Reprinted from Inside Indiana Business
by Jim Walton- President, Brand Acceleration Inc.
Jack Farmakis, a great friend and long-time media rep, once invited me to his office in Connecticut where I was to meet his team of much respected media professionals. At the time, I was responsible for all marketing and advertising sales for a radio network that provided programming to almost a hundred radio stations in several states. I had just hired Jack's company to rep us and wanted to jump-start the relationship by getting to know his people.
I was immediately struck by the fact that there were only two support people in his office. One handled all print media orders and the other all broadcast orders. You see, Jack's company sold advertising for numerous broadcast companies and just as many publications. I couldn't imagine how they managed what had to be a huge workload.
When I asked how they did it, Jack had one simple answer. "These are the best people in the industry. I make it a point to hire great people, pay them very well, and then get out of their way." While the message didn't fully click (in my young skull), I found that these people more than proved themselves as true pros. They made us look great.
Another person that had a similar impact on me was Chris Duffy. A broadcast legend, Chris was the President of the holding company that then owned the radio networks that I managed. He was a great guy and was known for his profound knowledge of the broadcast industry and his sometimes stern management style.
On one particular day, I had a management-related question that I reluctantly took to Chris. After asking my question, he calmly walked across the room, closed his office door, and came back to his desk. After sitting, he said, "Jim, we hired you because you're very good at what you do. You're paid very well and I'm pleased with your performance. However (and this is when I just knew that I had made a huge mistake), if I have to handle management issues for you, then I don't need you. Other than our regular P&L meetings and occasional chit-chat at the coffee machine, we don't really need to talk. Do we?"
That's when it hit me. I could hear Jack's words ringing in my ears. "Hire great people, pay them well, and get out of their way." Chris always allowed me to run things my way. Even when I made mistakes, I was encouraged to stretch and grow as a manager.
Since that day, I have followed this sage advice in my selection of people, vendors, and even clients. At Brand Acceleration, we have a team of individuals who are very good at what they do and passionate about creating positive results for our clients. They're paid very well and perform like winners. No, we're not the lowest-priced player around, but we're not the most expensive either. We focus on doing great work for clients who are equally as passionate about results as we are. Our clients trust us to carefully watch the budget without sacrificing quality. They understand that quality is not cheap and "cheap" will never result in a winning effort.