Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." Henry Ford

Today's image: Moon For Masako by ~EvidencE~ Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

The product is the marketing
Do things worth talking about

Gordon McLendon got it right. The Old Scotchman, one of the true wizards of 20th century wireless, gave his managers much wise counsel, including this precious gem: "Get people to talk about your radio station."

Long before business writers and marketing mavens first hit on the now vogue notion of "word of mouth" marketing, McLendon and company were holding multi-metro clinics on manufacturing buzz and taking it to the bank.

Today most broadcast managers are preoccupied (overwhelmed might be a more honest characterization) with the crush of daily affairs. The urgent is getting all the attention and in the process it's the important that is being neglected.

On the day job, in our work with radio, television and new media managers, we are witness to the production of outstanding results including some amazing, remarkable ROI. Without exception, those results are produced by starting with a single serious focus, an obsession with the product.

In our experience, these winning managers share attributes which set them apart from others, here now are four...

1. A mindset that encourages and rewards risk taking, appreciates failing faster as the secret sauce of innovation.

2. A respect for talent, a deep understanding that creativity is a renewable resource.

3. A daily dedication, a drive, which keeps them fresh, on fire and pathologically competitive.

4. They love and honor their craft. Accordingly, they have fun, consistently bring their A game, come to play and play to win. They do work that matters, things worth talking about.

Our best advice continues to be summarized in one simple declarative sentence...

"All that's important is what
comes out of the speakers
and on the screen(s),
everything else is a footnote."

Please allow me to again suggest that you read The Design of Business by Roger Martin [Amzn info]. Following are three paragraphs taken whole from that writing. My thanks to Roger Martin.

"Some contexts don't reward repetition, structuring, and planning that are the hallmarks of mastery. Those nonstandard contexts require the creation of a new approach or solution; they require originality. Originality demands a willingness to experiment, spontaneity in response to a novel situation, flexibility to change directions as information dictates, and responsiveness to opportunities as they present themselves, even if they're unexpected. Rooted as it is in experimentation, originality openly courts failure. It's important to become comfortable with the processes of trial and error and iterative prototyping, or you'll be tempted to focus on the less risky mode of mastery, to the exclusion of originality.

Mastery without originality becomes rote. The master who never tries to think in novel ways keeps seeing the same thing the same way. In this manner, mastery without originality becomes a cul-de-sac. By the same token, originality without mastery is flaky, if not entirely random. The power is in the combination."

Martin's thesis concerns combining proof-based analytical thinking with possibility-based abductive thinking (Charles Sanders Peirce's "third form of logic"). His writing makes the case for the advertising put forth in the subtitle of his book, "why design thinking is the next competitive advantage." At the end of his writing he offers this thought...

"As you grow more sure-footed and adept at maintaining the design thinker's balance, you will gain fluency in both the allusive poetry of intuitive discovery and the precise prose of analytical rigor."

Readers are leaders: - Best Books of 2009 - Top 10 Books: Business & Investing, here. AdAge - Book of Tens: 10 Books You Should Have Read in 2009 by Matt Kinsey, here.

Congrats & cheers: Uber-cool media entrepreneur Rob Barnett, Warren Chao and their hard-working, wicked sharp My Damn Channel gang, winners of the first ever New Media Minute Award of Excellence [more info]. Well deserved. (Stay tuned...these guys are just getting started.) Radio programming ace Scott Shannon named VP, Programming for group operator Citadel. If you're keeping score, that's day job number five for the exceptionally gifted Mr Shannon. His other gigs include hosting the highly rated WPLJ breakfast show where he also serves as PD. In his spare time Scott is the mid-day star of the True Oldies Channel where he again doubles up, serving with distinction as the net's chief creative officer and principal architect.

Bonus: Rethinking How Broadcast Media Uses Research by Tom Webster, here. Kudos, Tom. Seems to me we have a bunch of smart people preoccupied with study, comparative analysis, interpretation and serious discussion related to the old answers when they should, instead, bring intellectual rigor to a critical pursuit of discovery - finding the new questions. Roger Martin said something that relates here "...(the reliability-driven colleague) sees the future as the enemy and the past as a friend."

On Twitter? Love books? Please support FLWBooks, Twitter's champion of the book, more info > here

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Style is time’s fool. Form is time’s student." Stewart Brand

"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.
" Eric Hoffer

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but illusion of knowledge.
" Stephen Hawking

Today's image: ...the day is done by valonnna. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Spending the last days of this year writing my 2010 brief. The working (draft) title is The Handset Horizon: Leading digital innovation. The executive summary will be a forty-five minute presentation taken from the full ninety-minute brief. To learn more about the brief and availability, please contact me directly via email (my contact info may be found in the left column of this page). Thank you.

Here's one key lesson for media managers from my 2009 brief:

Your assets must be...

Ready to Share

10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2010 by Ravit Lichtenberg via ReadWriteWeb...

"Whether you are an individual, a startup, small business or a large corporation, an online presence and an ongoing conversation with your constituents is a baseline requirement -- and will take time and expertise. Companies are diverting resources and rethinking their traditional outreach strategies. 'Whether you're recruiting, looking for investment, trying to get buzz -- you need to be visible,' says John Nogrady, director, emerging business at Microsoft bizpark, and serial entrepreneur. Brian Zisk, founder of SFMusicTech, which is taking place in San Francisco this week, says 'If you're out there as a genuine contributor in the community you can reach out to many people. Take the FooFighters' free Facebook concert, or Zoe Keating -- a local artist with over 1.2 million fans online. Their ability to connect with their fans was made possible because of the Internet.'" Read the entire post, here.

