I Want My HGTV

I once spent 10 hours watching an “America’s Next Top Model” marathon on TV. I don’t even particularly like the show, yet I devoted the time it takes some women to give birth to such an endeavor.

Binge-watching TV shows is one of my vices. I just find something so deeply satisfying about watching episode after episode without waiting until the following week. Conversely, I seem to find necessary doses of Vitamin D very unsatisfying. 

My Back Hurts from lying in bed all day, watching TV - My Back Hurts from lying in bed all day, watching TV  First World Problems

Courtesy of www.quickmeme.com

As such, it came as no surprise when I recently found myself in bed on the last night of vacation, watching episode after episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” instead of exploring a brand-new city. I don’t want to point fingers, but I blame Susan Packard.

As Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of HGTV, Packard helped create a niche in the lifestyle marketplace that has since exploded. She’s also an enabler who fanned the flames of my TV addiction, but I’ll focus on her accolades. 

Packard’s vision and leadership extends beyond the entertainment that her home and garden network and additional powerhouse brands deliver. Perhaps more importantly, she has also created a corporate culture that recruits and retains exceptional and innovative talent, promotes a healthy work/life balance and values diversity. 

I recently spoke with Packard, who will be a Thought Leader at the 2014 NAA Education Conference & Exposition, June 18-21 in Denver, for a preview of her session. Following are highlights.

On “relentless focus” as the key to being a great leader:

It’s the flip side of innovation. Every successful business must have an active innovation department. Innovation has to occur and evolve all the time if you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors and grow your business.

The flip side is that innovation needs some focus and discipline around it. It can sometimes go a little haywire. Innovators are very creative, right-brained individuals who come up with brilliant ideas, but there also has to be a discipline—a relentless focus—around how you grow your company. 

At HGTV, we had the “brand lens process.” While we were building the brand, we did this to make sure we were all on the same page and that there was a continuity in everything we were doing.

The other part of relentless focus is with your consumers, you need to be constantly communicating with them and be on top of what they love and don’t love. The most important thing you can do is to have the relentless focus on your customer. It’s sometimes easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of running a business and take your eye off the customer, who is the core of everything.

On mistakes Packard has made:

Our HGTV founding team kept hearing that customers wanted to purchase the products they saw on air. With that in mind, we thought a great way to earn additional revenue would be to create something similar to QVC—a home-shopping network. We purchased a fledgling company and it was a huge disaster—and a great lesson.

We mistakenly assumed that because this idea used TV as its platform, we would be fine because we know that world. In reality, TV was a smoke screen for what the business really was—a store. None of us had any retail background. We lost a lot of money and liquated the company, and now we license our brands.

The lesson was that in thinking about growing your business, you have to do some soul searching about where your talents really lie, what you’re good at and what best serves your consumers.

In other words, what would convince them to skip the sights and sounds of Santa Fe for a four-hour TV tour.

For my full interview with Packard, check out “The Leader Within” in the April issue of units Magazine, which mails April 10.

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).