Friday, August 31, 2007

"Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in art, in music, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man." Steinbeck

"Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal. The winner is he who gives himself to his work, body and soul." Charles Buxton

"Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech." M. T. Tupper

My favorite Rich person likes it:
Great Big Radio is good stuff says Bobby.

Back next week with a brand new show. Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"My clearest recollection of a long-ago interview with Thomas A. Edison is of a single sentence that was painted or hung on a wall in his room. In effect, the sentence was: 'It is remarkable to what lengths people will go to avoid thought.' That is tragically true. Some of us think, more of us think we think, and most of us don't even think of thinking." Pollack

"The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages, but what he will do with the things he has." Hamilton Wright Mabie

"Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory. Nothing can be made of nothing; he who had laid up no materials can produce no combinations." Sir J. Reynolds

Todays image:
Step Up by Thomas Hawk. Thank you very much.

He takes pictures in the graveyard: Fred Winston, celebrated radio star, has favored us with a couple of new pics from the cemetery of the rich and famous - Waveland on Chicago's north side here.

Video: Michael J. Copps via PBS' Bill Moyers. On broadcasters - " this environment...less and less captains of their own fate and more and more captives of the unforgiving expectations of Wall Street and Madison Avenue...Citizen action can still work." 19:29 of video here. Also on offer, discussion of low power radio.

Why Washington Post Radio Died - WaPo's Marc Fisher dials us in...

"At first, the idea was to create a throwback to radio's golden era, with a station designed like a magazine, with different departments each hour--an hour on travel from the folks in the paper's Travel section, an hour with the editors from Book World, an hour of politics, and so on. But with the station making not a blip in the ratings and with its producers increasingly convinced that too many of the Post's writers had perhaps chosen a career in print for a good reason, the executives at Bonneville quickly moved to scrap the original format and go to something they knew more intimately--a tightly-organized hourly clock with different stories and personalities appearing every five minutes or so.

Listeners had every reason to wonder what had happened to the increased depth they had been promised. Print editors accustomed to a more serious news menu clashed with radio producers who argued that their medium required a more populist and lowbrow selection of stories. In each newsroom, too many people rolled their eyes over the cluelessness of their cross-town partners.

When the radio-side producers one morning invited on the air and lightly questioned some nutball hawking a conspiracy theory about how the U.S. government had arranged for the 9/11 attacks, editors in the Post newsroom went ballistic. Although many attempts would follow to find a happy medium between the two news sensibilities, the basic reservoir of mutual respect had dropped suddenly and permanently to a dangerous low."

Read the entire piece (w/comments) here. Bravos to Marc! My sense is the concept is strong, this appears to be an execution, a leadership, issue.

One small step for TVB, one giant leap for video: Kudos to TVB prexy Chris Rohrs. 28 station groups are now signed on to the ePort initiative. The latest include Cox Television, KTTV, LA and WNYW, New York. Thanks too to NAB for having the courage to seed the project.

Buzz: Team Diller & Dow Jones step up to ready (of ready, set, go) stage for their coming JV. Catch their FiLife blog here.

Does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care? Daniel Henninger writes via WSJ OpinionJournal...

"Big media and big politics are all flying through an electronic meteor shower just now, and not all will survive. But, like "Star Wars," it'll be fun to watch the carnage. The GOP candidates have their own CNN/YouTube debate in November. Most, after seeing a Snowman dominate the Democrats' debate, have been leery of the format. They should be. I wouldn't want to argue with a Snowman."

Congrats & cheers: Len Besinger named DOS at; David Devonshire, Motorola Exec VP, joins Arbitron board - Steve Morris making the smart move of getting some additional tech experience in the house. Anne Sweeney being honored with the 2008 Golden Mike award by BFA.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Photo: August Mendota Sunset by dawn perry. Beautiful. Thank you!

"Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks." Ben Jonson

"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." Burke

"Mirth is God's medicine; everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety - all the rust of life - ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth." Orison Swett Marden

Thank you very much: Dick Biondi, Fred Winston, Kipper McGee
, Tom Teuber and Jimmy de Castro. Enjoyed a wonderful lunch in Chicago yesterday. Dick and Fred, two legendary and gifted talents, were each in their usual rare form. Kipper and Tom, renowned programming aces, offered interesting insights, valuable counsel. Jimmy, the inimitable and affable serial entrepreneur, stopped by our table to say hi and told us his new company, The Content Factory, is all about creating great radio. Jimmy's team lunching at the table next to ours.

Thanks too: Tom Teuber for sharing the remarkable story about Rose Bimler, a creation of the great Dan Sorkin. Dick Biondi kicked off the topic when he told us Sorkin's Bimler had been the inspiration for the Real Don's "Tina Delgado is alive, alive." Tom gave us the detail only a then local Sorkin P1 could provide. And now we know the rest of that story thanks to Dick and Tom. During that discussion Fred Winston shared some cogent observations on Sorkin and the power of talent driven, personality radio.

The brilliant Al Heacock: Harry Martin, Happy Hare, has written a tribute to Al Heacock. Al has always been one of my heroes. Harry also goes on to mention the genius Bill Kaland. During my watch at WBZ we were tasked with "clearing" file cabinets as part of a massive house cleaning and remodeling project. What we found were decades of paper dating back before the second world war. Several hundred pounds of documents ended up not in the dumpster but the trunk of my car. Many of those documents were written by Al Heacock. His memoranda to staff, to senior management, to his colleagues across the company.

Al writes a very good review of Dick Biondi in one of his "DJ Tours" memos indicating to his fellow Group W programmers his intention to hire Dick should the opportunity present itself (it never did). There were also notes and memos from corporate staff including those by the legendary group programming executive Bill Kaland. It was my good fortune to have A.B. "Bill" Hartman come into my life. Bill, a great general manager, gave me the back story on Al, shared lessons learned.

It was Jim Yergin and Roy Shapiro who first introduced me to Bill Kaland, a gentleman I came to know during and after my stay with Group W. Bill had a great mind, more wise than a tree full of owls. I commend Harry Martin for his remembrance and highly recommend his writing and his suggestion to get Al into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bravo Harry! Well done. Read Harry's writing here. The work, words and wisdom of Heacock and Kaland have continued to inspired me. These gifted gentlemen were both on my mind when I composed the monograph - A Great Program Director.

LATER: Enjoyed a fun conversation with Harry, thanks for the call! My thought is the gifted Dick Summer in his contribution to Harry's tribute to Al may have one small detail wrong. My recall is that Al went from WBZ to KDKA. Al was certainly involved in the brain trust that created 1010 WINS (along with Kaland and another genius Jimmy Lightfoot) however 1020 was Al's stop after 1030 rather than 1010.

