Who Wants to Manage the Decline?

I have often compared the radio industry as the candle makers in the age of the light bulb. Try as they may, the consolidators who own a good chunk of America’s radio stations are proving the definition of insanity week after week, quarter after quarter. You as an end-user have either stopped listening, or don’t listen nearly as often as you used to.

For any industry in decline, there are two ways to play this: take the leap, embrace the future head on, and let the young people lead the charge.

Or you can do it the way  (some) newspapers and (almost all) radio stations and (local) TV  have done it: stay with the old business model, hope for the best, and reduce expenses.

This is why you read about very few innovations and very frequent layoffs in these sectors.

Globalization and the” flattening” of the world economy have rendered many former American empires extinct. How we embrace the inevitable and natural changes in the business ecosystem says a lot about how successful we as employees and managers can be going forward.

Margaret Heffernan was a TV executive, a CEO. She wanted out. She realized that no matter her stature in her old career, making a change to a new space was going to be a challenge.

When you are the CEO of the candle company, you probably won’t get a corner office at the light bulb factory.

At least not immediately.

She wrote a too-brief but interesting piece for CBS MoneyWatch last week, and I want to share that with you here.

The signs are in front of you- something’s gotta give. Your company will give you the heave-ho much faster than you might be willing to make your escape.

Heffernan made her leap; but she had to convince folks looking for reassurance at The New Company that bringing her on would not be too much of a risk.

She extended her current skills into a new position, and made it relevant for a new industry.

This is the essence of reinvention.

You can take your biology degree from 2011 and transfer your educational (and internship) experience into a job in several industries you might not believe would be interested in your talents.

You can take an old-school management position and turn it into a job that lets you shine the light of real world knowledge onto a modern industry.

Surprises are all around you. Turn over enough rocks, and the answer will reveal itself.

Keep your head up.

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