Lucky guy.

I consider myself a very lucky guy.

Even though I’ve stepped back from the demands of holding down a “steady job” in the media sales game, I have just enough day to day contact with folks in the business to make me feel useful.

Hardly a day goes by that a salesperson or sales manager or general manager doesn’t call to chat about some situation or challenge they are dealing with that they would like to discuss.

And that’s the point. They really only want to talk about “the thing” with someone who might be able to offer a “different” perspective.

Interestingly, a growing number of these “calls” arrive via e-mail and now are on a par with the quantity of phone calls in this category.

Fortunately, none of my callers really consider me a genius who can supply them with some magic solution to their dilemma. I find I am increasingly unable to trick people into believing that I possess unique knowledge which will unlock the door to untold riches.

Invariably, before they can pose the question the caller is forced to organize the details of the problem in some semblance of order and this process alone can be quite revealing. That’s followed by a need to suggest various courses of resolution, the best of which usually becomes self evident during our “chat.”

When they realize they themselves have developed a sensible approach, my contacts usually offer me considerable unearned thanks accompanied by extravagant promises of rewards, presumably in the afterlife.

While at the moment this service is free to all, I would be lying if I didn’t confess that I have been tempted to develop a fee structure that would adequately compensate me for my remarkable capacity for problem solving.

Unfortunately, this temptation is quickly pursued by the realization that my services are probably worth precisely what I am currently charging for them.

On top of that, I am afraid that if the phone stops ringing and the e-mail bell stops firing, I’ll be left without contact with the fine young people who currently flatter me with the impression that I can be helpful to them.

Each time I come in contact with a group of the “new guard” in broadcasting, I am impressed with the quality of individual this industry is attracting. Mind you, that’s not to say that many of the people that came before were not without talent and ability. It just seems to me that now the individual competition is that much tougher.

The new breed is not only better educated and prepared, but they appear more focused and committed to a work ethic that would have startled me when I was starting out.

They also are more demanding of their employers than many of us would have dared to be. They expect to be offered specific and adequate training. And if you’re not prepared to provide them with continuing education and opportunities, be prepared to lose your best and brightest.

Losing these people is one the most expensive mistakes you can make.

I guess that’s the one thing that worries me about the ones that contact me for advice.

While it flatters my somewhat fragile ego to believe that I can still offer relevant assistance, my concern is simply “why do they call me and not their boss/mentor?”.

Doesn’t this suggest a lack of faith or opportunity in the structure they are dealing with?

Even though they may have good resources and an “open door” available to them at their place of employment, could it be that they fear asking a “dumb question.” Are they afraid to admit even momentary defeats because they will be treated with confidence shattering sarcasm and held up to ridicule?

I find it hard to believe that today’s enlightened management could ignore the benefits of encouraging an atmosphere where objective discussion of business frustrations can take place.

It is important to recognize that I was guilty of many of the shortcomings that I have seen eliminated in the workplace in recent years. That’s why I can recognize them so readily.

When I was a young, somewhat inexperienced manager, I thought it clever to expose the concerns expressed by staff in meetings with snappy sarcasm and ego deflating witticisms.

It took me some time to understand that my primary function as a manager was to develop the skills of my staff – to make them more productive – to make them feel confident in themselves and their company.

In time, watching people grow became my most rewarding preoccupation.

I learned that true success results as a natural progression of that philosophy.

So while I really like hearing from your people, try to make certain they also feel comfortable talking to you.