Vote: Is Blogging a Good Use of My Time?

One of my dear friends called today to report that some people at Thomas Nelson are skeptical about my blogging. He said they are wondering if this is a good use of the my time. “How can the CEO possibly be doing his job and writing a daily blog. It’s impossible!”

Blogging

Well, maybe not. I guess I am a little naive about this. Honestly, it never crossed my mind. As the CEO, I think that communication is one of my primary responsibilities. My job is to cast vision, shape our culture, and mentor those under me. Blogging is simply a means to an end.

However, I like blogging because it gives me direct, unfiltered access to my colleagues. It also provides a way for me to hear directly from all of our employees. It essentially “flattens” the organization and puts us all on an equal footing.

The truth is that I spend no more than about forty-five minutes a day writing. Maybe this sounds impossible, but I assure you it’s not. You have to remember that I have written four books. I wrote each of them while maintaining a regular day job. Over the years, I have learned to write fast.

And, I do it on my own time. Usually, I write late at night or early in the morning. I usually don’t write every day. I tend to write several posts at a time and then “bank” them for posting later.

(By the way, if you subscribe to the e-mail version of my blog, you may have noticed that the e-mails you receive from me are time-stamped in the middle of the night. These are actually sent out from Feedblitz, an automated service for bloggers. It sends them out in the middle of the night when I am fast asleep.)

When I began writing, I was very slow. I poured over every sentence. Giving birth to ideas was a huge effort. Not so much any more. I don’t self-edit as much. I just get an idea and start writing.

The truth is that everyone is an expert. Yes, even you. There are certain things that you know that others don’t. These are things you take for granted, but someone else would love to know. You could probably write about them without a lot of effort.

Just like I am doing. I am simply sharing what I know. I don’t have to do a lot of research. I just write what’s already in my head. And I can do it in less than an hour a day. Personally, I think it’s a pretty good investment of my time.

But what do you think? You can vote below. (If you are receiving this blog post via e-mail, you will have to actually visit my blog. Just click on the link at the top of the e-mail message.)

If you agree, why do you think it’s a good investment? If you don’t agree, why do you think it’s a bad investment? Use the comments section to tell me.


The CEO’s Blog

Is blogging a good use of the CEO’s time?

Absolutely. Keep it up!
No way. You’ve got better things to do.
I’m not sure. It’s probably too early to tell.

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  • pritchett4

    I find your thoughts very helpful for me as I try to oversee church ministry. Also, FWIW, it has made me much more aware of Thomas Nelson — so it is good, “free” publicity!

  • http://www.twduff.com Thomas “Duffbert” Duff

    Without question, keep it up. You’ve experienced the improvement in writing that blogging can add (I’ve seen that too in my writing). For we, the readers, we get an inside look into executive life and what’s important to an effective CEO. We also get that from a Christian perspective, which is unfortunately not very common in today’s world.

  • Ian

    Poll’s pretty skewed since I’m sure most of your readers enjoy your content. Since the question is whether this benefits you, I think it comes down to what you get out of it.

    I hear a lot about how blogs are great PR and flattens communication. As with all the web stuff, I’m an optimistic skeptic. I want to believe, but I’d like to see numbers. If your central purpose for blogging is really as a communication tool, then you don’t need to ask us. Conduct a traditional survey and see if it’s effective.

    But I think that you’re blogging a least partially because you enjoy it. In that case, who cares how useful it is as long as you’re doing it on personal time and you continue to enjoy it?

  • http://zanesmilkmachine.blogspot.com Michelle Pendergrass

    I should apologize, when I first starting reading your blog I didn’t know what to expect therefore my mind created some judgments that probably weren’t very kind. I did think your blog would be flat and boring. Most upper level executives wouldn’t take the time to reach out to anyone. I have always been disgusted with that kind of attitude.

    I’ve been surprised by your blog and enjoy it. I’m a homeschooling mom so sometimes some of the content isn’t suited for me, but because I’m writing and because I’m raising a son, I like the content here.

    My apologies for stereotyping you and kudos on the blog. I’d be disappointed if you stopped blogging.

  • http://luke.gedeon.name Luke Gedeon

    I have found that a large portion of corporate America does not understand the function of the CEO or leaders in general. Unfortunately, even some people in leadership positions are not aware of what it is that they should be doing. But lack of knowledge seldom prevents someone from criticizing. Actually, lack of understanding seems to increase the likelihood and the volume of criticism.
    Part of the job of a leader is to increase understanding. It is more than telling them what to do or how to do it. It is helping them see why. It is easy to assume that everyone already has the same level of experience and just gets it. They do not. Leadership is not easy. You have to take people with very diverse backgrounds and skills and get them all to walk in the same direction.
    Leadership is influence. Influence can only be applied through communication. Blogging is a form of communication. Therefore blogging is a form of leadership. As a leader, blogging cannot keep you from your job. It is part of it.
    The great leaders of the past spent a good bit of their time rallying the troops. Before the age of corporations if you asked what does a leader do? The answer would be, “They speak.” They encourage people to believe that they can do things that they did not think were possible. They encourage people to dream and to do more than they would otherwise do. They also bring people together for a common cause. They do this through communication.
    As a leader you never have to ask, “Should I talk?” But you may have to ask, “Am I talking about the right things to the right people?” As a blogger you have a much different audience than in a board room or a company meeting. Blogging reaches an audience that needs to be reached. You just have to make sure that what you are saying is the right message for the primary audience you are reaching.

