Tag Archives: Management

Bucket Lists

79Life gives us lots of fears. When we’re very young, we’re fearless. Not because we are so brave, but because we aren’t smart enough to know what to be fearful of, yet. That, however, changes quickly and life gives us a heaping helping of stuff to be afraid of.

Growing Older

I think one of the best benefits of growing older is overcoming a fear of failure. When you have some decades under your belt, you know that success isn’t lasting and failure isn’t terminal. Life is a series of hills and valleys.

Joy in Life

I just re-watched the movie “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It’s a classic.

IMDb gives this storyline, if you’ve never seen this film, as follows: Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find joy in life.

What Were You “Meant” to Do?

I’m very grateful for the life I’ve lived. I worked in a career for over four decades that I loved. I then transitioned into teaching at a university, which was the next career move on my short career “bucket list.”

I’ve mentored so many engaged students and gotten lots of positive feedback on my classes. A recent note said “I just wanted to thank you for your awesome class. I really enjoyed it and you as a professor.”

No job can get more rewarding than when you receive notes like that!

Good Times & Bad

There’s an old saying about good times and bad that goes like this: ‘The bad news is the good times never last. The good news is, neither do the bad.’

Change is in the wind at my university. Uncertainty and anxiety runs high.

I will now check off my career “bucket list” teaching at a college or university with the completion of I my seventh year of being a broadcast professor in May 2017 at Western Kentucky University. I didn’t have a career goal beyond college teaching.

Next Life Goal

These past two years, I’ve found that this “radio guy” loves to write. I’ve got both a weekly blog as well as a quarterly column in a national magazine. I’ve done podcasts, vlogs and radio interviews/shows in addition to my teaching/advising/professional activities/university service and consulting. I’m obviously not one to just sit on a couch and eat bonbons.

Excited About New Possibilities

One of the decisions I’ve made at this point in my life is that I wish to move closer to my family and grand kids. All of my life, I’ve let my career determine where I’d live. Then I was challenged to keep in touch with my family. With the passing of the last great grandparent, the torch has been passed, so geography just became more important to me than in the past.

I look forward to leveraging my experience in media, advertising, consulting and teaching in new and exciting ways. I have so much wisdom to pay-forward. I’m a passionate person looking for his next place to make a positive impact.

Think you and I might work well together? Reach out to me: Dick.Taylor@wku.edu

Just Say “No”

Megyn Kelly’s move from the FOX News Channel was made not to make more money but for Megyn to be able to spend more time with her family. Her reasons for making the move really resonated with me. I also want to put some balance into my life when it comes to family and career. It’s time to “just say no” to chasing an overly-demanding position that steals away my time and energy from my family. It’s time to make my next life goal be living a balanced life.

My story does not end here.

Stay tuned.

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What I Learned About Being a General Manager

48I loved being a general manager of radio stations. It wasn’t the job that first attracted me to radio however; it was to become a disc jockey. From as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a DJ on the radio. My first radio microphone was made out of tinker toys. Then I got a Caravelle (pictured) transmitter for Christmas from Santa Claus and I took to the air waves.

I started in commercial radio when I was in the 10th grade in high school, getting my FCC 3rd Class Radio-Telephone Operator Permit. Due to my age at that time, I needed to get a work permit. The Massachusetts employment office that issued those types of permits for underage workers asked me what type of employment I would be doing. I told them, I’m going to be a DJ. They didn’t have a category for DJ in their book, so they wrote “Talent” on my work permit and sent me on my way. I never mentioned that I would also be taking transmitter readings every half hour standing next to a 1,000-watt broadcast transmitter. If I had, they would never have issued me a work permit, as that environment would have been considered to hazardous for a person who was only 16 years old.

As I look back on it, it almost seems ironic that I could have a license to operate a commercial radio station, but my mother would have to drive me to work and pick me up because I couldn’t get a driver’s license to operate an automobile.

In time, I would learn that what I really wanted to do in radio was not be the person who was the product, but the person who ran the whole enchilada; also known as the general manager. To get to that lofty office, I would need to leave the air and programming and go into sales.

