I recently sat down with Jeffrey Hayzlett, the ex-CMO of Kodak.

We had met earlier this year at another big social media event, but I finally was able to get him to reveal details of his inner secrets. This included more thoughts on running your own business, leveraging social media and what it takes to “make it”. (And, as you’ll see – he holds nothing back and is very direct. Don’t continue reading if you cannot handle straight up talk!).

His new book, “The Mirror Test” is available in book stores now.

Take a look at this video for one of the key take-aways from the book (and some laughs too):

1. Jeffrey, what is your background & what made you what you are today?

I have been an entrepreneur from a very small age. At about 10 years old, I ran a lawncutting business. In our family, we all had to work. We had chores and tasks. My parents divorced early, and I learned to break things down, and take action. That was, and still is a big part of my life. When I got out of college I continued on the path of owning/running businesses. I bought, sold, restarted small to large business as well as multi-million dollars businesses. I can start any business at the drop of a hat, I think I’m very good at it.

To be successful in business, you have to cover a lot of questions. What I mean is, you have to ask a lot of question. And, its the crawl-walk-run thing, and ask the RIGHT questions. Entrepreneurs fail because they don’t ask the right kind of questions. You’ll get far by “finding out if the dog eats the dogfood”, as I like to say. Take the time, don’t expect changes over night, anybody can do it. Ask yourself questions in front of the mirror. Ultimately, who’s responsible?

The only person responsible for your success is you! Not your banker, not your family members, not your accountant, not your lawyer. YOU are responsible. If you have not laid waken at night thinking about these things, you have not gone deep enough.  However, running a business is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to risk “everything”.

2. Why leave a successful career at Kodak?

The job there was to raise its profile, and work Kodak into the mainstream. I re-transform businesses, I act as a change agent. I have always worked myself out of a job. Kodak was one of the longest gigs so far. I have not stayed long at most companies, I enjoy doing my own thing, and providing massive value.  I really wanted to get out and back on my own. I’m currently serving on some corporate boards, investing in companies, consulting. I have another book deal, working on TV deals, all slated for 2011. I have more stuff coming up on the major TV networks.

(I mentioned a friend in the internet marketing business who has made millions over the last few years, here’s what Jeffrey said): All over the world – I’m so enthused by success by so many people. The free enterprise system is amazing. Anybody can now do this. The Internet has made it all possible. Go out and do it!

3. Your new book and the 118 pitch. How did you come up with that? Why?

It reminds us of what is important. At Kodak, people came to me and to sell me — all the time. A 30 page Powerpoint slide presentation at the core. At the end of the hour, I still didn’t know what the message was, or what they really meant to say. I like dealing with intelligent people. Just get it to me, be direct, and if the content / message and speed is there, I can figure it out quickly.  This is one of the biggest concepts coming out of the book, and it’s gone viral. Get very clear and succinct in getting my attention and what value you are to provide here. Tell your story. It’s great to be proud of your presentation, but let the *real* pride be the work we do together. Be very direct. I’ll do business with you, but we must move very quickly.

4. Social media – how do you define it? What does it mean?

Social Media Marketing has been around forever. It’s been the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, etc. All social media is – is listening. Then, enter a community, and learn how to interact with each other. It’s a tool, not a destination. There are too many SMM consultants that make this so complex. And, remember – it’s like a fax machine – another tool you can use. Research and get the information, communicate – and you’ll know how to service your clients and how to sell to them and others over time.

5. Social media – how does a new business (any industry) take advantage of it?

I refer to the 4 “E’s” in the book. And, be real. Do it for a real reason. Do it because you have something you want to get out of it. Build real relationships. Online and in social media, things are very transparent. Also, if you are not good at something in real life, you’ll not be good online. But, you can learn! Engage with your market, your customers, educate them, excite them, and they will become your “brand ambassadors”. It’s part of the way you do business. If you don’t place that centrally, you will not be good. And, if you think – for even a moment – that you cannot make money/business from social media – you are making a HUGE mistake. Be smart about it. As an example, a bit crude perhaps, but: celebrated comedian Sam Kinison once did a piece about people starving in the desert.  It’s a joke, but seriously: – food doesn’t grow in the desert. Go where the food is, and work at building your business to serve. (Jeff chuckles, but is serious still: “business is a bitch, isn’t it?“).

6. Social media – simple ways to build traffic and awareness?

Show that you have trust with you customers. Be real. Listen, and give them information that is helpful. This is the best way to build (quality) traffic. And it’s easier to do that if you started earlier, rather than later. So start now, and remember the crawl, walk, run concept. It’s like a new sport, you will not be good at first. For a new business, it’s the same. Build up tension and work with people. The best way to do it is 3 weeks ago. Build up followers, people will follow you. It’s a give to gain model. Work on multiple content and traffic building strategies, but do what’s relevant for you. If you like video, do that. Visual communication is great. Search engines love it too. Some have a face for video, others, a face for radio. Text based media is not dead by any means, you can (and must) do that too.

7. Social media – and time management. How to best spend your time?

How much time is relative. Find out the time that gives you the best return. For example, you can grab a Flip or Kodak HD video camera. Get a $10.00 tripod and with a remote or microphone, and you got a quality video. Heck, you can buy a portable studio, and carry it with you ziplock bag. Couple of SD cards, and you’re all set. You don’t have to spend thousands on this stuff. It’s easy to do. Time is your inventory. You’ll find out what’s the best return on your ‘inventory’. You need to have some time set aside of course. One or two people could be fine. Figure out who does the sales, marketing, backoffice work, or the production stuff. Decide on who does what.

8. How do you explain to a company that they should use Social Media (or else…)?

I immediately ask: What is the ROI? Definition: “Return on Ignore”. Use your people as communications consultants. Spend your time finding out and building on how to strengthen the relationships. Twitter, Facebook, and soon to be other another million apps are available. Use the ones that make sense for your. Research where your customers are. There are many marketing channels beyond just SEO, PPC, email marketing, for example. And, Social Media Marketing is a two-way dialogue, which is exactly what you want.

9. What books have you read, and what do you recommend?

I read a lot of books, different books. I just finished Julies Caesar, and Custard, Battle of Little Bighorn. A list of books that you must have in your library is in the book. I am so passionate about it. If my library burned down, I would want these books back immediately. And, I keep reading them again and again. Iacocca books, Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to win friends and influence people’, Harvey McKay, Zig Ziglar, ‘Barbarians at the gate’, the LBO of RJR Nabisco

10. FINALLY – What is it about you that makes you so special? How can others get some of that? 🙂

Be comfortable in your own skin!

They sometimes call me the “Chuck Norris of Marketing”. I’m very direct, and I don’t try to change that. I would suggest that you spend more time being who you are. (Funny, but true): Then, you don’t have to remember who you are!

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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.