Todd Defren is a founder and principal of the technology public relations firm, Shift Communications . He's widely known as the creator of the Social Media Press release and author of the blog PR Squared .
Device You Would Never Give Up?
I am sure the typical answer would be "my iPhone." In my case that's problematic, since I do not own one. Instead, the device I cannot live without is my cellular USB dongle. Instead of paying Boingo and T-Mobile/Starbucks or the hotel du jour, I now surf at broadband speeds wherever there's a cell connection: I've broken the wifi barrier.
Your Favorite Software Application ?
I am a slave to Microsoft Office.
Blog You Read Most Frequently ?
I read Seth Godin's blog for business inspiration; Chris Brogan for idea generation; and day-in, day-out, I read numerous PR and Marketing blogs (Shel Holtz, Brian Solis, Kami Huyse, Geoff Livingston, et al.).
Social Media Tool You Actually Use?
Google Reader. I access it on my laptop first thing in the morning, check-in throughout the day, and on the go via my PDA.
Favorite Business Book(s) ?
Good to Great still holds a place of honor on the shelf. I am a big believer in "getting the right people on the (proverbial) bus" and "turning the flywheel." If you've read the book, you're already nodding your approval.
Favorite Newspaper(s) ?
NYTimes. I am an unrepentant bi-coastal liberal.
Person That Inspires You?
George Washington. While he had the ambition to want the job, he also realized that beating the world's most formidable army with a band of ragtag volunteers was a foolish dream. But, he prevailed. And then, most importantly, after 8 years in office - despite pleas to stay on in a quasi-royal role - Washington simply retired to his farm: a modern-day Cincinnatus. Bravery - honor - humility.
Who Was Your Best Manager? Why?
My worst and best managers came one after the other. My worst manager barely trusted me to handle the job, yet rarely gave me any direction about how to improve. Ironically, figuring out how to excel despite his mangled management style was great preparation for my next job, under my best manager: he trusted me implicitly; he arguably gave me more freedom than I'd earned and was always ready to offer patient, experienced advice when I asked for it.
Your First "Real" Job?
Writing obits and events calendars for $8/hour at a small daily newspaper in Connecticut.
Where Do You Do Your Best Thinking?
In the car - in the shower - anywhere where it's near-impossible to write it down!
What Do You Most Value In Employees/Colleagues?
Humor, loyalty, eagerness and patience. If someone has a "dark cloud" over their head, it brings the entire office down.
What Would You Like to Be The World's Best at?
I'd like to be the best eagle hunter in Mongolia: these nomadic hunters can ride across the steppes at a full gallop with a golden eagle perched on their arm, ready to strike out for the day's dinner. This requires preternatural balance, concentration, and a hard-won symbiosis between man, horse and bird. (When you spend years in front of a computer screen, you tend to fantasize about being great at tasks that are both far simpler and yet far tougher than pruning RSS feeds.)