Got a phone call the other day from my friend Richard Kosinski who wanted to let me know that he was leaving Yahoo to pursue a senior position with WestwoodOne. I've know Richard for many years, back to his Forbes.com sales days when he met with me while I was at Harrisdirect trying to get me to buy a brokerage package from them (he wasn't able to close the deal). Richard ended up at Yahoo about 4 years ago as the Finance Category Director trying once again to get me to buy something from him, but he sadly couldn't (I was already buying millions from Yahoo).
Recently Richard was running Yahoo's Political Advertising and that's where he really cut his teeth. Richard was the political evangelist that could meet with any person at any level (President, Senate, state level) and convince people why the internet should be an important part of any political campaign. And while his time was short lived in this job, he had an impact as he met with many political organizations to push online advertising including tough groups that still believed direct mail is the way to go. Basically he gave us cover while he did the education heavy lifting.
(NOTE THE REST OF THIS POST IS ABOUT MANAGING A CAREER DURING ANY KIND OF TAKEOVER AND NOT SPECIFIC TO RICHARD. I'VE BEEN A VETERAN OF MANY TAKE OVERS AND MERGERS SO I HAVE MY OWN OPINION).
While Yahoo is making inroads into politics, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold on to talent at all levels, not just the CXO level. With the looming MSN deal or any other deal that Yahoo might undertake to stave off the Microsoft take over, they are suffering the fate that all companies do when they are in the process of being changed; good people don't see a concrete future and when something good comes along there is nothing holding them back
Its a funny thing about politics. There is a definite start and end date. Once November rolls around it is over for a few months until the next cycle starts again. Throw on top of that uncertainty about your own personal job and that causes you to start to look around.
I've lived through quite a number of acquisitions and finally chose not to survive one when E*Trade swallowed up Harrisdirect, so I understand what goes through a person's mind when you realize the path you are going down is ending. It is hard to keep talented people around when you don't have a clear long term path with a definite end date staring at you in the face.
It reminds me of a part of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Inside the book is an image that I've never forgotten even though I probably read that book 10 years ago. It is a picture of a guy climbing to the top of the ladder with the caption "what happens when you climb the top of the corporate ladder and realize the ladder was leaning up against the wrong building?" You too should check to make sure your ladder is up against the right building.