Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day – Frances Hesselbein

As The Dramatics once said, “You know some people, Are made of lies, To bring you down, And shame your name.”*

I’ve worked in places like that.  They have virtuous slogans on the wall, and preach about their “culture,” but only rarely does what they say match with what you see.

Managers try, often by spreading little slogans around the station.  But a quote hanging on the wall is more of an aspiration, not a core value.  We can aspire to have a strong corporate culture like Zappos or Chick-fil-A, but still act like your values are, “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”

What you do is more important that what you say.  In fact many organizations lose credibility on the culture front because they aren’t consistent with what they do and what they say.

It works against them.  People begin to distrust anything management says, and accept the real culture is what they see happening, not what management says.  Soon, they’re not paying any attention to what management says.

Whatcha See is Whatcha Get

So, who really cares?  Well, if you look at the best performing organizations around the country, there’s a direct parallel between a strong, well-understood culture and success.

Conversely, those with cultures and realities that don’t match, are the least successful.

More personally, people will stop believing what you say, and accept what you do as the true culture.

And you may not like that!

* The Dramatics, 1972

Creativity Remembered

“I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.” – S. Truett Cathy

S. Truett Cathy died recently  Not the world’s most well-known name, but he founded, and grew into a billion dollar organization, the Chick-fil-A restaurants across America.

A few years back I read a book of his, and was inspired by his own inspirational way of working with his teams.  He was also a constant marketer and cheerleader for Chick-fil-A.

One memorable moment was when he was flying and the plane was delayed for some time.  He spoke with the captain, who gave him permission to pass out cards for free “Chikin” to everyone on board.  Changed the mood of the people on board and created brand memorability for everyone.

His Vice President of Marketing was at Momentum, and talked about the leadership style of the organization.  One of his main points was for leaders to see the value in their people.  Too often we see people as problems or something to be managed, but if you look for their value, your own perception of them will change.

What do you see when you look at those who report directly to you?

Do you see a tool to be used, or the value the person contributes to your organization?

The Faithful Tribe

“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.” –  Seth Godin

And it turns out that tribes, not money, not factories, that can change our world, that can change politics, that can align large numbers of people. Not because you force them to do something against their will. But because they wanted to connect. – Seth Godin

Someone told me a joke recently, that God is a Chicago Cubs fan, but said to them, “Don’t do anything until I get back.” Well, I was at a Cubs game a few months ago, and at Wrigley I saw a good game, and supportive, screaming fans – the Cubs tribe.

No doubt the Cubs fans in Chicago, and elsewhere, support their team win or lose. They’re almost proud of their record of never giving up. When your fans are organized into a tribe, there’s no stopping you.

The same is true of your fans. They’ll be the first to be critical when you lose, and the first to defend you from others not in the tribe. Unfortunately most of us have forgotten the second part of the Seth Godin book – We need you to lead us. Without leadership the tribe wanders and becomes disjointed. Leadership means uniting them online and offline, giving them a story, and NOT trying to use them to buy something unrelated to the tribe or try.

It’s called community…and it’s in your future.

Tommy Kramer Tip #70 – What Great Radio Does Right  

It’s all too easy when you write as many tips as I do to dwell on seeming negatives or weaknesses. But that’s not the purpose of coaching. Yes, you want to shore up a weak foundation. But after that, the main job is to find what a talent does best and push those qualities into the spotlight.

Then there’s getting consistent – really consistent, where it’s impossible to have a bad day.

And the final level is “How high can we fly?” It’s all about what you can keep coming up with that’s fresh and new, and sets you apart from everyone else in a way that’s almost like waiting for the next new album your favorite band will come up with.

Here’s what great radio does. It gives you what you expect, but with surprises built in. It’s consistent, but not predictable. In every market, there are a couple of stations that get this, and they rule the roost. A bad book can’t bring them down, their Promotions never fail, and the listener always has a sense of “I wonder what they’ll do next?”

That can be your station. If you don’t have one, get a great Consultant; not just someone off a list, but someone who’s helped other stations that you admire reach a very high level of performance. If you have the money, hire a Talent Coach. It’s easy to think you don’t really need one, but name a major league baseball team without a batting coach. (Or ask Tom Brady or Peyton Manning about their quarterback coaches.) With a good coach – not someone who controls your job, but a real coach – you’ll find that the process is so dear and so revealing that you don’t want to go it alone.

Then work every single time the mic opens to welcome in the person who’s just hearing you for the first time, and to sound natural, like a friend talking to a friend, instead of making ‘announcements’ and ‘presentations’. THAT’S what great radio does right.

Time Won’t Let Me

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

One of my friends sent me a link to the new Starbucks video, probably because everyone knows I’m a Starbucks fan, and partially because it is so good.  It’s the long version of the TV spot you may have seen, called “Meet Me At Starbucks.”

I loved it.  And then I hated it.

I loved it because it was a brilliant idea.  It didn’t mention anything close to coffee at any time but sent a clear message about the “specialness” of a visit to Starbucks.  It was the epitome of smart, “talkable”  marketing.

Then I hated it because it was such simple creativity, born from a great idea.  These “coffee people” are being more creative than most of the radio people I know.  We’re so focused on the small picture, what we need to accomplish immediately, that we overlook the bigger picture of what we’re all about.  And we have much more creative ability!

Part of the challenge is an industry trend away from creativity in favor of “efficiency.”  Also the fact that so many of us are busier than ever, with little time for anything more.  Another is the unfortunate fact that we’ve been refocused on this week that we forget there is a next year.

I’m doing everything I can to add “margin” to the lives of the creative people.  I know we have the horsepower and creativity to overcome the much quoted challenges we have, as long as we use it.  But we’re being overworked and micro-managed to the point creativity is living in the land of the unicorn.

If you’re in a position to do so, meaning management who cares, do what you can to bring back creativity to radio.  We’re not going to grow as an industry as long as we’re whipping people to the max.  Please join me in creating enough room for the creative people to create.  it can make a huge difference to our future.