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Been There, Run That: Women in Leadership

April 12, 2015
Been There Run That Book Cover Kay Koplovitz has certainly been there and run that. The founder of USA Network in 1977, she was the first woman to lead a television network. Her success as the head of USA Network was demonstrated by its 13 year run as the number one ranked cable network in prime time. Later, in 1992, she led the creation of the Sci-Fi Channel, serving as chair until 1998 when it was sold to become a public company.

She subsequently co-founded and served as chair of Springboard Enterprises, a non-profit that has garnered over $6.6 billion in venture capital investments in some 560 women-run companies. Koplovitz was appointed by President Clinton in 1998 to chair the Bipartisan National Women’s Business Council. And she’s served on the boards of a wide variety of corporations.

Her firm, Koplovitz & Co. provides advice to entertainment companies, sports organizations and advertisers.

Been There, Run That is a concise, highly readable book packed full of advice from a wide selection of female entrepreneurs and businesswomen. The book contains 58 chapters, reflecting contributions from 45 female leaders, grouped into eight sections under specific themes.

Koplovitz provides a preface and introduction. However, one of the books key strengths is that at the end of each chapter she includes what she calls “Kay’s Takeaways,” involving a few bulleted points of the chapter’s primary messages. This is very well done, reinforcing what the contributor’s topic for that particular chapter.

The book’s content is very eclectic, and not just because of the eight thematic sections, ranging from raising venture capital to innovation to company culture. Within each section, the contributors provide a broad variety of advice, from the practical and specific to, in some instances, the abstract. The latter aspect here was somewhat annoying because those reading this book are seeking relevant advice they can put into action in their respective businesses. Keep the abstract for academics and policy wonks.

With that stated, it’s important to reinforce that this book, in your reviewer’s opinion, is aimed at those who are entering the entrepreneurship arena, or who are exploring the possibility of entering it and who are confused or cautious. That’s not to ignore the benefit that practicing entrepreneurs would gain from reading it. Indeed, one could say that this book is a springboard to delving deeper into entrepreneurship and corporate leadership.

Kay Koplovitz Photo Some of the more interesting chapters include Denise Brosseau, CEO of Silicon Valley-based Thought Leadership Lab, whose “Three Ways to Expand Your Future” is a treat to read and reflect upon.

Lynley Sides, CEO of the Glue Network, provides an intriguing chapter on social responsibility. Kay’s Take Away section at the end is excellent; indeed, her most substantive one. Similarly, in the section on raising venture capital the chapter on crowd funding by Chance Barnett, an internet entrepreneur, is one of the best in the book, providing a seven step approach.

For improvements to the book (for no written work is perfect), it would have made more sense, in your reviewer’s view, to have reduced the number of chapters by half and lengthened each chapter by a few pages. As it was, the advice provided in many chapters tended towards the general or the superficial. Many of the chapters were initially captivating; however, their brevity proved at times frustrating for lack of deeper advice.

As a 25 year-plus student of leadership, with a strong work background in innovation, I was disappointed with the two sections on these vastly important intertwined fields, both of which are responsible for driving forward both corporations’ and a nation’s competitiveness. Innovation is, admittedly, a difficult subject on which to write and provide advice. The challenge is to bring it down from the clouds, where it frequently resides, to the practical, at-ground level, where entrepreneurs practice their craft. And leadership has been written about ad nauseam for the past two decades.

One thing your reviewer found most annoying was that the brief bios of the contributors were placed at the end of the book. This meant flipping to the back at the start of each chapter to have a sense of the contributor’s background. Koplovitz would have better served the reader by placing the contributor’s bio at the start of each chapter. Note that these bios are very short.

One missing important part of the book was a wrap-up chapter–a conclusion–where she could have reinforced her principal messages and the key “Take Aways” for the reader. This could be interpreted as a call to action for aspiring women entrepreneurs and leaders. In addition, a resources section would have been a welcome addition, listing reading material and websites for the reader to explore. Only a few of the chapters contained URLs for the reader to access.

The absence of a wrap-up chapter and resources section were glaringly absent in your reviewer’s opinion. The book would have been much stronger with their inclusion.

Been There, Run That is worth checking out. One of its additional benefits is that it’s easily slid into a briefcase or carry-on for reading while travelling. Reflecting on the advice contained in each of the short, defined chapters makes for efficient use of one’s time. For the entrepreneur, time is money. But so, too, is expanding one’s horizon by thinking and reflecting on the possibilities.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Book CoverClick here to download my complimentary e-book Discover Your Inner Leader: Reflections to Inspire and Motivate.

Visit my e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Jim Grand Manan FBTake a moment to meet Jim.

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