We begin our PerkettPR “Influencers Who Inspire” series with a chat with Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com.
Ramon is a journalist, technology evangelist & editor of Smallbiztechnology.com, author of “Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses” & “Technology Resources for Growing Businesses” and a national, in-demand speaker.
What made you choose journalism as a profession?
I didn’t choose it, it chose me and it was quite accidental. I just really loved to write and so I started writing, then one day Black Enterprise and Inc. Magazine said could you write some articles for us - and the rest is history :)
What four or five things are always “routine” in your day?
Deleting email, sorting email, sending email, toggling tons of tabs in my browser, wishing I could do puppet shows for poor kids in Mexico, Dominican Republic or somewhere.
Why is small business technology news of interest to you in particular? What has it taught you?
Not sure. I’ve always been a tech tinkerer (as in take apart talking teddy bears in the 1970′s/80′s, shutting off the lights in my home, etc). I think this love of tech and the blend of my love of reading/writing became the love of small business technology news. It has taught me that things change, companies go and come but relationships are forever, ideas are a dime a dozen, successful execution is all that matters.
Over the years you have had the opportunity to interview some truly great public figures and influencers (such as Hillary Clinton). What has been your favorite interview thus far? Why?
A few things stand out… Back in the days when I didn’t know how to be a journalist I tried to slip Bill Gates a hand written note. His team saw it and took the note away. I didn’t know you were supposed to asked his PR person to interview him. This was many years ago. I opened an event for Michael Dell and he said he read my blog - that was cool. Scott Trip founder of TripIt - his story of his company’s growth was really nice (listen to customers). In another context I’ve meet President Obama, President Bush (both) and several other heads of state. I also really love SXSW and other events where I can meet with my media peers from the world of small business.
What tips do you have to help PR professionals better work with you?
True relationships are so important; where I like you and you like me. Not giving me a story that does not fit. Knowing that I love the story and the market at times more than the feeds and speeds of a product. I like talking to people, but I’m also a massive reader so I get much more (at times) out of some video, blog posts, pdfs and other things than a phone call with an executive running a prepared PPT. NOTE: the PPT talks are GOOD I just mean that there are other ways to get one’s message across.
What advice would you give to a small business to help them continue to compete with larger competitors this year?
Wow….I could write a book on that.
1) Be honest
2) Over give
3) Be very excited
4) Do not take NO for an answer
5) There is plenty of room at the table for the big guys and the little guys
6) Fit in where you can and show your value
7) Don’t be afraid of big companies - even those who are direct competitors
8) Big companies who are evaluating you and a bigger one of your competitors will give you a big chance if you’re prepared
9) If you screw up, fess up and OVER make it right
10) I could go on…
You traveled a lot as executive producer of the Small Business Technology Tour and for other events you attended in 2011. What travel secrets save you time, money or sanity when you are on the road?
Plan in advance. Be redundant (I often have 2 notebooks, a tablet and 2 phones) failure is NOT an option. Leverage your network of friends. Pay people (even friends/or “child labor”) for work done (even if you ask for a discount). Review, review, review. Get a team member (I have lots of areas where I’m not so great - hence my team shine in those areas), have a virtual team - even if you are solo, your virtual 1099 team can do wonders.
How do you unwind after a hectic work week? Do you have any interesting hobbies or little known facts about yourself you would like to share?
I play piano, love doing puppet shows, love joking around and laughing loud, love great food at restaurants (I hate those restaurants that give you a big white plate and a tiny piece of food and charge you $78 for it), watching movies (Bourne, Bauer, Ethan (as in MI3) are my heroes and others like that). But really in my downtime - I TOTALLY ENJOY email, RSS feeds, Twitter - related to small biz tech (I know it’s lame but I really, really LOVE IT).
What are you most looking forward to in 2012?
I’d love to speak lots more to audiences on tech, marketing/pr and/or entrepreneurship. I’d love to provide more content on my own site and for others. I’d love to speak lots more to audiences on tech, marketing/pr and/or entrepreneurship (you know I think I wrote that twice..hmmm). Event production is tough, but I really love it and I think I do it well so working with bigger companies to produce events for their audiences would be like mint!
I’m looking forward to being 40 years old in 2012!
Do you have any follow-up questions for Ramon? Suggestions for other influencers you would like to see interviewed in the PerkettPR Influencers Who Inspire Series? Please add them in the comments below.