157 – Take it one step at a time

Posted by  Anecdote International —August 16, 2022
Filed in Anecdotes, Podcast

Don’t try to achieve everything from the get-go, but take it one step at a time. Listen to hear how a German military general inspired the founder of CNN.

Tank near gravel road

Mark takes the lead this week and shares a story within a story. He explains how Ted Turner founded CNN, Cable News Network, after remembering the World War II story of General Erwin Rommel and his clever, unexpected strategising.

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Tags: finance, progress, proof of concept, strategy

This story starts at 01:45

In 1979, Ted Turner founded CNN in Atlanta, Georgia. Ted went on to be the company’s long-time CEO.

When planning the launch, Ted couldn’t seem to gather enough money to see the business through to profitability. But he knew he had a great idea and needed to move quickly.

He asked himself, “What’s my launch strategy?” and thought back to his knowledge of military history. He likened his CNN launch to the desert campaign waged by German General Erwin Rommel in WWII.

Erwin conducted an effective but unconventional campaign in North Africa. He knew he didn’t have enough fuel to do what was expected—conduct offensive operations in pursuit of his objective. Supply lines were stretched thin. So he did unexpected things and attacked when no one expected him, in places no one expected him.

His objective was to overrun British lines encapturing their fuel dumps; it was to get fuel, not win the battle. And pursuing this objective then gave him what he needed to continue offensive operations.

So Ted Turner planned to have just enough money to get CNN through its first year. By the end of that year, everyone would see that it was a viable and valuable service, and once he’d proven the concept, he’d have easier access to capital. And even if he didn’t gain what was required, he’d have an asset he could sell.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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