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Learning leadership from a master

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When he took over as CEO of Penton Media July 1, 2004, David Nussbaum leapfrogged over higher-ranking company executives such as COO Dan Ramella. At the time of his promotion, Nussbaum was president of Penton's technology unit, a title he'd held since joining the company in 1998 after spending 18 years at Miller Freeman.

Nussbaum said he learned much of his management style, which he describes as based on openness and developing an entrepreneurial culture, at Miller Freeman, which was led by Marshall Freeman.

"At Miller Freeman, I got a chance to learn at the feet of a master leader in Marsh Freeman," Nussbaum said. "He taught me how to build an empowered team, to trust great people, to take calculated risks and to understand that change is not only a constant in a lively enterprise but necessary. I also learned that it's most important to listen rather than talk, and that empathy is an important leadership quality."

Prior to moving to the sales side, Nussbaum was a journalist, writing for weekly newspapers and spending four years on the editorial side in the trade magazine business. That experience has also shaped his leadership approach.

"What I learned is that at the end of the day, whether we're talking about magazines, e-media or events, that it's all about high-quality content, imagination and a deep relationship with readers, visitors and attendees," he said.

-Sean Callahan

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