David’s Advantage

In the biblical story of David and Goliath, David was a small shepherd who went into battle with nothing more than a leather slingshot and a couple of rocks. His opponent was Goliath, a Shaquille O’Neal-looking warrior with shiny armor, a sword, and a javelin. Most would think that based on size, physical strength, and weapons, Goliath would have the advantage. However, in the book “David and Goliath,” Malcolm Gladwell explains why David was actually the one with the advantage. You can also watch Gladwell’s 15-minute TED Talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_the_unheard_story_of_david_and_goliath?language=en#t-19174) summarizing his book and discussing David’s advantage. The key points are that David was fighting a different battle with a weapon that others didn’t understand. Goliath was ready for hand-to-hand combat with heavy armor and swords, but David was never going to get close enough for that to be used. Most thought David “only had a slingshot.” The reality was that David had a deadly weapon, which was a slingshot, and he knew how to use it.

At GKB, we have always operated as a David. Our advantages were that we were small and nimble, and most who have known us would say we had different “weapons” than others in the industry. As an example, in many of our markets where we had radio stations, we didn’t subscribe to Nielsen. I’m not sure about this line.

This mentality and nimbleness have fueled our growth. However, over the last five years, we have grown significantly (more than doubled our number of teammates), and this year, GKB transitioned from being a “best-in-class local operator of world-class brands” to a “best-in-class operator of world-class brands,” marking the beginning of another exciting chapter for GKB as we began overseeing sales operations for ESPN Radio Network & Podcasts. The question is, how do we, and other companies on a similar growth cycle to us, continue to grow and still keep David-like advantages?

When our founder CEO Craig Karmazin was asked this question, he leaned on a quote from Kyle Lowry about Heat Culture. Lowry had four points that Craig emphasized:

1.       Don’t care about what others think.

2.       Work hard, regardless of the time, place, or situation.

3.       If we prepare ourselves, we will be well-prepared.

4.       Believe in what we do.

The size of your company doesn’t matter, as long as you come to the “battle” with a small mentality, these four characteristics, and bring your slingshot, you will be able to succeed whether the rest of the world thinks you will or not.