involved. I am an out-of-the-box thinker, so that means I do not suck…at least not yet. Good job Lisa!!:-)

  8. Jessica Meehan December 30, 2008 at 5:17 PM

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more and I have a few ideas I’m really excited to explore for 2009. I can’t wait to see where I can take SEO and I intend to take it for a ride in 2009. Thanks for the inspiring words Lisa.

  9. Ranked Hard SEO December 31, 2008 at 10:25 AM

    As always Lisa, your words have meaning. Great read and a great kick in the pants for those that are stagnate in their methods and their thinking.

    2009 SEO is going to be about innovation, perspiration, and determination. The old standard 1,2,3, next and hope to get top SE results is not going to cut the mustard.

    Speaking of Mustard. It was Col. Mustard in the Conservatory with the wrench..DO I win?

    Tweet you later 🙂

  10. Looking Back on 2008 December 31, 2008 at 10:59 AM

    […] Keep Innovating or Prepare To Be Run Over […]

  11. Lisa Barone December 31, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Thanks to everyone for all the great comments and for being the ones who help keep me motivated and inspired to write posts every day. You guys rock!

  12. Jason December 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM

    Nice motivational post for the new year. Nice reminder to not sit on my ass and instead actually accomplish something new and exciting in the new year. (And to not quit once I do.) Thanks.

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    […] Happy New Year! 2008 has gone and 2009 is already upon us. It’s a new year to establish challenging goals and to grow your business to unprecedented levels. In these times, it’s important to keep moving forward, to innovate and to come up with unique ideas that will give you an edge – otherwise, be prepared to get run over. […]

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    […] Happy New Year! 2008 has gone and 2009 is already upon us. It’s a new year to establish challenging goals and to grow your business to unprecedented levels. In these times, it’s important to keep moving forward, to innovate and to come up with unique ideas that will give you an edge – otherwise, be prepared to get run over. […]

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