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.

Frost Advisory #223 – What do you believe?

It’s ironic, isn’t it?

In a format that is all about belief, few stations ever share what they believe.

Belief Statement

Not a doctrinal statement, but a brand position. A flag in ground. A line in the sand. A reason to be on the air.

Chick-fil-A has one. Proof? Your money is no good there on Sunday.

Apple. Proof? So easy there are no instructions.

Coca-Cola. BMW. Harley-Davidson, my favorite example that I talk every time I’m asking to speak.

Even people that don’t own a Harley want to be identified with the brand. We can’t even get our own listeners to put a bumper sticker on their car.

In his TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek says,

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it. If you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do?……

Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed.

‘I believe, I believe, I believe,’ he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And lo and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day at the right time to hear him speak.

How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. And it wasn’t about black versus white: 25 percent of the audience was white. We followed, not for him, but for ourselves. And, by the way, he gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.”

Riding the Hurricane

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.” – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

It was September, and we were sailing through a hurricane in the Caribbean on our way back to port at Norfolk.  I’d roped myself to part of the ship so I could go outside and spend time “experiencing” the hurricane first hand.

It’s good to be young and bullet proof.

I found that if I looked straight forward as we rode the waves at one moment I would see nothing but blue sky ahead, as we rode up, and then nothing but water when the wave took us down.  If I wanted to see the sky when we’d hit the low end, I had to look up quite a ways.  What a ride!

I think there’s similarities between the experience of my wild ride on a flat-bottomed amphibious ship and PPM.  You definitely want to strap yourself in, and the journey will be wild, not just all up.  We’re excited to see the blue sky, and a little fearful when you can only see blue sky by looking up.

Just like sailing, PPM isn’t all just up…or down.  You’re going to see both ups and downs.  But when you’re riding the bottom part of the wave it doesn’t mean you’re sinking, it means “up” is next.  Translation?  There are so many variables that it’s actually doubtful that the bottom of the wave is a reflection of real life, any more than nothing but blue sky at the top is.

If we ride the ups and downs of a radio station as if these swings were reality we’re going to sap the creativity out of our stations, because anything new you try is going to cause some sort of reaction.  We want to feel “safe” and secure.  So often innovation and risk taking evaporate.

What if reality isn’t whether you’re riding a hurricane, up and down,and instead is what you dowhile you’re riding a hurricane?

Tommy Kramer Tip #68 – The Meat Section

Ah, another morning of listening to a team show. Waiting for the ‘biggie’ – a break in their biggest hour, when they have the most cume. Here it comes. Will it be the two of them weighing in on something everybody is talking about today? Will it be something really inventive, that only they would do?

The song ends, I turn up the volume, and hear… “Things that are supposed to be bad for you, but really aren’t.”

“Filler” material, total B-grade stuff. At best, just mildly interesting. Certainly not compelling. It wasn’t top of mind, it didn’t say anything unique about the show or the station, and there was no local tie-in.

So why do it?

When you “shop” for Content, stay in the meat section, not the tofu aisle. As a listener, if I don’t care about what you’re talking about, it’s easy for me to just not listen.

The less generic you get, the more definable you get. There’s a huge difference between asking someone to go see a spy movie, or asking them to go see a James Bond movie. I don’t care about a nameless, faceless spy, but if it’s a new Bond movie, let’s go early so I can get a hot dog and some popcorn.