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.

Frost Advisory #224 – Beware of Common Sense

It is not common sense to warn someone about using common sense.  But that, my friends, is the very point.

Successful principles of business, leadership, programming, or ministry aren’t common.  They are the exception.  Otherwise, all businesses would be successful, there would be no leadership challenges, churches would be full every week, all radio stations would have high ratings and we’d all have dated the sexiest girl in school.  (Sorry, just threw in sex to keep you interested.)There are 11,000 business books published each year.  I looked it up.  If these principles were merely common sense there would not be the demand for these lessons learned.

At first glance successful principles can seem out of whack or counter-intuitive.

Leading is really about serving.

The more you try to impress someone, the less they will like you.

The more you learn, the less you know. The more you learn about something, the more your horizons broaden and you see the limits of your own understanding.

Hundreds of general managers and program directors around the planet read these Frost Advisories each week, I’m told.  Today you will likely face a decision about your radio station where it would make sense to use common sense.  Before you react, consider:

“We are quick to jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that is right in front of us, while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage.   It’s called ‘the spotlight effect.’   The spotlight only lights one spot.  Everything outside it is obscured.  When we begin to shift the spotlight from side to side the situation starts to look very different.   And that, in essence, is the core difficulty in decision making.   What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision, but we won’t always remember to shift the light.   Sometimes, in fact, we’ll forget there’s a spotlight at all, dwelling so long in the tiny circle of light that we forget there’s a broader landscape beyond it.” – Chip and Dan Heath, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”

Managing Process Is Not Leading People

“You manage things, you lead people.  We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington. – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, USN

Every day, otherwise smart people confuse leadership with management.  By enforcing rules, giving orders or correcting the way things happen, they think they’re leading.  Leadership is about influencing people, getting things done through them.   Take a look at this comparison from the Clemmer Group:

Management Leadership
Systems, processes, and technology People — context and culture
Goals, standards, and measurements Preferred future, principles, and purpose
Control Commitment
Strategic planning Strategic opportunism
A way of doing A way of being
Directing Serving
Responding and reacting Initiating and originating
Continuous improvement of what is Innovative breakthroughs to what could be

If this were the reality of management vs. leadership, how much time are you putting into leadership?

Tommy Kramer Tip #69 – Pandering

I hear a lot of pandering to the audience lately.

Here are a couple of examples:

“Here’s the forecast for your Tuesday…” (It’s not “my” Tuesday. It doesn’t belong to anyone. Remember, the Weather app on my iPhone can give me the weather, and has a map of what’s going on right above my house.)

This one came from a morning show – a bumper that said “Call your show now…” (It’s not MY show. And if it were, I’d want that sidekick fired that still thinks “That’s what SHE said” is funny.)

There are lots of others, each more tedious than the next. There’s a word for this. It’s obsequious. It means “fawning” – slathering someone with phony-baloney praise. (Street meaning: kissing butt.)

Just be real. No one believes this horse hockey. Take it off your station now.

If you want to have a conversation with an adult, treat ’em like an adult.

If you want to have a conversation with a teenager, treat ’em like an adult.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” – Lee Iacocca

It all depends on your perspective on motivation. Consider this real-life happening:

(Open Door) “I have the greatest, most hard working team ever!”

(Closed Door) “What’s wrong with these yahoos, why aren’t they communicating with me?”

There are so many problems with this that I don’t know where to start.

First, you can’t really hide your closed door feelings, they always show through in your daily activities.

Second, there are no secrets any more. If you made the closed door comments in front of more than one person there’s a good chance it’s going to get around.

Third, if that’s how you really feel about your team you need to shut up and start acting. Get rid of the yahoos and find people you can trust.

But often we don’t, we just continue the duality of attitude as if we’re the Wizard of Oz and no one can see us pulling levers and pushing buttons. We just keep going, not realizing that every closed door comment that isn’t the same as the open door comment makes us look silly, inept, and duplicitous.

Don’t be one of those people. Chances are you’re not a wizard, and the people around you need to see you in a steady, positive, confirming way. Cowboy up and handle your issues honestly, and celebrate the good people on your team.

Check The Facts Before You Freak Out

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” – Jim Rohn

A few weeks ago I had a lot of people calling and asking about the Radio Ink article suggesting the sale of Disney’s radio station in favor of the Internet.  Did it really mean the beginning of the end for radio?  Does Disney know something we don’t?

I countered with some questions.

First, how many stations does Disney Radio have?  Answer 23.

How many of them are FM?  Answer: 1.

22 of their stations are on the AM band.  In many markets there are AM station that have less traffic than the police band.  That they shifted from those AM radio stations to the Internet makes all the sense in the world, because the Internet – in it’s many forms – is growing more than AM radio.

It’s bad enough that you’re anxious about what other people say.  Don’t let fear prompted by other people control your future.

Positive Is As Positive Does, Too!

“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” – Pat Riley, NBA coach

We looked into “happy” yesterday.  I am pressed to think of any important innovation that came about by negativity.  So why not positivity today?  They are brother and sister.

So a couple of thoughts:

Negativity often happens when you’re not aware of it.  It becomes a way of being without you realizing it.  I once worked at a station that I found very negative, so I went out and bought a boat horn.  Looks like a can of spray paint, but is very, very loud.  Then, every time someone in the station was negative I blew the horn.  Within weeks the atmosphere of the station changed dramatically.  A loud noise showed them how often they were negative.

I know people who will tell me I’m not being realistic or too Pollyanna.  But where does it say that reality is negative?  Except maybe on some TV reality shows.  It’s not always easy, but reality is what you make of what’s happening to you.  You have the choice between seeing it positively or negatively.  I prefer to think like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland:  “I’m not strange, weird, off nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”  And it’s positive.

Happy Is As Happy Does

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. “– John Lennon

The Pharrell Williams song with the simple name of “Happy” has become ubiquitous.  People like to sing it because…well, it makes us happy.  It makes us feel good, to smile.  It’s not only psychological, it’s physiological.    Being happy pumps the right chemicals into your body.

So why don’t we spend more time being happy?

Think about how much time you “invest” in being unhappy, even building on unhappy to become unhappier.  We create unhappiness in ourselves and others, and then we wallow in it.  Weird.

I’ve been told that other people can make me unhappy by what they do or don’t do…but that’s not true.  I have a choice of being happy or unhappy, and so do you.

Mom’s are right, happiness is one of the keys to life.  There are others too, but not as much fun.