What lessons can CFOs learn from a billionaire singer-songwriter? While the five we’ve collected encompass fundamentals every experienced CFO should already know, her savvy serves them as smart reminders on the road to success.
When you have a young daughter like I do, it’s almost impossible to avoid getting swept up into the Taylor Swift fan frenzy. After attending one of her concerts recently with my family, I came away impressed by her talent and even more so with her entrepreneurial mindset, brand management, and resilience.
In my nearly three decades of financial management and capital markets experience, I’ve learned many lessons and fundamental truths. And as I thought more carefully about the business aspects of her success, I realized there are five essential insights that every enterprise CFO can benefit from by applying to their financial leadership of large enterprise.
And there’s even more to learn: Harvard University now offers a course on her, and similarly inspired courses are sweeping colleges nationwide. The five lessons I’ve curated here are ones most CFOs are probably already aware of, yet the stellar examples set forth by her as useful reminders to spark renewed energy, in a creative way, toward action.
1. Diversification of Revenue Streams
According to The Washington Post, her, “…record-shattering Eras Tour is set to be the most lucrative concert run in American history.” CNBC stated that, “the Eras Tour concert film has shattered records and helped the theater industry weather a light release calendar.”
She has not limited herself to just album sales and concert tours, she has also very smartly diversified her income streams through merchandise sales, brand partnerships, and streaming platforms that in total have helped to propel her into the billionaire’s club, according to Forbes. Her savvy is a good reminder for enterprise CFOs on the importance of diversifying revenue sources to reduce risk and ensure stability.
2. Data-Driven Decision-Making
She has been known to use data analytics extensively in her career. “Working with her team, the pop star adds a personable human touch to the marketing mix: through using data-driven trend-based insights to create musical arrangements, video content, and engaging social media campaigns that appeal to a wealth of audience segments,” according to a Digital Marketing Institute article focused on 4 lessons digital marketers can take from her marketing genius.
Successful enterprise CFOs apply this lesson daily by leveraging data analytics to make informed financial decisions, optimize processes, and identify growth opportunities within their organizations.
3. Strategic Negotiation
Her negotiations with music labels and streaming platforms, such as her decision to re-record her music, demonstrate her strategic negotiation skills. In 2015, she went head-to-head against Apple, prompting the technology to drop its plan not to pay artists royalties during the trial period of its new streaming service.
Successful CFOs know that in the dynamic world of finance, strong negotiation skills are of pivotal importance to managing risk, driving growth, and accelerating profitability. And, as she has demonstrated, negotiation isn’t just about striking deals—it’s about aligning interests, identifying allies for mutually beneficial outcomes, and building solid relationships.
4. Brand Management
She has carefully managed her brand, crafting a strong and authentic image that resonates with her audience. According to Forbes Australia, she, “…has mastered the art of storytelling, using her music and public image to create a narrative that fans can relate to.” After master recordings of her first six albums were sold to Ithaca Holdings in 2019, she moved to regain ownership of her legacy by re-recording the songs from the albums.
CFOs can learn from her brand management strategy and how it can impact financial performance, customer loyalty, and market positioning. By leveraging financial data and insights, CFOs can contribute to the success of their brand by helping to define profitable positioning, recognize high-value customer touchpoints, and balance resource priorities for market segments. Moreover, with the insight gathered, the CFO can guide the organization to be calculated and assess the proper ROI when protecting one’s hard earned intellectual property, which is a very costly, but sometimes necessary, endeavor.
5. Adaptability and Resilience
She has adapted to changes in the music industry and overcome challenges throughout her career.
Successful CFOs are continually learning, and are adaptable and resilient, especially in the face of economic fluctuations, regulatory changes, and unexpected events, ensuring their organizations remain financially stable in turbulent times. And as economic uncertainty shows no sign of abating, CFOs will continue to be integral leaders in demonstrating adaptability and resilience to ensure long-term success for their organizations.
While the entertainment industry and the corporate world are different in many ways, these five lessons from her successful career—diversification of revenue streams; data-driven decision making; strategic negotiation; brand management; adaptability and resilience—can help serve to remind and inspire CFOs to think creatively while adapting to changing circumstances and making strategic decisions.
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