Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Moxie: When the situation calls for bold and gutsy

November 14, 2014

Share this article:

Moxie. It’s an old-school word that either means a brand of soda or the sort of patois that brings to mind 1930s gangsters.

For author John Baldoni, however, moxie means a decisive kind of management style. His new book, Moxie: The Secret To Bold And Gutsy Leadership (Bibliomotion), actually uses the letters of the word to spell out what he means.

  • M stands for mindfulness
  • O for opportunity
  • X for the X factor
  • I for innovation
  • E for engagement

Baldoni, an expert on leadership topics, says he began to think about moxie in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. He notes that a survey the following year showed that 46 percent of senior managers doubted that their CEOs had a credible plan to deal with the crisis, while half of those surveyed believed their companies lacked the leadership to carry it out.

“This lack of confidence did not come from rank and file employees, but rather from the senior-most leaders of organizations. That’s pretty damning,” Baldoni writes.

Post-crash, he found that the leaders who steered their company back to prosperity did so by making “tougher, wiser choices, and moving forward in hard times.” In short, they had moxie.

Baldoni, who can be found on Twitter @JohnBaldoni,  cites a list of four attributes of leaders with moxie.

Fire. Leaders with moxie have passion. They need to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Drive. These leaders have ambition. They will make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. And, they want others to share in good fortune.

Resilience. Folks with moxie know how to pick themselves up after a fall. “They have known defeat, and it does not scare them.”

Street smarts. Finally, these leaders know how the world works. They know how to read people. They are pretty savvy when it comes to negotiating.

These aren’t just traits that describe CEOs. They also can make a great newsroom manager, or a good editor, or even a strong reporter.

Baldoni’s book is aimed at a management audience, but is also a gold mine for business journalists. It has some great tips that might help business journalists who regularly interview CEOs and senior managers. For each of his moxie definitions, he offers a series of questions that could be useful when preparing for an interview.

When it comes to mindfulness, Baldoni would ask, “What gets you up in the morning, and why?” For opportunity, he would ask, “How are you succeeding in your search for new opportunities?”

Moxie, the book, abounds with stories about CEOs that Baldoni considers to demonstrate moxie, which is another great source of story ideas. It closes with a Moxie Handbook, meant to make the idea work for managers. But, the concepts are good for keeping journalists on their toes, too.

More Like This...

Five takeaways from recent business investigations

For business beat reporters looking for story ideas or inspiration, here are five watchdog stories to spark creativity. The stories, all published in the first seven months of 2022, touch

Think like a business owner. Not a freelancer.

Not all journalism grads will work as full-time staff for a news organization. Maybe after searching on JournalismJobs.com and following up with journalism school contacts, you’ll choose to become a

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.