Situational Ingredients

To Help You with Step 4 of the 7 Dream Team Steps

The phrase “timing is everything” explains the situational factors that determine your ability to create success. Below are examples to help you determine your best timing for creating any kind of success, including spectacular success. Examples are added as Paula M. Kramer comes across them.


App Launch

Evernote, an “external brain” for storing data, launched in 2008 and had 20 million users by late 2011. By the end of 2012, its total users reached 45 million.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin said, “Evernote was maybe the least original idea in tech. Our success, for what it is, was that we got the timing right.”

Fast Company

March 2013, page 144


Bad Things in Life

According to Jack Osborne, his diagnosis for multiple sclerosis came at the “right time”. He had met and married his wife Lisa and they had a baby. He didn’t have time to “dwell on getting sick.”

Eighteen months earlier, Jack was alone with his dogs. Receiving the diagnosis then would have made him feel that “All is lost.”

“I Cherish Every Moment”
Us Weekly
June 3, 2013, pages 82-84



In 2000, Mickey Levitan tried to get universities to buy electronic textbooks through his company Courseload. The company failed because universities were not interested. Levitan relaunched Courseload in 2009 and universities are now signing up.

“Hitting the e-books”
Shivani Vora
Inc. Magazine
September 2011, page 36


Phillip Nappi launched his business making handcrafted boots and shoes  —  read luxury — in the rocky financial climate of 2011. It turned out to be “fortuitous timing” because Nappi needed craftsmen to make handcrafted boots and shoes. During a recession, craftsmen have fewer orders. Since Nappi came to them during their slow period, they were willing to work with a business that was just beginning.

“A luxury shoemaker follows in his family’s footsteps”
Margaret Littman
Entrepreneur Magazine
November 2012, pages 24-25


Inc. Magazine columnist Norm Brodsky looks for three characteristics in launching a business:

An industry that has existed for at least 100 years (the market will know what you do).

The industry is antiquated in some way (behind the times on something).

It’s possible to carve out a niche within the industry (satisfying customer needs other companies have missed).

“What Mick and I Have in Common (More Than You Think)”
Norm Brodsky
Inc. Magazine
March 2013, pages 29-30


Mahisha Dellinger, Curls CEO, experienced “extreme racism” in her seven years as marketing program manager at Intel Corporation. Despite being a performer and a corporate citizen, her “horrific boss…aimed to get rid of” her. The horrific boss gave Dellinger a six month trial period during which he was going to decide whether or not he was going to get rid of a performer and corporate citizen who happened to be black. Dellinger’s decided she needed to take control of her life and see what she could do on her own. Her fiancé suggested she start a business selling the hair products she was “always mixing and matching” for herself and her family. Dellinger did research to make sure hair products would be a viable business.

“I actually launched on the cusp of the newly natural market when women were going from relaxed to natural and there weren’t a lot of options on the market. At that time there were either a lot of perms or jheri curl juices and things like that that we didn’t want to go natural so I actually launched at the right time.”

News One Now
TV One cable & satellite network
August 7, 2015

Against All Odds: From The Projects To The Penthouse
Mahisha Dellinger
Brown Girls Publishing, 2015


Ivanpah is a solar-thermal plant in the Mojave Desert. It is the largest solar thermal project the world. It succeeded because it came into being when investment money was available to get a solar thermal project going and to keep it going. Earlier solar projects failed because they didn’t have the necessary financial help. The money for Ivanpah came from Google and the 2009 federal stimulus package.

“Tower of Power”
Bryan Walsh
Time Magazine
June 24, 2013


Buying Local

Downtowns with boarded up businesses, the recession, news reports about bad products from China, the oil crisis, and the financial crisis have given consumers reasons to buy local.

“Why More Are buying Into ‘Buy Local'”
Kimberly Weisul
BloombergBusinessweek Magazine
March 1, 2010, pages 57+.



The 1960 movie Scent of Mystery tried to introduce a scent system to the viewing audience. The scent delivery system was “glitchy” and the idea “flopped”.

In 2013, a South Korean company has brought scents to “4-D” movie theaters. Other companies and researchers are working on adding scents to television commercials, cell phone texts, and opera theaters. Another company is building smart-phone accessories to interpret odors for monitoring health.

“Dollars and Scents. Why smell is the next frontier for gadgets”
Katy Steinmetz
Time Magazine
March 18, 2013, page 58


Oprah Winfrey’s original talk show was a situational success. Phil Donahue had started asking members of his audience questions, bringing ordinary people into televised discussions. Winfrey included ordinary people in discussions on her talk show, and added emotion. Later, Winfrey started adding celebrities to her talk shows.

Since launching her own network, Winfrey has not been as successful. Donahue and Winfrey were among the first to give ordinary people attention. Their shows could be considered an early version of reality television. Now that reality television has expanded beyond anyone’s expectations, Winfrey has mostly left ordinary people behind to focus on celebrities. In March 2012, her network laid off 20% of its staff.

