Tag Archives: Tom Peters

Do The Right Thing

Do the Right ThingManaging people is a challenging proposition.

In fact, back in February of 2017, I wrote a whole article about how “Radio would be a great business…if it weren’t for the people.” You can read that article HERE.

The reality is; however, radio IS a people business.

Great radio is created by great people.

Dress Appropriately

I was immediately taken back in time when I read a recent Fred Jacobs blog article recapping a panel he moderated at the NAB2018 convention in Las Vegas. The panel was called “Fast Track to the Future” and you can read Fred’s article about it HERE.

The one big thing the panelists all appeared to agree on, wrote Fred, was that the radio industry needs “to move quickly, strategically, and soundly with as little interference and friction as possible.”

GM’s CEO Mary Bara was tasked with helping to re-write GM’s 10-page company dress code. Bara reduced that document to just two words: “Dress Appropriately.”

As soon as I read that, I thought of the Jacor Employee Handbook that was condensed by Randy Michaels when he led that radio broadcaster. Randy was reported to have turned it into just four words: “Do the Right Thing.”

I’m sure Randy, much as did Mary Bara, got some pushback from the company’s HR department, legal eagles and management. Bara’s reasoning for this two-word policy is golden.

“What I realized is that you really need to make sure your managers are empowered – because if they cannot handle ‘dress appropriately,’ what other decisions can they handle?”

Employee Handbooks

Every company these days has created an employee handbook and crafted a mission statement.

Reading these handbooks are as exciting and memorable as spending an evening with your life insurance salesperson. They’re full of legalese. They tend to drain you of your enthusiasm rather than inspire you.

Billionaire Sam Zell’s handbook when he took over Tribune opened with a simple statement: “Rule No. 1: Use your best judgment. Rule No.2: See rule No. 1.” I’m sure Sam was inspired by Tom Peter’s writing in his book “In Search of Excellence” about his grocery store in Connecticut, Stew Leonard’s, where their rules for customer service are literally written in stone: “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1.”Stew Leonard Customer Policy

These are what I like to think of as “horse sense rules.” Just plain common sense.

There’s no ambiguity. They are crystal clear, easily remembered and implemented by everyone in the organization.

Company Mission Statements

Likewise, if your people can’t immediately share your mission statement, then it’s got problems. In fact, your customers should be able to identify with your mission statement by the way your employees perform, even if they don’t know a single word in your company mission statement.

Let me try one out for you and see if you understand what I’m trying to say. Southwest Airlines has the following mission statement: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company Spirit.”

I fly only Southwest Airlines and have been for years, I can attest that before I even looked up their official company mission statement, I enjoyed that type of treatment from them when flying.

Empowerment by Doing

A side note on the Southwest mission statement, they also commit to all their employees that the company will provide “the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.”

I believe that’s what keeps Southwest a consistent leader in their industry. They empower their people by exhibiting the desired behavior throughout the enterprise. From the top of the company to the bottom, everyone exhibits the very qualities to each other they want deliverd to the company’s customers.

Leadership today is all about inspiring people and empowering them to believe in themselves, their company and the path that lies ahead. (For more on this, read “3 Leadership Lessons” HERE.)

Leadership

Barry Drake (“40 Years, 40,000 Sales Calls”) was a guest speaker in my university Capstone Class and shared these thoughts about leadership:

  • A leader is anyone other people will follow.
  • A leader must have integrity.
  • A leader must do what’s right and what’s best for the enterprise, even though they realize not everyone will be happy with some of the decisions that have to be made.
  • A leader must earn their people’s respect every minute of every day.
  • Be aware of everything going on all around, all of the time. Read all the trades, read the latest news about business and anything else that will impact your business and that of your radio station’s advertisers.

Management vs. Leadership

The radio industry needs leaders, not managers, in all levels of the organization. Radio’s CEOs need to empower their people. They need to “reward excellent failures and punish mediocre successes” says Tom Peters.

Radio needs to stop playing defense and start playing offense.

Turn your people loose.

Management is doing things right;

leadership is doing the right things.

-Peter Drucker

 

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Fail. Forward. Fast.

Success FailureIf there is one thing that both college professors and college students have in common, is that they both hate to fail. Professors never want to see their students fail. And students fear failing on many levels.

But failure is a necessary part of success.

Tom Peters

In my sales classes, I showed a short video clip of Tom Peters sharing his favorite slide from his huge slide deck. It reads:

Fail. Forward. Fast.

(“Reward Excellent Failures, Punish Mediocre Successes.”)

Nobody wins by playing it safe.

Nobody learns either.

Woody Allen

Woody cut his creative teeth during the Golden Age of Television writing for Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.”

Woody learned “if you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

Radio Innovation

When I was growing up, the radio dial was a cornucopia of innovation.

Every radio station was original and unique.

Sunset would open up the skywave for AM radio listening and I would tune in great radio stations like WKBW from Buffalo, WLS & WCFL from Chicago, CKLW from Windsor-Ontario, Canada and many, many more.

Each of them was unique, a part of their community and provided great companionship.

Then radio began to copy one another.

Imitation, while maybe the sincerest form of flattery, lacks innovation.

Best Practices

With the passage of the Telcom Act of 1996, the radio industry began to rapidly consolidate.

