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Bang The Drum Of Heroism!

On a regular basis, I hear from corporate executives who say they are ready to challenge the ways things are done in their industry. They want a powerful brand, they tell me. They’re ready to break all the rules. Those words are war drums, a rhythmic sound that’s calling for heroes.

Banging those drums has a way of getting to my heart, animating me, causing me to leap from my chair. I grab the cordless phone (I can’t think while I’m sitting down) and I move from one end of the room to the other.
A million possibilities come to mind, and I become invigorated by potential outcome. My excitement is now at a full fortissimo. I exclaim: “I am ready to kill conventional wisdom; you have my sword!”

As soon as one unconventional idea appears, however, the banging of the drum ends. All the talk was just that: talk. The actions of those executives now bring to mind the words of Henry Ford: “People can have the Model T in any color — so long as it's black.”

Now, they waste time convincing themselves that their present color works. In other words, they convince themselves that things are better the way they are, because they can feel secure and can predict the future with great accuracy. The proposed change would destroy a fine balance of compromise.

Compromise. What a nice village to live in. The corporate bureaucracy demands conformity. The “idea bat” is passed from person to person like a hot potato. Everyone looks at the next guy, hoping that person will be the one to swing.
We have to blame that attitude on management, who rewards complacency and punishes risk-taking. When employees swing for the grand slam and miss, they become examples of failure.

We know that the line between heroism and stupidity is a thin one. Heroic acts, with slight alterations in the outcome, become stories to laugh at. Our experience tells us that failure ends in ridicule, and the thought of becoming the outsider breeds fear. This fear of failure is what creates widespread paralysis in companies.

If we ever hope to move again and create powerful brands in radio, we must be willing to reward risk, both in success and in failure. Rewarding risk allows heroes to live. Your people will no longer be afraid to think outside the radio box and will be eager to color outside the lines.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best in his speech at the Sorbonne, in Paris:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Are you ready for your heroes? Continue banging the drums!

B.J. Bueno is author of The Power of Cult Branding

Reproduced by permission of RadioInk magazine

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Sales Training