By Marcus Leach

In what is becoming an increasingly digital world there has been the emergence of some serious players, the pioneers of digital who have helped shape the sector.

Everyone has a back story, not all become public - mainly because there is no interest in them - but others are actively sought out because we want to learn from the people they concern. We want to know what made them? How did they achieve success? What obstacles did they overcome (not just in business but in life)?

Professor Paul Springer, co-author of Pioneers of Digital, who was the guest speaker at the latest Like Minds breakfast, in association with Telefonica Digital and the Digital Marketing Show, has in his book unveiled some of the most interesting back stories

Pioneers of Digital, which looks at the success stories from leaders in advertising, marketing, search and social media looks at the back stories of the movers and shakers in the digital world.

The idea was not just find out the stories, but ask for their key advice, as after all these are some of the world's leading digital players, and we want to learn from them.

Vanessa Fox of Google fame

1. Spend time with colleagues and partners in different departments, and know how to speak their language.

2. Understand how information you have can provide value to your customers.

3. Learn to listen authentically, be as transparent as you can and learn to respond effectively.

Thomas Gensemer, Blue State Digital, who ran President Obama's digital 2008 campaign

1. Don't set up formats for engagement if you can't service them.

2. Don't let the Head of IT dictate policy; remember what the function of IT is for.

3. Learn on the job, and don't expect to have a granular grand plan.

Perhaps most tellingly Gensemer said that 'the most significant Obama tactic was having digital at the core, not just reporting to a Coms or Fundraising manager'.

Gurbaksh Chahal, ClickAgents and BlueLithium

1. Do not forget the general principles of building a business; a business revolves not around ideas of 'futures', but around revenue and growth.

2. If you want to go ahead and disrupt a market, don't necessarily go after something brand new. Go after something that people are already doing. Once you've scaled that, incorporate what you want to bring to market.

3. Don't get carried away thinking that, because it's online, it's different from any other business.

Springer found, having spoken to all of these pioneers, that there were five recurring themes:

1. They don't let technology or techies dictate

2. They challenge existing value chains

3. They're authentic on social networks

4. They take decisions in real time

5. Not necessarily original, just relevant

Digital Marketing moves at lightening pace and marketers need access to the latest information and advice - a new event – The Digital Marketing Show is taking place in Excel, London in November - visit

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