A lot's been written about the rantings of Sam Zell, the real estate billionaire who recently became a media magnate when he bought the Tribune Co. If you're late to the game about who this guy is or what he's done, here's all you need to know:
1. Zell became a media tycoon when he bought the Tribune Company, which means he bought a bunch of newspapers and assorted media companies.
2. Zell went on a straight talk express, where he did a tour of the newspaper newsrooms and tried to shake things up.
3. Zell's approach includes, a) cursing, b) yelling, c) telling people to stop spending time on being politically correct, and d) challenging a lot of conventional wisdom in the newspapers he owns.
Which begs a question. Are CEO's and owners who engage in a profane, animated discourse with employees leaders or liabilities? Is it possible they can be both, with the scales tipping one way or the other based on the overall circumstances before them and facing the companies they manage?
I'm conflicted on when the approach is warranted, although there are certainly industries and workforces that are more open to the message than others. The rationalization is usually the need for a "sense of urgency". Is that a good reason?
Take a look at this latest clip (running time - 5 minutes, warning PG-13), where Zell explains his approach to some folks at the Chicago Tribune, and decide for yourself. If you want more Zell, go to YouTube. It's not hard to find...
(Hat tip on video to