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If the Shoe Fits: the True Value of Power

by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all ‘If the Shoe Fits’ posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mHow did John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Networks, turn the channel from an also-ran to top ratings earner?

Not the way you might think; not by his vision or impeccable taste; not by having his finger on the pulse of the public or because he can see around corners.

He did it by not doing it.

Landgraf spent time on the creative side and when pitching/producing he kept hearing the same thing.

“I always got the same dumb note from the networks. ‘Can you make the character more likable?’ ” he recalled last week in a phone interview. “Not make them more exciting, more compelling, more interesting, no, it was always make them more likable.”

When he got the FX catbird seat he didn’t ask for ‘nicer’ he asked for solid stories.

In other words, he did it by letting go of the power to make those decisions.

“We write a check to fund the production and they send us the shows. By trusting the people you work with — sharing the authority — and being willing to fail, things have gone pretty well for us.”

This is something that every entrepreneur needs to learn.

Success comes not from having the power to make decisions, but from the ability to give that power to others.

 “Power is only of value if you give it away. You have to be willing to give it away, to entrust your career, your reputation and your future to others, to make something that is remarkable.”

Image credit: HikingArtist

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