  • Regular Visitor

    I see more than a few of your employees responding to questions and engaging you in discussion about things like marketing, values, culture, etc.

    Not sure how much of that you’d get in a different corporate setting, some of which tend to be very hierarchical.

    Seems to me this blog serves a couple of purposes:

    1) Flattens communication – always a good thing, and as such promotes a more “team” environment where everyone is on the same page (no pun intended) as relates to company vision, values and culture

    2) Great marketing – I’m not a reader of Christian literature, although I profess the faith. You’ve broadened my horizons to a different genre of literature that has spiritual as well as literary value.

    3) “Writing it out” is sometimes the easiest and most effective way to really hash out strategy, vision, and goals in a focused way…it’s hard to do this mentally with distrations, phone, email, etc. Blogging probably “forces” you to think through these concepts as you finish the post, rather than allowing yourself to be interrupted by whatever thought or email comes through.

    Besides, you’re the boss….so YOU make the decisions about what to do with your time – HA!!

  • Marshall

    I would say that not only is it an efficient use of your time, but a excellent way of demonstrating your (TN) stated purpose! You are definitely inspiring me.

    MH

    …”At Thomas Nelson, we believe that we exist to inspire the world. We believe that the world desperately needs inspiration—the right kind of inspiration—and that we are a conduit for change.

    To make this personal and memorable, we have reduced this to a slogan: “We inspire the world.” Here’s how we understand each phrase of this statement.” …

  • Scott Winter

    Interesting. Never once have I thought that your blogging was distracting you from your duties as a CEO. I have certainly been amazed (and insanely jealous!) at the fact that you get it all done, but I haven’t questioned your time management.

    Further, I have to come to “expect” blog posts, and as you alluded to, I now see it as part of your duties as CEO. As a matter of fact, I believe your blog posts are the embodiment of the very culture you proposed before:

    • Collegial
    • Transparent
    • Safe for Dissent
    • Collaborative

    In other words you are modeling the culture you want the company to have. In my opinion, that is something that should definitely be encouraged.

  • Kathleen Crow

    Anyone who might feel that you spend too much time blogging, obviously doesn’t know you very well, Mike. As a former assistant of yours, I know how busy and productive you are each and every day. You accomplish more in one day than a lot of people do in a week. What you do accomplish and write is always so interesting and worthy of reading. So from one achiever to another, I say…keep on blogging.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/PeteNikolai Pete Nikolai

    I appreciate hearing from you on a regular basis. While I would prefer that these messages were sent to every Nelson employee via email so that your readership in house would increase, I am optimistic that a high percentage of our co-workers will become readers eventually. I get impatient with low adoption rates, but there may even be hope for better utilization of collaboration systems like SharePoint eventually… Now if we could just get all these blogs hosted on our site so that search engines would rank it higher!

  • http://asianchocolate.typepad.com Laura

    Hi Mike,

    I voted to keep the blog because I love reading it! I want to be the best that God wants me to be, which means striving for excellence in all areas of my life: spritual, emotional, mental, relational, financial, etc. From what I’ve seen, you are an example of someone who is successful and continually seeks excellence. Plus you’re willing to share your secrets and what has helped to get you where you are. I’ve put several of your suggestions into use and am usually inspired when I read your blog. I can’t imagine that I’m the only one.

    A former TNI emloyee, Laura

  • http://www.wmarkwhitlock.com W. Mark Whitlock

    As I’ve said to you in private, thank you for mentoring me for ten minutes every day. I know I can’t have access to you very often or for long periods of time. By blogging, I see you, hear you, and feel your passion for things big and small. You’ve invited us into decision making through your polls and united us with something to talk about everyday. Please don’t stop.

  • Joe

    Hi, I have only started reading this blog a couple of days ago, when I stumbled upon it somehow. I was very surprised to see that it was the blog of the CEO of a company.

    It was surprising because most CEO’s seem like a far away, cold, and throughtless entity that only rakes in money and does nothing of value. To read your posts, it has given me hope that there are at least a few CEO’s out there with a good heart and a kind spirit.

    Keep on blogging and thanks for the posts!

