It’s graduation time. As students receive their diplomas, they look forward to the next milestone, the next development, the next opportunity. As they walk across the stage, I bet most of them don’t think about how many days they have been on Earth and how many days they have left.
Understanding your purpose, living each day to its fullest, becoming as productive as possible, and mastering your life are critical to a successful life and yet most of us are so busy with today’s tasks we don’t stop and reflect.
In 20,000 Days, you will find a compelling reminder of the value of time. It’s not a long book, and the message is simple, but profound. A few of the lessons I took away:
Eat dessert first.
Think of today as your last day and also your first day.
It’s not possible to list all of Kay Koplovitz’s achievements, but here are a few highlights:
She is the Founder of USA Network.
She created the business model for cable networks.
She launched the Sci-Fi Channel in 1992.
She is the co-founder and chairman of Springboard Enterprises.
She was appointed by Bill Clinton to the bipartisan National Women’s Business Council.
She has served on numerous corporate boards ranging from Nabisco to Oracle.
So, after reading her recent book, Been There, Run That, I jumped at the opportunity to ask her some questions about her unbelievable career. Been There, Run That includes writing from 45 entrepreneurs who share wisdom on building and launching new ventures.
“Creating open teamwork is the best way to encourage innovation.” -Kay Koplovitz
Kay, I want to start by saying that I think of you as a business leader. Your track record and results speak loudly. But, I am reminded that you’re the first woman to found and serve as president of a cable network, and that makes you an inspiration to many women. What unique challenges did you face as a woman?
More important than becoming the first women to head a television network, I created the business model for cable program networks, which is based on two revenue streams: advertising and licensing. It reversed the TV model of paying television stations to carry network programs. We collected a fee from the cable systems and also sold advertising. This is the reason so many cable program networks have been successful.
In many ways, you were trailblazing a path, opening up doors for women behind you. Were you cognizant of that at the time?
Absolutely, and I believe I was a leader for men in the industry as well, as I preceded most of them. Throughout my career, I tried to provide opportunities for women to move up the management ladder. I co-founded Women in Cable, now Women in Cable and Telecommunications, to provide management training and the opportunity to learn to be great general managers. Today, WICT is one of the best training organizations in the industry.
After USA Networks, you turned to venture capital and found that over 95% of venture capitalists were men. What have you done about this?
I co-founded Springboard Enterprises, a non-profit accelerator for women-led companies in technology and life sciences, in 2000. We are seeking to level the playing field for women-led businesses that need to raise venture capital. As of yearend 2014, we have brought 562 companies to market, 83% of which raise capital and 80% are in business today. Collectively they have raised over $6.6 billion, and 35% have had liquidity events, including 11 IPO’s. Readers can gain great insight from the advice of these wonderful entrepreneurs who contributed to Been There, Run That.
My two partners and I also are launching a for-profit Springboard Fund to invest in companies completing the accelerator program. We have many great companies: Constant Contact, iRobot, Zipcar, Minute Clinic, Viacord, and many more.
What’s the best way to encourage innovation throughout a large organization?
Creating open teamwork is the best way to encourage innovation. Give people permission to experiment by offering them both responsibility and authority to break rules for creative destruction and innovation.
“Invest in creating the right culture and you won’t be disappointed in the results.” -Kay Koplovitz
This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen, author of A Story Worth Telling just released from Abingdon Press. A writer, speaker, and content strategist, he blogs at Patheos and Faithwalkers where he helps people live an authentic life. Follow him on Twitter.
Belief is the Key Ingredient
Every day you lead, you are writing a story. You don’t have to be a writer or even put pen to paper to make it a good one. But you do need one key ingredient: belief.
Regardless of your beliefs about spiritual matters, your leadership legacy will be determined by your faith. By faith I don’t mean going to church or engaging in religious rituals, as important as those practices may or may not be to us. I simply mean doing what we believe to be true, often in spite of what we see, sense, or feel.
What we believe to be true determines what we do. And what we do is what gets results. Our motion reveals our devotion to what we believe to be true.
The entrepreneur who launches a new business believes in the product or service the new venture will provide. The CEO who initiates change believes she knows where the market is headed and how the company can best prepare to capitalize on it. The individual who steps away from a comfortable career to tackle a new challenge does so because he believes a better story is possible.
If we want lasting results from our leadership — results that get talked about long after we’re gone — we must start with understanding how what we believe to be true writes our leadership story.
“Your leadership legacy will be determined by your faith.” -Bill Blankschaen
My new book, A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life, shares several stories of ordinary people who stepped out to fulfill their dreams because they believed it was the right thing to do. They believed their story could have value, so they began a quest to achieve a specific end. When we know what we value, we find our way toward it. Roy Disney, a man who knew a thing or two about making tough decisions, said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” -Roy Disney
The direction derived from belief doesn’t only help us as individuals, it also guides everyone we influence. As Jack Trout said, “At the end of the day, people follow those who know where they’re going.” If you don’t know what you believe to be true, you’ll tend to drift wherever other forces take you. Drifting never inspired anyone to do anything but walk away. However, what you believe to be true will have consequences for your team — so choose wisely.
“At the end of the day, people follow those who know where they’re going.” -Jack Trout
One of my company’s board members is also one of the Internet’s earliest pioneers. In the past few years, I have had the opportunity to hear him tell stories that are instructive, but also mind blowing. At one meeting, I recall him sharing an example of what he learned about product marketing and branding. Because of his humble style, I almost miss the product reference. Wait, I think, did he just share how IBM’s ThinkPad name was conceived? Yes, and much more.
“Think big, act bold, start simple, and iterate fast.” –John Patrick
John Patrick doesn’t brag or seek attention, so most people don’t realize he was a founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT or a founding member and former chairman of the Global Internet Project. He was also the head of Internet Technology at IBM and is currently the President of Attitude, LLC.
Most people would just stop, retire, and enjoy life. Not John Patrick. Only a few years ago, he decided to get his doctorate in health administration.
What makes some messages stand out above the noise?
Marketers everywhere have been busy in the past several years keeping up with mobile, new technology, and the fundamental changes in a social media world. Though the pace is increasing, it is also important to review the basics of marketing to ensure that what you do matters. Linda J. Popky, in her new book, MARKETING ABOVE THE NOISE: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters goes back to basics and offers an approach that combines timeless principles with today’s technology. Linda is the president of Leverage2Market Associates, a firm that helps transform organizations through powerful marketing performance.
“Asking for input and not using it is wasteful and dangerous.” –Linda Popky
How has social media changed the way companies interact with individuals? What are companies doing well? What are they not doing well?
The good news is that social media opens the possibility for powerful real-time communications and conversations between companies and their audiences—including customers, prospects, employees, and the local community. The bad news is that social media also raises expectations amongst those audiences, while creating distraction and noise that often makes it harder to be heard.
The result is many organizations do not use these channels effectively. The key point about a conversation is that it’s two way. It’s not a monologue of marketing or sales messages from a company to customers. And it’s not an opportunity to bombard them with information that doesn’t fit the audience.
More and more companies are using social media to engage with their customers, and they’re learning to listen effectively. However, they also need to bring back what they learn to the right groups in the organization to effect change. Too often this is still lip service.
For example, several months ago, I had a very negative experience with a major national retail chain. I tweeted about this and almost immediately received a response and apology from their Twitter customer care manager. The problem was they assured me I’d be hearing from headquarters soon to resolve the issue. Not only didn’t that happen, but the Twitter customer care manager moved on and left me hanging—a huge missed opportunity on their part, which is indicative of how much room there is for improvement.