Chris Brogan Future of Work Interview

Chris Brogan is President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency, as well as the home of the New Marketing Summit conferences and New Marketing Bootcamp educational events. He works with large and mid-sized companies to improve online business communications like marketing and PR through the use of social software, community platforms, and other emerging web and mobile technologies.

Chris is a ten year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations and individuals. Most of you will know him from his blog at or his his almost constant Twitterstream.

As a digital nomad that’s always on the go, Chris and his company definitely operate outside of many of the restraints posed on traditional business frameworks.

Here’s Chris’ take on the future of work.


1. Explain what your new business venture, New Marketing Labs, does.

Chris Brogan: My company, New Marketing Labs, LLC, is a sister organization to CrossTech Media, and we do education and execution in the online marketing and social media space. We run conferences, bootcamps, and executive briefings on the one hand, and we work directly with clients to fulfill business communications strategy execution on the other.

2. How many people make up the team at New Marketing Labs? And how do you communicate and collaborate together? What tools do you use?

CB: There are 3 direct employees at New Marketing Labs. We use CrossTech Media’s backoffice support team for billing, legal, and event operations, and we have a trusted network of social media agents who can do some work as needed.

For collaboration, we use Twitter more than any other tool. It’s fast. It’s simple. It’s multi-modal (we can use it on a desk or a phone or anyone’s browser). We use cell phones instead of desktops. We don’t have a central “base” platform yet, but we haven’t needed it. Well, I take that back. We use for our sales funnel. That’s proving to be really useful.

3. How have the rules of collaboration changed for businesses?

CB: Collaboration requires mobile technology these days. Every tool we use has a mobile element. We’re using iPhones because we can use the location-based applications ,the simple interface, and the ability to work wherever to our advantage. We are atomized in our ability to gather, disperse, and re-form wherever we’re needed.

4. What affect, if any, do you see the rise of social media and social networks having on the future of work?

CB: Social tools are the ultimate in capturing unstructured human data. As a reformed project manager, tools like Microsoft Project just aren’t the human equivalent to how we communicate around business projects. We need different forms. Social platforms give us MANY modes of communication. We’re learning how to integrate those to enterprise platforms internally, and how to use them professionally externally. It’s how business is done in the coming years.

5. Do you think social media could be a bridge that leads more companies to operate virtually?

CB: Absolutely. With everyone in 2009 being extremely price conscious, I can trade a $39/month EVDO card from Verizon plus a $130/mo phone bill from AT&T for an iPhone for a $6500/cubicle expense. I don’t need an office. When you think about it, what business ever really gets done in an office? People need workspaces that fit their needs, but the form they take shouldn’t be relegated by tradition. There are opportunities abound with the new tools for presence.

6. How do you see methods of working like coworking, crowdsourcing and telecommuting impacting the way that organizations operate?

CB: I think co-working is interesting. It seems more suited for people who might want more collaboration. When I work in my coffeeshops, I want the opposite of collaboration. I need a place to put my face down and not be interrupted. I see co-working as having the potential to recreate the “office meerkat” environment, with lots of loose conversations. Again, in a creative and interactive setting? Perfect.

Crowdsourcing will work for lots of future projects. We use it all the time via Twitter. I ask Twitter for most everything these days. It’s a lot more responsive than Google. Telecommuting is an old term. Web commuting might be the new name, yes?

7. Can corporate giants exist in a world where coworking is the the norm?

CB: Size is a mixed bag. It means you have lots more time to die. It means you have more resources to bring to bear on specific points. But at the same time, let’s look at the US Armed Forces. Shortly into our engagement in Afghanistan, we realized that building more and more aircraft carriers, tanks, and missiles wasn’t really going to cut it. Look at today’s engagements: small forces, small arms, small vehicles. It’s a lot more tricky to have a big impact, but then, the targets are diffusing.

I think this is similar to the business environment.

8. Are physical face-to-face meetings still necessary? Will they be in the future?

CB: Yes, they are. I think what happens is like this:  60 /30 / 10.  The first sixty percent of work can be done online. The next 30 percent should be in person and should cement relationships, and build on what’s come before. The last 10 is the wrap-up. That’s how we like to operate.

9. What are the skills and education of the future marketer?

CB: Information arbitrage. Content packaging. Communications management. And curation.

10. In terms of the future, what are you most excited about? What do you see as the biggest threat?

CB: I’m excited about the opportunity for more interactions to come back to the cafe-shaped scale. That means that I’m looking forward to a return to people knowing each other’s names, and I’m eager to see what happens when business gets back into conversations instead of pat answers, cold advertising, and endless remixes of the old stuff.



Future of Work Interview Series BadgeThis post is part of the Future of Work interview series, discussing the future of work with leading experts from some of the world’s most progressive marketing, advertising and strategy organizations.