Five Questions for Leslie Poston

Leslie Poston helps businesses and individuals crank up the volume on their professional and personal brands. Using technology, new media, and the social Web, she teaches clients how to cut through the white noise that’s buzzing between them and their potential customers and fans.

As founder of Uptown Uncorked, she’s consulted on digital strategies and business development for musicians, restaurants, big-time corporations, and more.

  1. Among your many book and e-book credits is co-authorship of Twitter for Dummies. I’d imagine, given how fast things seem to change in the Twittersphere, that it’s a book that’s in need of a new edition fairly regularly. And then there’s the whole issue of how everyone uses Twitter differently, and how a single book can’t possibly cover all of the bases. Is that part of what the accelerator classes you’re offering are all about? Could you describe those, who they’re meant for, and what the goal is?
    Twitter for Dummies does a pretty good job of covering the bases for people, and of being an evergreen book that will withstand the many user interface changes inherent to any social media tool, but it is definitely something we review yearly. It will be going into a 3rd edition this year, with updates.

    The Accelerator classes I teach were created at the request of local small businesses who want to take a DIY approach to social media, but who don’t have time for the 6 month on-ramp time frame (learning curve) for these tools, and who may not have the budget yet to bring me in for hands on help and direction. The classes are intended to help people spark their own personal economies by having the knowledge needed for using available tools. I’m keeping the class size small (under 15 people) so we can really dive in to the nitty gritty for the people in attendance and give them real help they can use right away.

    Right now the classes are in Portsmouth at my offices. However, I’m getting requests to take them on the road as well, so that may be coming down the line—a traveling workshop. The classes are a bit different in style than the speaking gigs I hire out for, or the intensive single-company all-day training sessions I offer—they’re meant to be more intimate. I’ve been pleased to see the enthusiastic response, and I can’t wait to see what local micro businesses do when armed with knowledge!
     
  2. You’re one of the hardest workers I’ve met, and you always seem to be working on great projects with really intriguing clients. What are some of your favorite projects from the past couple of years?
    Thanks so much for the compliment. I do work hard for my clients, and it’s a bit hard to pick favorites—they are all vastly different: corporations, retail stores, musicians, films, artists, entrepreneurs, freelancers, other start up companies I advise, book projects… I have a really amazing job where I get to do something different every day. One fun project, via a company I was advising last year, was a film with John Goodman, Dana Delaney, Jacob Zachar and John Malkovich in it, but I’m not sure I can even pick that as a favorite. It’s the ability to do something different to help my clients have a better overall business everyday that I really love about what I do.
     
  3. Do you have any dream projects you’d like to work on but haven’t yet? Any new clients or business areas in particular you want to explore next?
    I love challenges in business, and I’m open to all types of clients. I’ve recently started offering some more portable services for the businesses that are too small to hire me at my corporate rate, like phone session packages (for micro businesses under 2 people and freelancers only) and classes, but I also enjoy meaty projects that take months to complete, like revamping an entire business or creating a strategy for bringing emerging media to the entire organization to help all departments (not just sales and marketing). I’ve pulled back somewhat on the writing, but I am also shopping for the next full length book project. I’m actually in the process of refreshing my company (name and Web site) this year to reflect the entire range of services I offer in a way that people can easily digest and use. Stay tuned for that to happen soon!
     
  4. When a contract worker, entrepreneur, or anyone else working solo ends up working as hard as you are apt to do, sacrifices must often be made, particularly in the area of the social life. But we recently got to hang out at FunSpot for a day, and it seems as if you’re making a concerted effort to reclaim your weekends (at least partially) as personal time. How important is the work/life balance, and what tips do you have for contract workers andentrepreneurs to keep the scales from tipping in one direction or the other?
    The work life balance is so important, and incredibly hard to maintain. I’ve written about it a few times on Uptown Uncorked, as it is a recurring issue both for my colleagues and my clients (and myself). This year, in 2011, I’m being a pit bull about setting aside time for friends and family.  It’s been an interesting and positive change for my business and life; enforcing boundaries and personal time is making me better at what I do overall in the process.

    My goal is to make my business fully portable, not only reclaiming time during the average workday and weekend with my friends and family, but also to be able to go on extended working vacations that incorporate the work/life balance. I find that for me, a mix of setting aside personal time and business time all 365 days a year is key to the success of both work and life, as is making sure to take space for offline alone time periodically to recharge from both.
     
  5. People who are used to doing things themselves—I count myself among that number—often have a hard time delegating responsibility and bringing in collaborators. But you seem to have bucked that trend by assembling successful teams to help run Social Media Breakfast NH and PodCamp NH. Is there a secret to finding (and keeping) good collaborators?
    It’s no secret that it takes several tries to assemble a great team and keep them together, and I’ve become quite detailed about who I add to various teams. One key to success is not to be afraid to boot a weak link that won’t carry their share of the load, even if they are a friend—this is hard for many people. It’s something I do regularly, “firing” clients or team members or even partner arrangements when the balance grows out of whack and becomes unsustainable, and it took me a long time to get to a point where I could do that.

    The second key to success is gratitude. I can not pull off my dreams and goals and big ideas without the help of teams that share them, and I want the world to know how awesome they are. I want the team to get benefits from helping: more work from attendees, more friendships, a wider network, a better support system. I love when people call me for recommendations for my amazing team members like yourself—it gives me a chance to say what I love about working with them in more detail than the thank you posts I send out in blogs and on Twitter.