Charlie Mechem sits down with Mike Whan, who has been commissioner for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) since 2010, a position formerly held by Charlie in the 1990s. Mike gives his input on the anecdotes from Charlie’s book, “Total Anecdotal: A Fun Guide to Help You Become a Better Speaker and Writer,” as he relates them to his experiences as Commissioner and a businessman. Charlie’s book is available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and our publisher.
Change is Order in Itself
Change is always happening, whether positive or negative, especially in business. Mike recalls having to identify the three different kinds of employees: those who were leaders of change, those who were accepting of change, and those that needed to be former employees. Too many leaders of change can be disastrous, as this can lead to too many opposing opinions. When Mike worked at Procter & Gamble in the 1980s, they would always set their strategy, they’d write it in calligraphy and frame it. These days, he finds, they may as well write their strategy down on a napkin—that’s just how fast things are changing. There’s no way to know what is happening in the rest of 2018, let alone in 2025.
The Key to Success
Growing up as a “marketing guy,” Mike found that the best way to be successful was to get the consumer to the product and to get out of the way. Mike provides the example of the LPGA at the Kia Classic. He says that no matter how much he sits in a board room, or tries to intervene as the “marketing guy,” it does not mean the product will necessarily deliver what Kia wants. There is only so much that can be done before the rest must take care of itself. Success is doing what you can, to the best of your ability, whether that be as a “marketing guy” or the Commissioner of the LPGA.
Look Back to Look Forward
It is important to make some kind of plan for the future, otherwise you’re bound to end up somewhere you weren’t expecting or hoping to end up. This can be done by looking back in order to look forward. The Founders Cup was meant to connect the LPGA with its roots. At the Founders Cup, new players could meet old players and old players could meet new; each party given the opportunity to learn from the other. By looking back at the LPGA of the 1950s, Mike has been able to adjust the strategy of the LPGA from 2010 to today. He believes that the growth that the LPGA has experienced has been a result of this return to the LPGA’s origins.
Meetings Don’t Sign the Checks
Mike has found that companies and meetings can sometimes create a separation from the core business. He gives the example of talking about the HSBC Women’s World Championship. They’d discuss the golf course, the camera angles, and how the players would get to the course. However, he found that they never really talked about the HSBC itself, who was paying for everything. He says that it is important to remember who is writing the checks, who is funding and cultivating the success of a company.
Opportunities Sprout From Difficulty
Mike identifies himself as an optimist through and through. However, he recognizes the importance of pessimism in getting things done. Yes, he says, the “doer” is very important in any business. However, having someone who can see when something is not possible is equally as important. Mike admits that when he pitches an idea, he will almost always sound like he is right, like he can get it done, even when he is not and cannot. Dreamers need realists, or nothing would get done. Equally, realists need dreamers to create opportunities and succeed in the face of difficulty.
Tell the Truth and Learn from Failure
Being honest, even if the result is ugly, is always the best. Mike has found that even failed business pitches have sometimes resulted in beneficial connections. If you’re honest, your customers will know they can trust you. Even if you don’t get their business in that moment, they may keep you in mind for the future. You may even have another associate who is more qualified to complete the job. In order to accept your successes, you must also accept your limits and failures as well.
If you’d like to listen to more episodes of “15 Minutes With Charlie,” please visit charliemechem.com or search for “15 Minutes With Charlie” in your podcasting app. If you are enjoying the show you should check out “Total Anecdotal: A Fun Guide to Help You Become a Better Speaker and Writer.” Learn more at charliemechem.com/book, or find it available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and our publisher.