Review: The Bellwether Effect

book cover. Yellow with black lettering and the face of a ram

Bellwether. Noun. The leading sheep of a flock with a bell on its neck. 

On the way home from Palm Springs, I read a book that resonated with me in a powerful way. This isn’t surprising. The Bellwether Effect: Stop Following, Start Inspiring was written by Dr. Lance Secretan. I’ve written before about Dr. Secretan and his influence on me. In fact this linked post appeared in this space almost exactly ten years ago.

Everything about the decade-old words I wrote are still true today. Dr. Secretan is now an even more powerful voice about leadership and corporate culture. Media corporations (and every other type of corporation) continue to delete staff every November. While we were on vacation, Bell Media cleared out all air staff at three radio stations and at least one salesperson at virtually all of its stations. The executives of those big companies are compensated at a rate hundreds of times that of those they oversee. The federal Liberals just promised a $600-million aid package for qualifying media outlets. As a taxpayer, as a journalist, I think this is idiotic because there’s plenty of money if it was spent properly.

Dr. Secretan redesigns the way corporations are run. The employees should come first, customers second and shareholders third. Right now, it’s the other way around, and employees and customers both know it.  Corporate top-dogs hold endless meetings to create “synergy” and other bullshit buzzword theories and create make-work processes that cause employees to roll their eyes.

Dr. Secretan has solutions: a formula for rewarding employees when the company succeeds because of their efforts. Ways to make workers feel valued instead of stepped-on. The differences between motivation and inspiration; they are vast and important. How to cut down on dreaded meetings and replace ineffective performance evaluations .

There’s much work to be done, although Dr. Secretan has many corporate clients. When I left my job with Bell Media last month, no one asked me why. I didn’t hear from any manager above my immediate bosses. No one offered me an exit interview. I believe there are two reasons for this: first, they’re all too busy keeping their heads above water, like the rest of us. Everyone has more to do, including supervisors. Second, I don’t think they want to know. I’m not disgruntled, but maybe they assume that I am. Or perhaps they figure there’s no point, because they’re powerless to make changes anyway.

The Bellwether Effect isn’t a “be the ball” type of rah-rah cheerleading book. It’s a clear, thoughtful explanation of why things are done the way they’re done, and why it’s valuable to break free. I dog-eared at least a dozen pages to go back and reabsorb. Off the top of my head, I can think of five media company CEOs who need to read this book. But it’s not just for them. It’s for anyone working today. I plan to incorporate Dr. Secretan’s approaches in my own little company, to inspire my only employee – me.


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