BCWW: Staci D. Kramer files from Seoul via paidContent. The Arne Wessberg keynote...

"Traditional media as intermediary: Wessberg: “The traditional broadcasters do have an invaluable asset—the reputation. “ He sees a role for traditional media as guides when those used to less choice explore the new media.

You may sense a theme here, although I’m not sure it’s the one he meant to get across. Wessberg, like so many others, comes from a traditional media and entertainment world trying to keep a firm footing while standing on the digital equivalent of tectonic plates in the midst of a seismic event."

Kudos Staci, good job. Read Staci's entire item here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cartoon credit: Hugh MacLeod, Gapingvoid. Hugh, thank you very much.

"Knowledge cannot be stolen from us. It cannot be bought or sold. We may be poor, and the sheriff may come and sell our furniture, or drive our cow, or take our pet lamb, and leave us homeless and penniless; but he cannot lay the law's hand upon the jewelry of our minds." Burritt

"Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect." Johnson

"There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed." Buddha

Gone fishing; a brand new show tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Photo: Sweet Brother by Thomas Hawk. Awesome image. Thank you!

"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity." Louis Pasteur

"Good listeners generally make more sales than good talkers." B. C. Holwick

"Success is never final and Failure never fatal. It's courage that counts." George Tilton

Today's lead quotation was noticed in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Yesterday we made our way south to Little Switzerland had a great lunch at the New Glarus Hotel and stopped by the New Glarus Brewing Company for a beer tasting. Noticed the great Pasteur quote on the brewhouse wall high above the copper kettles. My thanks to Deb & Daniel Carey (owners of the New Glarus Brewing Company) for the great brew and for the inspiration.

Monthly report: In the last thirty days. Top ten visitors by country - USA, Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany and Netherlands. Top five most emailed posts - Drake & Sklar by Bob Henabery, Pong, A Great General Manager, Allan Stagg, Catch Them Doing Something Right!

My thanks to Claude Hall for the pic just above. A gathering of legends. As Claude writes: "George Wilson hasn't slowed down in his radio travels. From left: Jackie Wilson with George behind her; Paul Gallis, a legend in record promotion; Fran Gallis with Vince Gleason behind her; Jack Lee and wife Barbara; in back Bob Barry; Tom Shanahan, Nancy Barry at right. Photo at Bob Barry's home in Milwaukee. Some very great radio people featured here."

Yeah, we're drinking merlot: Great value under $10. Columbia Crest, Grand Estates Merlot, Columbia Valley, 2004. Bravos to Winemaker Ray Einberger!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Photo by Ron Fell. Wonderful shot. Thank you very much!

"The power of imagination makes us infinite." John Muir

"Facts are the most important thing in business. Study facts and do more than is expected of you." Frederick Ecker

"An executive is a man who decides; sometimes he decides right, but always he decides." John H. Patterson

What can broadcast do today that no one else can? Make people special. Make heroes happen.

Recognition. Local. Forget name dropping Paris, again. People in your DMA have cause to celebrate, take notice, spread the word!

Those of us working in the trade forget how very, very cool it is to hear our name on the radio, see and hear our name on the screen.

The best part - it's not the person we mention that hears or sees it in real time, it's all of their friends, their family, the people important in their lives who tell them about it.

Names make news! Local, local, local!

Bonus: Tom Asacker - this is one you do not want to miss. Highly recommended. Bravo Tom!

Bonus 2: Leave it to ace programmer Lee Arnold to share stuff we need to be reading, here and here. Suggested with every pixel at my command. Each a good read - thank you very much, Lee.

Countdown to the sweeps: Want an edge in the sweeps? Invite an outsider in, a person without an agenda, someone who is not dialed-in to your situation. The professional who will ask the obvious questions, the questions you are no longer sensitive enough to note because you are too close to the action - too involved in the work to notice. It's about perspective.

If I owned, managed or programmed a rock radio station of any flavor, no matter how well positioned, without respect to how right we were for the upcoming sweep I would invite Lee Arnold in for a day. If you're #1 he could help you create a greater lead, if you're #2 he could help you to reach or close on #1, and if you're not #1 or #2 then you really need to get him into your discussions now. Reach him via his blog here.

One million dollars: That's how much Coca-Cola paid to have their logo on the MySpace home page for one day (8/17).

Buzz: Hearing a good deal of chatter about HeyNielsen. Stay tuned. It will probably go public this fall. In the meantime check out their blog here (do sign up for the beta).

"Culture is more important than technology"
"Transparency is viral... it's really fundamental"

Video: Google chief Eric Schmidt on net neutrality, free speech, universal access, advertising, ip and more via YouTube here. Related story by Timothy Karr via HP here. Eric says "Keep it free and open" and he is spot-on. Eric, thank you very much for getting out in front of these issues!

Video: Process Enacted by Jordan C. Greenhalgh. Amazing. Bravos! Watch Jordan's short here.

Video: CitizeNews - Michael Rosenblum has the back story here. Congrats & cheers Michael! What is so very cool about the work that Michael does is the work that Michael does. He's not just talking about doing something, he's out there making something happen. If you are not following his blog you are not watching the future happen and the future is happening right before our eyes. We are fortunate Michael favors us by sharing. Join the future, already in progress, just jump over to his blog here.

Please make a note of it: Doc is now blogging at Harvard. "Same old blog, brand new place" here.

Might as well start up a new blog: All about Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM). Day one of beta, your comments, suggestions and contributions invited. PPM News & Comment

Then you get the bill: iJustine gets her first iPhone bill from AT&T, in a box.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Photo by Ron Fell. Very cool, thank you, Ron!

"The arts and institutions of men are created out of thought. The powers that make the capitalist are metaphysical, the force of method and force of will makes trade, and builds towns." Emerson

"Seek those who find your road agreeable, your personality and mind stimulating, your philosophy acceptable, and your experience helpful. Let those who do not, seek their own kind." Henri Fabre

"When a great man has some object in view to be achieved in a given time, it may be absolutely necessary for him to walk out of all the common roads." Burke

A bunch of chatter this week about Arbitron's new Portable People Meter (PPM), the device being rolled out to replace the paper diaries used to capture radio listening behaviors. The subject is of great interest to radio broadcasters as it should be. Arbitron is hosting one of their consultant fly-in events at the Columbia, MD campus today. A meeting I'm sorry to miss due to other work. Congrats and kudos to Steve Morris, Pierre Bouvard, Gary Marince, Ron Rodrigues, Dr Ed Cohen, Bob Patchen and the Arbitron team for keeping the conversation alive, the parties engaged and doing so with transparency.