OWN’s success is improving, however, because someone else is bringing ordinary people back into Winfrey’s focus. Actor, director, and producer Tyler Perry (stage, television, and movies) joined  Winfrey in a programming partnership, adding a drama and a comedy to OWN’s schedule. Their one hour drama, The Haves and The Have Nots, is a Downtown Abbey type show that includes story lines about ordinary people, the have nots. Their new comedy, Love Thy Neighbor is set in a family diner, meaning it features ordinary people. To remain successful, Winfrey needs to understand that her success depends on how much she includes ordinary people in her network programming.

Note From Paula M. Kramer

I spent several years watching Winfrey’s talk show because I wrote my masters thesis about women as television talk show hosts. Having also watched Iyanla: Fix My Life, I am certain that if Iyanla Vanzant had been available as the first female black talk show host, she would have achieved the same trailblazing success Winfrey achieved. Vanant is warm, empathic, focuses on emotions, and talks to ordinary people.

“Oprah Winfrey: Lady with a Calling”
Richard Zoglin
Time Magazine
August 8, 1988

“How Oprah turned around ratings at OWN”
Annlee Ellingson
L.A. Biz
June 11, 2013


NCIS was in its 5th season when the Writers Guild went on strike for the 2007-2008 season. The strike shut down production across Hollywood. Around the same time, the USA Network purchased the back catalog of NCIS shows. In January 2008 in the middle of the strike, USA began airing the show from its beginning. By May 2009, CSI was the most watched drama series, and NCIS was the second most watched drama series. By the next year, NCIS took the top spot and stayed there.

According to NCIS actor Michael Weatherly:

“The strike really did help us. All the new television shows
had dried up and we didn’t have streaming then. We premiered
on USA at just the right time.”

“NCIS: 300 Episodes and Counting?”
Aubry D’Arminio
TV Guide
March 7, 2016, pages 20-25. Quote on page 24.



Real estate deals are not always successful. The number of people willing and able to buy the real estate you have for sale can change.

“The Painful Education of a Real Estate Scion”
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 18, 2010, pages 54-55



Read the following article for what Stanford professor Bob Sutton says about leading in different situations.

“A thoroughly counterintuitive approach to the art of leading”
Leigh Buchanan interviewing Bob Sutton
Inc. Magazine
July/August 2012, pages 98-99


Howard Schultz is successful as the CEO of Starbucks where he can gather information before making decisions.. He was a failure as “impromptu baseball manager” during a Cardinals baseball game where he had to make instantaneous decisions.

“Strong Coffee”
David A. Kaplan
December 12, 2011, pages 100-116

“Howard Schultz brews strong coffee at Starbucks”
David A. Kaplan
Fortune Magazine
November 17, 2011



The U.S. electorate is becoming “more diverse, less rural, more educated, less evangelical…less hostile to gays, gun control, even government…”

“Road to Nowhere”
Michael Grunwald
Time Magazine
February 11, 2013, page 14


Write letters to politicians about legislation when the piece of legislation is being discussed in committee or on the floor, identifying the bill by title or number. Writing just before a vote is too late.

“How to Influence Your Legislators”
Handout from retired Professor Dan Dieterich
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point



The 1973 Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match happened:

While the women’s movement was strong

After Roe v. Wade

During the third year of the Virginia Slims Series of women’s professional tennis

“37 Words That Changed Women’s Lives Forever”
MORE Magazine
June 2012, pages 70-75



Steve Jobs was the right age to become “a founding father of the personal-computer movement”, young enough to bring his ideas to life when he returned to Apple in 1997, and ready with usability and products when personal computers “matured” and become a “staple” in homes.

“What Steve Jobs Can Still Teach Us”
Cliff Kuang
Fast Company
October 2011, pages 90-92


The ability of universities to transform technology research into regional economic benefits depends on how embedded the universities are in their regional social network.

“Social Transfers”
Brad Wible
August 23, 2013: Vol 341, page 821


Television News

Barbara Walters failed as the first female co-anchor of a nightly television news program. She co-anchored the news on ABC only from 1976 to 1978. At least three factors account for her failure:

Harry Reasoner, the ABC news anchor, did not want a co-anchor.

The United States was not ready for a woman as news anchor.

Barbara Walters now thinks she was not the right woman to be the first woman news anchor.

Katie Couric was the first woman to anchor a network evening news broadcast by herself, but her stint lasted only five years, from 2006 to 2011.

Diane Sawyer took over the ABC nightly news anchor chair in 2009. She left the anchor desk in 2014, but is still with ABC.

“Lessons From the Front Lines”
Barbara Walters
Newsweek Magazine
October 13, 2008: page 73


Urban Renewal

Requirements for urban renewal include:

Scrappy local entrepreneurs

Passionate allies

A savvy marketing body

Detriments include:

Building owners who see their investment only in terms of property, not community or livable cities

Cities that are slow to implement useful technology.

“New Noise in the ‘Hood”
Kara Ohngren
Entrepreneur Magazine
August, 2012, page 78


© Paula M. Kramer, 2010 to the present.
All rights reserved.
Updated November 13, 2022.