Beyond the Horizon



A few will remember comedian Steven Wright (haven’t heard of him performing in ages) whose deadpanned, unemotional delivery underscored his quirky observations about life. Things like, “…I plan to live forever; so far, so good!”  Or “…I’ve never seen electricity, that’s why I don’t pay for it!”

As a longtime partner and observer to the newspaper industry who has worn a variety of hats – sales, research, consulting, savings – there are times the only thing to do is LAUGH.  Sometimes at a decision and at times at how that decision is justified or explained.  I bet there’s a weekly occurrence that baffles me so thoroughly the only solution is to chuckle!

Without naming names – people or companies - see what you think about these.  Bet you come to the same conclusion – laughter (unless these strike too close to home?) is the only response:

  • Just recently a 10,000 distribution, 6X a week small-town daily raised their total subscription package (print, digital, everything) to $105 a month.  That represented a 45% increase in the existing rate.
  • We don’t think there’s enough of a reason to make the change you’re suggesting, yet we surely appreciate you thinking of us!”  (In this case, I estimate the “change” would save this organization $10,000,000.  You read that right!)
  • “…we’re only focused on the tried-and-true projects and opportunities that have worked in the past.”  (Note:  see how I’m resisting comments?  Just laughing.)
  • “…my team is thoroughly overworked right now, and I cannot ask them to do more or different without risking rebellion.”
  • “…will you guarantee the 20X ROI your proposal predicted?”
  • “…what you are suggesting is so interesting, but I just started working here and need to learn the ropes before introducing anything new.”
  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve heard this one, “…business is so good there’s no need to try anything new!” 
  • Of course, of late, it’s been much more common to hear, “…business is challenging as hell, so I cannot try anything new!”

No telling if these comments brought a smile (my hope!) to your face or proved sobering and a cause for reflection.  Either way, I use them to queue up what I found to be the highlight of a terrific NY Times interview with Rich Lesser, CEO of the Boston Consulting Group. 

Business reporter David Gelles asked the question: “What were the common characteristics of C.E.O.’s who managed to do well over the last year and a half?”

Lesser’s response nails it – The ability to learn very rapidly, and not just consume knowledge, but to translate that into experimentation and action.  A purpose-driven, authentic style.  Empathy, for sure.  And a high orientation to adaptiveness and agility.

All, I might humbly add, is these leadership traits will serve wonderfully ANY time, so well said, Mr. Lesser!

Do those characteristics describe your boss (es)?  How about you?  It’s a helluva good list and there’s no time like the present!

P.S.  For the record, I WILL guarantee a 20X ROI!


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