business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Truth be told, I don’t have much of a relationship with Conan O’Brien.

He’s been a talk show host on the air for nearly 25 years now and honestly, I have only watched him a handful of times. I’m sure he doesn’t miss me, but he might find this unsettling; I’ve found him far more interesting when he’s off the air than when he’s on.

For instance, when he separated from the “Tonight Show” in 2010 I was fascinated at how he and his fans mastered social media, podcasting and other then-emerging forms of communication to keep him top of mind, relevant and connected. More than most businesses he demonstrated how to use the new world of social media to connect and it worked.

Conan is off the air again right now, and is retooling his show, which has been airing on TBS. He’s reached the conclusion that the crowded late night field doesn’t need another formulaic show so he’s smashing the model, cutting the length of his show to 30 minutes, dropping his longtime band and questioning everything about the type of presentation he has successfully mastered for all these years.

The reality is that none of us have much in common with Conan O’Brien - not lifestyle, talent or paycheck. But his views on change, as reported in a New York Times story, should strike a note with every one of us.

O’Brien told the Times, “Wouldn’t it be nice not to be threatened by change? Not to be threatened by so many different talk-show hosts who are all doing things in different ways? Wouldn’t it be nice to be at peace with, this is not the world I entered in 1993.”

We hear you, Conan.

It would be great not to be threatened by change and so many competitors fighting for our business in so many different ways. It would be great to turn back the clock to a simpler time, maybe an easier time, and just enjoy.

But, and you know this is coming, it ain’t happening. The past is past and those times, which really weren’t so simple then, are over. We need to accept the present we are in accepting that it is complex, competitive and growing more so daily.

So like O’Brien, we can wax nostalgic for the past, but we need to copy his willingness to break the model of current operations and find new paths to the future. There’s no way of telling if Conan’s new show will achieve the metrics he and his network obviously desire - higher ratings, especially among younger adults, and increased ad revenues. (It also is entirely possible that Conan and TBS may need to apply different metrics to evaluate success and failure.)

Conan is demonstrating something we all need to learn and consider: our willingness to change.

So yes, we join Conan is saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice not to be threatened by change.” But like Conan, we have to know better and embrace the change, difficult as it may be.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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