Mystery Theatre

Eight years ago – when the economy was at its nadir and on the last day of 2Q09 – I visited a Houston area Honda dealership and made a lowball offer on a fully equipped Honda Accord. They accepted.

My new V6 came with three months of free satellite radio. Six weeks later an offer arrived in the mail… something to the tune of: “Your complimentary subscription is expiring soon. You may continue receiving all the benefits of XM Radio by signing up for a one-year subscription at $10 per month. However, for a limited time, we are offering a lifetime, fully transferrable membership for $500, payable in three installments.”

The risks seemed to be limited to two things: XM Radio goes out of business, and, at $120 per year, I’d be paying upfront for four years of service without knowing how much I would use it. In hindsight, choosing ‘Yes’ turned out to be one of my best business decisions as XM merged with Sirius and it’s usually on whenever I’m in the car.

The channels I listen to most often are E Street Radio (Bruce Springsteen 24/7), ESPN Radio (Mike and Mike in the Morning) and RadioClassics (vintage transcriptions from the days before TV). Goodies from old-time mysteries, like Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, are my favorite driving pastimes. This week I heard a World War II era episode of Lux Radio Theatre.

An adaptation of a spy novel, the intermission included the host – legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille – interviewing a retired military general about life as a spy. When DeMille asked what characteristics make the best spy, the guest replied there are three: great skills of observation; keen ability to recall details; and, talent to describe.

Those are excellent qualities for leaders, too. Stay at a high level and notice what’s happening around you. Remember and process all the data you take in. Craft a compelling story that motivates others to follow your vision.

“To spy on a man, introduce him to a beautiful woman,” said the general. “To spy on a woman, all you have to do is make her jealous.” That’s a rather dated point of view these 75 years later… and sounds like the plot of a James Bond movie. Well… Ian Fleming – creator of 007 – was, in fact, a spy during the Second World War.


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