Five Things an Executive Can't Do Without

AmEx? Razr? Maybe. How About a Wastebasket?

By Published on .

Most Popular
CHICAGO ( -- What are the must-have items for today's media or marketing exec? No, not just the AmEx card or Razr or BlackBerry. When today's executives gird for the marketing wars, the indispensable ordnance of choice ranges from aggregator to a Franklin Covey planner to, when all else fails, a wastebasket.

Reporter Kate MacArthur asked decision makers for their essential business accouterments. Some you'll want, others will surprise you with their "duh" factor. All provide an unexpected glimpse into the mental cogs of their owners.

Matt Haughey
Media star: Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media and celebrated blogger

He's packing: Ecto web-publishing software

Why: As master puppeteer of the dozen or so media and gossip solar systems tracked by his Gawker empire (plus his own personal blog at, the Brit diarist probably would rather be subjected to the myriad aromas documented on his New York subway-smells blog than wait for posts to slog through the machinations of more dawdling software packages.

Ecto "makes writing and web publishing much simpler," he said, with a pithiness that surprisingly lacked his trademark profanity. "I used to take five minutes to post. Ecto reduces that to one minute."

If it were taken away: "Without it, it would make writing a blog much less plausible." And with celeb stalkings and snarky media commentary hanging in the balance, that's a reality we can't bear to think about.

Wheel man: Ian Beavis, VP-marketing for Kia Motors America

He's packing: Scott CR1 road bike

Why: To manage the stress of making sure Kia Motors' name continues to translate to "Rising Out of Asia" rather than Killed In Action, Mr. Beavis does what any self-respecting car geek would do: put some asphalt behind him in a world-class racer. The punch line in this stress-reduction therapy: His model of choice is a 2006 black-and-yellow, carbon-fiber, pro-style Scott CR1 road bike known for its feathery weight, vibration-killing ride and deft handling. Tricked out with a Garmin GPS system and wireless cyclometer, the $5,000-plus bit of techno porn is the zen he achieves on road trips.

Riding "keeps you mentally agile," he said. "You forget about everything else. It makes you sharper."

If it were taken away: Cycling is "something I couldn't live without," he said. When he was hit by a truck and laid up with a broken collarbone, "I was the crabbiest bastard."

Drink purveyor: Tom Long, president-CEO of SABMiller's Miller Brewing Co.

He's packing: FranklinCovey planner

Why: His bible for 18 years, the journal built on the organizational principles of Stephen Covey guides the still-new head of the No. 2 brewer toward "relationships, results, where our destination as a company is and how to make sure what I'm about is the same thing as what our company is about," Mr. Long said.

In his version of the good book, the former-Coke-marketer-turned-beer-evangelist keeps a copy of Miller's marketing plan and master values, along with a script of his epitaph.

"It says, 'A nimble mind and generous spirit. A dedicated husband, friend, father and brother. And a man who loved competition and the game of life.' "

If it were taken away: "It's my game plan for how I want to succeed. It would be like a coach losing his playbook and he's got a game next Saturday."

Marketing Yoda: Brian Swette, non-executive chairman of Burger King Holdings

He's packing: A wastebasket

Why: When he's not tooling from Jamba Juice board meetings to those for Burger King Holdings, intrepid board executive Brian Swette is otherwise tackling the "excessively insane" amounts of e-mail and snail mail he receives daily. With a resume that includes driving eBay into automotive, B2B and international markets;

expanding Pepsi-Cola's portfolio to include waters, teas, juices and Starbucks Frappuccinos; and four years in the Procter & Gamble marketing farm system, it's sur-prising he doesn't use umpteen assistants to manage this paperwork. "I'm very modern."

So the old circular file, whether digital or material, gives Mr. Swette "a great feeling to get rid of it or read it and discard it."

If it were taken away: That prospectus you sent last week wouldn't see daylight until 2009.

Coach: Roger Fransecky, CEO of Apogee Group

He's packing:

Why: "We are in an age of continuous partial attention," said the CEO coach/clinical psychologist. "It's a wonderfully simple way of sustaining the illusion of control." Always looking for an edge, this voracious reader manages to devour 98 monthly pubs and a baker's dozen websites daily, from to

As the Dr. Phil of the C-suite, Mr. Fransecky pens a monthly newsletter on senior-executive topics that he presents to fellow members of the World 50. With the information-aggregator site geared to CEOs now his home page, the consultant who once helped launch "Captain Kangaroo" "bought 10 minutes of time to start my day," he said. "I created an irrational affection for it."

If it were taken away: "It would be certainly less convenient," he said. "I would have to create something similar."
In this article: