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Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Corporate Cultures Reflect Business Progress and Growth.

Organizations should coordinate management skills into its overall corporate strategy, in order to satisfy customer needs profitably, draw together the components for practical strategies and implement strategic requirements to impact the business. This is my review of how management styles have evolved.

In the period that predated scientific management, the Captain of Industry style prevailed. Prior to 1885, the kings of industry were rulers, as had been land barons of earlier years. Policies were dictated, and people complied. Some captains were notoriously ruthless. Others like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford channeled their wealth and power into giving back to the communities. It was an era of self-made millionaires and the people who toiled in their mills.

From 1885-1910, the labor movement gathered steam. Negotiations and collective bargaining focused on conditions for workers and physical plant environments. In this era, business fully segued from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial-based reality.

As a reaction to industrial reforms and the strength of unions, a Hard Nosed style of leadership was prominent from 1910-1939, management’s attempt to take stronger hands, recapture some of the Captain of Industry style and build solidity into an economy plagued by the Depression. This is an important phase to remember because it is the mindset of addictive organizations.

The Human Relations style of management flourished from 1940-1964. Under it, people were managed. Processes were managed as collections of people. Employees began having greater says in the execution of policies. Yet, the rank and file employees at this point were not involved in creating policies, least of all strategies and methodologies.

Management by Objectives came into vogue in 1965 and was the prevailing leadership style until 1990. In this era, business started embracing formal planning. Other important components of business (training, marketing, research, team building and productivity) were all accomplished according to goals, objectives and tactics.

Most corporate leaders are two management styles behind. Those who matured in the era of the Human Relations style of management were still clinging to value systems of Hard Nosed. They were not just “old school.” They went to the school that was torn down to build the old school.

Executives who were educated in the Management by Objectives era were still recalling value systems of their parents’ generation before it. Baby boomers with a Depression-era frugality and value of tight resources are more likely to take a bean counter-focused approach to business. That’s my concern that financial-only focus without regard to other corporate dynamics bespeaks of hostile takeovers, ill-advised rollups and corporate raider activity in search of acquiring existing books of business.

To follow through the premise, younger executives who were educated and came of age during the early years of Customer Focused Management had still not comprehended and embraced its tenets. As a result, the dot.com bust and subsequent financial scandals occurred. In a nutshell, the “new school” of managers did not think that corporate protocols and strategies related to them. The game was to just write the rules as they rolled along. Such thinking always invites disaster, as so many of their stockholders found out. Given that various management eras are still reflected in the new order of business, we must learn from each and move forward.

In 1991, Customer Focused Management became the standard. In a highly competitive business environment, every dynamic of a successful organization must be geared toward ultimate customers. Customer focused management goes far beyond just smiling, answering queries and communicating with buyers. It transcends service and quality. Every organization has customers, clients, stakeholders, financiers, volunteers, supporters or other categories of ‘affected constituencies.’

Companies must change their focus from products and processes to the values shared with customers. Everyone with whom you conduct business is a customer or referral source of someone else. The service that we get from some people, we pass along to others. Customer service is a continuum of human behaviors, shared with those whom we meet.

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Employees depend upon customers for their paychecks. Yet, you wouldn’t know the correlation when poor customer service is rendered. Employees of many companies behave as though customers are a bother, do not heed their concerns and do not take suggestions for improvement.

There is no business that cannot undergo some improvement in its customer orientation. Being the recipient of bad service elsewhere must inspire us to do better for our own customers. The more that one sees poor customer service and customer neglect in other companies, we must avoid the pitfalls and traps in our own companies.

If problems are handled only through form letters, subordinates or call centers, then management is the real cause of the problem. Customer focused management begins and ends at top management. Management should speak personally with customers, to set a good example for employees. If management is complacent or non-participatory, then it will be reflected by behavior and actions of the employees.

Any company can benefit from having an advisory board, which is an objective and insightful source of sensitivity toward customer needs, interests and concerns. The successful business must put the customer into a co-destiny relationship. Customers want to build relationships, and it is the obligation of the business to prove that it is worthy.

