Business guru Brian Tracy has written tomes about goal setting and how to turn that process into real results over time. It’s easy to get discouraged. We all try to meet goals we set—making corporate budgets, managing projects smoothly and ultimately pleasing our bosses—but we all know that unexpected fires always break out and other unrelated crises remain a constant threat, often setting us back or derailing our well-laid plans completely. That’s just life.
Much of Tracy’s goal-setting advice amounts to common sense, but he’s also quite skilled at using analogies that make us think about what it means to “stay on course.” It’s an interesting concept. Think about the history of the cable industry. Brave souls put it all on the line to make something out of nothing, to grow the business into the multibillion-dollar powerhouse it is today. That wasn’t easy. And it required one major thing that often derails the less evolved goal-setter: Course corrections. Setting long-term goals requires a willingness to screw up, lick your wounds and then correct course—all the while keeping that distant goal on the horizon in perspective. Pilots know this. They take off toward a destination knowing full well that winds, storms and other air traffic will force them to diverge from that straight line that might have looked so clean and simple on the flight manifest. But in the end, they make a safe landing.
The cable business has been the same way. And thanks to the early pioneers and more recently to the execs who adorn our 2013 CableFAX 100 list, cable perseveres despite naysayers, competitors, media skeptics and a seemingly never satisfied consumer. Sure, the business is complicated. The media game is frankly a mess right now, with over-the-top content and new rights issues turning decades-old traditions and contracts into mincemeat—all as consumers and technologists move happily into the future unconcerned about how their changing habits and inventions affect the business. Welcome to the digital reality.
Cable operators, programmers and vendors are really all in this together. Everybody’s on the same journey, working their way toward the same goal: To give consumers what they want, how they want it, when the want it and at a fair price. Is that easy? No. The flight will be bumpy. Course corrections abound. But in the end, we’re all going to the same place. And it’s going to be beautiful.