2012 Business Catalyst Awards

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I spend an inordinate amount of time speaking with, interviewing, reading, watching and listening to a cornucopia of leading and emerging voices on entrepreneurship, small-business, marketing and behavioral change.

Every year, some established voices get stronger, others weaken and new ones arrive on the scene. Still, much of the recognition for thought-leadership goes to larger “magazine format” or multi-author blogs and larger online versions of print magazines.

I thought it was time to start honoring the individual, often less filtered voices in a more formal way, collect them into one place and share them with the world by creating the first-annual Business Catalyst Awards (BizCats). Collectively, these people provide not only a rich community and valuable insights, they also deliver an extraordinary, real-world, actionable education.

Here were the criteria:

  • The BizCats honor leading individual voices who regularly share ideas, tools, strategies, insights and processes that serve as catalysts to the success of entrepreneurs and small businesses over the course of the prior year. Because the focus is individuals, larger “magazine” or multi-author format sites have been excluded. We love the big sites and they offer great value, but this is all about recognizing standout solo voices.
  • The nominees were all hand-curated via a blend of my own exposure to them, the input of a small, informal committee of small business, entrepreneurship and marketing experts. There was no public nomination or voting, because frankly it’s become so easy to game things like that (think Mechanical Turk, subscriber lists and calling-in lots of favors from friends), they simply have no value any more.
  • There are no numerical rankings, which we all know are worthless beyond bragging rights. Instead, each voice has been given an award for excellence within a specific category.
  • Bloggers must have posted at least twice a month. There are, no doubt, great voices out there who post less often, but these awards are about honoring a larger, ongoing commitment to a community.
  • If you agree with and appreciate the work that went into selecting the winners, great. If not, that’s fine, too. Shoot me an email if you’d like to introduce someone for me to keep my eye on over the next year as I begin to compile the list for 2013.

Quick disclosure, because I operate in the entrepreneurship, small business and marketing space, I know many of the people on this list personally. Still, nobody makes the cut simply because they have my phone number. For this same reason, I am excluding myself and my blog from consideration for these awards.

And, now…

The 2012 BizCats:

Top 5 Web Shows

Here are 5 standout small business and entrepreneurship web shows from 2011, along with sample show videos. Notice, too, how different the formats, production value and styles are. Each person owns the way they do it, rather than trying to be the next somebody else. One of the interesting trends I’ve noticed this year, as well, is that expectations about production value are going up. Chase Jarvis’ show is a perfect example of this.

MarieForleo.com – Marie Forleo – Small Business Strategy & Growth. Forleo’s weekly Q&A Tuesday, where she answers reader questions, is a quick shot of small business, often marketing-oriented adrenaline. For a weekly web show format, the comment section is also incredibly active and often full of additional insights.

TheRiseToTheTop.com – David Siteman-Garland – Lifestyle Business Profiles. Siteman-Garland’s interview-driven show expores not only the business strategies, ideas and challenges of online and offline entrepreneurs, but also the lifestyle challenges as well. David is high-energy, with a strong voice and personality, as he says “if you want fluff, go pet a bunny.”


Mixergy.com – Andrew Warner – Tech Founder Profiles. With a strong focus on the tech-industry and online entrepreneurship, Warner interviews the founders of many of the tech-world’s biggest success stories, as well as many other personalities around that community, including top VCs, seed-accelerator founds and more. He is great at asking the questions that make many others cringe, like “exactly how much does the company earn?”


Chase Jarvis LIVE – Chase Jarvis – Creative Business Strategy. Chase is a commercial photographer who bridges the gap between honoring the deep creative jones of your inner artist, but also developing the business, sales and marketing skills needed to not only make great art, but serve a need and generate a real, livable income.

BarefootExecutive.TV – Carrie Wilkerson – Home/micro-business Tips. Working from home with a focus largely on building business online, Wilkerson shares tips and strategies to build a lifestyle-oriented business, often from home or with some degree of flexibility and location independence.


