Forecast Forward

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(By Deborah Parenti) One of the most impressive things about Forecast 2019 this past November was the energy permeating the room. Stoked by some terrific conversations, both on and off stage, there was definitely a sense of optimism and enthusiasm in the air. You could feel it. And it wasn’t a matter of challenges and problems being ignored or suddenly vanquished by myopic desire. As one attendee shared with me, “I’m not discounting that we have issues across the industry that have to be addressed. What’s different this time is that I think we are finally willing to face up to them and honestly work to make the changes necessary.”

Sounds like a good message to start off the new year as well. No crystal-ball gazing or attempts at resolutions that won’t stick. More like an annual physical, a time to clinically assess the industry and our roles in it, set goals for improving its health, and decide the best way to reach those goals.

In her opening remarks, Forecast 2019 co-chair Marci Ryvicker made an observation in that same vein that has stuck with me. She referenced some time she had taken recently to decide the next chapter in her career.

Experiencing a rare opportunity for peace and quiet, she used that time for thought, as well as a period of relaxation, reflection, and growth. And she summed it up like this: “I learned to appreciate my accomplishments, understand my mistakes, and I learned to seize the opportunity before me.”

That’s also a message to consider as we roll into 2019.

With a new year and new plans being set in place, now is a good time to take stock of who we are, what successes we’ve had and what mistakes we’ve made, and where we want to be — and take others — over the next 12 months. This is not about the traditional New Year’s resolution, by the way — most of those will be forgotten by the end of January. It’s also not some contrived “10 point plan.” Actually, it boils down to two thought starters. And everyone can handle two.

Share the vision with others. Articulate more than just goals to staff. Revenue and ratings projections are nothing more than numbers on a computer screen until you make them come alive with vision. What will the path to get there look like along the way? How will progress be determined and celebrated? Most important, remember that buy-in occurs when individuals feel they are stakeholders in the plan. Everyone should be responsible for at least one piece of the pie. Delegate goals around the table, and charge individuals with the responsibility for them.

Don’t be afraid to cut your losses. It’s never easy to let someone go, and it shouldn’t be. But sometimes the nicest people are the wrong ones for the job or can’t help get the team across the finish line. Putting pressure on those who simply aren’t up to the task is not fair — to them, to their peers, or to you. If there is a better fit for them, wonderful. If not, you need to make the tough, but in both the short and long run, wise and best-for-all choice of cutting them loose. Not to do so is unfair. Delaying the inevitable only delays them from reaching their potential, and it holds the rest of the players back from achieving the joint goal. And simply because you dread an unpleasant task — shame on you. It’s part of being a manager, and after all, you did sign on for the job.

Marci said something else at Forecast, unrelated to this but equally compelling — remarks also germane to the conversations and vision that will hopefully continue to be part of the future. And I proudly share them here.

“When Deborah asked me to cohost this conference with Caroline Beasley earlier this year, I was truly honored. Honored to be one of two strong women to lead this special event, given what has been happening in this strange world in which we live.

“I look back now and realize I made a mistake. We weren’t asked to do this just because we are two strong women. We were asked to do this because we are two very strong and two very successful human beings who happen to be women.”

We — all of us — have come a long way. May we continue to make the journey, and the changes necessary, count.

Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. She can be reached at [email protected]

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