If you have ever read Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times or anything on the Yahoo homepage, then you have read a publication that media executive Ross Levinsohn has had a role in leading over the years. In fact, for decades, the American University graduate has been at the forefront of print media during its transition into the digital age. Currently, he serves as CEO of Maven, a publishing firm that, among other things, manages world-famous Sports Illustrated magazine.
Tradition and technology
Ross Levinsohn has been able to have a highly successful career because of his understanding of traditional storytelling values as well as having an early recognition of how the important the internet was going to become in publishing. As someone who trained as a writer and worked in publishing early in his career, he has an excellent grasp of the timeless aspects of what makes a story universally appealing.
As the leader of Maven and Sports Illustrated, he emphasizes to his team the importance of getting across narratives that readers can latch on to and identify with and not just burying them in statistics. At the same time, he has long had a fascination with technology, and, as an executive, he pushed to get his brands publishing online when the internet was viewed as a fad that would pass by many in the magazine industry.
Levinsohn has very consistent work habits, and these have helped him scale the heights of publishing. He generally gets up early and gets straight to work. While he takes advantage of the latest apps to organize and manage his work flow, he also uses simple yellow sticky notes to keep track of things. This combination of cutting edge and old school is a good metaphor for how he gets things done.
As a leader, he is all about listening to others and learning from them rather than imposing his views to show that he is the boss. He uses the best ideas to further the goals of the team, and it doesn’t matter who came up with them.