Bonus: Get your week off to a great start. Take some time to review What Matters Now. Download your own copy, share, post. Think! Make something happen. My thanks to Seth Godin for sharing.

What Matters Now

Sunday, December 06, 2009

“The business world is full of two kinds of people—builders and traders. Over the past 20-30 years, traders have increasingly ruled. They receive the highest compensation. We need to tame the traders.” Roger Martin

"Status comes from running large, high-revenue business units whose operations have been reduced to reasonably reliable algorithms that product results on time and on budget. Those are the highest goals, that is, the ones that command the highest compensation. That is why most executives prefer the known to the unknown." Roger Martin

"Most companies try to be innovative, but the enemy of innovation is the mandate to 'prove it.' You cannot prove a new idea in advance by inductive or deductive reasoning." Roger Martin

Today's image: Jul 9, 2009 - Full moon over 96th St. by Ed Yourdon. Wonderful shot. Thanks for sharing.

Let's play catch up. A bunch of good stuff to share.

Let me again suggest that you read The Design of Business by Roger Martin [Amzn info]. Put simply, Martin has written one of the most important business books of the year. Priced at under $20 on Amazon, it's a gem that deserves your attention (and that of your team).

Speaking of books, while we await his latest [Drive - Amzn info], Daniel Pink shares his favorite books of 2009, here.

"The problem is no longer budget. The problem is no longer access to tools.

The problem is the will to get good at it." Seth Godin

Seth Godin offers a must-read post. He asks "Is it too late to catch up? What if your organization or your client has done nothing? What if they've just watched the last fourteen years go by? No real website, no social media, no permission assets. What if now they're ready and they ask your advice? And, by the way, they have no real cash to spend..." Seth offers an excellent top ten list of things to consider doing, here.

Tom Webster continues to post interesting things. Raising The Game In Social Media is Tom's latest thoughtful post, here via his brandsavant (which I encourage you to put in your reader). But wait, there's more. Tom has rebooted his mad cool link blog DataSnob, don't spend another online minute without it, here.

Sharon Waxman dials us into the Comcast NBCU arithmetic, to wit: "...NBC was valued at zero for the purposes of the financial analysis." Read Comcast: It's a Brave New World, and Cable Runs It via her WaxWord stand at, here.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler offers a good read - Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders (They draw on important strengths that extroverts may not have) via, here.

Closed circuit to broadcast managers: Should your team not yet be in touch with MediaNet my suggestion is you need to get to know them. My sense is you can create competitive advantage for your station using the tools and tech resources offered by MediaNet. Here's some insight, take a moment and read the Matt Rosoff piece, MediaNet could power the online music revolution via CNET News, here.

Best of the best: A work in progress. THE essential 2009 End-of-Year Lists by the uber-cool Rex Sorgatz [@fimoculous], here. Except no substitute.

Which one doesn't belong: You remember the game from grade school. Apple, Banana, Orange, Hammer. Try this one. Elvis, Jordan, Pryor, Stern. That's the group comparison made in the latest TV ad for Mel's pay radio venture - it's plainly delusional. Creative fails to make the sale. Moreover, it's a pure waste of money the venture doesn't have. This poor creative and related wrong-headed investments were bound to happen. Mel is nothing more than a novice when it comes to spending money on marketing.

Let's connect: Should you be on LinkedIn, an invitation to join your network is welcome, here. If you're on the Twitter, please do follow me and engage so that I may follow you back, here. Thanks.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"The breakthrough innovations come when tension is greatest and the resources are most limited. That’s when people are actually a lot more open to rethinking the fundamental way they do business." Clayton M. Christensen

"Creativity is thinking new things. Innovation is doing new things." Theodore Levitt

"Planning, by its very nature, defines and preserves categories. Creativity, by its very nature, creates categories or re-arranges established ones." Henry Mintzberg

Today's image: home town by -Just John- Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

The following text is an excerpt taken from the Sean Ross email newsletter and is shared here in the hope it will prompt you to remember a pro now out of work, cause you to take action and reach out to those in need. My thanks to Sean.

This Holiday Season, You Make The Call

Every ROR (Ross On Radio) reader undoubtedly knows a programmer with a great track record and without a radio station. You may not have reached out to this person in a while: maybe over guilt about being the one who's still working; maybe because you don't know how to help; perhaps because there's no good way to respond to somebody who is (justifiably or otherwise) frustrated and angry about being cut off from an industry they contributed to for so many years - an industry that is hardly flourishing without them.

So, if you are in any way touched by Dene Hallam's death, chances are excellent that you have phone calls of your own to make this holiday season. However few resources you may be able to offer somebody, you have the opportunity to make them feel less marginalized.