The concept of “Best Practices” would further stifle experimentation and failure by trying to lay a safe, secure foundation for every radio station in these expanding companies to follow.

The new publicly funded corporations quickly learned that funding, not innovation was the way to grow larger. Money gets invested in business models that are familiar.

That’s why the movie industry cranks out so many sequels when they find a hit film.

Failure leads to Innovation

Thomas Edison when asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times inventing his light bulb responded “I didn’t fail 1, 000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Walt Disney is said to have gone bankrupt a couple of times before he became a successful innovator.

In other words, we can learn, grow and become better from our failures.

Radio’s New Heroes’

I’m confident that new blood is flowing into the radio industry that will quickly discard things that aren’t working, try new ideas, innovate and fail, forward, fast.

Everything in life brings risk.

It’s true that you risk failure if you try something bold

because you might miss it.

But you also risk failure if you stand still and don’t try anything new.”

-John C. Maxwell

 

 

 

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Real Possibilities

AARPBefore I get into the meat of this week’s post, I first need to walk you through a bit of a preamble. Also, this week’s post is a continuance of last week’s post about Millennials vs. Baby Boomers, so if you missed it, you might want to read that first here before you read this week’s. Now please bear with me while I set-up the story for this week’s post.

I’ve been a card carrying member of AARP since I turned 50. When you hit this milestone birthday, don’t worry the folks at AARP will find you and solicit you to become a member.

When I became a member, AARP stood for the American Association of Retired Persons. But at age 50, I was a long way from actually retiring.

AARP was founded in 1958, so this organization could be classified a “Baby Boomer” just like me. And just like me, AARP has changed over the years. It officially changed its name from the American Association of Retired Persons to just AARP. AARP no longer requires members be retired but they must be at least 50 years of age.

In 2013, AARP launched its “Life Reimagined” program that sub-labeled the “RP” part of AARP to mean “Real Possibilities.” You see, AARP realizes that today people aren’t thinking about retiring when they hit 50 as much as they are thinking about tackling a second, or maybe a third career or endeavor.

At my university we started a wellness program in 2013. I was a charter member. Our university self-insures employees for healthcare and one of the ways to control costs is to incentivize employees to be as healthy as possible.

My university office is on the third floor of the Mass Media & Technology Hall building. We have three elevators in our building. I never use them. I prefer the stairs for two reasons: 1) they are much quicker than the elevator and 2) I use the stairs as a part of my wellness fitness program.

When a student says they’d like to meet with me for a moment in my office after class, I often find them a third of the way up the stairs when I reach the top floor (I take stairs two-steps at a time). They are also huffing and puffing. I just wait for them to catch up.

Now here’s the point of this week’s post…

Millennials Don’t Know What Age “Old” Is

Millennials are today’s media buyers. Millennials are today’s creative’s. Millennials are today’s planners. Heck, Millennials are probably the people running the place too. So if they have a warped concept of age, it is going to affect their advertising placement decisions.

Millennials now populate today’s media properties. They are the programmers, air talent, sales management, sales people and possibly the senior management.

I just met the director of Cox Digital Media in Las Vegas this past April and he is 28 years old.

Millennials Describe What Old Age Means to Them

Well AARP did some research into this question of what Millennials think “old” is. Then they asked them to show them what they thought “old” looks like. Then they introduced these same Millennials to some real “old” folks. Best of all, AARP recorded everything on video.

Watch the four-minute long video and then continue reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYdNjrUs4NM

See the problem now?

If you are wondering why more radio stations aren’t programming to Baby Boomers, or if you are wondering why more media buyers aren’t buying the BIG MONEY demos, now you have a better understanding of the problem. They think you and I have one foot in grave, instead of one foot away from the summit of Mount Everest.

Corvette Buyers

I live a short distance away from the only place Chevrolet makes the Corvette in the world. The average age of a Corvette buyer is 59. Boomers and people even older are the people who are buying Corvettes. They are NOT the Geritol-set.

We Are Part of the Problem

We call them Millennials, Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers etc, but another way to look at these generations is as tribes. Seth Godin has written extensively about this concept.

Seth says that sooner or later tribes begin to exclude newcomers. So each of these groups operates in their own little silo because it is easier than to keep breaking in newbies and because it could threaten the existing power structure.

Consolidation

The consolidation of media hasn’t helped either. RIFs (Reduction In Force) mainly dismissed the highest priced employees (Boomers) and left an organization of low cost employees (Millennials) all in the pursuit of increasing Shareholder Value.

Recent studies have shown that private companies out-perform public companies. The reason, they operate on the Peter Drucker principle that the only valid purpose of an enterprise is to create a customer. Privately owned radio companies also out-perform their publicly traded radio company counterparts. Same reason.

Turns out delighting customers is simple, clear and measurable, moreover it is the genuine path to successfully operating any business.

Leadership

The first question of a leader always is: “Who do we intend to be?”

NOT “What are we going to do?

BUT “Who do we intend to be?”

In other words, says Max De Pree of Herman Miller “What are we here for?”

Napoleon put it this way “Leaders are dealers in hope.”

Tom Peters says “The leader is the person who inspires us, sends us on quests to places we had never imagined.”

Think Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and so many more just like them.

To paraphrase the title of Lee Iacocca’s 2008 book:

“Where have all of the radio leaders gone?”

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