Thubten grew up in Malibu, California in the 1970s surrounded by celebrities. His classmates included Charlie Sheen, Chris Penn, Rob Lowe, Dean Cain, Robert Downy, Jr., Holly Robinson Peete and Griffin O’Neal. He once wanted to become a movie star, just as his classmates were, but eventually decided to leave LA “at the top of his career,” following his appearance in a scene with Ken Olin on the TV show Thirty Something in May of 1990. Thubten knew that Silicon Valley held the keys to his future.
After arriving in the promised land, Thubten worked in marketing at Apple Computer and later at Mac World Magazine. After catching the internet wave in 1995 Thubten supported Macintosh users for Netcom (an early ISP), then moved on to serve as a postmaster for AOL. In 1998 Thubten founded a network engineering firm in San Jose, Samaya Inc., and after securing a contract with the Thai government, opened an office in Bangkok.
Following a disagreement with the board, Thubten left Samaya, and California, swearing off technology, (at least for a while). In 2000, Thubten founded Denver-based White Hat Technologies, a network security firm, which garnered a great deal of industry attention. White Hat made it onto the cover of Computer World two years in a row (2001 & 2002). Thubten realized that what he loved about being an entrepreneur, (he’s been starting businesses since he was in elementary school), was the marketing, communicating the value of the product or service so that the sale virtually makes itself. Armed with this realization he ventured into the world of consulting. To build his consulting business he began to explore online methods that would leverage his efforts. One of the early adopters on LinkedIn, Thubten began to attract attention as a super-networker. His direct connections on LinkedIn have reached nearly 20,000, and he has remained in the top 100 best-connected people for several years. Thubten also caught the Twitter wave early, learning everything there was to know about how the new micro-blogging service could best be used to reach out to others. Thubten has continued to demonstrate his mastery of Twitter as he approaches 60,000 followers.
Thubten moved to Oregon last summer and has been enjoying getting settled into Southeast Portland. Since moving to Oregon Thubten has continued his work with entrepreneurs, mentoring them in entrepreneurship and social media, and assisting them with bootstrapping their companies and with attracting investment capital. Thubten is active with the Angel Capital Summit as well as Startup Weekend. In addition to managing his own social media consultancy, Thubten serves as CMO for two social media startup companies, Business 3.0 and CluePad. As if there were any spare moments in his week, Thubten Comerford enjoys the local Portland cafe culture, as well as the raw/vegan food scene. He writes for his own blogs, and is presently putting together a blog focused on Portland startups. Find his profile on LinkedIn.
What are you working on right now?
I’m building my social media consultancy, Social Potency, which has been my full-time “job” since moving to Portland. I’ve also been contributing my social media and marketing expertise to two technology startup companies, Business 3.0 and CluePad. Keeping up with my blogging can be a challenge, too, but I love it. I have two Meetup groups in Portland, one for entrepreneurs called Startup Founders, and a Twitter group called PDX TUG (Portland Twitter Users Group). I also volunteer as a facilitator and mentor for @StartupWeekend events around the country.
3 Trends that excite you?
1) People are starting to understand the power of social media, of authentic communication,
2) The trend toward entrepreneurial business continues to grow,
3) Portland gets weirder by the day. 😉
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am someone who can’t let a good idea just sit around. If I hear a good idea, my mind takes it to the nth degree in every possible direction. I do the same with my own ideas. I share the ideas with others over coffee, skype, email, etc. until they land with people who can and will run with them.
What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?
I once took a consulting client who was not a close fit for my skill set because I felt for the client’s situation and wanted to be helpful. Although I explained at the outset that the project was not my forte, the client expected perfection, and ended up becoming a nightmare, and now former client. The lesson that I learned is that regardless of how much you want to help, if the project is not a fit, don’t take the job.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I give this business model away all the time: take something that you love to do; create a DVD that shows others how to do it; market the DVD on a blog site. I once met someone at a networking event who was a house painter. It was winter, and he was not painting any houses at the time. He asked me what I would suggest for him to do to make some money in his off season. I suggested this exact model, as it would provide income throughout the year, and it wouldn’t cost him much to shoot the video and produce and mail the DVDs. He no longer has to paint houses for a living. 🙂
What’s most important to remember when marketing through social media?
1) Be yourself,
2) Update often,
3) Provide value, up front, for free,
4) Build an audience,
5) Communicate WITH (not at) your audience,
6) Entice them to engage you on and through your blog/web site.
What’s the most important aspect of your life?
What’s most important to me is that I make a positive difference in the world, that the profits from any of my business endeavors go to heal the sick, feed the hungry, house the homeless, and make the world a better place for all of us to live. Continuing to give that idea away brings about a world that works for everyone, with no one left out, sooner and sooner every time it’s shared.
Thubten Comerford on Linked In
Thubten Comerford on Twitter