2019 Conference Six Questions

6+ questions with #heweb19 keynote Erik Qualman

We know that HighEdWeb conferences bring some of the best speakers in the world. This year’s #heweb19 conference in Milwaukee continues that trend as bestselling author, social influencer and motivational speaker Erik Qualman will highlight Wednesday, Oct. 16, activities. Author of five well-known books on digital leadership — including “Socialnomics” and “What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube” — Qualman has brought his message to 53 countries and reached more than 30 million people.

But a HighEdWeb crowd is … a different family, so the Link staff had our traditional 6+ questions as he prepares to inspire us at this year’s conference.

Link Journal: You’ve been called “the second most likable author in the world” (behind only JK Rowling). Why do you think that is, and how does it make you feel about your work?

Erik Qualman: First of all, it was a very distant second :) Secondly, I think my mom even voted for JK Rowling. I’m a huge fan of JK Rowling so it’s always a shock, even to this day, when I hear it or read it. I’m overjoyed that my readers feel this way. I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing people.

LJ: The term “digital influencer” is somewhat murky these days. What does it mean to you and how do you think people can use digital influence for good?

EQ: Digital influence means that if I as an influencer share something (product, opinion, etc.) that it will cause other people to take action. This type of influence can be used for good as it can be the first domino for movement in the right direction.

LJ: On the flipside of that, while we can do a lot of good via social media, how can we best prevent the “dark side” of social media from affecting our well-being?

EQ: Understand that everything needs to be in moderation. Too much of a good thing is too much. Also, it is important to understand that very smart people are being paid millions of dollars to create elements that can lead to addiction to social media. The more time people spend on screens the more money they make. Conversely, If you exercise ten hours per day, that’s not healthy. It’s all about finding the right balance and that’s different for each individual.

LJ: You’ll be speaking with an audience of higher education digital communicators — writers, web editors, designers, developers and the like. We’re obviously not the typical digital influencers, but what do you think our colleges can learn from people who are doing influencing very well?

EQ: Above all else, be yourself. Be authentic.

LJ: How would you describe “socialnomics” and why it’s important to our daily lives?

EQ: Socialnomics = word of mouth on digital steroids. Or word of mouth is now world of mouth.

LJ: What do you think our the biggest socialnomics trends we should be watching for the next year or so?

EQ: For the next year, watch for consolidation and also the marrying of commerce. China is ahead of the US in that they have the world’s largest super app in WeChat. You can start to see Mark Zuckerberg wants to roll Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all into one super app with payment capabilities.

LJ: What’s the last thing you took off your to do list that you decided you weren’t ever going to do? Why?
EQ: The items I most often find taking off my to-do-list ones that don’t have the large potential to bring me or others joy. They are simply tasks to nowhere. This I remove.

Don’t miss Qualman and dozens more speakers covering a range of exciting topics at HighEdWeb 2019, Oct. 13 to 16 in Milwaukee. Register today!

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By Tim Nekritz

Tim Nekritz is Link's Chief Editor and the communications director for SUNY Oswego, where he also teaches a class on blues history. In his spare time, he is an active musician, booker and promoter who leads a monthly Songwriters Circle.