Some thoughts on PPM.

I began going to school on PPM over a decade ago when I was introduced to Dr. Roberta McConochie. She was then director of strategic research for Arbitron, leading the Pathfinder program and working in the area of new media. What impressed me most about Dr McConochie was not her measured speech, nor her gracious manner in making the complex simple. It was her curiosity. She had done her homework, she was asking great questions. My thought was she needed to be heard, she deserved an audience with industry. We were fortunate to have her accept our invitation to speak at The Conclave. The first session at an industry conference dedicated to PPM happened in Minneapolis one summer day many years ago. I moderated the session which was attended by a small group of about twenty-five programmers. We were too far ahead of the curve, not one trade pub made mention of the ground breaking event.

Now that PPM is no longer a science project but a practical reality, whenever two or more are gathered in the name of radio PPM is a hot topic of discussion. Overnight we have scores of PPM experts offering station and group folks assistance. Some of these same experts would have us believe they are qualified to confront Arbitron and take the lead in what amounts to an ongoing ratings police action. My opinion is most of these so-called experts are not qualified to discuss the subject matter at any serious depth. Suggesting one knows how to game the new system seems premature (to be polite about it). These same know-it-alls would not likely finish a basic undergrad course in statistics with honors much less be able to hold their own in any graduate level survey research lab. However, as Buzz Bennett famously said "Everyone has the right to program." It's radio where everyone actually does enjoy that right to program. Moreover, every programmer can claim, with little if any objection, to be a research and ratings expert. Seems to me too many are doing just that. Bottom line: the job of the program director is to deliver numbers to the sales department. If a PD is not able to do that they need to find other work.

Reading all of the rants about PPM over the last few weeks reminds me that some working in the programming trade should think before they opine. A sidebar: in my experience a good third of radio programmers are at home in the camp of grassy knoll theorists. Their particular brand of skepticism tainted with unwarranted notions of conspiracy. Like all fanatics they are vocal. Theirs is a repertoire rich with old programmer's tales, of finding black magic at work in Beltsville. About the single household that made a competitor #1, how they caught the arbiter red-handed and saved the day. They hold the belief that Arbitron's flawed methodology is the real and only reason why their station (or their format) has failed to move the needle. The station's not sick, it's sample size and methodology that's to blame, again! They are convinced beyond all empirical evidence to the contrary that their station, their format is in reality a winner and simply not getting proper listening credit. Further, some few of this group are convinced Arbitron is out to undo them, an evil enterprise dedicated to passing off slipshod research as good. Arbitron as the wily fox that must be watched.

A friend who works at Arbitron once said "When the phone rings it's never good news. No one ever calls us to say 'you guys rock' this book got it right, my station is #1 and we thank you." Seems to me the industry conversation is too frequently moved by the losers, those deprived of the higher ranker positions needed to generate the instant rainfall of "push print and buy" orders, the related waves of cash and the adulation of an industry and its trade pubs. These ratings starved folks are often unwilling to admit their own role in the poor showing, they tend to be talented makers of original excuses and, sometimes, it is even within their power to elevate rationalizing failure into persuasive dramatic art. While the experienced few may understand the true nature of estimates (i.e., one data point is high, another low and a third perhaps closest to the reality of the measured moment) too many others seek absolute truth at a discount when no such solution is possible nor practical.

Research is expensive, it's hard work and yet it remains an estimate. And that's the reality of survey research - it produces estimates. Chance error, sample bias, and the vagaries of any new method of capture, collection and data architecture are all baked in to that effort. We must accept and at some point trust that the arbiter will do their best, do what they must to produce a credible and reliable product and in doing so get and keep our business. Good research is never cheap and cheap research is never good.

PPM is a good idea but we've all got a lot of learning to do to make the best of it. Like any attempt to capture human behavior it is complex, a major challenge of multivariate proportions. It requires and deserves the ongoing attention of the research and user communities. Let's keep the conversation candid, the analysis serious and studied, and the debate informed. We must demand the rigor of intellectual honesty above all else. Now that we do have the first working meter, let's all agree to keep our discussions and initiatives to improve this new technology dialed up to eleven.

Closed circuit to Arbitron: don't let the hacks get you down.

LATER: A bunch of email response to this post. About 50% favorable, 40% unfavorable and 10% saying it is too early to tell how good or bad PPM will be for radio in contrast to how radio has done with diary capture. The majority of comments submitted have been negative. Because comments are moderated here I have deleted over fifty for one of three reasons 1) profanity - I would edit the language but then these comments would look like redacted FOIA documents, almost every fourth word being an expletive - I'm taking a pass. Bring on the conspiracy comments. 2) incoherent 3) off topic (e.g., "hey cheesehead your packers lost last night, who's crying now big fella"). My thanks to those that have joined the conversation. More next week.

Have a great weekend.

OK - so we'll start up another blog, one dedicated to PPM. Your suggestions, comments, and contributions are invited. Let's put it right here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Practice shows that those who speak the most knowingly and confidently often end up with the assignment to get the job done." William Swanson

Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management:
unwritten rule number thirteen...

"Here again, the key is to be a contributor of substance. If you speak up when you are knowledgeable on a particular subject, you will inspire the confidence of your management and you will get assignments that will allow you to demonstrate your worth. However, if you speak up when you are not knowledgeable, you may well sign on for an assignment you can't handle.

This is a great example of how a willingness to volunteer, coupled with a 'no fear' attitude (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean), got me some great assignments. But beware, there is a hugh downside to volunteering if you are just 'winging' it!"

Excellent counsel. My thanks, again, to William Swanson

YouTube: 10% of all internet traffic, streaming 1.9 billion minutes of video a month. Elise Ackerman does a nice job reviewing the latest Google-YouTube ad model. Read Now playing on YouTube: in-video ads via The Mercury News here. Miguel Helft offers up a solid reading of the news w/video, Google Aims to Make YouTube Profitable with Ads via NYT here.

Kudos: Speaking of Google, kudos to Jess Lee and the Google Maps crew on their formal release of YouTube-style embeddable maps. Bravo! More info here. The smart money is on Google releasing a geoparsing API. Sweet indeed.

Banner Blindness: Usability maven Jakob Nielsen tells it like it is...

"The most prominent result from the new eyetracking studies is not actually new. We simply confirmed for the umpteenth time that banner blindness is real. Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it's actually an ad."

