Barry Cohen on Transformative Decisions in Business and Life
Barry Cohen, Managing Member of AdLab Media Communications, LLC
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your journey as a leader in your industry?
Over 40 years ago I began my career in marketing and communications. after years in broadcast media advertising, I transitioned to the ad agency/PR firm environment. along the way, I succeeded in becoming a published author. Once I promoted my books, people began seeking me out for help with their book projects. Today, I have morphed my business into a publishing company, helping entrepreneurs and professionals to become recognized as thought leaders, helping them create and promote their intellectual property.
What specific experiences or decisions in your journey do you believe have shaped your approach to business and leadership?
Deciding to take the leap into entrepreneurship full-time 25 years ago changed the trajectory of my career and my life. With no net, walking the high wire demands that you find your strength and lead the way.
Can you share a story of a pivotal moment in your career that led to a significant transformation in your business or personal life?
I was hired to turn around a small failing radio station in another state. On my first day taking the reins, my next in command threatened to leave for a better offer. Ownership was absentee. I had to make a choice--to either call and ask for money, to let him leave, to fire him--or something else. Instead, I restored the health insurance my predecessor had canceled and offered the employee three house accounts to service and earn commission on. He accepted and i never had to look back. I called the owner at the end of the day and let her know all was well. You don't have to get burned in a trial by fire--just think on your feet and be resourceful.
What factors did you consider when making that critical decision, and how did you weigh the potential risks and rewards?
I considered the fact that I knew no one to replace this person, that I had a skeleton crew and did not want to over tax them while searching for a replacement--and that this employee had value to the company with his ten years of service. I did not want to lose that. Instead, I elevated his responsibilities.
What challenges did you face during this transformative period, and how did you overcome them?
I was a first-time General Manager outside of my home state in unfamiliar territory, working with limited resources. I drew upon the early years of my career when I worked for distressed properties, so I knew how to add new ideas and to embed us into the community.
Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self at that time, or to entrepreneurs and business leaders who might find themselves in a similar situation?
The best advice is not to panic; take a deep breath, examine your options and choose the sensible path.
How has that pivotal moment influenced the way you make decisions today, and what lasting impact has it had on your business?
The same strategy has helped me through rough patches such as the death of my long time business partner. That event forced me to reevaluate the future direction for the business.
In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs and business leaders to have these transformative moments, and how can they best prepare for and learn from them?
Without transformative events and experiences, you risk becoming stale. While you may not be able to prepare for them, you can learn from them by mitigating risk and choosing the path that best serves you personally, as well as the business. Always keep your health in mind as you work through difficult times.