  • http://www.thestrongword.com Anita K. Palmer

    Mr. Hyatt: As a freelance editor in the business I regularly read the blog to “pick your brain” about leadership/trends in publishing. I had assumed you hired an underling to ghost your ideas, so am further pleased at the transparency. Don’t stop.

  • Chris

    “It also provides a way for me to hear directly from all of our employees. It essentially “flattens” the organization and puts us all on an equal footing.”

    First off, I enjoy your blog. It provides interesting and often advance insight to what’s going on inside Thomas Nelson. But isn’t it a little naive to believe the quote above? You get to use the shortcomings of employees to provide helpful hints on how to make presentations, how to run a meeting, how not to quit your job, and there’s so many of them that except in the rare instance where everybody knows who you’re talking about and that’s OK, nobody knows. Which of your reports would honestly feel free to blog about how to be a better boss based on the shortcomings of their present one?

    Also, I’m guessing the response to your question has been overwhelmingly positive from TN employees? I guess the ones that don’t think it’s a good use can remain silent, but will they honestly tell you, “yeah, thanks for asking, I was thinking it was a total waste of time…”

    I know you intend to receive honest and “equal” feedback, and that’s one of the things that makes you a charismatic and successful leader. But do you honestly expect to get such honest and equal feedback in such a public forum?

  • http://www.studiosmith.blogspot.com Barry A. Smith

    In my humble opinion, the transparency “From Where I Sit” affords is invaluable to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a corporate CEO’s time and perspective. That includes normal schmoes like myself in addition to Nelson employees–both of which are afforded a rare opportunity to glean experience and perspective from someone who’s responsible for so much, and so many. From a pure dollar and sense perspective, and since ironically Michael is a bean counter (in part) by nature of his position, I find it a particularly important statement is made by how he places such a premium on keeping his blog current. He is a busy executive and is by no means required to do so, yet he intentionally gives of himself from a a unique view “From Where He Sits.” In case people aren’t aware, especially those working under Michael’s leadership at Nelson, this is not common place in the publishing industry, Christian or general market.

    All that said, I wonder just how much “value” one could place on the equivalent amount of successful PR, corporate communications, hand holding time, and the like, to equal the amount of reach, influence, leadership, discussion and all the other value I believe this blog brings to the bottom line. I myself am learning a great deal from Michael, and trust others are as well. Or so it appears from the current poll results.

    Thanks for your time.

  • http://www.twduff.com Thomas “Duffbert” Duff

    @3: Ian, if you wonder how effective blogs are for flattening communication, I would encourage you to head over to Ed Brill’s blog at http://www.edbrill.com. He’s the worldwide sales manager for IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, and he uses his blog to interact with thousands of readers each day. The ability to “talk” with an influential person in charge, and to have your input considered is a powerful thing, and it happens there all the time.

    I just came back from a conference down in Orlando, where we had a “birds of a feather” session on the Domino blogging community. There are a number of stories of people getting job offers based on their blogs being followed by recruiters. My personal blog has opened up a number of speaking and writing opportunities that I would have never imagined four years ago when I first started.

    I don’t think you’ll ever see “numbers” on how effective blogging is. But the anecdotal material shows that for those who take it seriously (and have something to say), it’s an incredibly powerful tool.

  • http://www.genuinecuriosity.com/genuinecuriosity/2007/02/is_blogging_a_w.html Genuine Curiosity

    Is blogging a waste of time?

    Michael Hyatt says that some people question whether his blogging is a good use of his time. After all, he’s the CEO of a huge publishing company and he blogs on a corporate blog every day. He doesn’t think it’s

  • http://www.mills.ca Greg

    Wow, I am not going to even try to be fair to those few who think you are wasting your time.

    Those who think your time blogging is wasting your time are probably accountants or lawyers and should have their head examined.

    I have said in comments before that I am not in your industry and I have no idea what difficulties your business is faced with. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. If your orgnanization is in a mode of trouble or growth, than communication is key. Too often the middle management layer confuses the messages from leadership – a blog is a great way to get around that.

    I would hope that everyone in your organization would read your blog as the first thing they do.

    To send the message home, Communication is easy when trust is high. A means to obtaining trust is to make yourself vulnerable at key moments to show your commitment.

    On the side of negativity, responding to negative feedback about what you are spending your time on sounds like you are walking into a trap laid by staffers, board members, vendors, or whomever they are. While I understand why you want to keep the communication open, would it not be better to say, look, this is what I do, you don’t like it? Too bad. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    I have a saying “You can’t compete with stupidity.” Doesn’t matter what you do, these negative types will always find something to chirp on. Better to purge them from your organization as they will never get it.

  • http://thecollegekid.wordpress.com theCollegeKid

    Worth the time for SURE! I read your blog, and I’m sure other college students do as well. I like it because it helps us collegekids learn some things that you have picked up along the way in life.

