Please excuse today’s headline. It’s not meant to be deceptive. And this post definitely isn't about venture capital, EBITDA, spreadsheet projections, or bank loans.
It is about adopting a mindset that might one day put you in a position to actually own a radio station. Because it all starts with attitude and mindset.
I was reminded of that in a recent New York Times “Corner Office” profile featuring Marsh & McLennan’s CEO, Daniel Glaser. He told a story about the value of paternal advice. (I similarly benefited from fatherly counsel that I still think about today.)
Early in his experience with Marsh, his dad summed it up;
“Danny, all I can tell you is that there’s going to be a lot of people who don’t think like an owner, and you should always be thinking like you are the owner of the business, and make your decisions like that.”
Glaser put this advice into practice. When he was just 24, the company was about to lose its biggest account in Saudi Arabia, largely because of the challenge of managing the relationship and the huge time zone difference. To turn the situation around, Glaser volunteered to go there, despite knowing nothing about the region or its people. That began his rise with Marsh. From there, he rose to the top of the company.
In the radio business in recent years, the news has often centered on corporate wheeling and dealing, purchases and partnerships, bankruptcies, and other high-level transactions that might leave a rank and file employee feeling very removed and even perplexed.
But that “think like an owner” attitude is something anyone can adopt at any level of an organization. And the benefits are obvious – not just to ownership but to an employee who always has the company’s back, making decisions that are reflective of owning the place.
Employees who act like employees end up becoming commodities. Those who think and behave like owners rapidly move ahead of the pack. And it prepares them for a day when they might end up running the place – or a company of their own.
It's about getting in early, staying late, sweating the details, and going the extra mile to protect the brand, serve the community, respect the audience, and provide results and ROI for advertisers. It's not that complicated, but it sure isn't easy.
When I think about many of today’s radio owners who worked for other broadcasters in their earlier years, that’s often the approach they took. People like Mary Quass, Don Curtis, Ed Christian, Jim Leven and Bruce Mittman, Charlie Banta, John Ostlund, Tom Yates, Gary Fisher, Steve Newberry, Ed Levine, Bruce and Sue Goldsen, and Lynn Martin were thinking like owners long before their dream of having their own radio companies came true. Today, they own their media companies, instilling those same values into their employees.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or a station owner, of course. But one of the clearest pathways to achieving that goal is to act the part.
Think like an owner.
Act like an owner.
This list of today's radio owners who spent time working on the air and in the sales department inside stations before becoming equity players is a partial one. There are hundreds throughout the radio business. If I omitted you or your company, apologies.