Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"If they're not helping you, they're hurting you" Norm Goldsmith

This month in 2001 we lost a bigger than life original, The Great Goldsmith. A few weeks after his passing friends of Norm gathered in Napa at the Silverado Country Club for "The Great Goldsmith's Last Hurrah!" We raised a glass to the life and times of one of the world's most lovable duffers. While Norm is certainly respected for his many and valuable contributions as a management consultant, sales consultant and trainer, he is best remembered as an advocate, a candid maverick and friend to those working in ad supported, measured media. He was blessed with rare and uncommon gifts, a world-class raconteur his natural ability to hold any audience spellbound remains the stuff of legend. When I first hired Norm to consult our company it was the beginning of a highly successful partnership and, more importantly, the start of an incredible friendship. When Norm and Ken Greenwood had the idea to launch what became their "Leadership Institute for Managers" our firm along with Shamrock (Disney), Emmis and Federated (Dillie) supported and funded their startup. All who attended gained from the unique experience, all who sent folks to study, think and learn with Norm and Ken were richer for the investment. Norm's words quoted above are as fresh, relevant and perhaps even more appropriate today than they were back when. Norm's point was if our managers and sellers are not moving things forward they are, in fact, hurting our organization, doing long-term harm to our business. In celebration of this amazing gentleman, here's more from The Great Goldsmith. This writing is his from late 1992:

"...the combination of fragmentation and a poor business climate have had a negative impact in three key areas. First, we've shifted from a demand-driven to a supply-driven marketplace. Second, our pricing - once set by the top outlets - is essentially determined by the middle and bottom stations. Third, escalating advertiser demands and decreasing cost efficiences have made more traditional sources of revenue less profitable. You don't need an MBA from Wharton to figure out the ramifications."

"Salespeople no longer can be satisfied with the traditional sources of revenue that have provided enough money for their needs - they have to be accountable for their station's needs as well."

Norm also provided the "redirection" required to fix the problems when he wrote

"...every member of today's high-performance sales team must adhere to the following beliefs:
They are running a business, and they're accountable for the business's success - regardless of the economy or the loss of ratings, orders, or accounts. They must appreciate the importance of planning, so that they run their business effectively. They must want to grow, learn and try new approaches. Otherwise they become good players in a game that's no longer being played. We seem to have a lot of those around today. They must learn to be a strategic partner to clients and a valuable resource in meeting objectives - not an old-line financial partner, counted on to meet cost criteria. They must be team players. A senior AE, especially, must understand he or she has the responsibility to be a positive role model to the staff in return for being allowed to earn more money by handling some of the station's more lucrative accounts. They must take pride in their work, be passionate about it, and - above all else - have fun."

Were this great gentleman around today what would he say? My sense is he would state the obvious using that famous line from Pogo "we have met the enemy and he is us". Houston, we have a leadership problem.

Today when our firm is engaged to conduct an evaluation of a property, something we call a strategic audit, or inventory of best practice, we employ one of the measures first taught to me by my sales mentor Kevin B. Sweeney. "List the top 100 advertisers, year to date and last calendar year, of your daily newspaper" We have not yet been introduced to a team that has had this critical information already in hand and employed. Nothing but upside in these cases.

Congratulations to Sherman Kizart - he's been promoted and is now an Interep Senior Vice President. Good things happen to good people and for Sherman this is only the beginning.

Congratulations to Jim Kerr - he's joining Pollack Media as Director Programming/Creative Services. Very smart move Jeff.