He tells us the three design elements that are most effective at attracting eyeballs are

  1. Plain text
  2. Faces
  3. Cleavage and other "private" body parts.
Read Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings here.

Jakob's ongoing confirmations serve to prove the wisdom of our earlier best practices counsel to clients. Investing funds in cpm deals is clearly a poor move especially when one is offered the alternative of cpc or cpa investment. The same holds true on the seller side. Banner bucks in all but national placements seldom produce results that lead to renewal.

Buyer beware department: sites that use auto-refresh to ramp up page views. Is one trade pub using this technique to pump up their lackluster stats? My sense is - yes. Sad that folks have to do such things. Watch it out there, things are not always as the seller represents.

Bonus: blogging for cooks - 24 boxes. Scott Meyer offers up Basic Instructions. Thanks to the Blogger crew for both tips.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"The percentage of mistakes in quick decisions is no greater than in long-drawn-out vacillations, and the effect of decisiveness itself 'makes things go' and creates confidence." Anne O'Hare McCormick

"The most successful business man is the man who holds onto the old just as long as it is good and grabs the new just as soon as it is better." Robert Vanderpoel

"There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind." Napoleon

Why's Conde Nast's Portfolio So Bad?: Elizabeth Spiers
writes via The New Republic...

My central complaints about issue one: It was pretentious without being sophisticated. It lacked substance and didn't have the courtesy to compensate with style. It talked down to the reader and spent much of its editorial space explaining simple concepts and background information that its supposed target audience--mid-to-senior level executives in their early 40s--would already know. It was fluffy. And it didn't bring any substantive new information to light.

The second issue is slightly better in small ways but still suffers from those primary weaknesses."

Bravo Elizabeth! Well done. Elizabeth also shares her pov on how to fix the book, including a recommendation on a new leader. Read her entire writing here.

Psst, wanna see some pictures?: Radio star Fred Winston is also damn good with a camera, check out the pics here.

MTV + RealNetworks = new iTunes competition: Ethan Smith and Nick Wingfield have coverage via WSJ. Read MTV, RealNetworks Join to Battle iTunes here.

Better off than a year ago or not?
As we approach the first anniversary of his hire it seems reasonable to ask, what has Jeffrey M. Haley accomplished? Is the first tribe of wireless better off today because of his leadership of the RAB? The most direct and candid response seems to be - we don't know. Further, what we can suggest, at this point, is Jeff and team have yet to produce a single significant result. They deserve credit for targeting and soliciting new business, however, they need to put a win on the board.

The responsibility of leadership is to produce results.

In contrast to the RAB, the NAB appears to be on a roll. David Rehr and his N street team are active and aggressive on all fronts. They have raised awareness on critical issues, they have engaged in the important conversations and brought a sense of urgency to the most relevant debates doing so with a new, refreshing intensity, and with purpose. They are serving as advocates, deserving of recognition and praise.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working. Beethoven, Wagner, Bach and Mozart settled down day after day to the job in hand with as much regularity as an accountant settles down each day to his figures. They didn't waste time waiting for inspiration." Ernest Newman

"The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be born by an individual than to know no one cares or understands." Arthur Stainback

"Be not too presumptuously sure in any business; for things of this world depend on such a train of unseen chances that if it were in man's hands to set the tables, still he would not be certain to win the game." Herbert

Richard Perez-Pena
writes How Solid Is the Deal for Tribune Company via NYT here.

I want my GMail: the email app drives Google campus products, details here.

My vote for best Cobb salad: The Grill On The Alley. Had a great lunch at the Chicago store.

The It's Only A Trend department: WCKG in Chicago is doing the right format the wrong way. Overall, 25-54, the station fails to place in the top 20 and has actually managed to fall behind some of the lesser signals in the market. The check engine light is now flashing - warning - the continuing cume slide has now put the station under 200k. The star of this show, Steve Dahl, continues to be the station's only solid ratings producer. O&A ain't making it. Middays weak. Nights took a hit, perhaps a bounce. It's Only A Trend is the odds on favorite excuse of the hour, in the on-deck circle It's Only The Summer Book. The 25-54 winners this round: WPPN, WOJO, WGCI, WVAZ, WDRV, WTMX, WUSN and WNUA. WKQX was ranked 27th in the demo, and to put this into context, stations ahead of them included WCKG, WSRB and WGRB. Ouch. WSRB beats WCKG in demo; WCKG ties WGRB in demo. Go figure.

Bonus: C. Max Magee is blogging lit at The Millions

Congrats & cheers: James Blunt
. His latest title "1973" is fresh, poppy, catchy (nice hook), a tight track. Props too to the writer, producer, and all involved, sorry - not able to locate credits yet..."I would call you up every Saturday night and we'd both stay out 'til the morning light and we sang "Here we go again" And though time goes by I will always be in a club with you in 1973 singing, "Here we go again" My thanks to JB's fan forum for the confirmation of lyrics. Clever AC, A3 programmers will pair this track with a very cool '73 track. I would alternate best testing with rarely heard on the wireless, drive off the road staff favs of '73. Listener side of the radio objective: "WOW, Am I really hearing this on the radio!?" I'm most certain Teuber, and the other programming aces known by only one name, will have better ideas on staging..."what seemed so strong has been and gone" check out the tune. Also noted Hayley Williams, she might just be one of the most talented teenagers fronting a band this summer. Paramore's Misery Business track is cool.

Spanish red: Another good value under $10. Carchelo 2005 Monastrell.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of association." Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Second thoughts are ever wiser." Euripides

"The men who build the future are those who know that greater things are yet to come, and that they themselves will help bring them out. Their minds are illuminated by the blazing sun of hope. They never stop to doubt. They haven't time." Melvin Evans

Pesky details:
WBBM TV misses the obvious. Michael Miner writes Don't call this number via Chicago Reader here. Thanks to programming ace Tom Teuber for the tip. Which reminds me. Previously I needed to reach a pal at 780, WBBM radio. No main number on the station's website, the directory assistance listing dated and not working. I was told "Yeah, we moved and haven't gotten around to updating the contact info."

Getting better vs Getting different

Recruitment needs a reboot. One need only review the trade want ads. Not a week goes by without some hiring manager calling to say "There's no one out there. We're running trade ads and the applicant qualitative is terrible." My sense is you need to stop running the same boring, ineffective copy. Change up your game. Stop doing what is not working.

You may have seen that certain played out ad for sales managers. It's a laundry list of super hero attributes, it concludes something like this..."If you answered yes to all of these questions we need to hear from you." Well, if I could answer yes to all of those questions I'm not likely to be reading your ad and if I do read your ad why would I have any interest whatsoever in working for you? Using an ideal candidate description is totally acceptable when you are willing to actually pay for that person. Too often folks are wasting valuable time seeking skill sets of six figure talent when they only have a five figure budget. Be realistic, be sincere, be authentic.