Buy a cool book, help a charity. As you may know, Turn It Up! American Radio Tales is the wonderful book by Bob Shannon. It's the must-read for radio geeks. Just in time for holiday gift giving, Bob is offering his book at a special discount and he will make a donation to the Conclave for each book sold. Get more info, purchase the book at the not otherwise available deep discount, here. [FD: I serve as a director for the charity and as an unpaid adviser to the author]

Bonus: Killer value proposition. Attend the Conclave 2010 Learning Conference and pay the early bird rate of $199 or get a group of ten together and pay only $149. More info, here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you're an idiot." Umberto Eco

"Life is too short not to do something that matters" Hugh MacLeod

"We think the Internet is moving completely toward mobile." Jeff Cole

Today's image: otono by Darco TT. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

The last post here included a mention of "unlearning" and marketing maven Tom Asacker offered a comment

...I think "unlearning" is nearly impossible. People simply can't "throw out all of the furniture," and knickknacks, memorabilia, etc. Instead, they need to pick up and move. It's during the move that they unload the old, useless collection of thoughts, routines, etc. New thinking comes from a new environment, not from a redecorated one.

Tom makes a thoughtful argument and I certainly agree that unlearning is difficult. It is Tom's notion to "pick up and move" that presents a uniquely interesting challenge. My thought is those leading today's media organizations are dedicating resources and a majority share of mind to business preservation. While there is an urgent need to develop new business models, an increasingly obvious need to get serious about the digital frontier, the oxygen required for such development must come from sustaining present revenues.

My sense is our media "house" can be likened to Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz. Caught up in forces of the environment, we seem to have been struck unconscious whilst our "place" in the world is being forever changed. Our landing in a digital Oz however should not be confused with a dream. Much like Dorothy, we are living through an unexpected, disruptive, game-changing moment. It's every bit as dramatic as our awakening when watching the move. We suddenly see things in color after first coming to know, accept a "normal" world of black and white.

Media organizations, many being accountable to Wall Street, are operating to optimize near-term earnings. This mindset rewards the predictable outcome which fosters the twin enemies of innovation - incrementalism and institutionalized risk aversion. Activity becomes focused on optimizing the known numerator. Optimization alone will produce earnings growth but only to a finite point. Once every variable that can be influenced has been optimized growth inevitably stalls, the street is disappointed. Management makes references to peer performance, sector issues and impact of the macroeconomic environment. Beware the bad comp, know its potential in creating an illusion of progress.

The real danger is running on empty, leading a portfolio of so-called wasting assets. Continuing a die hard devotion to tweaking what is without imagining other futures.

The rate of innovation outside of media organizations is greater than inside. This should serve as the first engine warning light flashing. When school children and other amateurs can produce and upload a YouTube video that gets more views and comments than the expensive scripted shows running in prime we should understand it's time to have an adult conversation. When the majority of top ranked social media users in any given DMA are listeners and viewers (the group formerly known as the audience) rather than media properties, or professional media creators it seems time to entertain a serious discussion concerning what's happening, what's not happening and how we might influence the action going forward.

This is not a dress rehearsal
We are professionals
This is the big time

On with the show

We must discover ways to create new markets, new denominators and, it seems to me, that will require moving to the new environment that Tom writes about. He's right on the money. In 2010 orchestrating that move effectively will become your other full-time job. Having a keen sense of place has, perhaps, never been more important nor more potentially rewarding. My thanks to Tom Asacker.

In sum, we need to do - as Hugh MacLeod suggests - something that matters. Let me encourage you to begin that process by investing some time today to watch a video. It's the Jeff Cole keynote at last week's MPR hosted Future of News Summit. It's about what's happening around us and deserves your attention. You may access the video via YouTube, here. Watch, share with your team, think, discuss, dream, create.

Bonus: I'll Tumblr For Ya. The David Karp interview by Ned Hepburn via VICE, here.

Tweet of the Week: Killer. My thanks to Timesman and uber-cool Twitterer Patrick LaForge. View tweet, here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." Paul Valery

"Where are you likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past, and the greatest reverence for industry dogma? At the top." Gary Hamel

"If you work slowly and meticulously, you merely end up with a very fine implementation of your initial, mistaken idea. Working slowing and meticulously is premature optimization. Better to get a prototype done fast, and see what new ideas it gives you." Paul Graham

Today's image: Banksy (crop) by Martin in London. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

Not what they signed up for

Much continues to be written about the state of affairs in ad-supported measured media. The 400 year-old death spiral of the dead tree guys is, rightly, getting the most attention. Jeff Cole, the brilliant media scholar and leading researcher of our new digital world, said at this week's MPR hosted Future of News Summit..."Instead of counting down the two newspaper towns, we now count up the no newspaper towns." Jeff went on to say should a newsprint eating virus vanish newspapers no one under forty would notice and, off the cuff, opined that a precious handful of papers would survive. Indicating the NYT, WSJ, WaPo, USAT were likely among the short listed survivors, he suggested "my LAT" was headed towards ruin.

The problem for jazz stations and college professors

Cole said we will see incredible consolidation ahead and this will extend to the academy. He indicated 2,000 US college professors now teach Introduction to Psychology. Why should anyone have to take the course from anyone other than the best professor in the country or the world, who might even be dead when they teach the course. We will end up with three or four professors teaching three or four basic courses - via the internet - the best professors who have ever taught the subjects. We don't have a need for 2,000 teaching the same course.

