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Buffalo Bill: showman, innovator, leader

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Technology,Workplace Communication

At the end of the 19th century, Buffalo Bill Cody built the most famous Wild West show the world has ever seen … and laid the groundwork for the entertainment business as we know it today.

Here’s how he did it:
  • He forged durable brands. Besides coining the term “rough riders,” which Teddy Roosevelt later snatched for himself, Cody created the modern rodeo. Even now, a pale shadow of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first European tour this year at Euro Disney in France. The original U.S. show hit its high-water mark in 1893.

  • He hired brilliantly. Cody’s best-known hire, sharpshooter Annie Oakley, was arguably his best. But Cody hired sharp business managers, too, including James Bailey, the quieter half of the Barnum and Bailey circus team.

  • He kept an open mind. Although he stretched the truth to portray himself as an Indian-slayer, Cody hired far more Native Americans than any other showman (landing him in frequent trouble with Uncle Sam) and paid them adequately.

  • He capitalized on new technology. His first really successful tour in 1885 hit more than 40 cities using new railroads and ocean liners.

  • He behaved generously. Black Elk, a homesick Sioux whom Cody sent home from Europe at considerable expense, praised Cody for his “strong heart.”
— Adapted from The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America, Larry McMurtry, Simon & Schuster.

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