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I thought it might be time to do something a bit different with the site. In order to invite more participation from everyone out there, I thought I would use the site as a book club of sorts. You will see the book listed on this site that I have selected to have everyone read:…

Primal Leadership

imageI thought it might be time to do something a bit different with the site. In order to invite more participation from everyone out there, I thought I would use the site as a book club of sorts. You will see the book listed on this site that I have selected to have everyone read: Primal Leadership written by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee. If anyone knows anything about the field, they will know that this book has almost become a standard on the subject.

I chose the book for a couple of reasons. One, I am familiar with the subject matter, as I worked as an editor on a trade magazine that covered workforce and human resource issues. Also, my brother is at work establishing a leadership center at the school where he teaches, and he is using the text as a guide. I thought we would read the book together, and invite your commentary as well.

To prime the well, so to speak, I am including an interview that I had the pleasure of conducting when I worked at Training magazine. While I will include posts on the book that “we” are reading together, I will also continue to include regular posts dealing with other biblio-topics. This Q&A was first published in September 2002. Let me know your thoughts:

I recently spoke with Primal Leadership co-author Annie McKee about the state of corporate leadership in America today. McKee teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, and is the co-chair of Teleos Leadership Institute in Philadelphia, where she makes the case for developing emotional intelligence in the workplace. McKee has been a leadership consultant to some of the world’s largest corporations, such as Merrill Lynch, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Unilever.

How well do you believe corporate America’s leaders are leading in light of current issues in the headlines? What’s most needed right now?

It’s a mixed bag. You have unbelievable pressures that started several years ago, came to a head last September and escalated around the world. On top of that you have market and business pressures unlike anyone has experienced in more than a decade.

A number of our leaders are simply not prepared for the challenges and pressures they face on a daily basis.

On the other hand, individuals that understand and accept that the world is radically different now and can look inside themselves for strength, integrity and their own values to guide their decisions—I think some of them are doing astoundingly well.

What are the most important leadership competencies in your opinion?

The most important leadership competencies are self-awareness and what we call empathy. Those two competencies are foundational for the others: influencing, communication and change management. Being able to understand yourself—understanding your values, strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage your hot buttons—differentiates a great leader from a good leader. And empathy—by that we mean the ability to read other people and truly understand what motivates them, what their needs are, what they care about, whether they work inside your organization or outside your organization—in fact is a foundational competency for vision.

How well are companies supporting leadership development, as far as it relates to training programs? Are they teaching the right things?

Most companies fall far short of the mark in leadership development. Most of the training programs that I’ve seen, and that’s internationally, are quick fixes for pretty simple problems—like management training, negotiation skills and communications workshops—all of which are important, but they are superficial. And, generally speaking, they are not engaging or designed well. Many of my training colleagues are true professionals, but unfortunately many of them are not.

Leadership can be learned. People can get better at leading others. It takes hard work, time and true desire on the part of the individual and support from the organization, but it is possible.

What will be the most critical leadership challenge facing managers over the next five years?

We know which leadership competencies really matter, and we are more courageous stating what they actually are. Five years ago, you couldn’t talk about self-awareness or empathy as a leadership competency because people might turn up their noses. That’s not true today.

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 29 2004 • Book Club

Image Management

imageI want to apologize to any regular readers for being a poor blogger. I have been out of town, so I haven’t had time to post anything. I promise to keep up. So here is an interesting story about the fate of being a big time author today.

So you think learning to write is all that big-time writers must think about. Not so fast. Here is a clip from the New York Times about a newly famous writer: “In one whirlwind year, Azar Nafisi has found herself drawn further and further into the maddening, seductive fold of American success. She has gone from unknown academic émigré to literary celebrity with the startling commercial success of “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” about life and literature under the Islamic government in Iran. Pushed by world events that have made Muslim women interesting to American book club readers, the book is now in its 21st week on the paperback best-seller list of The New York Times.”

“The book made its paperback debut on The Times’s best-seller list in January, quickly moved to No. 1 and has sold 484,000 copies. The company has also sold rights in 22 countries.” It is quite an accomplishment for a nonfiction title, to say the least. And it has captured the attention of those who want to cash in on the reader demographics.