We no longer need listen to local radio that we perceive to fall short of expectation. Professor Cole used Jazz radio as an example. We are not bound to tolerating the poor local jazz station when we may opt to listen to the best jazz station in the world (he's heard it originates in India). This echos my brief before the 2005 Conclave Learning Conference: "It is no longer a game of being the best at what you do in your market, that soon won't be enough to sustain success. You must rise to the challenge of being the best in the world at what you do - and becoming known for it."

"For those who want to understand the environment in which we are operating, our learning curve has to be much steeper than our action curve.
We have to be studying and watching and following relentlessly." Jeff Cole

Cole made an excellent point when he suggested TIME Magazine got it wrong three years ago. They had missed a significant cultural shift (the fundamental importance of "community") when naming its Person of the Year "YOU" instead of "US." You may access video of Jeff Cole's keynote, truly a tour de force, via YouTube, here. Highly recommended.

One of the best lines of the meet was by Richard Gingras, CEO of Salon Media Group. Quoting his own earlier tweet, he said "The future of news is a future of conferences about the future of news."

Let us commend Bill Kling and his MPR team for organizing and hosting such an important gathering. Let us also extend kudos to MPR's own Julia Schrenkler for coordinating a real-time, robust and leading-edge companion effort online. Julia tells me it was her team that pulled off the practically flawless execution. She does single out the uber-cool camera jockey Chuck Olsen for his valuable behind-the-scenes contributions. Should you wish to learn more about The Future of News Summit, the MPR team offers a Ning, here. Julia has advised me that more video and ppt will be posted in the coming days.

Those that follow me on Twitter are perhaps aware that I attempted to live tweet the summit. As usual I was getting things almost right, sometimes dead wrong, leaving important stuff out but dear friends such is the nature of live tweeting. You may access the live tweets (and retweeting of many) by searching the tfon hashtag, here.

Later I'll post more on the issues raised during the summit. Today, allow me to invite your attention to two items and, while we're at it, a throwback to 2004 and a bonus must-read.

We have an urgent need to invite more women, minorities and youth to participate in our most important discussions. It is hard to argue the presence of (or respect for) cognitive diversity when industry gatherings continue to feature middle-aged white men in the majority. We can change this overnight. Let's do it.

While there is no shortage of blame being delegated for today's troubles in ad-supported measured media we have witnessed a change. Once celebrated as rock stars, CEOs are now, more often than not, the goats of coarse derision. No offense to goats intended. The transition of CEO from visionary wealth building genius to tone deaf idiot has happened in less than a decade.

Jeff Cole offered many valuable insights during his remarks. Among them saying executives that had started their careers in newspapers, broadcasting and advertising thirty years (or more) ago have a significantly different pov of the business than those that came into the industry in the middle 1990s. There have, in fact, been profound and dramatic changes in the way business is done. It's a sea change, a very different business as usual set point. While I am not one to defend or excuse the bad practices or poor decisions of most media CEOs, please permit me to suggest that what is happening today is clearly not what any sitting CEO signed up for (or even imagined) twenty, thirty or forty years ago. Therein one core problem of our failed industry leadership. Dee Hock said it best, to wit:

"When it became necessary to develop a new perception of things, a new internal model of reality, the problem is never to get new ideas in, the problem is to get the old ideas out. Every mind is filled with old furniture. It is familiar. It is comfortable. We hate to throw it out."

It remains my proffer that the serious challenge at hand is one of unlearning. For the record, my first blog post here in February of 2004 was prompted by a single concern - leadership. You can access that first post, The Fish Stinks at the Head First, here.

Sidebar: During thirty talks given this year I have made mention of my run heading an American broadcast group disclosing my thought that the results produced during my watch (in the 1980s and 90s) could have been replicated by an inflatable doll or stuffed animal assigned my role. My thought being this was not a singular experience, this replacement exercise would have proven equally successful at those other organizations led by my peers. Truth be known, we were all managing inventory, playing golf and/or tennis and doing very well without any serious sustained thought or discussion given to innovation. Those of us lucky enough to have strong general managers did just fine by staying out of the way as the money flowed into stations, it rained dollars. One would have needed a carefully detailed plan in order to fail. On the occasions group heads gathered, we would talk - beyond the usual lying to each other - people, markets, treasury (how we handled the money), exchange war stores of bad deals passed and share the hidden values of each others known acquisitions making published purchase prices seem very shrewd. Broadcast was our business and business was good.

As Mary Hopkin once sang "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end." Clearly, that party is over. I have rarely been challenged on this assertion. Those few times I have been called out, intellectual honesty prohibited my purchase of the kool-aid. Got no interest in joining those on an ice flow drifting to oblivion - those sharing the false belief, the plainly irrational delusion, that things will one day "come back." The opportunity rich reality of now holds far more appeal to me than the wayback machine. Game on.

Bonus: Tom Webster, the digital cool kid of Edison Research, has posted a writing that merits your attention. Read Social Media: Just A Hobby? via The Infinite Dial, here.

As always, you're comments are welcomed - please join the conversation. Thanks for stopping by. More tomorrow.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

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

"We must look for the opportunity in every difficulty instead of being paralyzed at the thought of the difficulty in every opportunity." Walter Cole

"Present opportunities are neglected, and attainable good is slighted, by minds busied in extensive ranges and intent upon future advantages." Samuel Johnson

Today's image: 316-317 by Mr. Moog. Outstanding shot. Thanks for sharing.