Top 6 Audio Podcasts

Accidental Creative – Todd Henry – Creativity Tools & Profiles – A leading voice in the world of facilitating creativity in business, Henry interviews a wide range of entrepreneurs, creatives and thought leaders with the goal of sharing concrete ideas and takeaways. The profiless and stories are great and often spur ideas that inspire your own creativity and innovation engines.

Small Business Trends Radio – Anita Campbell – Small Business Trends & Profiles – SmallBizTrends.com founder and former general counsel and tech startup founder, Anita Campbell, interviews a wide variety of entrepreneurs, business thought leaders and marketers, sharing tips on operating and growing businesses in the current economy and beyond.

Marketing Over Coffee – John Wall & Chris Penn – Small Business Marketing – Run as a conversation between Wall and Penn with the occasional guest like Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott mixed in, the conversation usually focuses on a blend of marketing, PR and  with a strong emphasis on tech-driven channels and strategies and frequent left turns into popular topics of the day.

Duct Tape Marketing – John Jantsch – Marketing & Entrepreneur Profiles – An extension of his excellent blog (noted below), this interview-driven audio podcast series focuses on small-business marketing with a healthy mix of online, social media and old-school neighborhood and response marketing. Great for businesses of all sizes, but really focused on smaller business.

Breakthrough Business – Michele Price – This weekly interview-driven show covers a wide variety of topics, from leadership and entrepreneurship to the success mindset and social media. Price attracts a broad array of high-profile guests and the long format allows her to go deeper into issues and conversations that often bridge the gap between personal and business.

I Love Marketing – Dean Jackson & Joe Polish – Response-driven Web Marketing. This popular podcast and web show alternates between audio and video formats, so we thought it safest to add it here under podcasts. From two legends in the world of hardcore, response-driven marketing, this podcast covers ideas, strategies, tactics and interviews around accelerated business growth with a strong bent toward direct-response and it’s online evolution.


Top 22 Single-voice Blogs

AVC.com – Fred Wilson – VC-backed tech-entrepreneurship – Posting daily, well-known venture capitalist and co-founder of Union Square Partners, Fred Wilson, offers a wide variety of thoughts, strategies and conversations around tech-driven, most-often VC-backed entrepreneurship. Fred is also passionate about art and music, though, so don’t be surprised to find him threading those topics into the mix.

WhiteHotTruth.com – Danielle LaPorte – Bringing Soul to Business – An author, speaker, business builder, former Washington think tank guru, LaPorte doesn’t just write about the need to allow your business to be the embodiment of soul, she IS that very embodiment. You can feel it literally coming off the page with a strong, spiritual, poetic, yet clearly business-savvy voice and insights.

SocialTriggers.com – Derek Halpern – Customer Psychology – With an unusual blended expertise in the psychology of action/influence and metric-driven measurement, Halpern reveals common myths and gaping holes in online and traditional marketing funnels and shows how to tweak what you’re doing to inspire higher levels of action and conversion among visitors and customers.

AmyPorterfield.com – Amy Porterfield – Social Media Marketing – A former hardcore event and media marketer for Tony Robbins, Porterfield has since done a deep dive into the world of social media, content and community marketing. She posts with a strong focus on developing content and community as a key spoke in the marketing wheel.

IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com – Ramit Sethi – Behavioral Change & Influence. When Sethi started this hugely popular blog, the focus was contrarian personal finance, but it has since shift gears in a major way, focusing more on the psychology of influence, behavioral change and social dynamics in the world of work. Truth is, it was always about that, but now Sethi is more direct about this.

MariSmith.com – Mari Smith – Relationship Marketing & Facebook – Smith built her reputation as an expert in leveraging Facebook for business-building and marketing. But many of her posts go beyond tactical Facebook advice (which she offers) and explore the more important relationships that drive business and how to tap technology to facilitate them.

Seth Godin’s Blog – Seth Godin – Provoking Change, Embracing Art and Shipping – Acclaimed entrepreneur, author, marketer, thought-leader and provocateur, Godin is constantly prodding you to look at what you’re doing, what you’re assumptions are and whether they’re getting you what you want both in business and in life, then offering ideas to explore. Topics range from business to art to publishing.

