Tag Archives: NY Times

The End of the Digital Native

22 Apr

The End of the Digital Native

Spring 2013 marks a new moment in time; a time where even the most digitally savvy leaders recognize that technology alone can’t drive business strategy. To compete you need customer-centric product development; brand strategy; differentiated marketing and leadership capable of attracting, engaging and motivating the best and the brightest employees.


The Future of Business – Talent Matters

29 Sep

If you haven’t read this fascinating perspective on the recent NFL referee strike by University of Toronto Professor Roger Martin – do. It is a blueprint for what all businesses will continue to deal with to remain competitive in the years ahead:




NY Times Profile on Leadership

2 Apr

NY Times Profife on Leadership

Dan Lagani Interview – “The Boss”

That Used to Be Us, Too…

30 Dec

Back in the spring of 2009, I wrote a column for minonline.com on why paid digital content had a bright future.

At the time, the general sentiment in media circles was that free or freemium, ad-supported models were the most sensible. I suggested that media brands that offered unique, differentiated experiences online coupled with frictionless, one-click payment systems could see meaningful growth. Amazon’s Kindle was already in the market, but the iPad was still a year away. Some 50 million tablets later, it’s hard to imagine just how much things have changed in such a relatively short period of time.

So it was with great irony that one night last week, I downloaded New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s latest book, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). If you haven’t read it, it is worth every cent of the $12.99 download price. In classic Friedman fashion, he and his co-author, Michael Mandelbaum, make the big, game-changing ideas simple and compelling. While he is mostly speaking about the challenges facing America today, I was repeatedly struck by how comments like this—on how our country responded to the end of the Cold War—were entirely relevant to all businesses including media:

“We didn’t fully grasp what was happening, so we relaxed, underinvested, and lived in the moment just when we needed to study harder, save more, rebuild our infrastructure, and make our country more open and attractive to foreign talent.

It is very possible that in the year ahead, our country may go through another national election cycle with politics-as-usual. But in the media industry, business-as-usual is a thing of the past. Our “constituents” vote every day, often multiple times a day. Already, eBooks represent more than 50% of Amazon’s book sales and nearly 20% of major publisher sales come from e-formats.

Despite the early-on hand wringing change often brings—including the recent concern whether offering subscriptions via Apple would make sense for publishers—early evidence suggests that digital sales via Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble represent growth opportunities more than cannibalization. Perhaps equally as encouraging is the fact that the same well-established brands that seemed to be most vulnerable are actually positioned to do quite well because of their trusted connection with consumers. In fact, not only is my flagship brand Reader’s Digest currently the top-selling magazine on the Kindle, but total digital edition sales now exceed 25% of its monthly magazine newsstand sales.

Even as I write this, my first column on paid digital content seems so much farther in the past than just two years ago. The difference today is that the future is now. While there are still many changes to navigate in the months and years ahead, it’s clear that after some early blows, the media business continues to adapt, evolve and represent one of the great innovation engines in America today.

Dan Lagani is president, Reader’s Digest North America.

Enduring Values

19 Mar

One of the stories that wasn’t well covered in the recent Cablevision/ Fox feud is the effect it had on a sports fan’s ability to shout at the television while watching games. Non-sports fans may think this ritual is borderline idiotic, but real fans understand not only is it immensely satisfying to give managerial advice to the likes of Joe Girardi or Rex Ryan, but it’s also a great, low-risk way to blow-off some steam. Being wrong doesn’t matter: there are no back-page headlines that you made the wrong call on fourth down or questions about why you stuck with the starter rather than going to the bullpen.
Expressing your opinions digitally on the other-hand is entirely different game. What you say and do lives on long after the final out, demands a more thoughtful point of view and far more conviction than the average at-home outburst. Looking back on a Minsider column I wrote in the summer of 2009 on the growing problem of information overload), thankfully I wasn’t just shouting at the tv. I was convinced then–and even more so today–that with a combination of limited time and unlimited digital content, consumers need help sorting out what really matters.

When I took my current role at Reader’s Digest this past spring, I spent a lot of time speaking with consumers, clients and peers about the brand’s roots and greatest strengths. All had memorable stories about their experiences with the brand–from where they first saw it to their favorite columns–but the most important moment for me came while reading the biography of Reader’s Digest founder DeWitt Wallace. (Special thanks to editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop for both recommending it and trusting me enough to lend me her copy.)

Not only did it reaffirm everything I’d been feeling about the crush of digital media, but it also made it clear that Wallace understood–long before anyone else–the value of simplifying and curating the very best stories from across the country and condensing them each month into a consumer-friendly digest. His guiding vision was captured in this two-sentence quote from 1920: “We live in fast-paced times. People are anxious to get to the heart of the matter and we intend to search it out for them”.

Jump forward to the media landscape of 2010 with 8,500 magazines and newspapers, 2,300 tv channels, over 180 Mobile carriers offering Wi-Fi, plus more than 200 million websites, and Wallace’s vision has even greater relevance. Even David Carr of The New York Times observed in a recent column: “We have reached a moment in time when our ability to produce media has outstripped our ability to consume it.”

For the Reader’s Digest brand, it also means the future is clear: getting back to its roots as the original content curator and to its original mission of bringing people all across the country trusted, time-saving insights. The twist is that this time we’ll lead with a daily digital digest called the Reader’s Digest Version coupled with an iPad edition and more than a dozen mobile apps to guarantee that we deliver on another critical consumer expectation, offering content how, when and where they want.

With just about 12 weeks to go until everything launches it doesn’t leave me nearly as much time as I’d like to watch my favorite teams play–especially since Cablevision and Fox seem to have resolved their differences, for now.

Dan Lagani is  president of Reader’s Digest Media where he oversees the Reader’s Digest branded businesses in the U.S.