‘Math & Magic:’ Dave Cote On How To Lead A Business During Economic Chaos.




If you’re wondering how to steer a business through tough times, longtime Honeywell chief Dave Cote has a few ideas, which he shares with iHeartMedia Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman on the latest episode of the podcast “Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing.”


For starters, don’t panic.


“There’s a real tendency amongst leaders to read what the herd is thinking, and kind of move with the herd,” Cote says. “If there was any time where a leader has to exercise independent thinking, it’s a time like this. It doesn’t mean driving for consensus. It means getting all the facts and opinions, and being able to make a good, independent judgment.”


Cote also says thoughts about recovery and the future have to co-exist alongside day-to-day recession management. “[People] sometimes forget that no matter how dire things have ever looked, recovery always comes,” he says. “So be thinking about your growth initiatives, whatever investments you were making, how you maintain your base, how do you treat your customers in particular during this time... But be thinking about recovery at the same time you’re reacting to everything.”


Pittman’s interview also touches on how Cote grew Honeywell from a business worth $20 billion to one worth $120 billion; lessons he learned from the late Jack Welch; his relationship with President Obama; how his upbringing in rural New Hampshire shaped his independent streak; and his keys to success to get ahead in the world of business.


“Make sure you’re working on the right thing,” Cote says. “Hard work doesn’t always pay off. Make sure whatever you’re working on is consistent with whatever your ability is.”

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