The 10 Minute Mentor

CEO of CEOs: How an insider helped lead the magazine industry through disruption and transformation

February 14, 2017

The 10 Minute Mentor Podcast
Our ongoing series on leadership in the age of disruption.

Episode 3: CEO of CEOs: How an insider helped lead the magazine industry through disruption and transformation

Guest: Nina Link, former President & CEO of MPA, The Association of Magazine Media
Host: David Reimer, CEO, Merryck & Co Americas

Nina Link’s leadership guided the magazine industry as President and CEO of MPA, The Association for Magazine Media. During her 13-year tenure, she steered the organization through massive industry upheaval and played a pivotal role in their digital transformation.

How does a seasoned CEO navigate the inevitable headwinds of industry disruption? Does it require a complete re-engineering of the core business model or can incremental tweaks be implemented to foster sustained growth and long-term success?

How can a leader be a catalyst for change in a public industry, with larger-than-life personalities, where every action is scrutinized? When a CEO goes through a period of major transformation, how does it directly impact her and her world view?

Nina’s conversation with host, David Reimer asks these – and other pressing questions -on what is most relevant today to help a leader’s mindset as they’re dealing with disruption.

Key Takeaways:

4:32 – I really understood how difficult it is to implement massive change. I saw really smart people who saw the disruption around them, saw certain industries that were having some successes in transformation, understood what it could mean for their own organization, but was still not able to implement certainly on a timely basis, because they were protecting the business model they had, which had been so successful, and they were also protecting their culture.

6:41 – I think the biggest learning curve for me was working with a board of…at the time, I believe there were 33 board members, who were a team of rivals. During the day, they are highly competitive and here as a board they were to come in and take off their company hat and put on their industry hat. And they had somewhat different business models, they were large organizations, they were smaller companies. It was really a challenge to figure out how to be aligned around some of the really big issues and not focus on all the little squabbles.

8:35 – And my role became really being a catalyst, and nudging, and finding champions to help me get the agenda of change across. We brought them to Facebook, we brought them to Google, we brought them to Twitter, we brought in Netflix.

10:16 – Finding a way to blend the new talent that may have a different vocabulary and come from a kind of different work culture with the talent that you have that are so valuable without alienating, that is such a challenge, but it’s so critical to the ultimate success and continued growth of industries that are going to have continued upheaval.

11:47 – Thrive on a lack of certainty, because that is the landscape going forward and you have to be able to not only deal with it, but to thrive.

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