Both Side of the Table – Mark Suster – Rapid Growth Strategy – Former tech-entrepreneur and now a VC in Southern California, Suster often writes large, in-depth thought and strategy posts on entrepreneurship that draw from his dual experience as both an entrepreneur who sold two companies and a VC in the business of funding and growing companies.

TaraGentile.com – Tara Gentile – Lifestyle Business Reality Check – Gentile has been making waves in the blogosphere over the last year. She explores many of the issues bootstrap and lifestyle entrepreneurs deal with with a wonderful blend of heart and soul meets pragmatic reality check, while leaving you with both things to think about and things to do.

QuickSprout – Neil Patel – Online & Social Marketing – Patel often focuses in on the opportunity for businesses, both online and offline, to leverage social platforms and technologies to gather intelligence and build more effective brands, models and marketing engines. Lots of great tactical information to be found with an always fresh perspective on how to approach things.

Unicorn Free – Amy Hoy – Humane Entrepreneurship – A contrary voice in the world of tech-entrepreneurship, Hoy shares a blend of personality laden (read “often NSFW) posts about building business slowly, methodically and decidedly un-start-up-like, without VC simply because, gulp, you love to do what you do and you can be paid well to do it without killing yourself or giving up a part of your dream.

Productive Flourishing – Charlie Gilkey – Sanity for Creative Entrepreneurs – Charlie started out sharing his unique synthesis of productivity strategies and tools for micro-entrepreneurs with a decided creatie bent, but his writing has evolved to more deeply explore and offer highly-actionable insights that expand beyond productivity and offer a dynamic framework for getting ideas out of your head and into the real-world.

Escape From Cubicle Nation – Pam Slim – Career Evolution & Bootstrapped Startup Strategy – Slim brings a certain sense of grounded, real-world spirituality to the process of exploring and then building a business around a deep interest, with a strong emphasis on doing the personal work needed to align what you build with who you are.

DuctTapeMarketing.com – John Jantsch – Small Business Marketing – With a strong focus on measurable marketing for small businesses, especially referral-driven lead generation, Jantsch does a great job of bringing practical tips and strategies into a mix with easily-accesible technology that often tends toward the productivity and management side of entrepreneurship as well.

Art of Nonconformity – Chris Guillebeau – Purpose-driven, Location-independent Entrepreneurship – Known by many for his quest to visit every country in the world in 5 years, Guillebeau has also built an extraordinary, location independent business while traveling the world. He shares his business insights along with notes about travel hacking on his blog. A great resource for those looking to build a location-independent, purpose-driven business.

Creativity Unbound – Edward Boches – Former Chief Creative Officer and current Chief Innovation Office at legendary Mullen creative agency in Boston, Boches writes about the evolving face of entrepreneurship, branding, advertising and the creative process. Often taking positions counter the industry, his posts are filled with insights about the shift in marketing from messaging to engaging, interacting and delighting.

ConversationAgent.com – Valeria Maltoni – Maltoni is a seasoned business strategist who has worked with companies of all sizes, though her insights are relevant to everyone from startups to global leaders. She brings a direct, often provocative viewpoint that raises questions, deconstructs popular business happenings and really makes you think.

Terry Starbucker.com – Terry St. Marie – Practical leadership – Living a double-life for years, former COO of a large cable-company, Terry St. Marie, operated under the online alias of Starbucker and became known as the co-founder of SOBCon. Then his company was sold last year, freeing him to focus his energies on writing about small business, entrepreneurship and leading with heart. Great, simple reminders and strategies.

ChrisBrogan.com – Chris Brogan – Social Media & Small Business Strategy – Over the last 3 years, Brogan’s evolved from being a leading voice in social media to becoming an advocate and solution provider for small businesses. You can see this both in his blog focus and in his work as the founder of Human Business Works, especially local mom and pop operations.