The article continues to quote Nafisi, “"How much time do you have to spend creating or not creating an image?” Part of maintaining that image has her taking part in a marketing campaign for Audi, sponsored by Condé Nast. n exchange for her participation, for which she was not paid, Audi is sponsoring literary events in five cities. “To promote Audi, a picture of Ms. Nafisi, suspended in air in front of a shelf of books, appeared last month in several publications owned by Advance Magazine Group, Condé Nast’s parent, including Vanity Fair, Wired, Golf Digest, The New Yorker and Vogue,” writes the New York Times’ Julie Salamon.

“She is joined by David Bowie (Audi is sponsoring his latest tour), the actor William H. Macy and the teenage soccer star Freddy Adu, all part of Audi of America’s “Never Follow” campaign to promote the brand to affluent and educated potential buyers.”

Is there such a thing as too much success for a writer? asked Salamon. “Now, Nafisi says, she fears the biggest obstacle to writing may be success. Before leaving Iran seven years ago, she said, “I wondered, `Will I ever be able without worry to sit down and write and teach?’ I can now complain to no one because no one is preventing me from writing. But they are, in a sense, by their enthusiasm. There are too many good people to talk to.”

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 29 2004 • Books

Outsourcing Magazines

imageAre magazines next? That’s the question put forth in this month’s Folio magazine, the trade magazine for those in the magazine publishing business. The question refers to that political hot button of the day: outsourcing.

“It’s an increasingly familiar picture: the transfer of work that was once done by full-time employees in the U.S. to overseas contractors for a fraction of the price,” writes Folio’s Karen Holt. “It’s a fait accompli in customer service, direct marketing and information technology. Now, it’s the magazine business’s turn. Editorial, design, production and advertising functions are all being performed cheaper — and some contractors and publishers claim better — overseas.”

According to the Folio article, magazine publishing presents all of the same qualities that made other industries ripe for outsourcing opportunities, including “the lack of face-to-face customer service, work processes that enable telecommuting and Internet work, high wage differentials between countries, a high information content, low social networking requirements and low set-up costs.” According to a report published by the University of California, Berkeley last fall, says the magazine, as many as 14 million jobs could be shifted outside the U.S. by 2015--among them, magazines.

“I think there’s more and more opportunity,” says Frank Stumpf, president and COO of SPI Publisher Services, which does prepress services such as layout and copyediting, as well as file conversion from print to electronic format for professional and scholarly journals in Manila. “Copyediting is one of the more labor intensive parts of the magazine business, so it’s a highly likely thing for people to consider moving offshore.”

“But Barbara Wallraff, a language columnist for the Atlantic Monthly and editor of the Copy Editor Newsletter, says copyediting is too sophisticated a function to be farmed out to someone in another country. “If it’s quality that the companies care about for the great majority of copyediting applications, offshoring wouldn’t be the way to go,” she says. “So we need to do a good job of explaining why good, solid domestic editing does have value.”” An interesting debate indeed, not only on the nature of the work, but what it may mean for our culture if our cultural products are no longer produced in this country.

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 22 2004 • Journalism

The Gutenberg Bible

imageBook lovers will enjoy this Web site. “On this site you will find the British Library’s two copies of Johann Gutenberg’s Bible, the first real book to be printed using the technique of printing which Gutenberg invented in the 1450s,” says the home page. Here you can view digital copies of the two texts, either alone or side by side to see how individual pages differ. It’s an absolutely wonderful use of the Web. The Gutenberg Bible is an important piece of publishing history; as you may already know, it was the first printed book that started the publishing industry. Not to brag, but I have been able to view a copy of the Bible myself. When visiting a friend in Chicago, I was able to page through a copy at the Lutheran School of Theology near the campus of the University of Chicago. A small group of us was escorted into an environmentally controlled room, where we were instructed to put on white gloves. With the supervision of staff members we were able to examine texts up close. It was a most memorable experience. Check out the site.