What the majority of the bad ads lack is the one critically important element - WIIFM (What's in it for me?). The copy fails to capture the imagination of the qualified applicant. More importantly, the copy fails to capture the attention of those that know the qualified applicant. "Hey, wait a minute, the person they are looking for is my friend Karen!" The incredible power of personal referral. Tell your story. Get the qualified (and those that know them) interested.

People with jobs, generally, don't read the want ads. Want ads attract, in the majority, the unemployed. That's the first rule of recruitment taught us by Kevin Sweeney. It holds true.

David Ogilvy
didn't write a better ad when looking for a creative director, he wrote a very different ad, to wit:

Wanted by
Ogilvy & Mather International


In my experience, there are five kinds of Creative Director:

1. Sound on strategy, dull on execution.
2. Good managers who don't make waves...and don't produce brilliant campaigns either.
3. Duds.
4. The genius who is a lousy leader.
who combine personal genius with inspiring leadership.

We have an opening for one of these rare birds in one of our offices overseas.
Write in inviolable secrecy to me, David Ogilvy, Touffou, 86300 Bonnes, France.

Should we contrast and compare DO's ad with any and all other CD help wanted ads from that day, it's a fair bet - there would be no comparison, not even a contest.

To attract the exceptional talent you need to go off the rez with an exceptional approach. To be clear here, every associate no matter the department nor job title deserves to be considered and respected as talent. It amazes me that folks spend good money to run badly written, plainly boring, cookie cutter recruitment ads with the goal of capturing the attention and interest of our best and brightest. Not going to work, that dog don't hunt.

Stop wasting time and money trying to get better. Start investing time and resources in getting different. Pull away from the pack. Differentiate your company, your opportunity, your recruitment messaging.

Be the first to set up a dedicated voice mail box and invite calls. No calls turns into the very different, please call us - all calls returned. Have the outgoing message recorded by the hiring manager. "Hi this is Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to call. Please leave me a message with your name and phone number and I will call you back. If you have not sent us your resume you can email it directly to me at; thanks, I'll be in touch."

Take advantage of lazy competitors

When we are involved in any recruiting effort we insist on a few rules of engagement that are not negotiable. One involves manners, the protocol of timely, polite, professional response. Think: why spend money to advertise an opportunity, make your best efforts to get the word out and when folks do exactly what you want, when they do precisely as you ask, why would you ignore them? This happens the majority of the time. People make application and nothing happens. Our notion is if someone takes the time to contact you the very least you can and should do is acknowledge receipt of their communication. Further, this is a major opportunity to make a first impression. Bonus: having folks in the gene pool telling others "WOW, they reached out to me!"

Important hint: this is actually part of a much bigger strategy. Recruitment is an ongoing process not an event. You never know where the applicant is going to end up. Today's out of work, perhaps even unqualified applicant, might just turn out to be tomorrow's star, the one that will remember she never heard from you. It's not about hiring for a single position, it's about building the talent portfolio before you need it.


There is never an excuse for bad manners. Respond to all contact. That future star will never forget the simple kindness of good manners. Apply the golden rule, early and often. Your lazy hack competitors will never know what hit them.

There's no shortage of the best and brightest, they are out there, you simply have to admit that you cannot bore them into contacting you, you can't expect to gain their respect with bad manners.

To get results, stop trying to get better and get different.

Today's image: Sun Rays by chefranden. Wonderful shooting. Thank you very much.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Be an advocate

To be a successful and effective leader one needs to be an advocate.

The broadcast leader as advocate:

The general manager is an advocate for ownership and for the enterprise. The sales manager is an advocate for the advertiser and for the seller. The program director is an advocate for the listener or viewer and for the talent.

Wanted: Great general managers. Now, more than ever.

Today's image: Moon over Monona 3 by Dr Starbuck. Beautiful shot. Thank you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"In all theatres where the playwright, scene designer or director is paramount, the actor is auxilliary. He is limited to counterfeit characterisation in accordance with the creativeness of others. This leads to cliche acting. With such violent pressure on an actor there can be no question of his truly living his part." (sic)

Those are the words of the brilliant Constantin Stanislavski. His impact on the process of acting was nothing less than profound. Legendary actor, director and coach, his collaborators included Tolstoy and Chekov. The gentleman changed the entire world of performance art by his invention, so-called method acting.

While a young assistant program director, one of my mentors, the great Paul Drew, taught me..."the program director must pay serious attention to the second word in his job title."

Decades ago, it was the gifted radio star Fred Winston who first turned me on to Stanislavski's writing.

Recently I am again reading Stanislavski as part of our research in creating a coaching program commissioned by a leading media company. The goal of this program is to provide practical productivity tools, teaching managers how to better coach creative people. We are creating learning materials for program directors, sales managers and general managers. It's a fun project.

Please allow me to share more Stanislavski found on the way to finding other things. On critics:

"When I asked a they produced such remarkable [drama] critics I was told about a very clever and purposeful method used in Germany. They let a young critic write an article full of praise...Anyone could blame...but it took a specialist to praise.

The art [of a critic] requires him to have exceptional talent, emotion memory, knowledge and personal qualities...These are rarely united in one person, that is why good critics are so few.

In the first place a critic must be a poet and an artist in order to judge...the literary accomplishment of the playwright, and the imaginative creative form given to it by the actor...A critic must be absolutely that he may inspire confidence in his opinion."

Do you inspire confidence in your opinion?

Actors, performers, talent need directors.

It is popular for managers to say "there is no talent out there." Nonsense. There are too few directors out there. Too few creative collaborators.

One issue I have with the majority of consultants, researchers, program directors, corporate staff and others with the power to say no - they lack any real empathy with talent, lack a true working understanding and in some cases any appreciation of the creative process. What they lack most is the much needed respect of creative people. Equally, they lack a genuine respect for the gifted creative class. The freaks just ain't feeling the love and it's the freaks that always make the difference in the ball game. This is especially true in the case of rising stars, the freaks in training wheels. To steal from Scott Shannon, those baby djs with the greatest promise. Those folks require, need and deserve special handling.

Any person of average intelligence can master selector. This we know to be a proven fact. What we need here are not more secret F key shortcuts to cooking a perfect log, what we need here is a far larger, and growing, class of those serious about effective creative leadership.

We have a leadership problem. As has been written here earlier...