Customer focused management is the antithesis to the traits of bad business, such as the failure to deliver what was promised, bait and switch advertising and a failure to handle mistakes and complaints in a timely, equitable and customer-friendly manner. Customer focused management is dedicated to providing members with an opportunity to identify, document and establish best practices through benchmarking to increase value, efficiencies and profits.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – The Future Has Moved… and Left No Forwarding Address.

Futurism is one of the most misunderstood concepts. It is not about gazing into crystal balls or reading tea leaves. It is not about vendor ‘solutions’ that quickly apply band-aid surgery toward organizational symptoms. Futurism is not an academic exercise that borders on the esoteric or gets stuck in the realm of hypothesis.

Futurism is an all-encompassing concept that must look at all aspects of the organization… first at the Big Picture and then at the pieces as they relate to the whole. One plans for business success through careful strategy.

Futurism is a connected series of strategies, methodologies and actions which will poise any organization to weather the forces of change. It is an ongoing process of evaluation, planning, tactical actions and benchmarking accomplishments. Futurism is a continuum of thinking and reasoning skills, judicious activities, shared leadership and an accent upon ethics and quality.

Quotes on The Future

  • “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi Berra
  • “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Robert F. Kennedy
  • “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Albert Einstein
  • “Tomorrow is another day.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
  • “The future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.” W. Somerset Maugham
  • “You ain’t heard nothing yet, folks.” Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • “I like the dreams of the future better that the history of the past.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “The fellow who can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can’t make anybody believe that he has it.” Will Rogers
  • “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke, Technology and the Future
  • “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
  • “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene
  • “Upper classes are a nation’s past; the middle class is its future.” Ayn Rand
  • “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” Winston Churchill
  • “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X””
  • “All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather that the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.” Bertrand Russell
  • “Many people think that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy. Well, that is doubtful. So get as much happiness out of what you are doing as you can and don’t put off being happy until some future date.” Dale Carnegie
  • “Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. In is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and a manly heart.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Futurism, The Future

I offer nine of my own definitions for the process of capturing and building a shared Vision for organizations to chart their next 10+ years. Each one gets progressively more sophisticated:

  1. Futurism: what you will do and become… rather than what it is to be. What you can and are committed to accomplishing…rather than what mysteriously lies ahead.
  2. Futurism: leaders and organizations taking personal responsibility and accountability for what happens. Abdicating to someone or something else does not constitute Futurism and, in fact, sets the organization backward.
  3. Futurism: learns from and benefits from the past… a powerful teaching tool. Yesterdayism means giving new definitions to old ideas…giving new meanings to familiar premises. One must understand events, cycles, trends and subtle nuances because they will recur.
  4. Futurism: seeing clearly your perspectives and those of others. Capitalizing upon change, rather than becoming a by-product of it. Recognizing what change is and what it can do for your organization.
  5. Futurism: an ongoing quest toward wisdom. Commitments to learning, which creates knowledge, which inspire insights, which culminate in wisdom. It is more than just being taught or informed.
  6. Futurism: ideas that inspire, manage and benchmark change. The ingredients may include such sophisticated business concepts as change management, crisis management and preparedness, streamlining operations, empowerment of people, marketplace development, organizational evolution and vision.
  7. Futurism: developing thinking and reasoning skills, rather than dwelling just upon techniques and processes. The following concepts do not constitute Futurism by themselves: sales, technology, re-engineering, marketing, research, training, operations, administration. They are pieces of a much larger mosaic and should be seen as such. Futurism embodies thought processes that create and energize the mosaic.
  8. Futurism: watching other people changing and capitalizing upon it. Understanding from where we came, in order to posture where we are headed. Creating organizational vision, which sets the stage for all activities, processes, accomplishments and goals. Efforts must be realistic, and all must be held accountable.
  9. Futurism: the foresight to develop hindsight that creates insight into the future.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – How to Maximize Trade Show Exposure

The number of companies participating in trade shows increases each year. While sales objectives are most common, trade shows may also be behavior, product, distribution or marketing oriented. Booth exhibitions at trade shows are viable and cost-effective sales tools to:

  • Achieve new customers, in order to grow and increase profits.
  • Introduce new products. Most of the visitors come to see what’s new.
  • Target a select group of visitors.
  • Allow your staff to interface with the public.
  • Perform informal market research.
  • Educate the public about what your company and your industry do.
  • Enhance your company’s image.
  • Assess competition and the overall business climate.