Recommending two books that merit your attention:

Roger L. Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. More about each book...

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage (Amzn)

The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking (Amzn)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Free gets you to a place where you can ask to get paid." Fred Wilson

"Great opportunities come to all, but many do not know they have met them. The only preparation to take advantage of them is simple fidelity to watch what each day brings." Albert Dunning

Today's image: Queen of the Skies by Tim de Groot. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Bravos: By far the best and brightest writer on the media beat, Robert Feder, returned this week. Thanks to Chicago Public Radio and their venture for making this happen. Must-reading for serious students of media. You may find Robert, here.

Bonus: Tom Webster is writing stuff you should be reading. His latest is a gem. The Least Efficient Post I've Ever Written via Edison Media's The Infinite Dial, here. While reading Tom's piece, Drucker came to mind, to wit: "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

As we approach the dawn of our codependent hyper-connectivity several two-word tropes are so white hot that I am - for reasons related to my day job insurance - required to don asbestos gloves before further keystroke is attempted. Here now, two of those...


Live Search

My thanks to Marshall Kirkpatrick, one of the cool kids in residence at Read Write Web, for the tip on this video. Kudos to the leapfish gang, well done. (P.S. I agree with Marshall, should the search thing not work out you should seriously look into producing killer videos)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Thank God for screw-ups, for if life had adhered strictly to six sigma rules, we’d all still be slime." Gary Hamel

"Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation." Rosabeth Moss Kanter

"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to management than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely the lukewarm defense in those who gain by the new ones." Nicolo Machiavelli

Today's image: canal by Banksy. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

It's the top line, stupid.

Broadcast leadership continues to be obsessed with tweaking the numerator.

My sense is too many are still keeping score like it's 1999. Preoccupied with optimization they continue to fail because they do not yet appreciate the critical importance of recognizing and unlocking the incredible value inherent in attempts at bold innovation. Truth be known, playing around with numerator has reached beyond the point of diminishing returns. To be blunt, optimization strategies for broadcast operators are well past their best used by date. Attention and resources continue to be invested in getting better at a game that is less and less relevant. Over the past ten years every department (and related function mission systems) at broadcast stations has fundamentally changed with one exception - sales. Proof of this abounds. Any candid accounting of results produced will tend to support this assertion. Let me suggest the best (and most important) evidence may be found by talking with buyers. How has the "broadcast buying experience" changed? How does this experience stack up when compared to other media options?

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll get what you've always gotten

Permit me to invoke an old saw from Zig Ziglar "Two sure ways to fail. Think and never do or do and never think." Broadcast leadership appears to have cornered the market on both. Enough! My thought (confirmed by recent experience) is the new game is getting really serious about changing the denominator. Sales development - the hard work of driving new top lines. Getting fresh and creative in perspective and approach. Experimentation. Discovery. Learning how to respect, appreciate and reward the art of failing faster in order to succeed sooner.

On the day job we have observed the best "return on imagination" begins with unvarnished discussion concerning the creation of new markets rather than the same old fights over how to grow an increasingly irrelevant metric - silo share of a declining market. Going to work to kill the guy across the street is simply not an effective strategy in driving top line development and the entire ball game is, plainly, to continually, consistently and creatively develop the top line without any excuse. To develop your top line you'll need to invest in developing your people.

Invite and encourage cognitive diversity in your organization

Paul Jacobs offers a writing that merits the attention of radio and TV leadership. Follow The (Shrinking) Money - his post on the Jacobs Media blog, is a call to action, to wit:

"...if we don't make major moves in our sales and marketing
strategies, we're in real trouble"

Read Paul's entire post, here. Kudos to Paul, he is right on the money. He presents a well-reasoned case for changing up the game and getting into a whole new reality, the competition that is measured media fighting for dollars at the dawn of the 21st century mediascape.

Congrats and cheers: Robert Feder, by far the best and brightest writer of his generation to cover the media beat, has returned. His new home is, a new media venture of the Chicago Public Radio folks. More, in his own words, here. Welcome to the conversation, Rob. You've been missed.

Bonus: Cool kid Mary Meeker and her colleagues at Morgan Stanley delivered an important presentation at the Web 2.0 Summit. You may access the PDF of their presentation - Economy + Internet Trends - here. Bravos to Mary and the Morgan gang on a job well done.

Oldie but goodie: Malcolm Gladwell from 2004 on spaghetti sauce. Thanks, as ever, to TED.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Fear is the mortal enemy of creativity." Alex Bogusky

"Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest." Eric Hoffer

"When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something...That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things." Steve Jobs

Today's image: Bart1 by Banksy. Great work. Thank you for sharing.

Minding the Gap

For those of us working in measured media, we are living in times of incredible disruption and, it seems to me, equally incredible opportunity. The question needing attention is how do we make the best of our present circumstances? How do we most effectively navigate the gap, from our past analog successes and through today's rough waters to the brave new digital frontier?

