The Flanders file Featured

7:00pm EDT December 31, 2006

Birthplace: Indianapolis


University of Colorado, bachelor’s degree, economics; Indiana University, law degree

First job:

Worked in the family concession business as a popcorn vendor at age 12

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Larry Bossidy [chairman and CEO of Honeywell] for his pragmatic orientation toward execution and his emphasis on the importance of human capital.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
I worked for an entrepreneur at a small computer book publishing company. He taught me that employees who are imperfectly and passionately pursuing an objective will accomplish more than that same person executing what they’ve been told to do.

What’s been your toughest business challenge?
Cultural change at Columbia House. [Flanders was CEO there before coming to Freedom Communications.] The entrenched management team had developed a point of view and concluded that the online business model could never be profitable.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that business is two things: It’s people and it’s numbers. You have to quantify everything that you do, but at the same time, you have to be soft on people and hard on the issues.