Trade shows generate sales leads at a lower cost per contact than a typical sales call. Research shows that industrial sales calls costing $252 to reach a prospect, with 4.6 follow-up calls necessary to book an order = $1,158. At a trade show, you might spend $133 to reach a prospect, with .8 follow-up calls necessary to book an order = $334.

Exhibits can be designed to appeal to all the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Research shows that 75% of what show visitors recall after expos is what company representatives told them.

Exhibiting in business-to-business shows requires different skills and approaches. The objective should be qualifying prospects, rather than selling. One meets more business prospects in a faster period of time at a trade show. Today’s customers are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to identify. They are knowledgeable, sophisticated and have increased expectations about what they want. Customers are now under more pressure to act immediately.

These pointers are offered to prospective exhibitors before the show:

  • Determine your correct mission for participating.
  • Evaluate each trade show for what it contributes to your sales objective.
  • Determine who you want as key prospects.
  • Delineate other categories of visitors, and develop a strategy for maximizing your time with key prospects.
  • Develop action plans for accomplishing your goals and getting the right people to visit with your company at the show.
  • Be sure that booth personnel understand what they are responsible for…and what they are selling. Untrained staff can lose qualified prospects and leads.
  • Employ professional counsel to format your exhibit, thus maximizing your investment.
  • Keep labor costs to a minimum.
  • Be sure that every member of your company is aware of the exhibit. Encourage all to invite prospects and to attend themselves, even if not involved in exhibiting.
  • Market your presence at the show in advance via mailings, distribution of VIP tickets and inclusion of your booth in advertising. Invite your current clients to visit your booth. Most attendees go to the shows in response to invitations to visit specific exhibitors. * Notify your trade media that you will participate. Engage public relations professionals to publicize your involvement.
  • Work closely with the show’s management. They too are interested in the same audiences as you: attendees and the media. Invite the board of the sponsoring organization to visit your booth.

These pointers are offered in order to maximize the way in which you should exhibit the product-service:

  • * Graphically describe and show what you do. Don’t expect the product to show itself. Don’t expect people to know about you already. This is a fresh opportunity for you to communicate.
  • Keep your focus upon your products, rather than pretentious displays.
  • Keep the booth simple, clean and organized.
  • Give facts and simple explanations of your products. Since many visitors may be unfamiliar, don’t assume that they know what you do.
  • Ask questions and listen. Don’t concentrate on giving a sales pitch.
  • Good lighting, decoration and booth dress are always relevant to the product.
  • Show a maximum number of products.
  • A good demonstration convinces visitors that your product is all you claim it is.
  • Show what the product can do for them and what it has done for others.
  • Give samples, if possible.
  • Encourage audience participation.
  • Distribute professionally-produced, factual literature, or don’t give out any literature.
  • Use video as interactive demonstration elements, augmented by signage.
  • Collect business cards, as the basis for follow-up activities.
  • Make appointments to have in-depth presentations to serious prospects.
  • Trade show selling requires high energy levels. Booth people must be pro-active, greet all prospects and learn how to qualify.
  • Approach large numbers of people within short periods of time, determining how to best process each contact.

Research shows that trade show booths that have dishes of candy tend to draw twice the number of visitors than those without candy.

The value of premium giveaways lies in lasting impressions, increased name identification and paves the way for faster follow-ups with prospects.

These observations and recommendations are made for booth exhibit personnel:

  • Booth personnel must be equipped to give precise, detailed information on your product.
  • Train booth attendants for show duty. If possible, stage a dress rehearsal. Follow procedures for literature distribution, trash cleanup, conversation and public demeanor.
  • Work out approach statements in advance. Have talking points in writing. Follow a step-by-step process.
  • Staff with a technical representative, as well as a greeter. You can never have enough well-trained people at the show.
  • Avoid the high-pressure approach.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat in the booth.
  • Booth personnel should look and act the part. Stand up straight. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Use approachable body language. Do not sit down unless you are with a client.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Keep small talk with other booth personnel to a minimum.
  • Arrange and follow duty schedules. Keep staff alert and on their toes.
  • Make booth visitors feel welcome at all times.

