I first met Scott Monty about 5 years ago in our Digital Influence Group offices for the Second Annual Social Media Breakfast (and yes, I do believe he was wearing a bow tie). At the time, Facebook was second to MySpace, Twitter didn’t exist and the term “Social Business” was probably more of a negative than the future organizational model. If you know Scott, than you can certainly understand how 5 years later, I still remember that Social Media Breakfast.
Scott was one of the more vocal members of the audience. He was inquisitive and comfortable sharing his opinions and thoughts about the future of media and advertising in a room filled with impressionable minds and veteran media mogul, Larry Weber, Digital Influence Group’s Founder and Chairman. A trait that has served him well as he’s grown into one of the more recognizable leaders in the social space.
Fast Forward 5 years. Scott is a fixture of the Ford brand and working to expand the way consumers view the automobile. He and his team are responsible for some of the best social media case studies (that appear in almost every book about the industry), but if you ask Scott, he’ll let you know that “we’re just getting started.”
I had the opportunity to reconnect with Scott a few weeks ago and touch base on what’s happening in his world. Since then, I’ve seen at least 3 different blog posts titled, “An Interview with Scott Monty.” These posts focused on the work that Scott and his team are doing and how they have embraced “the spirit of innovation” and are changing the perception of Ford from only a car company to an automobile and technology company.
The details include:
- More “Ford Hackathon’s” are coming to help connect the dots between your vehicle and technology. Spotify integration was only the first step, but the opportunities are limitless. The “Social Car” is indeed coming.
- Working with Google to create a driverless car
- Creating a deeper sense of community among Ford owners and embracing Ford owners in their first year of ownership
- Connecting social sites to vehicle owner sites to ensure that Ford customers have the information they need to keep their car on the road and maximize performance. After all, a car is one of the largest purchases people make. Engaging with them through the life cycle of ownership in authentic, non-disruptive ways creates true relationships.
The list certainly goes on and on and on.
Instead of focusing on all of the details of what Ford is doing, I thought I would share in this post the one thing that stood out for me most during the conversation. It’s pretty clear that Ford is doing amazing things (and as a Ford owner, I can attest to that), but the part of the conversation that stands out to me was Scott’s genuine gratitude for the opportunity he has been given.
During our conversation, I relayed to Scott my initial reaction to him taking the job at Ford. It was the beginning of a messy few years for the US auto industry and I thought he must have been out of his mind to uproot his life in Boston to take a gamble on a position in a struggling industry. It seemed like a massive risk and according to Scott, his close friends had the same sentiment. They questioned the decision and encouraged him to look at other brands. His response:
“I wanted to be part of a comeback story.”
It’s easy to settle into a thriving brand with a massive audience of evangelists, but to usher a brand through chaos and emerge as a resilient, generous brand is a challenge with substantial rewards. Everyone loves an under dog and to be a part of a comeback story. Now, Ford is #3 in a recent list of the most recognized brands. The product has improved exponentially and is often rated higher than Toyota and other foreign competitors by Consumer Reports. By all accounts, Scott made a brilliant decision at exactly the right time. Essentially, he caught lightening in a bottle.
But, don’t for one second think he takes it for granted. Three years later, Scott is still looking at a mile long list of things to do and opportunities. He is effusive in his appreciation for the opportunity he’s been given to be a part of something special. A rare comeback story during a time when so many consumers are watching companies fall to corruption and mis-management.
The desire to be a part of something and the appreciation for the journey is something early social media evangelists and adopters should be familiar with. While many of us may never reach the recognition Mr. Monty has, it’s important to remember the journey, understand where things could have gone and appreciate the road we’ve chosen to take.
It’s that appreciation and drive the compels us to make time for others, even if it’s just a 15 minute phone call. It inspires us to share authentic blog posts about our next endeavor or reveal just a little bit more about what makes us tick. I see this trait in so many of the thought leaders who inspire me every day (Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, CC Chapman, etc.). A realization that the collective is more powerful than the individual. That our work is never done. And that our work is only a small part of who we are and what’s important.
For all of you, I hope you embrace the drive everyday and are transparent with your gratitude. For some, that can be more valuable and impressive than the work you do, day in and day out.