Once in sales I quickly rose through the ranks to sales manager, station manager and finally general manager. Yes, at the ripe old age of 32, I was a general manager in Atlantic City, New Jersey; the world’s famous playground.

Lessons Learned

So what did I learn almost three decades later? A career is not a sprint, but a marathon. You never know everything you need to know. Every day is a learning experience. That your attitude becomes the attitude of your employees, so keep it positive.

Success

Like making a baby, you can’t speed up the process of success in life. It takes time. Repetition is key. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers wrote it takes about 10,000 hours of repetition and practice to master anything.

While Radio Ink Magazine named me one of the best general managers in radio before I left the industry to become a broadcast professor at a university, I would find that I would learn even more about my craft trying to teach it to others. So today, I think I’d be a much better general manager than when I took a sabbatical to enter teaching.

Love

They say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. That was true for me about my radio career for over four decades and it’s been just as true for my teaching these past six years. But here’s the big take away: You can love your career, but it will never love you back. So you have to make time for the things that do love you back like your family. I may have been a hard working, successful radio general manager, but I never missed any of the special moments in my boys’ lives as they were growing up.

But the real credit goes to their mother. She made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom – the most important and difficult career choice on the planet – and the credit for the successful men both of my sons turned out to be, goes to her.

Marriage

Sadly, while I tried to be a good dad and a good radio general manager, I probably was lacking in the husband department. The mother of my sons and I would divorce. My life was not in proper balance. Don’t let this happen to you.

Stay Curious

When you’re starting out, you are very curious about how everything works. You’re like a sponge trying to soak it all in. Don’t lose that curiosity. Always pitch in and do whatever needs to be done. Always listen to the ideas of others; it might surprise you how much they know. Make every day a new day to learn and grow and be better than you were yesterday.

Management

When you manage people, unlike things, know that each one is different. Each person is an individual and there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Celebrate your people’s victories, benchmarks and life events. Empower your people to not need you. Compliment in public, correct in private. Compliment in a note, correct face-to-face.

Listen

You were born with two ears and one mouth. Listening is what you should be doing twice as much as a general manager. Just because you’re the GM doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You don’t. Collaboration is the 21st Century Skill Set. It’s been my experience that often the answers to the problems confronting my radio stations were inside my own workforce. As manager, it was my job to get the answers out of them.

My Boss is a Bastard

This is a tough one. You never really want to work for a boss who’s an S.O.B. But sometimes family obligations put you in that uncomfortable position of just having to tough it out until you can make a change. I tell my students when we go over case studies of employees working for a bastard that unlike now – when they are students with no other people they are responsible for – it seems like it would be easy to just walk away from a terrible employment situation, but when you have a mortgage, car loan, kids etc. you can’t. But what you can do is begin you job search and get out of there as soon as you can. Bad work relationships are toxic. Don’t stay in one.

It’s About More than Work

New managers sometimes have a hard time understanding why everyone isn’t as dedicated as they are to their job. But often, the reality is, your employees have lives outside of their workplace and those lives aren’t always smooth sailing. Each of us has a finite emotional capacity. So if their home life is stealing more than 50% of their emotional capacity, it leaves less capacity for the office. So if one of your best employees is suddenly under-performing, explore what’s going on in the rest of their life and how you, as their manager, can help them through this rough patch in their life. People will never forget how you made them feel when they needed your help and understanding the most. Even better, when that rough patch is over, you have one of the most empowered and dedicated employees now on your team.

Does Everyone Share the Same Mission?

Every company has a “Mission Statement.” Most are too long and rarely remembered, let alone embraced and understood by every employee. And that’s a BIG problem for you, the general manager.

There’s an old story about President Kennedy visiting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration complex when he stopped and asked a person cleaning the floor what his job was. The person said their job was to put a man on the moon. Now that’s a focused workforce.  What would your people say they do in your radio station if someone were to ask?

Don’t wonder what the answer is, ask your people. Get everyone on the same page.