Lead collection and follow-ups must be treated seriously. After the show is over, don’t forget to follow through on details, promises and intentions:

  • Send follow-up letters to each visitor who left a business card.
  • Send out requested additional materials within one week after the show.
  • Set a lead follow-up program, since early response is vital. Follow up on sales leads for at least two years after the show.
  • Evaluate your results.

Your company’s commitment to participate in trade shows represents a big step. You should always want to improve the exhibit each time, thus insuring a return on the investment. The process of strategizing your exhibit relates directly to your company’s promotional and business development philosophy. This process inevitably makes every company’s marketing position much stronger.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Business Success Checklist

When you own and operate a business you need to have certain procedures for an efficient and seamless function. Sometimes the difficulty of managing your time makes for a haphazard operation. An inefficient operation results in unproductive activities which often miss the point and worse yet, result in wasted time and wasted resources.

One of the ways in which you can optimize your business activities would be the focus and attention to detail that a checklist can stimulate. Here is my own business success checklist that will help you optimize your activities for a more efficient and purpose oriented endeavor. Success is inevitable.

Clearly defined purpose.
Having a clearly defined purpose will focus your activities to a customer-oriented perspective. When a business loses sight of the customer and what they really need they often run into difficulties. Your clearly defined purpose can also center the attention and be a source of inspiration for your employees.

Provide leadership.
A leader’s purpose and job is to give direction and purpose and motivate his people. Leaders must also provide support for the emotional needs of their employees while they are at work and even sometimes when they bring personal concerns to the working place. The business absolutely needs energetic and emotionally mature leaders for it to prosper.

Focus on excellence.
When a company is content with being merely mediocre it may survive but it will never do extremely well. The company must have an emphasis on high standards, a desire to create and give value to customers, accountability to the employers and to your customers, and the drive to learn. If these are incorporated into the culture of your company a culture of excellence in all things will soon be prevalent.

Plan for the future.
When your business has contingency plans for future scenarios you will seldom be caught by surprise. You never know when the next big recession will hit. Most successful businesses have planned responses to most scenarios because they took the time to think “What If”. It is important to identify swings and trends so that innovation can remain a strength of your business.

Instill discipline.
This is often an unpopular issue but this is a critical matter. The sharp focus and direction on your objectives and goals can only be maintained with constant monitoring of your procedures and processes. Whether your focus is on customer service, profits, investing, marketing, or company growth a constant awareness of your current position in relation to where you want to be is essential.

Business Success Checklist

1. The business you’re in

  • Study and refine your own core business characteristics.
  • Understand “The Business You’re In” and how it fits into the core business.
  • Design and re-engineering of products-services.
  • Development of technical abilities, specialties and expertise.
  • Utilization of industry consultants or technical specialists.
  • Development of core business supplier relationships.
  • Make investments toward quality controls.

2. Running the business

  • Objective analysis of how the organization has operated to date.
  • Formalize the organizational structure.
  • Document practices, procedures, operations and structure in writing.
  • Communicate policies and procedures to employees.
  • Physical plant is regularly studied, updated and modified.
  • Distribution standards are documented, practiced and measured.
  • Time management and “just in time” concepts are applied.
  • Plans are in writing to address inventories and reducing surplus.
  • Legal compliance and precautions plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.
  • Outsourcing, privatizing and collaborating plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Purchasing plan (with processes and vendor lists) is in writing.
  • Repair and maintenance contracts are routinely maintained.
  • Purchase and lease of equipment plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.
  • Continuous quality improvement plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.

3. Financial

  • Cost containment is one (but not the only) factor of company operations.
  • Each product-service is budgeted.
  • Long-term investments plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Assets are adequately valued and managed.
  • Cash flow, forecasting and budgeting are consistently monitored.
  • Written, consistent policies with payables and receivables are followed.
  • Strategic Plan includes provisions for refinancing, equity and debt financing.
  • Accounting firm utilization plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Banking and investing plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Payables plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Receivables plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Finance charges are negotiated.
  • Insurance plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Benefits plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

