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One ‘BALLS-y’ approach to leadership

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Among today’s business animals, says Alexi Venneri, marketing and communications chief at marketing data firm Who’s Calling, you’ve got to have BALLS. That means you’ve got to be:

Brave. Kenny Dichter and Jesse Itzler discovered that even wealthy people couldn’t afford a private jet. A quarter share of a Gulfstream V costs $10.1 million. Even a 16th share in a Cessna Citation runs $620,000.

So, in 2001, the two approached NetJets, the largest provider of fractional jet services, and proposed selling shares of shares. As a result, Marquis Jet Partners was born. Early customers included Jay-Z and P. Diddy; current clients include Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jim Furyk.

Authentic. Da Vinci Gourmet in Seattle, offering 140 flavored syrups, is known for pursuing perfect flavors, colors and textures. That means finding better alternatives ... or none at all. Example: Until Splenda arrived on the market, Da Vinci refused to serve a sugar substitute.

Loud. Venneri couldn’t merely exhibit at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, one of the rowdiest trade shows in the world; she had to make serious cash there. (If she didn’t, Who’s Calling wouldn’t make payroll.)

So she bought $20,000 worth of blue balls with flashing red lights, displaying a dedicated toll-free number. Venneri’s BALLS-y move generated more than $400,000 in sales.

Lovable. Venneri’s company has each manager take turns handing out pay stubs twice a month. Some of the company’s best ideas have come from the spontaneous conversation that results.

Spunky. Working for Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., Kiran Jain lures air carriers away from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. It’s not easy. Her airport is 90 minutes from midtown Manhattan, but her fees are 80 percent lower. In 2000, four carriers operated from Stewart. By next year, she predicts, 10 will.

— Adapted from Balls! 6 Rules for Winning Today’s Business Game, Alexi Venneri, John Wiley & Sons.

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