Impactiviti interviews Steve Woodruff, President and Founder of…Impactiviti. Steve consults with pharmaceutical clients on training, marketing, and communications initiatives, with a particular focus on strategic planning, project definition, and vendor recommendations.
Previously, Steve held Sales/Marketing/Business development positions with Pedagogue Solutions, and with a medical device company in the radiation medicine field. Steve actively blogs at the Impactiviti blog (pharma), and his blog called StickyFigure, which is focused on broader branding/marketing ideas.
Q1: Why did you start your own consulting business?
Two things converged to bring me to that rather scary decision. One, I concluded after many years in sales, that I was, in fact, more of a consultant than a salesperson – I loved hearing out challenges, thinking through solutions, and making recommendations. I would watch a real salesperson, and I’d say, “that’s not me.” I’m getting better at networking and schmoozing, but really, I’m an analytical type at heart. And secondly, I had entrepreneurial and creative drives that kept pushing to the surface, and I finally decided that the best way to use my skills was to build a business around…my skills. I happen to agree with Seth Godin that true job security means the hard work of creating something remarkable – not necessarily punching a clock.
Q2: Why was it scary?
It’s still scary. Starting a business means always living on the edge of potential failure. There’s no safety net. But I’d rather take the chance, and even risk failure, than look back later in life with regret that I didn’t have the courage to pursue my vision. One year in, I continue to approach each day with a sense of growing confidence – and stubborn fear.
Q3: What has been most fulfilling thus far?
Two things. One is sitting down with clients, hearing out their particular training needs, and being able very quickly to “match” them with a great provider. These win-win arrangements (the “recommendation” service which is unique to my business model) give me a real thrill because I have just saved a client from the headache of trying to guess who might make a good partner, and I’ve just helped my vendor/partner find new business that matches their abilities. I love that. The second thing has been to have the privilege to work with one particular client on a much fuller-scope assignment, evaluating a major part of their training structure and recommending major architectural changes (also vetting suppliers to help make it happen). I’m a big-picture, strategic thinker and those types of engagements are incredibly rewarding.
Q4: Who is your favorite client? And your favorite vendor/partner?
I’m a parent – I know this drill. They’re all my favorites! Actually, I’m privileged to regularly interact with some absolutely wonderful people, both on the client side and the supplier side. And I make it a point to build partnerships only with collaborative, quality, ethical companies. That’s the only way I can confidently provide recommendations. Did I avoid that question skillfully enough? Should I go into politics?
Q5: How do you keep up with all the blogging, and putting out a weekly newsletter?
I have too many ideas. And I love to write. After a year of blogging, I feel like I’m just now beginning to find my “voice.” Which, by the way, includes more humor than has been seen up ’til now…
Q6: What’s with that “other” blog, StickyFigure?
I’ve always been fascinated with branding and marketing. I focus on those topics on a separate blog, because many of those themes are not necessarily pharma-related. However, I view training, communications, and marketing as very closely related disciplines – they are all about using media and methods to make impact, to inform, to change minds, to inspire action. It’s a bit of a compulsion for me – I remember dreaming up a marketing campaign for some moving company way back in my teen years. When it comes to training, I believe in adult learning and instructional design, of course – but I’m always thinking about creativity, engagement, and impact.
Q7: Finally, how is your business doing?
I’m the odd type of consultant that gets a lot done in a short amount of time. Sometimes, all I need is 30 to 60 minutes to help clients find solutions (that’s the free recommendation service). So, yes, I am ready to work with more clients. I need to get out as much as possible!