What the Romans can teach us about today’s media business

Hadrian's Wall

Above: a Roman bath – standard issue for every Roman fort

As I said in my last post about walking Hadrian’s Wall, I have new respect for the Romans.

As you probably know, they ruled over 400 years from the north of England to lands in the Middle East and everything in between.

Long before Jim Collins wrote Built to Last, the bible for any business leader, the Romans had some powerful lessons on leadership with longevity.

Here are three things I took away from visiting the remains of the Roman forts and deepening my understanding of their empire.

Go global

The Romans built their forts to a specific blueprint so whether in northern England or the Iraqi desert, the structure was the same. A legate commanded these forts and the 5,000 men from all parts of the empire. These men and their families could achieve Roman citizenship after 25 years of service – the rewards of being good soldiers.

In business we need to think about the world and taking our shows internationally. I’m reminded of developing and producing shows for global audiences to include local twists.

Assimilate rather than conquer

There’s no doubt there was a great deal of bloodshed as the Romans swept through to defeat their adversaries. But the Romans were smart enough to allow the people of their empire to continue to worship their own deities – both gods and goddesses. Given the empire’s power, it seems like a very tolerant move on the part of the Romans. For instance an altar to the Goddess Fortuna was set up by a German soldier.

With the different formations of talent in co-productions and service productions, tolerance is a crucial skill. Let’s be more like the Romans.


The Romans were very clear that what goes around comes around. Each time a favour was asked of the goddess or gods, the asker had to leave a coin or offering to acknowledge they were grateful for the consideration of the gods. One of the initial discoverers at Coventina’s Well, Chesters Fort, couldn’t understand why there were so many coins and jewels at the bottom of the well.

This is a great message about karma and treating others with respect. You never know who’s going up the ladder to success and who’s on the way down.

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If you’re feeling passed over or need more acknowledgement for your work, get in touch to find out more about my coaching program. It will hold you accountable for a success plan.

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