Jim VandeHei Talks Winning in a Distracted World


Earlier this week, Politico and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei published a piece called “The Axios Way.” It’s basically a handbook for launching and running a killer culture, with a particular focus on voice and talent.

In it, VandeHei revealed the lessons he’s learned after launching two successful media companies in the thick of the digital era (2007 and 2017)—no easy feat, for sure.

Here’s how this brand visionary and innovator says he did it:

  1. Market Maniacally. In today’s fast-paced world, conventional marketing strategies don’t cut it. You need a specific plan for every platform (Facebook, video, email, etc.), and a voice that cuts through the noise.
  2. Think of Your Brand as a Political Candidate. Always be totally aware of how your employees and customers view your brand, and tell your story in a compelling and authentic way.
  3. Over-Communicate. This tip is for managers—explain what you’re doing and how you’re doing it to your team every week, if not every day.
  4. Talk Like a Human! The “what” and “why” of your communications should be in plain English. As VandeHei says, “If you sound like a corporate robot, reboot.”
  5. Hire People Who Are Better Than You. It makes everyone—including that hire—work harder.
  6. Set a Goal, and Be Flexible. You have to have a clear mission—but tech advances make even 5 year plans and 1 year budgets tough. Adapt.
  7. Hire Culture Fits. Red flags exist for a reason.

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