Knowing You Were Right- The Best Revenge

You probably had a good idea at work this month; it might have been some way to make the workflow easier, some new code for the site, maybe even a social campaign that you’re just positive would work great for your company.

You wondered if anyone would listen, and take you seriously.

You hesitated, thinking you might step on someone’s toes.

You withdrew, thinking it’s not worth the risk. You need this job and its benefits, after all- better to keep your head down.

Idea lost. Credit for your brain, not exploited.

The following is a case study in frustration, redemption and validation.

I left the radio industry in 2010, being asked to leave in a corporate downsizing.

Since then, even though the only broadcast radio I consume regularly is a tremendous jazz station, 91.1 KCSM and America’s monster National Public Radio affiliate, 88.5 KQED, I still follow the industry- mostly to find ammo to shoot back at the megacorporate suits who are failing to listen to the dreams of the people who work for them.

I learned today that my former employers are making wholesale changes to a couple of their news/talk properties, stations that I/we once managed. My stations. My former colleague Clark’s stations.

For years, I begged them to listen. I made spreadsheets, I made PowerPoints and I held meetings. I grabbed people in the hallways. I walked into offices. I showed them the ideas. I told them the front investment would pay off in subsequent quarters. I made calls, I took meetings with program producers. I pitched and pimped and requested on bended knee for a moment of contemplative behavior from the corner offices.

Insert sound of a dial tone here.

From 2005-2010 I asked them to listen.

What resulted from the collective pats on the head I received from the power ties was a whole lot of nothing, combined with a shot of apathy and a dollop of “nobody cares”.

After they let me go, I had many days of long walks and reflection- I was a failure. My ideas were unrealistic. My passion was misplaced. I felt a bit humiliated. Maybe they were right, the corner offices; maybe I was a dreamer, maybe the game had passed me by. I wondered if when I was there I was channeling Al Davis.

After reading the articles about the changes today, I dug up a 2007 PowerPoint that, while not exact, was pretty damn close to the tweaks that will debut on these stations in January of 2012.

I was right. 100% of the things that are happening, in some form, were ideas I presented to management and my colleagues, some who were in a position to help but offered nothing but their ears and a sympathetic smile.

Am I angry with these people? No. Am I bitter? Hell no.

What I am instead is vindicated and validated. I was right. This was worth doing. This was a good plan.

This IS a good plan.

Here’s the downside for them: these kinds of AM radio formats cater primarily to the Caucasian nursing home demographic.  Virtually no one under age 40, and 86% of all radio listeners never, ever listens to AM radio.

The audience I begged and pleaded to serve in 2007 are 5 years older. They are buying less and will be less responsive to ad messages, let alone anything social. They have lost a half-decade in buying power. Twitter away, you self-professed revolutionaries who had a deaf ear to my dreams- let’s see how your Klout score looks next month.

Your idea, the one you had at work this week or this month, probably was great. It’s perfectly normal and natural that few would believe in you. That’s how the world works.

Remember how smart you are. Retain that idea. Hold on to the passion. Another company might love the song you are singing. How delicious would it be if it was a direct competitor!

Maybe you can find a way to make your idea real, as a partner or a boss of your own enterprise…

This is how the greats did it. You might be one of them. Don’t be bitter- be confident.

You were right.

You ARE right.

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