Successful-Blog.com – Liz Strauss – The Human Side of Business – With a long history in brick and mortar business and publishing, Strauss offers a blend of business wisdom with a strong emphasis on relationship building, purpose and simultaneously honoring what’s great in life. She’s also the co-founder of SOBCon, along with Terry St. Marie.

Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn – While Flynn’s blog and podcast are ostensibly about generating a variety of business engines online, he shares ideas, specific tactics and insights that benefit entrepreneurs and small businesses across the board. He also reveals the details of his revenue every month, so you can get a very real sense of how each approach is working.

TheSalesLion.com – Marcus Sheridan – Blogging for Business – Marcus write with a very easy-going, conversational style and a focus on online community-building for the specific purpose of creating a channel that will help drive business. I also love that, like me, he comes from brick and mortar entrepreneurship, and brings that sensibility to his insights.


Wrap Up.

That does it for the 2011 BizCats. And, now a challenge. Follow as many of these voices as is practical for you for the next 30 days. The small business, marketing and entrepreneurship education they deliver collectively is really quite extraordinary.

And, if you’d like to bring other voices to the attention of the community, feel free to share away in the comments. We’ll keep a list to follow and consider for next year’s BizCats.

Here’s to a year of wonder, growth, compassion, service and, yes, profit, impact and success!


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54 responses

54 responses to “2012 Business Catalyst Awards”

  1. Todd Henry says:

    Wow – honored that Accidental Creative is included in such a list, Jonathan. You continue to provoke, astound and challenge me almost daily through your posts, and this year you taught me how to embrace (rather than fear) uncertainty. I’m deeply grateful.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Pleasure to be able to include you, learned a lot from you this year, especially from your awesome book.

  2. Derek says:

    My man Jonathan. Thanks for including me! Really appreciate it.

    Without blowing too much smoke in your direction, you should have included yourself on the list of individual voice blogs.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Ha, thanks, but I think the bias meter would’ve been a wee bit tipped on that one, lol

  3. I shall yearn to make this list next year……

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      A man can yearn…or he can buy me an everything pizza at Champions in March. Just saying. LOL

  4. Owen Marcus says:


    Thanks for doing this. There are many I’m not aware of that I want to check out.

    Beyond many being personal friends, it still took a lot of work to but this together… I appreciate your effort.

    I didn’t see your name on the list:)

  5. Hooray! I made the list! What a great bunch of people! Very exciting stuff! I’m aiming to take the video category for 2012, so watch out, DSG and Carrie! : )

  6. Thank you for sharing a fabulous list of great people we can learn about ( that might not have been on our individual radars).

    Thank you for recognizing the work I do, it is a passion for sure.

    Thank you for those who will take action from this post and get to know one another. That is where the “gold” is for 2012.

  7. Joanna Penn says:

    Thanks Jonathan, this is a huge help to all us life-long learning junkies! I already follow maybe half of these people so it’s great to discover some more quality information for 2012. I have cleaned out my podcast list and now have refilled it with some of your recommendations.
    Happy New Year!
    Thanks, Joanna

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Will work on a publishing version soon and I’m guessing you’re a lock for that. 🙂

  8. Marie says:

    HOLY Awesome!! Thank you so much Jonathan – what an incredible honor, and what a great list. This is such a fantastic kick off to the New Year!! xoxo Marie

  9. Jonathan,

    Thanks for the list, many of these people I have never heard of. Hopefully one of these days I can be on such a list. It’s something to strive for. All the best for 2012! Avil Beckford

  10. Wow! Thanks for booking up my evening – while my boyfriend watches football tonight, I’ll have my earphones on, paging through and reading everything here! I’m excited for the discoveries and all that I’ve learned from you last year, Jonathan! Keep up the inspiring work!
    Linda Buchner

  11. Great list… thanks for putting it together, Jonathan! I know about some of these folks, but really look forward to checking out the ones who are new to me.

    Happy 2012!

  12. Chris Shouse says:

    That is impressive and I will look forward to checking each of these out. If you think they are good then I know I will like them. Thanks Jonathan and Happy New Year.

