Macromanaging at Martha Stewart Living
An interview with Susan Lyne, 56, President and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
By Julie Schlosser, Fortune Magazine

(Fortune Magazine) -- My style is to macromanage, except that I will always, at some point, go deep into whatever my team is working on. If we are launching a new magazine, I'll spend a few days giving them feedback. I don't want to see everything. But I want them to know I'm engaged and there if they need me.

I always hire direct reports who I think have the potential to do my job. I did the same thing when I was editing a magazine [Premiere] and at ABC [as president of ABC Entertainment]. The best way to grow a company is to hire fantastic people. If I don't have people who feel they're masters of their fate, I'm not going to keep them.

Working with Martha
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Chef-in-Chief Lyne (center) checks in with her editors at "Everyday Food" magazine.

Martha is really hands-on. She gets into the trenches and wants to see everything. She and I talk several times a day. And I probably see her at least three out of five days a week. When she's happy with something, when she thinks that the work that's being done is excellent, that's a very good thing.

Can't live without

I love my No. 2 mechanical pencils. I don't have clean handwriting anymore because I write really fast. They're always sharp, so I can read my own notes. I like the fact that I can erase, not cross things out. And I use them for multiple things. There's always a crossword puzzle in my bag. It's nice to be able to work on something that is play but also makes my brain work.

Meeting tips

I can't remember the last time I was in a long, dull meeting. I try to sit at midpoint on the long side of the table so no one feels he's in Siberia. I make everyone speak. No one gets to just sit there. That way people are either thinking about what someone else is saying or what they are going to say. I keep meetings to 90 minutes. After that, everyone is looking at his watch.

Making a list, checking it twice

I have a notebook with me all the time. I go through my notes every night and again in a much more organized way every Sunday. That way I can start the week with a clean list of what has or hasn't been taken care of or what I think needs more focus. I am a big list maker.

The personal touch

I send handwritten notes about ten times a week. Not in the ordinary course of business, but maybe if a business associate did something for the company that I really appreciated. They have much more impact than an e-mail. Something that has a stamp on it means you took extra time.

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