Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Entrepreneurial Career

I have always admired the person who spends their entire career with one company.  Part of my admiration stems from the realization that it was never in the cards for me.  And, secondly,  as a society we are moving further and further away from what once was our workplace ideal.  

No longer.  In the new economy, many careers will mirror my own, which started in broadcasting, where in order to move up, often times you had to move on.  I did so, 8 times in 18 years.  That experience created the opportunity to enter executive management which opened the door to the opportunity to own my firm.

Each move brought with it a huge challenge, uncertainty, risk, fear of failure and a determination to succeed.   Ask any entrepreneur if they experience the same set of anxieties.

While I admire those colleagues of mine who over the years remained loyal to their single employer, my own experience suggests the career path today is wide open and headed in multiple, unknown, directions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Family Meetings

An excellent family business planning conference recently emphasized the value of trust through open communication as a key driver of success.

The patriarch and CEO of a very successful family business laid out the company strategy for strategic planning that consists of mandatory bi-annual family planning meetings at which all family members who have a stake in the company attend, spouses and children included.

The meetings are scheduled well in advance, detailed agendas are prepared with action items listed for specific attention.

What struck me was the value gained not only in helping set the strategic direction and achieve the buy-in necessary to grow the business, but also how it solidified relationships within the family.  It raised issues in my own mind with respect to open communication within my own family, the most important unit of organization in my life.   How often do we meet as a family to discuss our own strategic family plan?

Do we have our own family mission statement that speaks to who we are as a family unit and how that unit will organize itself to support the dreams and aspirations of individual members? 
Life is only getting more complex as the children get older, careers change and circumstances evolve in life.  The strength of the family is the foundation upon which such challenges are met. 

Now my oldest child has a driver's license.  A new level of responsibility for her.  A higher dimension of trust for the family.  A perfect opportunity to re-open those lines of communication to solidify the glue that binds the most important relationships in life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Here is the outline for a speech I am planning to give on Saturday to the Radio - Television student alumni association at Southern Illinois University.

The subject matter will focus on a concept I have followed throughout my own career that I call, Voice.

V is for voyage.  Accept the fact that your career path is a journey and you have to prepare.  It's critical that you have good travel companions along the way.

O is for opportunity.  The message here is that opportunities come in direct proportion to the amount of effort we are willing to put forth to create them.  It's important to understand the the effort may not have a direct bearing on the opportunity that arises.  Rather, the effort itself will establish a foundation of contacts and reputation that will ultimately lead to opportunities down the road.  This is the piece that many people fail the grasp.  It's not the direct effort that produces the value.  It's the byproduct of that effort that creates the buzz about who you are that gets leveraged through word of mouth to the right person who has an opportunity you would never have otherwise discovered.

I is for intellect.  The concept here is life long learning.  Absolutely crucial to success. We must constantly challenge ourselves to learn new things, continue our education, earn certifications and volunteer in our communities.  The value is not what you can put on a resume.  The value is internal.  It gives you the confidence you need to challenge your own presumptions about what you can accomplish or what you value.

C is for Credibility.  This concept speaks to our values and how we conduct ourselves in our lives and our profession.  Authenticity is the greatest word in life.  Be true to yourself.  Integrity, Honor, Trust, Service, these are the pillars upon which the foundation of success derives.  

E is for Excellence.  Be prepared to compete at the highest possible level.  It's not what anyone else measures that matters. It's how you measure yourself.  Settle for nothing but your best effort.  Always strive for a higher level of satisfaction.

Voice is another way of describing our own personal brand identities.  It's a process of discovery that never ends.  And you cannot define your brand in advance.  It's the collection of personal experiences and accomplishments that are viewed and evaluated externally that determines your personal brand.  The more we match our inner drive and passion with our actions, the more authentic or at peace we become to those around us which leads to a higher level of satisfaction in life.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Find Your Voice

It's not the product you sell, it's the story you tell that sets you apart in the marketplace.   Think about it.  You are what differentiates your business, your product, your service, your job from every other competitor in the marketplace.  What's the story you are telling about the work that you do?  Is it the same story as the person in the cubicle behind you?  Is it the same story as the shop owner down the street?  The same story as the web page that appears next to yours on Google?  You have a very powerful differentiating force available inside you, your company, your work product that can transmit incredible positive energy and unique value to those who you seek to influence.    What is this force?  It's the power of storytelling.  Share your story behind your product, your business, your job.  It's not what you do it's how you do it and share it that sets you apart in the market.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dealer Dilemma

I'm always interested in what local car dealers have to say about the economy.  When I worked as a local TV station General Manager the auto dealers were the lifeblood of our advertising business.   We tracked car sales monthly to identify target prospects for new advertising campaigns.  We also wanted to be the first to know how our existing clients were pacing compared to previous months.  In a good year, national auto sales would top 15-million.  Six years in the past decade, the figure topped 16-million.  That's when credit was flush, manufacturers were cranking out cars and incentives were driving traffic to the stores.  It all came crashing down last year when automotive news reported 3 million fewer cars were sold in 2008 compared to the year prior, triggering a panic among the big three and a $17 billion government bailout.  And this year?  The national car dealers association is predicting 12.7 million in sales with another 900 dealers going out of business.  Brutal.  
I have invited a couple car dealers to appear this week on a public affairs program I produce, called  Dollars and Sense  We'll get their take on the national crisis and how it hits home in their local community.  Should be a decent program.  I'll keep you posted.