"Let's agree to stop describing our programming as compelling unless something actually happens on the radio station after the morning show that is not a liner, a sweeper, a promo, that day's music log, or one exceptionally good phone bit with a contest winner." More here.

It is well known that my air work, on radio and television was nothing deserving of praise but it did give me valuable perspective. Having Fred Winston cross-plug me, derisively, as "The Perry Como of Chicago radio" certainly kept what, if any, ego I had in check and served to promote my desire to get off the air and into management. Winston was and is a star, I was a journeyman (using the most generous of definition). Nonetheless, cracking the mic, being on camera, filing a story on deadline, being held accountable for my ratings, being one of the troupe, each and all taught important lessons. Each and all made me a better news director, a better program director, a better general manager and a far better group guy.

It is the responsibility of management to find, recruit, develop and retain talent. It is the responsibility of management to bring out the best in others. It is the responsibility of leadership to enable, encourage, incite, abet, foment, instigate, recognize and reward great performances. It's about the discipline of going to work each and every day to commit great radio, to commit great television or to commit great journalism.

"Readers are leaders" so said Johnny Martin. Read more, learn more. Come on, do it, make something happen, get the Amazon info here.

Bonus: VRM

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Because a fellow has failed once or twice, or a dozen times, you don't want to set him down as a failure till he's dead or loses his courage - and that's the same thing." George Horace Lorimer

"Perfection does not exist; to understand it is the triumph of human intelligence; to expect to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness." Alfred de Musset

"Nothing can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." Sidney Harris

The play's the thing

In answer to yesterday's question. 80% talent, 20% advertising and promotion. Talent over advertising and promotion.

This exercise comes from an actual engagement, a project we were involved with in 2005. One of the fun parts of the day job is being involved in startups and turnarounds. The very best advertising and marketing campaign that money can buy is committing great radio. All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, what's on the screen(s), everything else is a footnote. Great radio serves as it's own advertising and promotion. Why then should you spend any ad and promo money at launch? Two reasons: support sales and get the staff excited.

Bonus: Petey Greene - How to Eat Watermelon. Think twice.

Congrats & cheers: Don Anthony
on another successful Morning Show Boot Camp, that's 19 in a row.

In the inside-the-inside-the-beltway game the NAB gets some, uh, "help" yeah, that's it, and Mel takes a body blow; play the video below for the details. The ad hoc consumer interest group, not just for the telcos anymore, bravo C3SR

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"You can't escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Abraham Lincoln

"The legitimate aim of criticism is to direct attention to the excellent. The bad will dig its own grave, and the imperfect may safely be left to that final neglect from which no amount of present undeserved popularity can rescue it." Bovee

"A really great man is known by three signs - generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success." Bismarck

Today's image: Recycle, Renew, Teach, Love, Repeat by Thomas Hawk. Very cool. Thank you!

At this time every year we begin to get questions about planning, about budget process. Every year we provide a half dozen points by Dr Gary Hamel, to wit:

  1. "The gap between what can be imagined and what can be accomplished has never been smaller."
  2. "Today we are limited only by our imagination. Yet those who can imagine a new reality have always been outnumbered by those who cannot."
  3. "By the time an organization has wrung the last 5 percent of efficiency out of the how, someone else will have invented a new what. Inventing new whats - that's the key to thriving"
  4. "The world is increasingly divided into two kinds of organizations: those that can get no further than continuous improvement, and those who've made the jump to radical innovation."
  5. "Dream, create, explore, invent, pioneer, imagine: do these words describe what you do? If not, you are already irrelevant, and your organization is probably becoming so."
  6. "All too often a successful new business model becomes the business model for companies not creative enough to invent their own."
First questions of importance.

Why are we here?
What is our business?
Who is our customer?
What is value to our customer?

The most important four questions for any enterprise. You must reach crystal clear clarity on these four points before you can move planning, the budget process, forward.

How, exactly, are we different?
What game-changing innovation do we offer?

Getting better is not enough, it will not get the job done in 2008; you must get different. Your team must be obsessed with creating contrast. You must learn how to fail faster to succeed sooner.

What will our business be?

Our most consistently successful clients (and those others we admire) are intent on making a small number of things happen each year. They are totally preoccupied with delivering, without fail, a handful of meaningful achievements. They look forward and imagine what their business will be.

What three things must we achieve next year?

Chose three. Fewer and you are not pushing the team. More and you are probably over-reaching. Three is more than enough for one year.

This is the most common of reasons for failure. In our experience teams too often show up at the budget dance with a plan driven by six agendas (five local and the one baked in by corporate) and twelve big things to do next year. They don't have a chance. Only the arithmetic works, certainly not the logic.

The objective-solution set alignment is not sufficiently optimized due to unexpected limits in resource elasticity, second order effects may now require some additional investment.

That's a twenty-five dollar way of saying the objectives were way too big for the dedicated resources and we will have to put more money in, or redirect funds, for a shot at (maybe) making the plan work. Resources are always dear, finite. Make every dollar count. No, make every nickel count.

Fully fund the three objectives with almost every resource you have. Cut resources to all activity that does not directly benefit or support achievement of your three objectives.

Abandon. Cut every penny that is not mission essential.

The very few exceptions, of course, being those expenses to support vital activities required by law, regulatory or common sense (revisit these as often as possible).

What three things must your team achieve next year?

Congrats & cheers: Barry Mayo, long-time pal and former colleague, on being named radio prexy at Radio One. Dan Kelley on reaching posting number 200 on his blog this morning. He's a programmer seriously dialed into classic rock, hardwired is perhaps more accurate, check out Dan's Classic Rock FM here. Blog on, Dan! Steve Wexler, Journal Broadcast Group EVP, named WTMJ TV GM. Celeste Perry new KFRC breakfast co-host, with the Duke; Sue Hall joins KFRC to do middays. Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton new breakfast hosts at WFAN.

Next: You are heading an audio entertainment startup, a music channel. You are given a first year budget of $1 million in cash to cover two line items. You may spend it as you wish given the following conditions:

You are required to decide what, if any, percentage of the $1 million to invest in talent, jocks, performers and how much to invest, if any, in marketing, advertising and promotion.

Bonus round: pick one. If you had to pick only one of those two, would it be staffing up with talent, setting yourself apart with jocks, entertainers or would you elect to go talent-free, jockless, flooding the zone with a clever, well timed ad and marketing blitz.

Next time, right here, in a brand new show.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"If the host is sitting there thinking about his next joke, he isn't listening."

"Unless it's an emergency, don't bother me after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends."