4. People

  • Corporate culture reflects a formal Visioning Program.
  • Employees know their jobs, are empowered to make decisions and have high morale in carrying the company banner forward.
  • Top management has as a priority the need to develop and practice People development, skills and team building responsibilities.
  • Human Resources program is active, professional and responsive to the organization.
  • Incentives-rewards-bonus plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Personnel Policies and Procedures are written, and distributed to all employees.
  • Each employee has his-her own Position Results Oriented Description plan.
  • Training plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Professional development plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

5. Business development

  • All members of top management have Business Development responsibilities.
  • Company has and regularly fine-tunes a communications strategy.
  • Sales plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Marketing plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Advertising plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Public relations plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Research plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Marketplace development plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Creative collaborator-vendor plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

6. Body of Knowledge

  • Consultant plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Performance reviews are conducted annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Company learns how to benefit from changes.
  • Organization predicts and stays ahead of trends.
  • The company leads the industry.
  • Everything that goes on outside our company affects our business.
  • Willingness to invest in research.
  • Commitment toward collaboration and working with other companies.
  • Maintains active government and regulator relations program.
  • Maintains active community relations program.

7. The Big Picture

  • Shared Vision is crafted, articulated and followed.
  • Ongoing emphasis upon updating, fine-tuning and improving the corporate culture.
  • CEO accepts and ideas and philosophies with employees and stakeholders.
  • Creative business practices are most welcome here.
  • Strategic planning is viewed as vital to business survival and future success.
  • Outside-the-box thinking does indeed apply to us and will be sought.
  • The organization maintains and lives by an ethics statement.
  • The organization subscribes to continuous quality improvement ideologies-processes.
  • Maintains active crisis preparedness and prevention program.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Tribute to a Great Mentor. Remembering Cactus Pryor.

One never forgets their first mentor. I have had several great ones, who in turn taught me the value of passing it on to others. That’s why I advise businesses, write books, speak at conferences and more.

That first great mentor sticks with you always. Mine was legendary humorist and media figure Cactus Pryor. He died August 30, 2011 at the age of 88.

I started working for him in 1958, at KTBC Radio in Austin, Texas. A new show had premiered on TV entitled American Bandstand. I was 10 years old and wanted to be the Dick Clark of local media. Cactus was the program director and morning radio personality. His show, filled with humor, humanity and music, was the natural lead-in to Arthur Godfrey Time, which we carried from the CBS Radio Network.

Cactus was 34 at the time that he began mentoring me. He had grown up around show business. His father, Skinny Pryor, owned a movie theatre and entertained audiences with comedy routines during intermissions. Cactus was inspired by all that he saw. He joined KTBC as a disc jockey in 1945, becoming program director. When the station signed on its TV station on Thanksgiving Day, 1952, Cactus was the first personality on the screen. He welcomed viewers and introduced the first two programs, the University of Texas vs. Texas A&M football game, followed by the Howdy Doody Show from the NBC-TV Network.

Cactus had been doing his morning show from his home, with his kids as regulars, with the repartee being similar to Art Linkletter interviewing children. Early in 1958, he was doing his morning show back in the studio. I started as his regular on Saturday mornings, and he gave me segments to do.

From him, I learned several early valuable lessons:

  • You cannot be a carbon copy of everyone else. He wanted me to like and respect Dick Clark but not become a clone of him.
  • Being one of a kind is a long quest. He wanted me to set my own tone and not be labeled by others.

From Cactus Pryor and a 24-year old newscaster named Bill Moyers, I learned that if you take the dirtiest job and do it better than everyone else, you will be a solid expert. In the good old days of regulated broadcasting, stations had to keep logs of the music, to avoid the hint of Payola (a growing controversy at the time). I kept the logs and learned about the music, the record companies, the composers and much more.

Stations also had to perform Community Ascertainment by going into the community, inquiring about issues, and assuring that broadcasting addressed those issues. That’s where I learned to file license renewals. That’s where I learned the value of public service announcements and public affairs program, which deregulation precluded broadcasting from doing. From that mentoring, I fell in love with the non-profit culture, the organizations and the client bases affected by them. That early Community Ascertainment lead me to the lifelong championing of not-for-profit groups and their fine works. From that experience, I still advise corporations to set up non-profit foundations and do good deeds.