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein has provided us with an excellent guidebook. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Amzn). Her writing does an outstanding job of helping us to understand how technology can trigger dramatic and unimaginable change. Let me also suggest a fresh reading of Marshall McLuhan. Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines have produced an exceptional book pulling together McLuhan lectures and interviews in Understanding Me with a forward by the great American writer Tom Wolfe (Amzn)

In giving my talks on social media this year I have mentioned some conventional radio station jobs (e.g., the overnight, midday and part-time weekend disc jockey) using the metaphor of 15th century scribes (inspired by the brilliant Michael Rosenblum). Getting a job working for the church as a scribe was about as good as it could get way back in the day. It was the ultimate job security, working for the rock solid employer of choice. And then, everything changed. Working as a liner reading announcer now seems an anomaly, an occupational accident of pure chance. In the not too distant future winning a bar bet suggesting that people once made a wage good enough to support a family and buy a home by simply playing music (and little more than reading formatted remarks four times an hour) will be, well, practically impossible.

My father was a musician and did some work in radio. When TV came along the musicians union told its members that their radio jobs would be safe. When it was suggested that radio would replace live musical performances by playing recordings - the same phonograph records available for purchase by the listeners - the union said "Radio intends to play the same records that the public can buy and play whenever they wish? It will never work." To my knowledge, there are no musicians on staff at any radio stations today. By the way, my dad reinvented himself. He decided to end his successful career as a musician and band leader, he took a flyer and went off to play the records. He never looked back. Johnny Martin had the audacity to ignore the conventional wisdom and the accepted rules of the day, he helped to put on the air the first black owned radio station in the nation, WERD in Atlanta. It happened this month in 1949.

Don't Keep Calm and Carry On

The important challenge of broadcast managers today is minding the gap, building a bridge to the digital future and that's a mission that will require first creating a magnet, a culture that fosters innovation. Broadcasters must attract the best ideas.

While there is certainly a lot of talk about the challenges and problems of our current situation there is far too little discussion and resources focused on actual solutions. Too often activity is being mistaken for progress. There's not enough implementation, experimentation, effective execution. We must adopt a dead serious bias for action. Discovering solution sets should be the proper focus most deserving of our attention. Please permit me to again say ... It's not about getting better, it's about getting different. It's all about shifting focus from the numerator to the denominator.

As it happens we have an app for that today. Edison Media's Tom Webster recently presented a wonderful webinar - A Small, Good Thing - on behalf of the Conclave. You may access a recording of Tom's webinar, here. Word to the wise - put Tom's blog, BrandSavant, in your reader, it's here. [FD: I serve on the board of the Conclave. Let me also thank and credit moleitau for his killer image shown here above left]

Bonus: Cool kid Alex Bogusky has some good writing on offer - Creative directors are in the business of professional insanity - well worth your bandwidth, here.

Wait, there's more: Still feel the need to read? Check out what I've been reading via delicious, here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care." Jerry McGee

"Hire slowly. Fire quickly. It's not the people you fire that hurt you. It's the people you don't fire." Marcio Moreira

"Don't get intimidated by the world out there. Most people don't have a clue." Dennis Scully

Today's image: Banksy by Martin in London. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Please take 16:31 to watch today's video feature. It's a wonderful talk by Beau Lotto, the founder of Lottolab studio. Opticial illusions show how we see. My thanks, as always, to TED.

"Beau Lotto's color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can't normally see: how your brain works. This fun, first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what's really out there."

"Why is context everything?"

No one is an outside
observer of nature

Each of us is defined
by our ecology

...ecology is necessarily
relative, historical and empirical

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Creativity is thinking new things. Innovation is doing new things." Theodore Levitt

"Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it, nobody knows how. When it's finally done, there is surprise it's not better." Avinash Kaushick

Today's image: Think, Create, Experience by Amanda Mac. Very cool shot. Thanks for sharing.

Allow me to again suggest that in matters related to media and marketing we are living in times of dramatic fundamental change, incredible disruption, amazing opportunity.

Recently I picked up Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews by Marshall McLuhan. Edited by Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines, with a forward by the gifted writer Tom Wolfe. It's a wonderful read. [Amzn info]

From a McLuhan lecture at Georgetown University in 1964...

"In moving from the neolithic age to the electronic age, we move from the mode of the wheel to the mode of the circuit, from the lineal single-plane organization of experience to the pattern of feedback and circuitry and involvement. During the many centuries of specialist technology, man cultivated habits of detachment and indifference to the social consequences of his new specialist technologies. In the age of circuitry, the consequences of any action occur at the same time as the action. Thus we now experience a growing need to build the very consequences of our programs into the original design and to put the consumer into the production process. By awakening to the significance of electronic feedback, we have become intensely aware of the meaning and effect of our actions after centuries of comparative heedlessness and non-involvement....Electricity made possible the extension of the human nervous system as a new social environment."

Which brings us to a fresh and much discussed batch of feedback deserving of your attention.

Tom Webster and Larry Rosen, cool kids in residence at Edison Media Research, have posted some writing with merit. Invest the bandwidth, thank me later. Radio's Looming Crisis Is Not Digital by Tom, here. Radio's Stimulus Package by Larry, here. Coming to a browser near you soon - the Tom Webster Conclave webinar, details available here. [FD: I serve on the Conclave board]

Recommended radio read: Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946 - 1996 by Bob Shannon. Fifty-eight chapters of fun. From Lee Abrams to Wolfman Jack with a cast of stars including Chuck Blore, Jerry Boulding, Dick Clark, Rick Dees, Tom Donahue, Bill Drake, Paul Drew, Bill Figenshu, Bob Henabery, Tom Joyner, Casey Kasem, Larry Lujack, Gordon McLendon, Bobby Rich, John Rook, Ed Salamon, Scott Shannon, Fred Winston and over thirty others. Check out Fred Winston's free podcast about the amazing Dick Biondi, get more info and order your copy of the book, here. [FD: I serve as an unpaid adviser to the author]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Hire execs who love the product." Dave Winer

"Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity and truth accomplishes no victories without it." Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." Winston Churchill

Today's image: Banksy. Cans Festival Leake Street SE1 by pomphorhynchus. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Good to be back. So much to catch up on. Let's get started.

