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Lessons from the CEOs: Making the Connection to Success

In this series, we explore some less-frequently discussed ideas about running a successful business utilizing the experiences of real CEOs.

Skip Prichard is an accomplished CEO, turnaround business leader, and keynote speaker. He is known for his track record of successfully revitalizing companies and dramatically improving results. Most recently, he was President & CEO of Ingram Content Group, Inc., one of the largest behind-the-scenes companies in the book business. During that time, he had great success repositioning the company to improve results and grow key parts of business significantly.

“Professionally, I’ve enjoyed running companies,” says Skip. “My particular specialty is corporate turnarounds and transformations. That means I enjoy the challenge of taking companies that are losing money and help them back to profitability and then growth.” To achieve his past successes, Skip relied on his “Five C’s of a Turnaround”; Control, Cash, Customer, Culture, and Connection. In our first installment of this series, we focused on the importance Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, placed on Culture in creating happiness in employees and customers. In this installment we explore the art of making the connection.

Jill Geisler, Senior Faculty, Leadership and Management, at Poynter, recently authored, Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know, a book detailing the path to creating happy workplaces to help managers and leaders achieve their goals and meet success. It is a book leaders at any level can turn to for answers and advice they can put to work immediately. It is a “workshop-in-a-book,” designed to improve work, workplaces, and those who lead them, and Skip Prichard seems to have taken an important page, albeit in advance, from the text.

Significant turnarounds in the fortunes of troubled organizations require leaders with creativity, energy, insight and vision but success is realized only when leadership makes a connection with employees, customers and partners. Effective communication is vital for leaders to accomplishing their goals and filing the vacuum of information that often is a basis for organizational failure. Our options and vehicles to advance effective communication are more diverse today, with email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or a blog, leaders can send forth their message to employees and customers more effectively than ever before. But impactful communication is not limited to the modern tools of digital electronics, sometimes reaching into the tool box of the past and creating a hand written note or letter can have significant impact in making a point.

Skip Prichard asks, “What do you get for someone who has everything?” Answer, how about a hand written note or letter? Skip goes on to say “I would argue that there is nothing as powerful as tangible words on the page. I’ve appreciated and saved emails, but inevitably they are deleted. Contrast that with handwritten notes. I have kept almost all that I’ve received. It’s a fading art. In a growing digital universe, it’s rare to receive a scripted letter anymore and for marketers or for anyone who craves differentiation, it’s a great way to stand out.”

With his demonstrated successes, it is clear that Skip Prichard has made the connection.

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