Bill McGowan lives!  Well, at least his legacy as an industry and management pioneer does.

Connected Planet ran a story by Joan Engebretson that compares the challenges and growing pains experienced in the 1970s and ‘80s by the McGowan-led MCI long distance company to what is being seen in some sectors of today’s communications marketplace, such as in VOIP and community broadband

I will admit up front that just about any news coverage of Bill McGowan or the “glory days” of MCI will get my attention, having spent more than 10 fantastic years of my professional life there, when much of the industry transformational activities were occurring. 

But, as Joan’s article points out, MCI’s tooth-and-nail, against-the-odds struggles aren’t necessarily rare—they are happening to some extent today in the communications networking world. 

It’s safe to say it also is occurring in almost every other business sector, and probably always has.  David versus Goliath, which is how the MCI versus AT&T battles were portrayed back in the day, is always happening.  It is their lasting success that is relatively rare.

Start-ups and people with new ideas, new ways of doing things, always are trying to gain a lasting foothold against entrenched market leaders.  Some succeed spectacularly; countless more fail.  That is one reason those who endure the bruising challenges and ultimately flourish are often celebrated and held in high esteem, like a Bill McGowan or CommScope’s founder and current chairman, Frank Drendel. 

As I read industry news coverage and meet new people at trade shows, my interest is piqued by stories of start-ups and David vs. Goliath, having worked at one very successful “David” and one that didn’t make it.  I’m always curious about which of today’s start-ups and innovators will beat the odds and become tomorrow’s industry stars. 

How about you?  Were you a part of a “David” that beat the odds and broke through to greatness? 

What are your suggestions for today’s innovators and dreamers who currently are facing these fights for survival?

About the Author

Rick Aspan

Rick Aspan, APR, is vice president of Corporate Communications at CommScope. A former journalist, he has more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications functions in the telecom, internet and networking industries at companies such as MCI, Ameritech and Tellabs.

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