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AOL’s Susan Lyne on embracing being the boss

Susan Lyne has held the top spot at many media companies over her career, but it turns out that going from second in command to leader was initially a challenge. In an interview for our On Leadership video series, "Micro Management Stories," Lyne talks about learning to make that leap—a lesson she has carried with her since 1986 when she launched Premiere magazine.

Since her eight years with Premiere, Lyne has gone on to serve as president of ABC Entertainment, president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, CEO and chairman of Gilt Groupe, and now CEO of AOL's Brand Group (overseeing all of AOL's content holdings, like TechCrunch, with the exception of the Huffington Post).

Watch Lyne's video above, or read the transcript below:

I WAS THE NO. 2 at a lot of different magazines for, I would say, a decade. And [then] I got an opportunity to create a magazine about the movies, a magazine called Premiere, and spent six months putting together the first issue and was very excited about getting it out. I wrote my editor’s letter and instinctively sent it to my boss. He called me about 10 minutes later and said, “Why are you sending me this? I don’t buy a dog and bark for it.”

I was a little stunned.

He called me back [again] about 10 minutes later and said, “You do understand what I meant by that. You have to make all the decisions now, this is your magazine. You’re going to have to make them on the fly, and you’re going to have to own them. You’ve got to get used to the fact that there’s no teacher, there’s no boss, there’s no person that you get to run things by. You own your success. You own your failures. Embrace it.”

Watch the previous video in the series:

Politics is not for superheroes

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Lillian Cunningham is the editor and feature writer for The Washington Post's 'On Leadership' section.



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