By Richard J. Lenz
When the Atlanta Business Chronicle ran a profile of me, the headline stated that I was a “serial entrepreneur” of new businesses. I made the joke that there was an editing error and they meant to print that I was actually a serial “killer” of new businesses!
Even when it goes well, you feel overwhelmed and endangered when you start a business, which is usually greatly under-resourced in terms of money, human capital, time, and expertise. Over time, I have learned that almost all great ventures have started that way. Then it comes down to the grit, curiosity, confidence, and focus of the team – and some luck. Paraphrasing Darwin, “It isn’t the smartest or strongest species that survives, but the species that is best at adapting.”
Lenz has survived for 26 years because we’ve adapted, evolved, and created “line diversifications” as the MBAers say. When I’m asked for my “elevator speech,” I need a really long elevator ride to explain the diversity of what Lenz does to advance our clients’ businesses. Everyone is looking for simple answers – and who isn’t? – however there’s a lot to discuss. Marketing as a discipline has changed so much that while the clients’ goals are the same, the tactical skill set needed to get there is much different and broader than when we started.
About ten years ago, I thought there should be a radio show in the Atlanta market that focused on healthcare. It took three years for the idea to become reality. Thanks to help from our friends at WSB and sponsors like Georgia Urology, our radio show The Weekly Check-Up with Dr. Bruce Feinberg is now in its seventh year of existence, and wholly owned, produced, and promoted by Lenz.
We were not content to just have one show because we had other ideas. So, we started a sports talk show as well as another healthcare show in Tampa.
Still restless, I thought talk radio in Atlanta needed a general business show. So, last December, we launched Lenz On Business, which features yours truly interviewing figures from the world of business, government, and the arts who live and work here in Atlanta or are connected in some way. The program, sponsored by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, is a mix of useful “how-to” tips and inspirational stories, meant to entertain and enlighten. It airs Saturday nights at 6 on 95.5 FM and AM 750 WSB. If you miss a show, you can find archives with bonus podcast content on the Lenz on Business website.
Who knew that in a few short months, we’d already have recorded shows that featured Atlanta’s new mayor, a Beatle, and a Stone – as we’ve been trying hard to give our audience some worthwhile content. The very first show featured the two competing Atlanta mayoral candidates days before the final runoff. Not too long after, we had Ringo Starr. Yes, that guy. We’ve also had fascinating entrepreneurs from a wide variety of fields, and business experts from academia, courtesy of Goizueta Business School.
Coming up, we have a Rolling Stone: the amazing Chuck Leavell, who lives near Macon. (If you want to argue with me that he’s not a Rolling Stone, well, he’s been working with the band, on their albums and touring with them, for the last 37 years, which is longer than Bill Wyman.)
Leavell, a wildly talented Zelig of music history, has played on some of the most beloved records in music history and performed on the biggest tours to cross planet Earth, with the Allman Brothers, Stones, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, John Mayer, Indigo Girls, Black Crowes, George Harrison and many, many more. And when he’s not doing that, he’s a nationally known environmentalist and acclaimed tree farmer, who works in many ways to find practical solutions to conservation issues. He’s also the author of four books. The first question I plan to ask him is, when does he sleep? Tune in to hear his answer!