Lee Abrams: 23 Things That The New Leaders Share: Thoughts About The Culture To Win SuperNayr

Many old content companies are in trouble. Not too hard to figure that out. But if you look at those that are clearly all about the future, I think you’ll see certain cultural characteristics that make it possible. Re-sizing, re-thinking, re-inventing are all parts of the equation, but to accomplish any of these ingredients, it takes a culture – an attitude – to pull it off. Here are a few characteristics that you’ll see in most, if not all, of the 21st Century game changers:

1. Freedom From Politics:
• Almost impossible on a scale of a big company, but these leaders are surprisingly short on infighting, fear and political nonsense.

2. Youthful Thinking:
• That doesn’t mean young as much as young thinking. Steve Jobs, no young guy himself, out-thought the old school veterans and reinvented music distribution. You cannot design the future without understanding the past.

3. Hunger:
• There’s not a lot of hunger at the big companies as their lives are padded with history and security.

4. To Hell With What Anyone Thinks:
• If outsiders or competitors are appalled, but you think you’re doing the right thing, then do it. In today’s blog society you need thick skin to cut through the sharp criticism and do what you believe.

5. Mental Diversity Encouraged:
• Different kinds of people, different points of view, different M.O.s. All viewpoints coming together create a newer and more relevant plan. Veterans, newbies and everyone in between should be contributing. Break down the ivory tower! The winning companies will BALANCE revenue, operations, technology and creative.

6. Spirituality:
• Not in a traditional religious sense, but in the idea that you’re simply not doing a “job” This adventure is a higher calling. We’re on a mission.

7. AFDI:
• Having the ability to execute dreams. Can’t stress this enough. Dreaming is easy. Doing is the hard part. We live in the era of hollow mission statements and denial. The denial is rampant as media companies hope for a digital solution or an economic upturn as their salvation wen the answers lie in thier culture and their core product’s relevancy.

8. Breaking the Rules:
• Challenging the rulebook is not anarchy. To break the rules, you must understand them, and knowing that some rules are timeless, others are not.

9. Creating Fans Not Users.
• Take Apple, or the early MTV or even Southwest Airlines pre-meltdown They have fans. Fans don’t just happen, but when they do, you have a whole new dimension to your potential.

10. Engaging All The Senses:
• Eyes, ears and minds. In TV we sometimes forget about sound..and pictures…and pure stimulation. The thought is trying to stimulate people on as many levels as you can. Multi dimensional stimulation is critical in today’s environment

11. Visionary Leadership:
• On the local level. Is the person leading a “boss” who is inflexible or one with a vision that creates the environment for brilliance?

12. Complete Package:
• The best companies rarely tweak. They deliver the complete package from customer service to every element of the product. Content, culture, sales, marketing, imaging, etc… Apple is of course a good example as everything they touch has the Apple culture imprinted on it.

13. Meeting-Free:
• Meetings are simple, fast, actionable. No painful all day meetings that go nowhere. The meeting is way out of control at most media companies, it makes forward motion a painful and tiring experience. Many of our meetings simply justify the existence of many who “work hard” at meetings but are hardly working elsewhere.

14. Passion:
• Self explanatory, but the passion has to be channeled into a single direction. Being passionate about the past is fine, but it’s more important to be passionate about now and the future and the plan that’ll get you there.

15. Not Average:
• Average is not acceptable. You know that most companies accept average as the standard. Exceptional companies do not. Everything should be pushed beyond average.

16. Radical Thinking is Okay:
• These companies don’t have an “out of bounds.” Radical ideas are fine…and in fact necessary.

17. Mobility and Urgency:
• Have a good idea. It gets done. Quickly and well. There’s no time to drag things out.

18. Instincts:
• Smart people have good instincts and trust them. They’re not reckless, but they have confidence in their own instincts and those of their people.

19. Fearlessness:
• If we were as fearless in everything we did as we see in the approach to journalism, we’d be better off.

20. Loose:
• Uptight companies are not conducive to creating amazing products. Lighten up. Focusing on missions. BRILLIANCE.

21. Truth:
• They don’t lie. No silly marketing slogans that substitute excellence with slogans. Truth is an under-rated selling tool.

22. Living on the Streets, Not in the Conference Room:
• Why is Hip Hop so popular? One reason is that it comes from the street not the conference room

23. Challenging Tradition:
• Iconoclasm is in their DNA. Doesn’t mean blowing up tradition, but going through the exercise of challenging it.

None of these are easy because a memo just ain’t going to do it. We, collectively, have to force this spirit.


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