Merv Griffin

He was gifted. Broadcaster. Impresario. A brilliant mind for business. Invented Jeopardy in 1964, Wheel in 1975. At his passing he was working on his soon to debut syndi gamer Merv Griffin's Crosswords. He penned the Jeopardy fill music and retained the rights to it after selling the show. This move alone is said to have earned him over $70 million in royalty payments. Merv was the goods, one simply without equal. Friends and colleagues who knew him, worked with him, tell me he was always upbeat, always positive about today and the rich promise of tomorrow.

Merv was the entertainment mogul who mattered, his loss is significant, he will be missed by a great many.

It's not radio, it's audio
It's not television, it's video

There is no longer a radio business, gone too is the television business. That notion has been a part of just about every talk of mine for the past five years. My thought is it is the business of audio and video. A broadcast business remains but it is no longer confined to regulated wireless. In 2004 some of our EU colleagues working on the agency side started asking us about this notion as it applies to the planning and buying of media. We added text to the conversation. Now MediaVest drops the working term radio and (correctly) makes it a part of audio media. Joe Mandese writes Audio Kills The Radio Noir, Agency Broadly Redefines Medium via MDN here.
Note, Joe includes TNS Media Intelligence citations:

"Traditional AM/FM radio continues to hold a special place in people's lives," the report notes. "With some expected demographic-based differences, the appeal of traditional AM/FM is consistent across age, gender, income and locale, meaning that traditional radio remains a viable way to connect with consumers."

Among audio media, conventional terrestrial radio was cited by four out of 10 consumers as their favorite audio-based medium--slightly ahead of CDs and DVDs and more than four times greater than the number of people who favor technologies such as MP3 players, Internet radio or satellite radio.

"Free-delivery into homes, cars and headsets plays a role in radio's continued appeal," and "radio remains uniquely able to deliver on consumer needs," the study finds, noting that news and entertainment (cited by 69% of consumers) is still its biggest draw, followed by music (57%) and news, traffic and weather reports (53%).

Something bad wrong here: As my Georgia relatives would say. Talk show host murdered, station director killed. Africa remains a very dangerous place. FTM coverage here. My thanks to programming ace Kipper McGee for the tip.

The play's the thing

Follow up on the earlier posts on creating a plan. First, a few words from one of my mentors, the brilliant Harold Geneen "Three-Sentence Course on Business Management: You read a book from the beginning to the end. You run a business the opposite way. You start with the end, and then you do everything you must to reach it."

It was Geneen who taught me "The best way to run a business with the best hope of eventual success is to do it as you would cook on a word-burning stove....You keep your eye on the pot."

Having completed the homework gather your team for discussion. A series of group discussions starting with "the end." Example: we ask "What would have to happen for us to be #1 25-54?" We open the discussion of the thinking, the behavior and actions required.

We focus not on the goal but on the gap.

The space between where we are now and the end. What must we do to reach the goal? We create a plan with objectives, metrics, standards, budget and we agree on responsibility. We keep an eye on the gap.

Congrats & cheers: Harv Blain the Samurai of Skokie is now blogging here. Welcome to the conversation Harv! Thanks to Dan Kelley for the tip. Dave Shepherd, and Dean Goodman, on their closing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"I think luck is the sense to recognize an opportunity and the ability to take advantage of it. Every one has bad breaks, but every one also has opportunities. The man who can smile at his breaks and grab his chances gets on." Samuel Goldwyn

"I steer my bark with hope in the head, leaving fear astern." Thomas Jefferson

"Why and how are words so important that they cannot be too often used." Napoleon

BBC Essex is celebrating pirate radio. The golden days of off shore wireless remembered. A flashback worth the bandwidth. Listen live to Pirate BBC Essex.

Casey McKinnon writes Give us credit in the Guardian...
Now that the excitement over reality TV is dying down, a new budget-saving television revolution is upon us: internet video reruns. Later this year, many stations across America will be launching shows featuring some of the most popular web videos you've already seen. They'll also be screwing the producers of those videos – people like me - out of royalties, recognition and more." The entire piece here.

Bonus: Speaking of video, here's a performance vid wherein Kate gets all Derrida. She makes reference to The Truth in Painting by Jacques Derrida an excellent text on art, history and context.

The new Gibson is a fine read. Highly recommended. Amazon info here.

Making the plan

From What and Why to How

When your one-on-one meetings are done the homework begins. Review your meeting notes and search for patterns. Key words, concepts, ideas, attitudes, history, complaints, reservations, suggestions, perceptions, values, beliefs. A careful study of your notes will provide a summary of insights. The approach is to take notes on your notes, create an outline, key here is immersion in the detail - study, reflect, distill.

The process works. Years ago my research mentor Jim Yergin suggested data immersion as one beginning to understanding. He taught us to start with the Arbitron book, a calculator, a yellow legal pad and a pencil. The task was to study every page of the book. When we finished we would write a summary, an abstract, top line findings.


The question we would ask about each finding was why. What was going on here? Using multiple data points (three or more books of the same quarter - i.e., Spring books) we were able to test a finding, recognize patterns by noting replication. By the end of the exercise we had a feeling for the data, we were able to see through the numbers and come to some deeper practical understanding. At this point we were able to create a working hypothesis, make informed judgments. This is the start of creating a solution set. Listen, watch, observe, think, reflect, constantly ask why?

Homework complete it's time to set a group meeting.

More next time. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

"Trouble is the next best thing to enjoyment; there is no fate in the world so horrible as to have no share in either its joy or sorrows." Longfellow

"Organization is the art of getting men to respond like thoroughbreds. When you cluck to a thoroughbred, he gives you all of the speed and strength of heart and sinew he has in him. When you cluck to a jackass, he kicks." C.R. House

"Price becomes an objection when we fail to articulate value." Norman Goldsmith

Quick review. Yesterday we suggested the what and the why needed serious consideration before thinking about the how. A number of emails give me reason to offer more detail.

Should we agree that it is important we meet next Friday at the clock on the street level of New York's Grand Central at noon sharp how we each get there is an issue subordinate to the mission. Air, rail, car, arriving the day before, the morning of, those are details. Over travel budget, under budget, on budget might, indeed, be important but secondary.

We have agreed upon a standard. It becomes a binary equation. There at noon, or not. 1 or 0. The most important question...have we arrived in the right place at the right time. Are we right about the what.

The great trap of the how is it tends to become a distraction, one that takes our focus further away from the more important - the what and the why. When we make the incorrect call on the what, being brilliant on the why and the how makes little, if any, difference.