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 20 2004 • Books

Magazine Ad(d)s

imageFrom many reports it seems that magazine advertising is down across nearly every category of periodical. Combine this will falling circulation revenues, many publishers are looking to ancillary products to boost the bottom line. Read about it in the New York Times. This Old House is selling it’s own brand of paint (the same company that makes Polo’s paint will make it for the magazine), while Parents magazine will introduce insect netting for baby carriages in the fall. Does this enhance the magazine’s image or dilute the brand?

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 20 2004 • Journalism

Bill's Big Book

imageHere it comes. President Clinton’s big autobiography is scheduled to hit stores next week--all 957 pages of it. Politics aside, I believe this will be an important book. From everything I have read, this book promises to be a fantastic read. I saw him speak on C-Span a couple of weekends ago, and just from listening to his speech I can already tell it is going to be a fascinating read. The book is in two parts, according to Clinton. The first part chronicles his life growing up in Arkansas, with all of the interesting characters and stories about life in American during the 1950s and 60s. He also includes numerous stories from his early political live in Arkansas. The second part of the book, from what I gathered from the speech, is essentially a “diary of the White House.” He speaks about the major events that occurred on his watch, and how he was guided by his political and philosophical beliefs to act the way that he did. And all of the background material is promised as well (It should be with 957 pages). For instance, he said he included some of the history of certain regions and conflicts, such as Bosnia, before telling the story of how the Clinton administration intervened. It really sounds fascinating.

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 16 2004 • Books

Budget Realities?

OK, one more post about media profits and I will change the subject. When I asked about the breaking point a couple of days ago, maybe this is what I was talking about. Here’s a story from yesterday’s New York Times. This year, the Los Angeles Times won five Pulitzer Prizes, which the editors collected at a ceremony in New York City last month. The newsroom’s reward for all of the hard work? Layoffs. It seems that a cash-flow margin of nearly 26 percent just isn’t good enough for the stockholders. I will repeat that number: 26 percent.

“Thus far this year, the cash-flow margins of Tribune’s publishing division, estimated at 25.9 percent, are below those of the publishing divisions of many of Tribune’s competitors,” writes Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times, “including Gannett (estimated at 32 percent); E. W. Scripps (31.3 percent); Lee (27.4 percent) and Journal Register (27.3 percent), according to figures compiled by Banc of America Securities.”

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 15 2004 • Journalism

Creation of the Media

imageHere is a book I might have to put on my wish list. Did I mention I have a birthday coming up? This is the publisher’s description:

“In this sweeping history, Paul Starr shows how politics created our media world, from the emergence of the first newspapers and postal systems in early modern Europe and colonial America to the rise of the mass press, telecommunications, motion pictures, and broadcasting in the twentieth century. Critical choices about freedom of expression, ownership of media, the architecture of networks, secrecy, privacy, and intellectual property have made the modern media as much a political as a technological invention.

“The American Revolution, Starr argues, set the United States off on a path of development in communications that diverged sharply from patterns in Europe. By the early nineteenth century, when the United States was neither a world power nor a primary center of scientific discovery, it was already a leader in postal service, newspapers, and popular journalism, then in development of telegraph and telephone networks, later in the whole repertoire of mass media and entertainment. The rise of the media has become the story of an American ascendancy-and an American dilemma. The framework of communications established in the United States has proved to be a source of economic growth, cultural influence, and even military advantage for the country. But the media have also become a constellation of power in their own right, upsetting the classical vision of the role of the press in a democracy. The Creation of the Media not only presents the media in a new way; it also puts American politics into a new perspective.

“Author Biography: Paul Starr is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and co-editor of The American Prospect. His book, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and Bancroft Prize in American History. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.”

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 13 2004 • Books

Warp Speed

imageOne of the scholars/practitioners that I cited in my graduate research regarding the news media and society was Bill Kovach, the former editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and co-author of the book Warp Speed, American in the Age of Mixed Media. The book, written with Tom Rosenstiel, examines the media’s performance during President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. I think it’s a relevant read today. At the time I was writing my thesis, Kovach and Rosenstiel gave a speech about different periods in American history when journalism was thought to be in peril. I used the speech; here is an excerpt from my thesis.