    As long as it’s not intruding on your other responsibilities, why not? I assume you enjoy it. Your readers enjoy it. And everyone benefits.

  • http://eirikso.com eirikso

    Here I am. At my desk in the small country of Norway. With good knowledge of Thomas Nelson Publishers. And an impression of a very cool company. Because of one simple reason: this blog.

    Keep it up!

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey – Liberty Dad

    Of course I think it’s great for you to blog:
    for you
    for your company
    for your company’s workers
    for your readers.

    Your recent meeting suggestions and power point presentation ideas are especially good.

    I would like more info on the critics: “doing his job AND blogging…”

    As an almost blog addict, it IS easy to do less because there are more blogs to read.
    ~’When all is read and done, a lot more is read, than done.’

    So far your blog is a LOT better than what Dell is doing, and even better than Guy Kawasaki (IMO). My own issue is this: should I be reading, and especially commenting, on somebody else’s blog, instead of making progress on my own?
    And if I’m not progressing, am I a loser?
    And if I’m a loser, and most commenters such as I are losers, should a ‘winner’ like a CEO spend time writing to me, or reading my comments?

    But I don’t see myself quite as a loser, despite certain disappointments about less accomplishment than desired / planned / expected.

    Finally, I’ve heard the comment about folks who read other folks’ blogs, and meet the other folks. The met people ‘talk like they blog’. If we met, I’d probably feel immediately like I already know you.
    This is likely to be a big advantage to you, in general. I sincerely hope so, and believe you are taking the actions to demonstrate that you deserve it.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. I am humbled—and grateful. Needless to say, I will keep blogging. How could I stop with this kind of encouragement? Bless you.

  • Clay

    Late to this post, but wanted to get my vote in. I’m not a TN employee, but I write and self-publish as part of a family-run ministry. I read your blog to get some passive mentoring in publishing issues, and in organizational leadership and skills. It’s pretty much me and my wife (and some part time help) running our little publishing effort of about 10 titles now, so I seek out any help I can find. There may be others, but I don’t know other Christian publishing CEOs who understand the power of a blog like you do. But it’s not just good for me. I’m an opinion leader to our mailing list of 20,000+ book buyers. I used to avoid TN books because it was just a big, impersonal book machine. Now TN is personal to me, and I think and communicate about it differently, and it’s only because I have this “personal” relationship with the CEO. Your blog is much more than just an employee communication line, or a PR project, or even a personal hobby. You are a digital mentor, and your efforts will have a viral effect you cannot even see through people like me. Keep blogging.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Clay,

    Thank you for your very kind words. Wow. This really helps understand the “ripple effect.”

    I would probably would have kept blogging regardless of the outcome of the vote, but this strengthens my resolve in ways I did not anticipate. Now I have a whole new set of reasons for keeping it up.

    Thank you for taking time to write!

    Mike

  • http://www.a-teamgroup.com James Willis

    I hope and pray you continue to blog. You have been such an inspiration to me personally–both in my professional life as a vp of marketing for a small publishing company, and as a Christian. I vote 1000 times YES! Keep blogging!

  • Anonymous

    If you blogged less you’d have time to check your own voicemail.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Ouch! As far as I know, I am caught up on voice mail. If I’ve dropped the ball, please call me back or send an e-mail. Thanks.

  • Mindy

    Dad: I definitely think you should keep blogging. I’m your own daughter, and even I like to read it. That says a lot! I think your blog helps people on the outside see that you are a real authentic person instead of the stereotype that people put on a CEO. I think it is a must-read for anyone in any kind of business. Even though I am a real estate agent, and that has nothing to do with publishing, there is still a plethora of information that is useful to me. Keep it up!

  • george

    The information you provide even if I have read or heard it in the past is very useful. You have put many of the ideas into daily situations. I share these with my wife who is in the insurance industry and we have discussed at least half of them. There are times when I believe I do certain things that lead to success but confirming whether it is actually true is another thing. Thanks for the time you take and the leads to further information if we want to take the time.

  • http://jeremythiessen.typepad.com Normal Rockstar

    Keep it up! I just posted a blog along the same lines, dealing with the question, “Why should I blog?” Questioning the way we spend our time is always a good exercise; it helps us constantly evaluate whether the priorities we SAY we have – God, family, work – line up with the way we live our lives. Great thought provoking post!

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    Michael, I found your blog at a time when I was trying to figure out where I wanted my career to go. I was looking for information on setting goals and managing time and I found a post on your other blog about Franklin Covey and GTD. Although the blog is somehow impersonal, I was truly impressed that a President and CEO would take the time to share advice and tips through a blog with someone like me. By all means, please keep it up. It’s not always easy, particularly early in a career, to find good mentors and I haven’t really found any who can help lead me in the direction that I hope to go. I hope you keep it up.

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