Obie won

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Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012

 

0412_Profile_BrianObie_02
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina

“The credit freeze was worse than I’d ever seen before,” says Ledoux. “All we could do was just do our best to influence bankers. There was a lot of explaining things to people who were holding on to their chairs with white knuckles waiting for the end of the world to come.

“But for Brian it wasn’t a question of whether. It was when and how.”

Obie’s skills as a salesman came into play and people began buying into his vision. Even the Eugene Hilton, a potential competitor, wrote a letter of support.

Typical of Obie’s unbeatable optimism, he saw advantages in the economy’s nosedive. A few market tenants were unable to renew their leases. Nike relocated and left a large corner space empty. In Obie’s mind the newly available space translated as a fortuitous adjustment to his dream. Now the hotel would actually be a part of the market rather than a separate building.

“We were able to create the space that would allow this to happen,” says Obie, who demonstrated his thanks to his community by using almost all Eugene-area businesses for the construction, design and art on the walls. Reservations already are pouring in, especially for June’s Olympic trials for track and field.

 



 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

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