  13. Amanda says:

    Wow, this list is just…wow. A whole lot of learning, inspiration and awesomeness packed in a small space.

    A few of these folks I knew already but the rest are people I feel like I’m going to need to be checking in with frequently.

    In fact, I made a Twitter list to do just that, you can find it at twitter dot com/#!/AmandaMcCormick/biz-cat-2012

  14. Holy-Guacamole Batman! 😉

    Completely honored, shocked,and thrilled to be included with some folks I really, really look up to Jonathan.

    Thank you so very, very much and looking forward to a tremendous 2012.


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Glad to be able to include you, been on my radar since BWENY. Love your family-oriented take.

  15. Thanks for putting this together Jonathan + I think you’ve done a great job of highlighting some of the most influential voices in the entrepreneurship/ small biz growth space.
    One lady I think sits “up there” with the crew that you have not mentioned (I know it’s impossible to mention everyone, but I passionately think this lady really is worth noting) is katie Freiling.
    Just jumped on to some of the websites + there’s a few newbies I’m looking forward to getting to know better, inclu. Tara Gentile who seems to really know her stuff when it comes to mastering the new ‘internet’ economy

    A Big Happy new year to you

    Beth x

  16. Pat says:

    Jonathan, thank you so much for including me here in your list of BizCats for 2011. I’m truly honored, and to be in such great company with several people who I look up to myself – it’s incredible.

    Thank you again, cheers, and Happy New Year!

  17. Sean Davis says:

    What a great list.

    I definitely plan to make the ranks in the years to come. The majority of single-voice listees are my favorites… and the rest will be shortly. 🙂 Learning from them should definitely help bring my dreams to fruition!

    To everyone on the list, outstanding work!


  18. So I’ve been head down all day since pre-dawn working on all kinds of executions for the quarter and got a very nice note from a long time friend congratulating me for the “Inclusion on Jonathan’s “A List” is a kick-butt, high profile way to start off 2012!”

    There were no links, and I bookmarked for later. I was running through my RSS just now when I saw your post. Who says RSS doesn’t deliver cups of awesome is reading other blogs. I get one every time I read one of your posts. And today I got a warm feeling from seeing this amazing list of contributors you put together (I know these things take time). What a way to give back to the community.

    Thank you. From the heart.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I exist to make you smile. LOL. It’s a gift to be able to do work like this for my community. But, you already know that. 🙂

  19. Tim Webster says:

    Wow! What a list… If there’s any truth to the phrase: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, then this is certainly the place to find people to spend more time with!

    Thanks Jonathan! Congrats to all!

  20. Nuria says:

    Many thanks for this awesome list!!
    Next year you may want to include Laura Roeder, she’s just great!!

  21. Racheal Cook says:

    Great list! Have been following many of these and excited to have a few more to add to my reading list. Happy New Year!

  22. Awesome list! Marie Forleo is such an inspiration, and David Siteman-Garland makes me smile with his laid-back interview style.

    As for the ones I hadn’t heart of, I’m queuing up some podcast downloads and RSS subscriptions as we speak. Thanks Jonathan!

  23. Jade Craven says:

    I really loved this post 🙂 I pride myself on knowing who the talented bloggers are, but was still able to discover many cool names.

    Are there any other people that stood out this year, but may no have been reading for an award as yet?

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Jade,

      Thanks and congrats on the wonderful list you assembled over at PB, too! There are definitely some other people I’ve got my eye on. In fact, I may soon some very cool with the BizCats that’ll help acknowledge a wider collection of voices. So stay tuned.

  24. Angela Winters says:

    I would’ve included Leo Babauta, even though his most popular blog, Zen Habits, deals mostly with personal transformation and spiritual growth, for most of us, starting there is required before we have any kind of accurate idea of where we even want to go next.
    I’ll check out these other folks, though. I’m already a big fan of Chris Guillebeau, who wrote a book that has been of great help to me, and Seth Godin. And of course, the great Jonathan Fields!