Dave Winer inspired this post. Should you not be aware of Dave, please do get to know him. He was instrumental in bringing us game-changing breakthroughs including blogging, RSS and podcasting. He's an original thinker, a person not afraid of dealing in that most rare and refreshing of attitudes, he dares to offer unvarnished thought. You may find his blog, Scripting News, here. Longtime readers will recall the header of this blog once contained Dave's wise counsel "People come back to places that send them away." That has never been more true or relevant than it is today.

Recently Dave wrote: "Every crop of entrepreneurs thinks it's different. They never are, but they have to learn that for themselves. One thing they do over and over is hire execs who don't love the product. It's as if the guy who ran professional football didn't like football." My sense is Dave is spot-on in this observation. Read Dave's entire post, Hire execs who love the product, here.

Seems to me too many of those working in broadcast today don't truly love the product. Should we somehow be given the ability to Mirandize the majority of broadcast leadership, have them raise a hand and give us the straight dope under oath, my sense is our finding would be there ain't a lot of love. These guys are not happy, not having fun, not excited about the industry as it is today and not close to convincingly enthusiastic regarding the road ahead. Can't totally blame them. It's not the job they signed up for. Moreover, 2009 is turning out to be yet another one of those years that they would prefer we all just agree to forget. More on this leadership issue later.

Today, let us choose to learn rather than forget.

Here now the lessons of a media company about one hundred and thirty years old that put down one of it's most prized assets earlier this year. The Rocky Mountain News printed it's final edition on February 27, 2009.

At that ending, John Temple was the editor, president and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News. Now he presents us with an exceptional gift - lessons learned from the end of an institution. Here are his ten lessons. I strongly recommend you visit his blog, watch his video and read his entire presentation delivered earlier today at the UC Berkeley Media Technology Summit at Google. [Speakers list]

1. Know what business you're in.
2. Know your customers.
3. Know your competition.
4. Know your goal.
5. Have a strategy and be committed to pursuing it.
6. Measure, measure, measure.
7. Keep new ventures free from the rules of the old.
8. Let the people running a new venture do what's best for their business, regardless of the potential impact on the old.
9. To compete in a new medium, you have to understand it.
10. Invest in R&D.

Bravos, John. Well done. Thanks for sharing. This gentleman loved his product, loved his job, of that there can be no doubt. His leading by example, his generous offering of learning, is simply exemplary. You may find John's post, including video, slides and the text of his presentation, here.

Thanks, again, to Dave Winer for the inspiration and to NYU rock star Jay Rosen for his tip on John's wonderful gift of learning.

Your comments are always welcome.

More tomorrow. Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Every creative act is a sudden cessation of stupidity." Edwin Land

"For people who live in the imagination, there is no lack of subjects. To seek for the exact moment at which inspiration comes is false. Imagination floods us with suggestions all the time, from all directions." Federico Fellini

"Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little over a century ago?" Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Today's image: Land, Sea and Sky by -Wink - Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

The Obvious

The obvious remains the hardest to see.

Take, for example, the goaltender mask used in ice hockey. The so-called goalie mask was created by Jacques Plante in 1959. While the goaltender mask may seem an obvious (and necessary) piece of equipment, it was not a part of the sport during hockey's first one hundred years of play.

Obvious and, for over one hundred years, hard to see until Jacques - tired of getting hit - said enough!

What problems are holding back your organization? What challenges are preventing your success? Enough! Imagine the needed and effective solution set to be the obvious.

"Perspective is worth ten IQ points."
Gary Hamel

We tend to get lost in the detail for the same reasons fish do not see water (it's an invisible part of their experience). Over time, we become fish in the water of our assumptions. It's a filter issue. We tend to lose perspective we once had when our ears, eyes and attention - our senses - were fresh, new to the market or new to the business card. The acuity at our command is influenced, our perceptions biased when we are immersed in the press of daily affairs - the problems, the personalities, the politics. The danger is we fall into the trap of no longer questioning market/company/industry dogma. This is the easy evil that is acceptance, allowing what is to continue; it's the inertia, the stasis, that deafens and blinds before it kills. It's acceptance that fuels the most creative rationale for failure. We hire on as defense counsel for the familiar, we go to work as advocates for what's smart, right about staying the course. We favor zone of comfort lock-in. In that process we too often champion the best of yesterday (optimization) when we should be competing for tomorrow (innovation).

When the new kids in school ask "Why do we do that?" or "Why do we do things this way?" it's an engine warning light coming on. Be alert, pay attention to the naive. LISTEN.

My suggestion is you rethink your situation and begin by asking...

W H Y ?

That's an important question we need to be asking way more often. In my experience, the best practice is to ask "why" daily. Test assumptions. Discuss "the rules" out loud, adopt a policy of brutal honesty.

