Ken Rona on How to Be a More Effective Corporate Manager

In Chapter 14 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Ken Rona answers "How Are You Learning to Thrive in a Corporate Organizational Structure?"  Rona shares knowledge he has gained from management work experience in large corporate cultures.  He notes how being patient has been fundamental to improving managerial effectiveness and helping him achieve goals. 

Ken Rona is a Vice President at Turner Broadcasting, where he leads teams across advertising sales, big data software development and business strategy.  Rona earned a BA and MA in Political Science from Stony Brook University and a PhD in Behavioral Economics from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How are you learning to thrive inside a corporate organizational structure?

Ken Rona: If I could give someone one piece of advice around that they were gonna go to a large company, a large kind of corporate, kind of very traditional--traditionally structured company, I would say the critical thing is patience. 

So I use this phrase “the market will clear.” Remember what I said about learning? I have like these little kind of small phrases that I like to use, that’s one of them. “The market will clear.” And by that I mean at some point the right thing will happen. And—because I think people when they’re in companies—when they are reliant on other people to do stuff. You know, you say, “Why are they not doing this? Like it is so obvious. They just need to do this thing and the world will be so much better.” 

One of two things happens, if you’re patient, either one, if—and you’re right. That person does it. So you know you were getting yourself nutty for no reason, that it was gonna happen. Or they don’t do it, you are right, they don’t do it, it becomes obvious that you are right, that person gets kind of either, you know, removed in some fashion or another—someone else comes in and they do it. So by that I mean the market, that’s what I mean when the market clears. If you wait the market, you know, the market will get to its equilibrium. The right thing will happen. 

Sometimes that waiting time can be very long. I’ve certainly seen—I have seen in the case of one of the companies I worked for, it was weird. It was wacky. And me and some of the people I worked with were just like we can’t believe this company is a success. And like they’ve gotta have a contraction, they’ve got—it’s just badly run. And I—you know, and I believed that, and I left. A year later I’m like—They’re still doing fine. I’m like, “How could that be? How could they still be doing well?” Another 6 months goes by, the stock falls 60%, the market cleared. So in my experience, if you are patient and you are trying to do the right thing—if you do the right thing and be patient, if you can. There are certainly times where you need urgency. But in general, my counsel is patience. Just be cool.