Robert (Bob) Brady, Founder and CEO, BLR – Business and Legal Resources, Old Saybrook, Conn.
What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
My first job out of college was with the U.S. Army (1968-71). I was an enlisted man, am proud of it and served my entire tour at the Pentagon (not particularly stimulating but a great place to hide out during the Tet Offensive). While in the Army, I drove part-time for Arlington Red Top Cab. (Much more stimulating, particularly the time I was held up at gunpoint in Green Valley.) My first real post-college, post-army job was as an editor at one of the pioneering newsletter companies, the Bureau of Business Practice (BBP), in Connecticut. I got that job with help from a friend. We’d both been on the staff of our college newspaper, The Notre Dame Observer.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
I left BBP to work for an older co-worker who started another newsletter company, The Institute for Management. He was successful from day one, and, in retrospect, he was a lot smarter and more capable than I then thought. (Humility is not one of my vices.) I was an editor, but he taught me direct-mail marketing and operations. We didn’t get along, and one day I thought, “Gee, the difference between him and me is that he’s doing it.” Like Woody Allen says, “80% of success is showing up.” So, one weekend in July, 1977, I left that job, dropped a direct-mail test to start my new company, moved, got married and left on a honeymoon to Transylvania, Romania—all in one weekend. When I got back from our five-week trip, the direct-mail test I’d dropped before leaving came in at 200% of budget, and I was in business publishing The Personnel Manager’s Legal Reporter.
In brief, describe your business/company?
Business and Legal Resources, Inc., helps managers train their employees and comply with state and federal regulations. We began in HR but now publish in environment, safety and compensation, as well. We got our start in newsletters but were pioneers in expanding to new media—first books and looseleafs, then training films and pamphlets. We were early into CDs, and that positioned us well for the internet. More than half our revenue now comes from internet-delivered, subscription websites. I started the company, but my partner-brother, John, came in after three years as our fourth employee, and the two us as a team were more successful than either one of us would have been alone.
What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
1) Put most of your energy into doing more of what’s working;
2) Always be looking for opportunities around the edges of what’s working for you;
3) When you try something new, make sure it’s scalable but test your way into it.
What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?
We get leads from SEO-friendly content on the internet. Add them to our email files. Try to qualify them, then turn them over to the sales staff. We’re trying to get better at each stage.
Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2011?
FREE and ever-lower-cost competitors have made “information” a commodity. If we want to sell high-priced, high-value products, we have to do things that the FREE people aren’t going to do.
What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
SIPA membership has been the most rewarding professional relationship I’ve had in my 40 years of publishing. Early on, I learned from pioneers like David Swit and Tom Phillips. Throughout, I’ve enjoyed the fellowship and insights of bright, fun-loving, kindred spirits too countless to numerate. Today, BLR benefits enormously from the marketing listserve, but also from the annual conferences and webinars. (By the way, I’m chairman of this year’s June conference. We’re calling it “Cashing in on Content,” and I guarantee that everyone attending will get at least three times the value of their registration. We’ve got great sessions lined up! Make sure you register early and often!)
Where did you grow up?
Titusville, Pa., up in the northwest corner of the state. It was an idyllic town of 8,000 people in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.
What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
The University of Notre Dame. While there, I was an editor of The Notre Dame Observer. That wonderful experience is what got me started in this industry. My wife and I are both graduates of the University of Connecticut School of Law. I would have made a terrible lawyer—I’m sloppy and hate dealing with people with problems—but the law degree has been a great asset to my career in publishing.
Are you married? Do you have children?
I’ve been married to my wife, Margaret, since the same July weekend in 1977 that I started BLR. We have one daughter, Lindsay, married and living in Seattle.
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
My hobbies barely leave me time for work. I’ve been active on the board of our local YMCA for far too many years. I sing (Broadway and Beatles-era pop). I golf, play tennis, swim, bike and try to stay fit. I’m a 16-handicap golfer and play tennis about the same, better than average but not very good.
Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
Audible.com and the iPod have revolutionized my “reading.” I listen on the bike and treadmill or while raking leaves. Try it.
As Bob so humbly mentioned, he is the Chairman of
SIPA 2011: Cashing in on Content – Models for a New Decade.
The Annual International Conference takes place
June 5-7 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Check out the tracks and register early to get best rate.
With the positive momentum that SIPA has been building up,
this Conference is going to explode with cutting-edge strategies,
useful information and countless networking opportunities.
Sign up today!
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