The early days of television were creative. Cactus hosted a local variety show on Channel 7. He interviewed interesting locals, showcased local talent and did comedy material. One of his advertisers was an appliance store and, while showing the latest TV sets, Cactus kicked their screens to demonstrate their rugged qualities. When the station left its first temporary home at the transmitter atop Mount Larson, Cactus was carried out in the chair in which he was sitting, a symbol that the variety show would move to the new studio at the corner of 6th and Brazos.

Cactus began developing special characters, with unique personas. That first year in which I worked with him, he created a puppet, Theopolous P. Duck. It was inspired by Edgar Bergen’s characters. Mr. Duck delivered jokes with a cultured accent. He appeared in comedy spoof segments on local KTBC-TV shows, such as Now Dig This (hosted by Ricci Ware), Woman’s World (hosted by Jean Covert Boone) and the Uncle Jay Show (hosted by Jay Hodgson).

During that time, he developed a famous sign-off phrase. Network stars had their own, such Garry Moore’s “Be very kind to each other.” Cactus used the phrase: “Thanks a lot. Lots of luck. And thermostrockamortimer.” He joked that his made-up term meant “go to hell.” But really, he wanted to tantalize people into thinking bigger thoughts and being their best.

Cactus loved to play on words, giving twists to keep the listeners alert. He used turns of phrases such as “capital entertainment for the capitol city” and “that solid sound in Austin town.” In talking breaks for our sister station (KRGV), he said “that solid sound in the valley round.”

He taught me how to deliver live commercials and to ad-lib. In those days, we would do live remotes for advertisers, inviting people to come out, get prizes and meet us at the external location. Doing such remotes got us appearance fees, and they really drew for the advertisers.

Through the remotes, I learned how to feed lines and develop the talent to speak in sound bites, as I do for business media interviews to this day. I was with Cactus at a remote for Armstrong-Johnson Ford. The out-cue was to describe the 1959 Ford model. Cactus said, “It’s sleek and dazzling, from its car-front to its car-rear.” That was a cue for the studio DJ to play a commercial for the Career Shop, a clothing retailer. Today, when I use nouns as verbs and place business terms out of context to make people think creatively, I’m thinking back to Cactus Pryor.

One remote on which I joined Cactus was for the fourth KFC franchise in the United States. We got to interview Colonel Harlan Sanders on his new business venture. Little did I know that, 20 years later, KFC would be a corporate client of mine, and I would be advising them how to vision forward, following the Colonel’s death.

Music programming was important to Cactus Pryor and, thus, to me. Mentees of his understood and advocated broad musical playlists, with the variety to appeal broadly. Under a “service radio” format, different dayparts showcased different musical genres. He believed that virtually any record could be played, within context. One of the programming tricks that I taught him was to commemorate Bing Crosby’s birthday each May by playing “White Christmas” and other holiday hits out of season, which got the listeners fascinated.

In those days, you could play rock n’ roll hits from the KTBC Pop Poll, a list that was circulated to local record stars as a cross-promotion. There were also positions in the “clock” devoted to easy listening artists, instrumentals, country cross-overs and what Cactus called “another KTBC golden disc, time tested for your pleasure.”

Cactus liked rock n’ roll but wanted to see that easy listening records got proper attention. He would indicate his interest in notes on the green shucks that encased the records. As a write this section, I’m holding “Many a Time,” a 1958 release by Steve Lawrence, an easy-listening star who was beginning to also be considered a teen idol. Here’s the dialog from this record jacket: “Plug hard as hell. Experiment to see if we can get it on the Pop Poll. Cactus.” One of the DJ’s wrote, “How hard is hell?” Cactus wrote a reply, “Hard, ain’t it hard.” Steve Lawrence would subsequently have many teen hits (Pretty Blue Eyes, Portrait of My Love, Go Away Little Girl, Walking Proud, etc.).

Humor was the beacon over everything that he did. Cactus began recording comedy records, such as Point of Order on the Four Star Label and still others for Austin-based Trinity Records. He began writing a humorous newspaper column, Cacti’s Comments.