The second significant period of sensationalism Rosenstiel mentioned in his speech, such as that which existed during the 1920s, simply came to an end in the Great Depression. The political and economic climate of the time would not support journalism that wasn’t serious in intent, he said. In 1999, Rosenstiel concluded that perhaps such a serious political or economic crisis might prove useful for the condition of American journalism, proving that there remains a strong connection between how the press functions and how the democracy functions.

The irony is that in 2003 we [entered] a period where both [were] present. After the September 11 tragedy news was as popular as ever. Journalists received high marks as well, for producing serious stories with hard-hitting coverage. And their efforts did not go unrewarded. Yet unlike serious times past, the new journalism model has not remained in place.

According to survey data from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, cited in the November 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, “the favorable glow from the media’s post-Sept. 11 performance “had completely disappeared” in barely one year. “The public’s grades for news organizations have tumbled on measures ranging from professionalism and patriotism to compassion and morality,” said the report. “Just 49 percent think news organizations are highly professional, down from 73 percent in November [2001]. If anything, the news media’s rating for professionalism is now a bit lower than it was in early September [2001], shortly before the terrorist attacks (54 percent). (“News” 45)

Worst of all for such journalism outlets is that the formula is starting to wane. According to Nielsen Media Research, television viewers are beginning to tune out. In the summer 2003, when the California governorship hung in the balance, and Kobe Bryant stood accused of sexual assault (two stories that seem to earn the single-story journalism moniker), the total evening news audience on the broadcast networks “has been lower this summer than it was during the summer of 2001, when the pressing stories of the day were shark attacks and Chandra A. Levy,” said the August 11, 2003, issue of the New York Times. According to the Nielsen research, in late June the CBS Evening News had one of its least-watched weeks for its nightly news report in at least a decade, and perhaps its history. The audience of ABC was down nearly 600,000 from the previous year in 2002 (Rutenberg).

And the trends continue. Watered-down network news continues to loose its share. Yet unlike Sept. 11, during the first 16 days of the recent Iraq war, any initial audience gains proceeded to vanish. CBS and ABC lost a combined 2 million viewers, during a high news period that traditionally gains viewers (Carter). Those cable networks treating the story as another round-the-clock melodrama, MSNBC, CNN and Fox have seen viewer increases of 350 percent, 300 percent and 300 percent respectively (Carter). Granted the total audience of the three networks compared to the top three cable networks is a respective 28 million to 7.3 million, it remains to be seen whether cable outlets can maintain any single-story momentum once the war is over.

Since writing those words in my thesis, new data has become available. As I mentioned in other posts on this site, the cable stations have since seen their viewership increases stall. Yet news, for business sake, continues to be a large profit center for major media companies. When do we reach the breaking point?

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 12 2004 • Journalism

Unfit to Print?

imageThis is the opening paragraph for a book review that will appear in the June 24 issue of the New York Review of Books, titled ‘Unfit to Print?’ It’s written by Michael Massing.

“Buried deep in Bob Woodward’s new book, Plan of Attack, is a revealing anecdote about how the press covered the runup to the war in Iraq. By mid-March 2003, Woodward writes, three separate sources had told him confidentially that the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “was not as conclusive as the CIA and the administration had suggested.” This, he notes, “was troubling, particularly on what seemed to be the eve of war.” When he mentioned this to Walter Pincus, a colleague at The Washington Post, Pincus told him that he had heard “precisely the same thing” from some of his sources.”

The review states that Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack “contains much information that, if disclosed in “real time,” could have had an effect on the course of events.” However, writes Massing, “Woodward was clearly free to reveal the doubts that some senior officials had expressed to him regarding the White House’s claims about Iraq’s arsenal. That he ultimately decided not to do so seems further evidence of the reluctance of the Post as well as other news organizations to challenge the administration’s case for war.”

This is a fascinating article to say the least. I would sure love to hear what you think about it. The most startling fact that the article reveals is that the New York Times knew much more than they reported about the data and events leading up to the war. In fact, on May 26, they wrote a remarkable letter to their readers in which they basically confessed that paper’s pre-war coverage “was not as rigorous as it should have been.” Massing writes: “According to the note, which appeared at the bottom of page A10, accounts of Iraqi defectors were not analyzed with sufficient skepticism, and “articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display” while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question “were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”

Posted by Joel Schettler on June 12 2004 • Journalism