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10 leadership lessons from Jeffrey Fox

Mike Lyles | July 11, 2014
Do you remember when you were first assigned a leadership role? It's an exciting adventure, filled with anticipation, anxiousness, fear of the unknown and an overwhelming need to ensure you're ready to take on one of the greatest responsibilities of a career.

I answered, "Yes, you saw a billboard. Isn't it good? I'm testing the creative for $2,800 as opposed to a national rollout. Would it have been better for you, and every other driver, to have not seen the billboard?"

Lyles: A quote from your book, "The executive that brags [he] never takes vacations is either a fool or a poor manager," really hit home with me. I continue to work a lot, but I plan vacations and I take them. What advice do you have to people struggling with the ability to take vacations?

Fox: At the beginning of every year, I plan my calendar. Everyone has 52 weekends. We know Christmas ... Thanksgiving, Halloween, birthdays, etc. I schedule them and block them on my calendar. Then I work diligently to keep them in stone and not move them. I do the same with vacations and the schedules of the kids' games.

Lyles: Technology, digital consumerism and the way we operate in our daily lives is so different than many years ago. In fact, it's evolving at an exponential rate. We're forced to keep up to maintain success. Years ago, computers were on a desk at home or in the office. Today, almost everyone carries one in a pocket.

Do you see the roles of leaders, managers, mentors and coaches changing as part of this continued change in the world? Are there core values and leadership principles that you feel are unchanged by the changing times?

Fox: I was asked in a recent interview, "What technology have you discovered that could make a difference in marketing?" My response surprised the interviewer: "A personal letter with an envelope and a stamp." A personal letter trumps 1,000 emails. It has a huge impact. No one disposes an old-fashioned letter.

We have 18-year-olds texting today. [Soon they'll be] 40. We can't predict their world. They'll enter the workforce all at the same time. Social media, to me, is more antisocial than anything else. People would rather email, Facebook or text, than pick up the phone and call or meet a customer face to face. Many schools today don't teach cursive writing. Too many kids today can't tell time on an analog clock. The question at the end of the day is, "Do they know how to communicate?" Kids send Grandma an email to say thanks for the birthday present. That's antisocial.

Social media doesn't talk to you. Great leaders should still stand up in front of everyone and talk. Do you think the government would send an email stating, "Let's go to war"? Which person will you purchase from the guy [who] meets you face to face to sell the product or the one [who] emails you saying, "Buy this from me"?


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