Facebook

The world we live in today has blurred the lines between our work life and our home life. Our computers, tablets and smartphones now mean we are always available to our employer and always able to connect with our social networks. So should you ban Facebook? I was asked do to that once by one of my employees. My response was “no” I would not ban Facebook. And here’s why: First that person got all their work done and done correctly. That person was available to me at any time 24/7 if I needed something fixed regarding our program logs. If I could invade their home life, if necessary, then their home life could invade my work place.

The good news is recent research has shown that employees who take social network breaks online are more productive than those that don’t. Everyone needs to take a break and refresh to continue to perform at the highest levels they are possible of achieving.

Sales people are known to take a break after a lot of “No’s” and hit some golf balls at the driving range to refresh and get back to closing sales.

Personal Ethics

You know right from wrong. Never let any work place or manager compromise your personal ethics or values. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. And if that “duck” doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Take a stand. Speak up, especially if you’re the manager because your people only have you standing between them and the top management of your company.

Failure is Learning

Want to learn more, fail more often and more quickly. Sounds counter-intuitive but research has proven that failure is all part of the way we learn. We only eliminate the unsuccessful paths by finding out if they lead us to success or not.

I had the opportunity to visit the Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey. A sign in the lab where Edison had invented the light bulb had this Edison quote: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Don’t fear failure. Learn to take risks.

Management vs. Leadership

In the end, what you really want to become is a leader. What’s the difference you ask? Peter Drucker says it best:

Management is doing things right;

leadership is doing the right things.

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Building Trust

trust-building-big-sizeA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Why I Fired My Top Salesperson.” And it all came down to a single reason, trust. I can’t think of one thing a successful leader needs to do more in a business than establish a culture of trust.

 

Leaders influence people. Trust is the foundation upon which the ability to influence others is built.

 

Simon Sinek puts it this way: “Being a good leader is like being a good parent. You catch glimmers of hope when you catch them doing something right, but you really don’t know if you’ve done a good job for like 30-years.”

 

Trust is comprised of two basic components: character and competence. Character means you make decisions that go beyond your own self-interests. Certainly, in firing my top salesperson, that wasn’t going to help my month or quarter. It wasn’t in my own self-interests for the present moment. But knowing that the long-term good of my radio stations was the value I was protecting, and maintaining the trust of the people who I worked with every day, made doing the right thing clear albeit difficult. Competence doesn’t mean having all the answers. Competence means having the experience and knowledge to make decisions that positively impact the performance of the enterprise and the courage to ask for help when you need it. (I always tell people I have an awesome contact file full of brilliant people to call when I need help.)

 

When your people trust your character and believe in your competence, they will follow you wherever you lead them.

 

Being a trusted leader is done with love.

 

I attended Weight Watcher meetings for the first time in my life this year. Like everyone else on the planet I wanted to drop a few pounds, but I also wanted to see if I could pick up any new information about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. What I learned was that change occurs by what you consistently do every day. That message was shared by others in the room that had lost lots of weight, all taking the same journey and it was shared with love. Simon Sinek also says when we are surrounded by people who believe what we believe and we feel loved, trust develops.

 

10,000 Hours

 

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book “The Tipping Point” that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. You can’t rush trust building anymore than you can rush how long it takes to make a baby. Babies are born when they are good and ready. And you can’t build trust via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other form of modern day communication. You build trust when people come together through human contact. It’s why webinars lose one of the main benefits of seminars, that being people coming together and meeting one another. (Besides, I don’t know about you, but I’m always doing at least two other things when I’m on a webinar.)

 

Again, when we’re surrounded by people who believe what we believe trust develops.

 

Be Like Ed Koch

 

Ed Koch was a three-time mayor of New York City. Mayor Koch was famous for asking people everywhere he went “How Am I Doing?” He got in their faces and asked. Over and over and over; Mayor Koch asked “How Am I Doing?”

 

You build trust by being consistent.

 

The best teachers teach by sharing their mistakes and what they learned. People don’t connect with perfection. People connect with people who’ve been there, screwed it up, learned from it and shared the experience. Real courage is being able to share your mistakes with others and like who you are in the process of doing that.

 

When you reveal yourself in this way, you demonstrate what you believe and value.

 

In other words, you build trust.

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