A Gut for Business

In a revealing interview given a few years back, media magnate Rupert Murdoch was asked how he turned one tabloid newspaper into an international media conglomerate.

His response was “Oh, nothing but hard work, taking your opportunities, taking your advantages.”

Interviewer Alan Jones persisted with “But it’s all in your head, isn’t it?…”

Murdoch’s response was – and this is the instructive part: “It’s in your head and in your gut” (emphasis added).

While it’s not exactly clear in which sense of the term Murdoch is referring, his statement is significant.

On the one hand, he could be referring to following your gut instincts. In a similar vein, Donald Trump has written that without gut instincts you’ll have a hard time reaching – and staying – at the top. Having finely honed business instincts can guide you to or away from certain deals and people.

But there’s another way in which Murdoch could have been using the term, in the sense of gutsiness.

There’s a certain indefinable ‘something’ which you need to bring to building and managing a business. Call it gall, gutsiness or bravado, it entails a fundamental belief in yourself, radical self-confidence (which to some appears as narcissism), and a willingness to pursue things which many dismiss as unworkable, foolhardy or unrealistic.

It also entails pushing through the commonplace barriers of inertia with a drive and persistence that keeps the effort going long after the thrill of starting has faded.

Any knowledge you have gained will give you some guidance and reassurance that you are on the right track. But it won’t be the knowledge or information which keeps the effort going: it will be your gutsiness.

In many cases, this gutsiness comes from having someone significant believe in you, particularly during your formative years (which was the case with Murdoch – his father groomed him for the media business from his mid-teens). It can also be generated by creating your own goals and enlisting others’ support in realising them.

It’s a mistake to think results in business can be gained without too much exertion, without too much being demanded of you.

Successful businesses have to be built one step at a time. It can be a slog, and it requires persistence over the long haul, and a willingness to suffer mistakes and failures.

You cannot casually dip in and out of building or running a business at whim and with only minimal effort if the endeavour is to bear fruit.

This is not a call to be obsessively consumed or one-dimensional, but it is a statement that success requires fusing your mind with will, determination and guts, and meshing these with market opportunities and conditions.

There is a visceral dimension to achieving great results in business. Recruit it and align it with your knowledge and the information at your disposal.

That’s how you turn a tabloid newspaper into a media conglomerate.



© Michael Carman 2010-2012