How to trust your decisions when you have the final say
Susan Lyne is a venture capitalist who has had
leadership roles at Disney, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and Gilt
Groupe, among other places.
She said she learned how to be a leader as the founder
of a film magazine in the mid-’80s.
It taught her that responsibility means not constantly
seeking approval for every decision she made, a lesson she
considers a turning point.
In 1986, Susan Lyne was a journalist who had just launched a new
film magazine, Premiere.
Her cofounder was John Evans, the former publisher of the Village
Voice who she met when she worked there.
While Lyne had been in leadership roles before, she had never
been at the very top. And this threw her for a loop.
As she explained in a recent interview for Business Insider’s
How I Did It“: “I didn’t really think about it being a huge
change until I got into it, and I realized that I was constantly
looking around for somebody I could show what I was doing to —
because I still wanted approval, I still wanted somebody to say,
‘Yes, this is good. Go.'”
Lyne would go on to have an impressive career that included
running ABC’s primetime lineup, leading Martha Stewart’s media
empire, and serving as CEO of Gilt Groupe. Today she’s the
founding partner of the venture capital firm BBG.
But not before she had one of the biggest turning points in her
career and learned how to be a leader at Premiere magazine in the
The lesson she learned is applicable to anyone given the
responsibility to make a major decision, regardless of whether or
not they’re an executive.
“It took me really, I would say, the first year to get really
comfortable with the idea that I was the final say,” Lyne said.
She explained that she tried to make Evans the final say. “I sent
him over stories and he would ignore them. I finally sent him my
editor’s letter, and he called me up and he said, ‘Susan, don’t
ever send me stuff. This is your magazine. I don’t buy a dog and
bark for it.’ It was his way of saying, ‘This is yours and you’ve
got to own it.'”
It registered with her that other people don’t necessarily have
access to better information — and that even having access to
more information around making a decision won’t lead to a better
result. At some point, you need to trust yourself.
“It was definitely tough love,” Lyne said of Evans’ advice, “but
it was a useful thing for me to hear. It was a turning point for