My good friend Jim Autry

The other day, I started thinking about my good friend Jim Autry. It’s been a while since Jim and I got together.

Actually, we’ve never gotten together. I first met Mr. Autry when he spoke to my graduate communications class at Drake University about 15 years ago, and I think I got to ask him a question. Even in that impersonal, public environment, I found the soft-spoken Mississippi native to be a friend worth listening to, following and emulating. He had just written another book, Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership and he was guest lecturer in an integrated marketing communications class. He gave his thoughts on the need for more caring, compassionate leadership in the American corporation.

During recent discussions with colleagues about the deteriorating brand management skills of corporations today, Jim’s viewpoint came rushing back to me. I quickly found a copy of his book – a collection of short essays and poetry about compassion, love, caring and emotion in the executive suites – and started reading it. I’ll be blogging on some of his topics in the near future, with, of course, an empasis on how this approach is necessary to make great brands. Jim’s thoughts need to resonate throughout the executive suites if we’re going to overcome low wages and production capabilities by the rest of the world with great brand management. I don’t know how far these rantings will reach, but if I can change one organization by exposing its leaders to Jim’s ideas, then I’ll have made the world just a little better.

Jim was ahead of his time 15 years ago – probably always has been, but I didn’t know him before then – and it’s apparent in this paragraph from this introduction to his book:

“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a turning point in the history of business. The last chapter on management by fear is about to be written. I think it’s time to wake up out there in the halls of traditional old-line management, time to wake up in the business-school classrooms. It’s time to fully accept what’s going on in the socieety, in the workplace, in the management-training pool, in the labor unions. It’s time to re-examine the old notions about power.”

I hope that the end of the turning point in history is here.

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