Corner Office: Maria Rodale on Thriving in Times of Change
How do you do that? It's often easier said than done.
Well, it's a cultural thing. It's constant and [requires] reward and encouragement and leading by example. It's getting people in a room together that don't normally get in a room together. It's getting people on board who think collaboratively. It's definitely something that we hire for now.
We have to work together from the beginning of idea generation to when it goes out the door. It's all one process. It's uncomfortable for people because they're in their safe places where they've always been. It's our job as leaders to get people out of their comfort zone and push.
Do you feel some of the post-recession hysteria in the industry has died down?
I definitely think the whole industry is still a little traumatized. But I think it's time to get on with things and accept that this is the new world order, and we've got to learn to succeed in it. What I definitely noticed personally is we were early change agents. We got targeted with a lot of criticism [particularly for launching the ecommerce business], and now that's toned down a lot. I'm sure there are still skeptics out there, but I don't care. We're moving forward. It's working. It's a key part of our future strategy, and I like it. It's good.
What have you learned from trying to spur change within an organization
One thing I think I've learned is that it's almost impossible to change somebody's fundamental philosophy of life. If I have found somebody who is a good worker and I actually love them as a person, but our philosophies of business and life are completely different and not aligned, it's not going to work. That's when you have to say, "Thank you, but it's time to part ways." But if you share a general philosophy -- it doesn't have to be exactly the same -- but if you're aligned, then it's about creating an environment where people feel safe to fail and they're rewarded for the positive steps they do make. Incentivizing the positive as opposed to punishing the negative.
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.