Being Right vs Being Effective

We have all encountered this situation: you disagree with someone over some nontrivial issue -a friend, a classmate, a coworker – and you KNOW you are right and they are just so wrong. So you make sure they know it over and over again … but they still won’t budge.

The question you have to ask yourself here is: “Am I more concerned with being RIGHT or being EFFECTIVE?” If it’s the former, then keep doing what you’re doing. They’ll see the brillance in your ideas, I’m sure. Meanwhile, nothing will move forward.

If it’s the latter, then I advise you change tactics. Admit your view has flaws. Think about how their values affect their decision making. Ask someone they trust to talk to them. Provide some data from the real world that solidifies your stance. Or just let them have this issue and use the chits elsewhere.

Being right is never enough. No one wants to hear “Well it would have worked if s/he had just listened to me”. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure the right outcome.

There is a great crepe truck near Howard and 1st.

Save the Constellation Program

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve learned that the in your proposed budget, you are planning to shut down NASA’s manned space flight program and use the funds to invest in commercial ventures designed to replace the Constellation Program. I’m a big fan of market based solutions – after all, I live in Silicon Valley  – but I don’t think this is the right move. We’ve lost a vision to rally behind as a nation, and ambitious goals for space exploration are what this country needs. Returning to the Moon or going to Mars are not the kind of ideas with 10x ROI that most venture capitalists are looking for.

I’m very excited about burgeoning space travel industry, but it’s still in its infancy. Instead of shutting down the Constellation Program, let’s give it a bold vision, lots of support and then hold it accountable for results. Space is something we still need to pursue as a nation – and don’t worry, the corporations will come soon enough.

Respectfully,

Jason Shen

Thank You! | The White House

Open Letter to Daily Staffers

Hey Daily staffers,

I’m frequently in contact with business managers at other colleges and a few months ago the Stanford Daily was invited to attend CONBY – Conference for Newspaper Business at Yale. Hosted by Yale Daily News’s Business Division, it featured opening and closing keynote speeches by senior executives at The Wall Street Journal and Time Inc, and workshops and round tables with business staff at Brown, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and others.

We sent along a Stanford contingent of myself, Mary Liz, VP of Sales, Nikhil Joshi, Director of Strategy and Jane LePham, Head Copy Editor. It was a fun trip and well worth the time and cost. We tweeted much of the trip on the hashtag #yaletrip but I just wanted to recap on some of what came out of the event.

Education

I find learning about how other papers operate fascinating:

  • Most other schools have a sizable student business staff with a few older adults manning the offices.
  • My counterpart and Kamil’s at Yale is always junior, and it is a highly competitive (read cuthroat) position.
  • The Wall Street Journal guy advocated finding people who will pay for the content we produce that no one else can offer. Subscriptions to parents & alumni and Stanford admissions advice come to mind, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Collaboration

Another great thing from this trip is a trial collaboration between many of the papers at the event. We are planning to build a top tier college paper ad network and earn ad revenue from national firms that want to reach top tier students, at lower cost than current ad agencies.Other schools also wanted advice and support on going independent or renegotiating their lease with the University. We have a lot of experience here and it’s great to be able to help these smaller papers get established.

Appreciation

One thing we don’t appreciate enough is our (relatively) friendly biz/edit relationship.Discussions between biz/edit teams at other schools often, in their own words, degenerate to shouting matches. Other schools make less money than us, have fewer distribution points, less support from the administration and for the most part don’t pay any staff. Nice to be reminded of our blessings.

Action

Finally, we came away with some action items to generate more revenue:

  • Subscriptions – We’re going to push this during Parents weekend and next year at Homecoming. UPenn says they have over 1000’s of paying subscribers (which would be 100k’s worth of revenue for us)
  • Be more consultative to clients – Our account executives have really tried to give our clients “options” and now we’ll try to be more directive and offer specific dates and sizes to our advertisers, to help make the buying decisions easier for them
  • Offer web ads as an upsell – one of the challenges of online advertising is that we don’t want to cannibalize our print ad revenue so we rarely sell them directly. Going forward, we’re going to offer web ads as a bonus to people already buying a print ad.

Here in the business division, we are also trying to work with an overall strategic vision toward a better future. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work everyone. Despite the challenges ahead, I’m optimistic for the future of the Daily.

Jason