  25. Thank you to you Jonathan for being the voice of objectivity and compiling such a list of talented people who continually strive to do more, give more value and share their unique voices.

    Did you happen to create a Twitter list for this by chance? I for sure would follow it!

    Here’s to 2012!


    • That’s a really great idea Natalie – a Twitter list would be a really great idea and I for one would follow.

      I think that this is a great list of bloggers, many of which are on my radar, although some are further on the horizon than others.

      Whilst some of the names on the list are no real surprise (Seth G, Chris B, Chris G) at least it’s an honest acknowledgement that they are on the list because the content is great and for anyone not on the list a gentle reminder that they need to generate better content.

  26. Wow thanks Jonathan what an honor!

  27. Excellent list, Jonathan… so many names and voices I admire already but am thrilled to add new people to my list of those to follow for 2012. Congratulations to all!

  28. […] the rest here: 2012 Business Catalyst Awards Comments […]

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  31. […] the topic of change and self-education, Jonathan Fields, author of Uncer­tainty, has announced his BizCat awards for thought lead­ers in entre­pren­eur­ship, small busi­ness, mar­ket­ing and […]

  32. Sol Soloncha says:

    Thanks for the great list of thought leaders Jonathan, and Happy New Year to you! As a Tribal Author alum, I’m looking forward to the publishing edition too!

    Best to you in 2012, Sol

  33. Ben Edwards says:

    I get some good nuggets out of the marketing show done by Clay Collins – http://www.marketingshow.com/

  34. John Jantsch says:

    Thanks Jonathan – I know you gave this list some thought because there are some incredible voices that didn’t make the list.

    I really appreciate the passion and purpose you bring to everything you’re a part of.

    Rather than dominate next year’s video awards I’m going to enter the handwritten note category and use a little more ink this year I think.

  35. […] when recognition comes from ProBlogger, or as it did with Jonathan Fields a few days later, there is certainly a sense of gratitude that comes with […]

  36. Fabulous work, Jonathan – some evergreens in there that I’ve read for a long time but I look forward to getting to know the new ones you’ve shown us. And what a great list of commentors, too.
    btw, I love the name ‘Jonathan’ 😉

  37. Keith Griffis, Empowering Business says:

    Jonathan, you have put together a great list. I think Chris Brogan and Mari Smith are two of my Favorites. I also am a big Amy Porterfield fan. Amy and Mari are so open and responsive that it is inspiring to talk with them. They all exemplify what this be business revolution has become about….people.

    Don’t forget to add yourself to this list Jonathan.

    Also, Jay Bayer is a a great resource as well.

  38. I have no idea how I missed this amazing list earlier last week! Jonathan, being on this list means the world to me for many reasons- one being that the others on this list are so FANTASTIC and give so much valuable insight that it’s insane. I feel like I just won the Oscars or something crazy awesome like that. Thank you for thinking of me – it makes me want to do even better as I move forward. VERY, VERY cool!

  39. Jonathan,

    Thanks for these known and new resources, I hope to make this list next time. Btw, nice meeting you finally in person at BlogWorld.

  40. I thought I said it before, but I didn’t: thanks for including me in the list, JF! Much appreciated.

  41. Jayne says:

    DLP is a poet dripping in kindness, Tara G is an effervescent sage. Two more lovelies not on the list – Yvonne Bynoe who has great ‘tone’ in her posts, oozing natural authority, and the authentic marketer, Beth A. Grant, her emails are brilliant, literally.

    Jonathan Fields thanks for sharing.

  42. […] for the Daily Worth, Design*Sponge, and Etsy. Bestselling author, Jonathan Fields, named her blog a Top 22 Single-Voice Business Blog of 2012. She’s the author of several popular digital guides including her latest on the relationship […]

  43. Great article Jonathan!

    I didn’t know that Bizcats existed until I found this article. Sounds like a list of truly inspiration people/companies, I can only hope that one day I may myself quality for such an award.

    Keep writing the great articles – I’m hooked!