One recent example from radio. Blowing up WCBS-FM, switching from a heritage oldies format to Jack. We can agree the what was changing format, dropping oldies and the why, an attempt to capture a younger audience, gaining a more competitive ratings position and, as a result, more revenue. After all, the oldies format was said to be dead or at least at or near end stage. The how included staging a format without talent (a significant reduction in radio's single biggest expense line, labor). No matter how brilliant the execution (including
the immediate improvement in operating margin running rate), without regard to the elegant rationale of the why, it was the what that turned out to be wrong.

In the second year of the format execs were actually blind to alternatives, to any revisiting of the what and so much so they rationalized failure (e.g., "the 35-44 male, midday cume is up 29% over last month, placing us top five in the month"). We witness this behavior at every one share radio station where precious time and resources are invested in defending the what, fronting arcane logic and redoubling the how activity in desperate efforts to get better. The smarter, far more difficult move is investing the intellectual honesty needed to just call the baby ugly. The brutal candor and rigor required to admit failure and fix the problem. It becomes the dangerous business of graduate level dog ate my homework wherein we take temporary leave of our senses (there's probably a New School psych course in here somewhere). We discount those who disagree, those that question the bad taste of the kool-aid and we say "they don't get it." You would be right to say that 12+ ain't important but if you're in New York, Chicago or LA please don't run your mouth about how really smart you are unless you have a three share or better.

Dude, sometimes the emperor really is just a crazy old nekkid fool that everyone has been putting up with for way too long. When you can't break a two share you're losing dawg, you gotta do something.

Thanks to Dan Mason
the what most recently became bringing back oldies and WCBS-FM. He was able to see reality as it was, not as others wished it to be.

Allow me a suggestion. More than one CBS exec became captive to the very seductive suggestion of a how, that a so-called new brand was more important than a franchise of over three decades standing; the preemptive offering of a hot new brand smarter than any reinvention of an established New York property. Classic How v What. Too clever by half. Please, let me opine: it is a better wager, by far, to adjust, tweak, fine tune, reinvent, reimagine (thank you TP!) or otherwise invest in the creative refreshing of an established franchise, an established equity or property than it is to walk away and take a flyer on any new concept. It's all about proprietary intangibles but that's another story and I've already taken too much of a bite out of your day. Let me leave you with a thought. Let's ask P&G the question. Ask them about the number of junior P&G execs, agencies and consultants that have tried to kill Tide. To my knowledge that remains a secret. Betcha P&G could write a book on it.

What > Why > How
What is happening? What is not happening? What can we do to influence the action?

Yesterday's advertised "creating the plan" - tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Set me a task in which I can put something of my very self, and it is a task no longer; it is joy; it is art." Bliss Carman

"You may know for a certainty that if your work is becoming uninteresting, so are you; for work is an inanimate thing and can be made lively and interesting only by injecting yourself into it. Your job is only as big as you are." George Hubbs

"Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny." Tryon Edwards

What > Why > How

The beginning of progress is to understand where we are. Perspective becomes valuable. Collected wisdom becomes a priceless advantage.

We must begin with the what and the why. The ever present temptation being to jump ahead to the how. The old saw applies "Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice."

There is a measurable clarity, a strategic acuity, that comes from a deep understanding of the what and the why. Once we possess this the how is driven by purpose and focus.

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity" so said General George S. Patton, Jr. Georgie was right. We must first be preoccupied with the what. Thereafter, we must come to fully comprehend the why.

Leadership is responsible for results
Don't confuse activity with progress

When we encounter complex business problems we begin by getting an understanding of the what and the why. One place to start is the evaluation of activity. In these cases the key question should be why. "That's the way we've always done it" may fail to properly answer the why however it should prompt the intellectually honest discussion required to move forward.

What would have to happen?
For us to be rated #1
For us to be the #1 revenue producer
For us to achieve a 60% operating margin

For years we have used this exercise with great success: we ask the entire staff to imagine "what would have to happen."

Experience has taught us the most effective approach is to spend time one-on-one with each person. Put a sign-up sheet on your door and allow staff to chose the time of their meeting. During the meeting the role of the manager is to listen. Take careful and complete notes, taking in not only the thoughts and the ideas but also, importantly, the tone, the nuances of attitude and belief.

The simple truth is your staff has the answers. All the answers. The solutions you need to win. Listen to them. Dare to be naive.

Tomorrow: After the one-on-one meetings - creating the plan.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Photo: Summer Flowers by Fred Winston. Beautiful. Thank you.

"The law of work does seem utterly unfair - but there it is, and nothing can change it; the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher shall be his pay in money also." Mark Twain

"There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there's no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you'd never make." Spirella

"The practical man is the adventurer, the investigator, the believer in research, the asker of questions, the man who refuses to believe that perfection has been attained...There is no thrill or joy in merely doing that which any one can do...It is always safe to assume, not that the old way is wrong, but that there may be a better way." Henry Harrower

Catch them doing something right!

One of the trade secrets of my day job. We coach performance and we coach directors on coaching performance. The secret is to bring out the best in others. The most effective approach is to catch them doing something right. It's actually very simple. We catch performers doing something right and we recognize and encourage that behavior, that performance. The reward.

The exact wrong way to deal with creative people is to catch them doing something wrong. The penalty.

William James perhaps said it best: "What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise although the philosophers generally call it recognition."

#1 and #2 complaints of talent

1. Too little, if any, feedback
2. When feedback is given it's almost always negative

For over twenty years we have been asking talent the same question and we keep getting the same answers. Market after market. Talent after talent. Talent is not the problem, leadership is the problem.

Managers, group executives and owners all share a similar reaction. When we first suggest working differently with the talent before searching for their replacements the typical response is "the ratings tell the story, we've worked with them, they've had more than a fair chance here and they're just not making it, time for a change." We agree. It is time for a change. First, let's change our approach. The record is clear on this issue. We have been able to turn around TV and radio ratings (in some cases dramatic worst to first changes) working with the same performers. As a manager an important part of your job is to bring out the best in others.

Watch and listen for what's not there

Second day job trade secret. We watch and listen for what's not there. This is the beginning of a creative collaboration with talent. We turn these into questions that may be answered, discovered, with hard data. How many times do we include the names of communities in our prime on the hour show teases? How many times are we saying "good morning?" How many times are we using you, your, our and we? Reviewing each segment, putting ourselves on the viewer/listener side of the show, how would we grade ourselves using the standards "so what?" "what's new?" and "what's in it for me?"

Coming tomorrow: Stop the search, do not hire a consultant. The solution to being #1 is now in your building, honest, no kidding, scout's honor, promise, no...really, already right there... in your
building. Tune in tomorrow.