Kevin Kelly has written a fine piece, Ratcheting Up Autonomy, on why we usually don't lose technologies. While it's current fashion to proclaim practically all media things dead (e.g., print, radio, TV), Kevin's writing offers some much needed perspective. Highly recommended, read it, here.

Closed circuit to rock radio: Ready for the fall sweep? Would you be interested in learning how to get better ratings? Want to improve fourth quarter sales? Need some unvarnished input as you begin your 2010 planning? Let me suggest you invite Lee Arnold to your market. Have him listen to your station and your market for a day then have him spend a second day with your team. On the second day share your thinking, your strategy, your plans. Programming, marketing, sales. Listen to what he has to say. Gain the competitive advantage of his perspective, let his recommendations encourage candid discussion and action. You'll benefit from this investment. Get Lee's contact info, here.

Bonus: Are you having fun? Must-see video. The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun, here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Leadership is the process of achieving a dream together, especially when that dream seems impossible to achieve." Stan Shih

"A leader has to be one of two things: he either has to be a brilliant visionary himself, a truly creative strategist, in which case he can do what he likes and get away with it; or else he has to be a true empowerer who can bring out the best in others." Henry Mintzberg

"A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do and like it." Harry Truman

Today's image: The girl from Ipanema loves Summer by neloqua. Great image. Thank you for sharing.

Data from the latest Forrester Social Technographics Profile has dropped. Check out the widget below.

For an explanation of the groups (Creators, Critics, etc.) view the eight slide presentation, here. My thanks to Josh Bernoff and the Groundswell team. Read Josh's overview, Social technology growth marches on in 2009, led by social network sites, here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"The way out of the recession is not to wait for an uptick. The way out is to create your own uptick." Rance Crain

"Talent is the desire to practice." Malcolm Gladwell

Nothing will work, but everything might. Now’s the time for lots and lots of experiments." Clay Shirky

Today's image: shoot it!! by Mitra Mirshahidi. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Another very cool video from TED. Dan Pink makes the argument that ye olde carrot and stick management is a total waste of time. Clearly, Dan gets it. He suggests it's all about the "mismatch between what science knows and what business does." You may preorder Dan's new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, via Amazon, here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Professionals require little direction and supervision. What they do require is protection and support." Henry Mintzberg

"To be mission-based means that those in positions of authority are not the source of authority." Peter Senge

"Administrators are cheap and easy to find and cheap to keep. Leaders - risk takers: they are in very short supply. And ones with vision are pure gold." Raymond W. Smith

Today's image: Radio Daze by Ian Hayhurst. Wonderful shot. Thanks for sharing.

Measuring the right things

Yesterday's post was all about activity, some aspects of ad selling. It failed to recognize or address a very important issue - what we measure. What gets measured gets managed. Moreover, what gets measured gets attention, gets fussed over, gets precious share of mind.

Sales is a process, not an event.

Parts of generally accepted broadcast sales management practice appear to be broken. Some would go further and say things are getting scary anachronistic in our sales operations. This includes many of the most commonly used operating metrics. If your legacy systems are not helping you they are hurting you.

"The ultimate form of learning to decide what is working
and what is not."
John Freeman

One of the first things we do when working with new clients is develop a dashboard, that project starts with an inventory of metrics. The dashboard data prompts us to ask three questions.

1. What is happening?
2. What is not happening?
3. What can we do to influence the action?

Let me suggest it's the dashboards, our scorecards and the accounting, that need serious attention. What and how we measure deserves studied work. My thought is, we need an informed, measured rethink on what favorable results look/feel like. What results will be key, what activity most productive, what solution sets most effective, as we prepare to engage in and win the new games now emerging on the ever changing mediascape (one which is, more or less, in permanent beta).

What we allow we encourage

Standards (expectations) > Activity (process) > Outcome (results) > Consequence (reward/discipline) > Learning (reflection/refinement)

In my experience, success or failure is directly related to the right beginning, setting standards. Legendary sales developer Ken Greenwood, using golf as a metaphor, recommends an early asking of the question "What is par?" It remains a question of critical importance.

Still, as ever, Drucker comes to mind, job one has never been more clear ... "Management is responsible for producing results."

Optimization absent innovation is a trap of diminishing return. Permit me to say that learning and unlearning should have prominent places on your agenda, if not you're dead.

It's adapt or die (alternatively, as Hugh MacLeod counsels, "Create or die.") Don't settle for managing decline, there's no future in it. Lucky for us all we are living in the most interesting, exciting and promising of times.

Readers are leaders: Please preorder the new Daniel H. Pink book. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. Thank me later. Amzn info

Thank you very much: Appreciate all of you who were kind enough to get in touch about yesterday's post. Always good to hear from broadcast sellers, managers and group execs. What was totally unexpected and wonderful was hearing from so many at work on the front lines of retail. Each of you guys made my day. I promise to be in touch. Please give me some time to get back to you. Again, thanks. Your thoughts, comments are always welcome and appreciated.

On the day job we remain knee deep in the study and application of social media. Seems there's a new SocM video or ppt deck being posted almost every week, new stats continue to arrive around the clock. Behold, the velocity of change (or in the least our attempts at tracking it) continues unabated. Here's one of the better mashups, titled Socialnomics09 ...