STATUS: TGIT! I think it’s going to be a lovely weekend in Denver. I’m looking forward to it. Yes, I’ll probably work some but hopefully not until Sunday night.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? THIN LINE by Indigo Girls
Last night I was reading GOOD TO GREAT by Jim Collins. It’s a nonfiction work on why some companies make the leap and others don’t. I’m only into chapter 2 so I can’t relay a lot of info about what I’m learning yet but it did put me in a philosophical mood.
As I see the world, it’s not enough to simply be a good agent with an eye for good material. Well, that’s not exactly true. If you are an agent working for an already well established agency, that’s probably accurate as the agent only needs to find good material, work with individual clients, etc. He or she isn’t also running the company.
But if you are an agent who also runs the show, then having a good eye for excellent material is not the only factor on what will make the agency successful. You also have to know how to run a company well.
Because guess what? I don’t have an MBA. In fact, I only have one agent friend who has an MBA. I also know a few agents who are also attorneys (which is a nice combo) but doesn’t really teach you how to run a company. To be successful, I not only have to be a good agent, I have to be a good CEO of the company.
So what have I learned so far from Jim Collins? CEOs that have taken companies from good to great where not flashy, celebrity-type leaders a la Lee Ioccoca. In fact, they were people that held the good of company over their own personal success—be it in wealth or in reputation.
They were soft spoken, self-effacing, and often had great humility—but not one of them was weak in character, drive, or determination. Collins called these folks Level 5 leaders.
Dang. I might have already failed the first step to becoming good to great. We’ll see. The second thing I’ve learned, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to talk about this more in the book, is that it’s not enough to have all the people on the same bus. What’s important is having the right people on the bus and those people are the key to implementing good to great elements beyond the CEO.
Now I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ve got the right people on the bus with Sara, my contracts manager, my attorney, my accountant, my bookkeeper, and my co-agents.
That’s a start!
Collins also mentioned that it was a conscious choice on the company’s part to make the leap. One reason why I’m reading the book. He also says that being a “good” company is also the biggest obstacle to becoming great. Interesting, isn’t it? I consider Nelson Literary Agency to be a good company—so in a sense, according to Collins theory, we are our own worst enemy. We could be keeping ourselves from making the leap.
Have other agencies thought of this? Have specific agencies gone from good to great? If so, I wonder what agencies I’d name that have made the leap. Could that be measured? In GOOD TO GREAT, Collins only looks at public companies where data could be measured in sales/stock growth over a 15 year period. That rules out private companies—of which most agencies are.
I haven’t any answers folks but I do have a lot of questions.