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Can AOL’s new CEO revive the brand?

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Business gurus from Stephen Covey to Sam Walton have extolled the virtues of listening. Now, as AOL’s new CEO Tim Armstrong takes on the most difficult job in media today—reviving a dusty brand—he’s demonstrating the power of listening.

When he took over the corner office, Armstrong, a first-time CEO, was shocked to discover that the company had stopped doing market research. In fact, AOL had been without a chief marketing officer for a year.

So Armstrong hired ad giant Leo Burnett to conduct surveys of 5,000 people to find out how people perceive AOL.

But he didn’t stop there. Armstrong went looking for answers, visiting 16 cities in his first 100 days, and speaking with 10,000 people.

What he heard formed a road map for transforming AOL. Whether it will work is unknown. But Armstrong has proven that he’s willing to do what it takes to lead: Move fast and grow a pair of oversized ears.

— Adapted from “Can Tim Armstrong Save AOL?” Tom Lowry, BusinessWeek.

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