A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of working indirectly for Joe Nacchio, Qwest Communication’s ex-CEO, who was indicted yesterday for insider trading. I certainly don’t know about his recent escapades, and I can’t begin to understand how someone with seemingly had so much could do something so self-destructive, but I will say that he was one hell of a marketer.
While the head of AT&T Business Communications Services in the 90’s, Mr Nacchio used to ask his ad agency McCann-Erickson to develop pretend ad campaigns by chief rival MCI which he used at sales meetings to incite his sales and marketing teams. When AT&T was in jeopardy of losing a huge portion of its 800 service business, after the government decided 800 numbers could be moved by customers from one long distance carrier to another, he emptied the buildings and sent every able bodied employee out onto the street to meet with customers face-to-face. It not only worked, it really worked.
The man was daring and decisive. He didn’t teach, but you couldn’t help but learn. He certainly had a brilliant marketing compass and it took him to the very top of AT&T’s corporate suite; at a time when AT&T was one of the world’s top multinational corporations. Somehow that compass lost its bearing when he left NJ.