Besides his radio work, Cactus Pryor got bookings as an after-dinner speaker. In the early years, he gave comedy monologues and historical narratives. Always lively and entertaining, he inspired audiences to think the bigger ideas and look beyond the obvious. I follow his tenets in delivering business keynotes and facilitating think tanks and corporate retreats.

His gigs got more humorous. Cactus created different personas, replete with costume and makeup. His first was a European diplomat who had the same voice and inflection as Theopolous P. Duck. He would deliver funny zingers, often touching upon political sacred cows. Then, he would peel off the mustache and ask, “Ain’t it tacky?” He would then divulge that he actually was humorist Cactus Pryor from Austin, Texas. The act was well accepted and perfected during the era when our boss, Lyndon B. Johnson, was President of the United States.

Cactus did national TV variety shows. He was the “other Richard Pryor.” He continued developing characters and entertaining audiences up through the 1990’s, when his son Paul had begun doing the circuit as well. Paul is a funny satirist as well, something that I had known back when he was a school buddy of my sister Julie.

John Wayne called Cactus “one of the funniest guys around” and invited him to appear in two classic Wayne movies, The Green Berets and The Hellfighters. I recall visiting Cactus on the set of The Green Berets in Benning, Georgia, and seeing him keep stars John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton and Bruce Cabot in stitches in between shots and poker games.

Though national fame beckoned, he kept his roots in Austin, claiming, “There is no way to follow laughs onstage but with pancakes at City Park.” He stayed in his beloved Centex community. He did write books on Texana and history. There were contributions to the news-talk stations. He kept active until the Alzheimer’s.

These are some lasting business-equitable things that I learned from my first mentor (Cactus Pryor), and I’ve shared them with corporations and audiences all over this world:

  • A great mentor, teacher and role model need not be from the same strata as those whom he-she inspires.
  • Top executives must set standards that others aspire to…including themselves. We train people to be trustworthy.
  • A Body of Work takes time, energy, resources and lots of heart to produce. This holds true for any company-organization and for any person.
  • Defining what is good taste is a matter of judgment, perspective and experience.
  • The process of sharpening and amassing life and professional skills is ongoing.
  • As an integrated process of life skills, career has its place.
  • Whatever measure you give will be the measure that you get back.
  • Getting and having are not the same thing.
  • One cannot live entirely through work.
  • One doesn’t just work to live.

And these are some of the insights that I have developed, inspired by his early mentoring:

  • Never assume that people place high priorities on anything other than meeting their immediate needs. After they’ve used you, they’ll forget you.
  • Set boundaries soon and often. Otherwise, it haunts you for the rest of your life and clouds your productivity. Too much focus is on what you wish you would have said, done and accomplished.
  • See through showboaters. Those who brag about contacts rarely have a clue. Dreamers and schemers are allowed to get by because of other people’s gullible, undiscerning and unsophisticated natures.
  • Learn to say no without apologizing. Say it neutrally and strongly. Mean it.
  • Put things in a crisis mode to illustrate your points. That’s what lawyers do. Couch planning as the only way to avert a crisis. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. 85 percent of the time, proper planning averts crisis.
  • Etiquette is a direct reflection of what people were/were not taught. Their trustworthiness is reflected in the way they handle themselves, through walking etiquette, elevator etiquette, telephone etiquette, meeting etiquette and networking etiquette. People who we think should know better often do not.
  • Don’t make the margin of profit too low. Once you set low perimeters, people see them as the top ends. They will cut and skim. They will see you as the low-cost provider.
  • People get what they pay for… always have, always will.
  • Senior corporate executives, especially those who rose to the rank of CEO, have had to adapt more in their careers than young people who never rise past mid-management. When young people want it all now and think they know enough, older people are wise enough to see the longer perspective.
  • Things are never simple for one who must make decisions and policies. Many factors must be weighed.
  • One cannot always go the path that seems clearest. One who thinks differently and creatively will face opposition. With success of the concept, it gets embraced by others, who claim to have been visionary all along.
  • Shepherding good ideas and concepts does not get many external plaudits. The feeling of accomplishment must be internal. That is a true mark of wisdom.

Those of us who have known and worked with Cactus Pryor will never forget his humor, his sense of fairness, his encouraging ways, the twinkle in his eyes and the lasting impacts made on our later successes.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.