Jeff Barrett is a man with a whole lot of friends. 272,230 (and counting) in fact. Let’s ask him how he got to be so damn popular, so damn quickly.
#1. So, what’s your favourite word?
Fuck. You were probably expecting me to say something like hustle or innovation weren’t you? I love the flexibility of the word, I love finding new uses for it like a chef experiments with new dishes.
#2. Oui, Chef! What gets you up in the morning?
A constant desire to move the ball forward. I don’t need to create success overnight. That’s impossible. But I’m charged up every morning to make moves that will put me and my firm in a better position than the day before. Also, coffee. All of the coffee.
#3. What do you truly, honestly think of social media?
I love it for its potential to bring people together, make the world feel smaller, give us more knowledge, create real change, give people a voice. But – it’s just a tool. People decide what it does and how it functions. It clearly can be used for great information or disinformation. That’s something we’re struggling with in America right now when our President uses it to tell us the sky is red and the world is flat and hopes we won’t notice.
#4. Which reminds us. We’re still holding USA’s drink. Kindles or books?
Books. Does that show my age? I read 90% on my phone but if I want to sit down and read long-form content, a book still feels sexy and more like an experience.
#5. Trust us Sonny Jim, you’ve got youth on your side. What do you think is the biggest challenge to your industry right now?
In PR, there are a few. Fake news is the obvious one because if trust in the press erodes so does the business potential of securing that press for a client. I think a bigger challenge is finding a better way to connect all the mid-tier influencers out there on social media with brands. There is unlimited, untapped potential for brands to create stronger bonds with customers through micro-influencers. And it would be way more cost-effective to shift their marketing model toward third-party recommendations. All the data is there. Now it’s just about creating the right tools to quickly identify and leverage this influence.
#6. Agreed. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An architect. I liked building things. I still do. I just build companies rather than buildings.
#7. Middle name Bob by any chance? What led you to your current career?
Chance, luck and a little foresight. I knew six years ago that building a large social network would be vital. I stumbled into my first few media contacts and from there realized that there was a market for combining social media and public relations in a no-nonsense way that was highly transparent. I identified that my target clients were mid-level companies and start-ups looking for national media attention. From there it’s been a lot of fine-tuning but the core has remained.
#8. Can you use your favourite word in a sentence?
“Oh my fuck,” he screamed as he realized there was no peanut butter left and he had already put jelly on one piece of bread.
#9. Now can you make it rhyme?
Oh my fuck, well I guess that’s my luck.
#10. No point crying over plain bread. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get started sooner, travel more, your life is a collection of memories (both good and bad), not things.
#11. What’s the best thing anyone’s ever done for you?
My fiancé Sarah pushes me every day, we renovated a beautiful 1927 house together. That’s not easy. We didn’t have a kitchen for three months and did dishes in the sink but it’s so worth it in the end. There’s a metaphor for marriage and life in there somewhere.
#12. There is indeed. Tell us, what’s been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
Probably my Shorty Award in 2015. Validation. It’s very easy to wake up one day and say you’re a social media expert. And by no means am I discouraging anyone from doing so or trying. But it’s an entirely different and far more difficult task to be recognized nationally and internationally by your peers.
#13. True dat. So when you did win that big award, who did you thank?
When I received the Shorty Award, I thanked my mom. She home-schooled me and poured her heart and soul into making me who I am – giving me the encouragement and freedom to pursue very large and terrifying dreams.
#14. Mrs Barrett, we salute you. Can you give us a timesaver of the day?
Write down your goals for the day when you start. Not what you need to do, that’s different. Write down you want to achieve and use that as your compass the entire day. My worst problem is focus. I want to tackle everything all at one and this helps keep me centred.
#15. Where do you see your industry in 24 months?
Fully ditching press releases, creating a new system based more on relationships and shared value rather than trying to come up with a perfect story that somehow catches the eye of a producer or writer. That seems flawed and inefficient with the technology we now possess. I haven’t used a press release in years and we’re doing better than ever.
#16. Betamax and VHS springs to mind here. Where were you 24 months ago?
On my phone, somewhere, not watching where I’m going. Nowhere near where I am today. I had recognition, I had clients but I hadn’t fully found my voice yet. I have it now.
#17. What’s an interesting fact about your company?
We have never hired an employee. It’s just a collection of seasoned professionals all over the world that join to provide value for clients. It’s fun to be nimble and build a unique team around each client so they get the best possible results. It makes so much sense once you see it in action that you wonder why hasn’t everyone done this all of the time.
#18. If you could have a 24-minute Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I always love that as a hypothetical question because there are so many people in history I would be interested in learning from. Steve Jobs. Cliche, I know. But he seemed to always know where the world is heading. Elon Musk is perhaps today’s version. People that think beyond what is currently possible and see the world five moves ahead fascinate me. I like to think I am capable of that sometimes in my field but not at their level.
#19. What’s one word you’d want people to describe you with?
Caring. I want people to know, every time I’m talking to them, that their words matter and that they matter. Every conversation in life is important. The conversation you are currently having is always the most important in your life. You never know where it will lead.
#20. No wonder you’ve got so many mates. Would you mind taking a selfie for us?
Not at all. But this seems like a terrible medium for it. How do you take a selfie in Word? Where is that talking paperclip when I need him?
#21. He’s counting his Betamax. What’s your favourite Twitter handle or social media campaign?
@chrissyteigen – of all the people I know she enjoys life the most.
#22. Our kind of gal. What’s one quote that defines your work ethic?
Work smarter, not harder. Waking up at 4 a.m. doesn’t make you successful. It’s what you do when you start your day that does.
#23. Again, true. What’s been the best part of your day?
When I put my phone away and focus on my family. Right now our daughter is teaching me how to be less awful at the hula hoop. I have no hip shake. I dance like Drake. It’s a problem. But I have my best people working on it.
#24. Just give us a call on the cell phone. We’ll help. Even if it’s late at night. Finally, anything to plug?