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Raising the Dead

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This story appears in the February 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Leading a business turnaround is a gut-wrenching task. I know because I've led three:

In 1991, colleagues elected me manager of a two-channel TV studio in the Middle East. The bland programming our studio regularly broadcast was the focus of much viewer aggression. I didn't know anything about studio operations, so I asked the staff for the top three viewer complaints. The next day I issued three programming edicts, got rid of videotapes that didn't meet the criteria and left the well-seasoned employees to order replacements. The following week, viewer complaints stopped completely. Not long afterward, the Gulf War broke out. Despite 14 nights of missile attacks, regular air-raid warnings, countless broadcasting regulation changes issued by the government and the fraying mental stability of just about everyone, this remains the easiest of the turnarounds I've led.

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