Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You a Tech Leader?

This morning the Tampa Bay Tech Forum hired a new executive director. Amid the hoopla, the PR is that Tampa has a new tech leader. No affront to the new CEO of TBTF, but if all it took to be a leader was a title Obama would be doing way better.

What does it take to be a tech leader? That's probably a question that HP asks itself every Board meeting. (HP needs to clean out its Board.) It's a question that Apple, Microsoft and Google work on daily. Not talk about - work on. Leaders act.

Are you a tech leader in your community?

You know how some of your customers call you about PC issues? They don't know where the demarc is. You are already perceived as a tech leader. You can take that steps further and become THE TECH LEADER.

In Sarasota, FL, there is an active group that spends its days working on ways to make the community more friendly for creatives, techies and startups. All the components work together - the Economic Development Council, the Chambers, City Hall, the county and the colleges. The end goal is a better community, more jobs, and cool people to hang with.

I'm not saying you have to go that far. You can volunteer tech time with a public charity for exposure. You can offer up your conference room for meetings for techies. You can sponsor coffee for tech meetings like VMware, Microsoft, graphic designers, etc. Create an intern program for the local tech college. These small things can have big results - like new employees, partners, services and customers.

In Tampa Bay, we have fractured micro-communities. Many never touch each other. It's pockets of techies. It's a tall order to be all things to all people. How does an organization like TBTF keep the 15 Board members happy while also catering to companies like IBM and Microsoft and startups? Tampa Bay has a lot of fingers in the technology pie - STARTEC, Gazelle Labs, WAVE, TBTF, two EDC's, High Tech Corridor, USF, 2 city halls and 2 county governments, BarCamp plus a number of meetups for creatives and techies. It is worse than herding rhinos as this St. Pete Times called it.

I muse about this issue this morning because I have been organizing the BarCamp community in Tampa Bay for 4 years now. When I think of Tech Leaders, I think about the folks in this town who are actually delivering on technology like Sean Davis and Daniel Scott. In New Orleans, one such tech leader is Chris Schultz. No one appointed them. They just went out and did it.

As with any initiative or product launch, the following questions have to be asked:

  • Who are we targeting?
  • Why should they buy from us?
  • What benefits can we provide?
  • What tactics are required to target them?
  • Where does the target get its information (Where to advertise)?

"There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader. - Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

"The real leader has no need to lead-- he is content to point the way." - Henry Miller

"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes." - Peter Drucker

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