Ted Turner’s biography (part4)

This is the last part of my favorite quotes from his book about his life, loves, and business success.

“Once the concept was proven, we would have easier access to capital. Even in the worst case, I figured that if we ran out of money after launching the channel and getting some distribution, we would have created a valuable asset that we could sell to a competitor. The key for us was to get started.”

“Our backs were against the wall, but that also played to our advantage. I’m convinced that one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I’ve almost always competed against people who were bigger and stronger but who had less commitment and desire than I did. RCA was a huge company, but for Turner Broadcasting, this dispute meant everything. We had bet the future of our company on CNN and had already poured millions into it. Now, less than four months from launch, we were in jeopardy. We had to succeed.”

“We wound up with so many spouses and family members on the CNN payroll that I joked the initials might as well stand for the “Cable Nepotism Network!” We did many things differently, and we managed to attract some great talent. We didn’t often get people who were at the height of their careers but we did find some promising up-and-comers who were attracted by CNN and the chance to be on the ground floor of something new, ambitious, and exciting. Along with hiring the staff, Reese Schonfeld”

“His enthusiasm was infectious and he was absolutely the definition of charismatic. He was in super sales mode and explained to me that CNN was going to be the greatest thing in the history of Western civilization! My visit didn’t leave me feeling like this would be the case, but I was convinced that win, lose, or draw this would be a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

“In difficult situations like this, I try to be as straightforward as possible. I made it clear that I agreed that our manager had been in the wrong and as president of the company I took responsibility for his lousy judgment. I apologized for this behavior but explained that if they went forward with this suit, they wouldn’t be punishing him; they’d only be hurting my company.”

“At one point in the negotiations I actually got down on the floor on my hands and knees and begged for forgiveness. I clasped my hands together and said, “You gotta let me sell this station or I’m a goner!” Somehow, between Hank Aaron’s support and my demonstration of genuine contrition, we got the negotiations back on track and worked out a deal. They would drop the lawsuit if I agreed to make a certain level of donations to the United Negro College Fund and some other worthy causes that they supported. With the lawsuit resolved, our license transfer was approved, and we completed our $20 million sale of WRET.”

“To act upon one’s convictions while others wait, To create a positive force in a world where cynics abound, To provide information to people when it wasn’t available before, To offer those who want it a choice: For the American people, whose thirst for understanding and a better life has made this venture possible; For the cable industry, whose pioneering spirit caused this great step forward in communication; And for those employees of Turner Broadcasting, whose total commitment to their company has brought us together today, I dedicate the News Channel for America—The Cable News Network. Then the band played the National Anthem, as was the custom for television stations when they signed on and off each day, and CNN went on the air.”

“It was a thrilling moment. We still had a lot of work to do to make CNN a success, but we had already cleared substantial hurdles and had defied numerous skeptics simply by getting on the air. As proud as I was and as much as I would have loved to stay for the entire reception, I had to leave a little early to catch my flight back to Newport and the America’s Cup trials.”

“In 1979, I became the first sailor to be named Yachtsman of the Year four times (I also received the honor in 1970, 1973, and 1977). I had already accomplished more in the sport than I ever imagined and it was hard to come up with any unmet goals that would keep me motivated. Quitting the company was a possibility—I probably could have sold Turner Broadcasting for hundreds of millions of dollars and never worked another day in my life—but unlike sailing, with my business career, I still had mountains to climb and I was excited about the future. In particular, CNN looked like it would not only be interesting, but also I believed it could have a major impact on the world. Then and there on that evening I decided that the 1980 America’s Cup would be the end of my sailing career.”

“such an old boat and with so little time to practice. The sport was moving in a different direction—with full-time participants and corporate sponsors—and it was passing us by. For me, retiring from the sport of sailing was bittersweet, but it was time to move on.”

“CNN could not cover Washington politics adequately without access to the White House pressroom so we were forced to sue, and we went all the way to the top.”

“I began to contemplate how we could combat such a competitive threat. I had purchased a 4,200-acre property in South Carolina called Hope Plantation in 1979, and it became a perfect place for the long walks I take when I need to clear my head and to think through strategic challenges. Sometimes I walk by myself and on other occasions I engage in debate with people whose opinions I value. One such person is Taylor Glover, my financial adviser and good friend.”

“After that first weekend I knew that Ted was somebody really special. As a broker I’d worked with a lot of smart people but he had one of the brightest, quickest minds I’d ever been around. On top of that, he was driven way beyond anyone else I’d ever met. He was also very open about sharing his thoughts with me. He’d use me as a sounding board on everything from what he was doing in Washington to his strategic plans for CNN. He always did most of the talking but appreciated the questions I asked and the holes I tried to poke in his arguments.

“Once I got in I really busted my butt and wound up getting good grades and making the dean’s list a couple of times. Basically, I didn’t want to disappoint my dad. He always has a way of making you want to work harder. Whether it’s his kids or his employees, he makes you want to be better.”

“In fact, I was so thrifty that someone at the company once said, “Ted Turner could squeeze Lincoln off a penny!” During my sailing career and my time at Brown, I’d seen plenty of wealthy people’s children who were spoiled and didn’t have much of a work ethic. I didn’t want to see my kids end up like that and while they certainly enjoyed some of the fruits of my success—whether that was my boys hanging out with Braves players at spring training or Laura and Jennie owning horses when they were teenagers—I made it a point to be sure that they didn’t get too much handed to them on a silver platter.

“He said, “Son, I didn’t do that for me. I did that for you guys. I was working on making you tough.”

“It’s the same way with my dad. The hardness was difficult but the reward is he’s made us very competitive to want to succeed in the world, whereas a lot of wealthy people don’t raise their families in an environment that makes them competitive and they don’t succeed on their own.”

“soldiers with guns, people walking around with glum faces. Instead, the Cubans looked just as cheerful as anybody. They dressed in bright colors and had smiles on their faces. I knew that all my movements were being controlled carefully, but while heading to see a zoo that was under construction, our driver got lost. We were on a dirt road trying to find our way when we stopped to ask a villager for directions. I needed to go to the bathroom and the villager let me into his house to use his. When I got inside, there was a framed picture of Castro on the wall. After hearing terrible stories about poor treatment during Castro’s regime, I was surprised by this admiration from one of his countrymen. Later that afternoon I was taken to meet Castro himself. I learned before the trip that he liked baseball, fishing, and hunting so I brought as gifts a Braves cap and some fishing gear. This resulted in some unusual-looking luggage and his concerned guards gave my belongings a thorough once-over, but once they realized I carried nothing more threatening than some rods, reels, and tackle, the mood became relaxed.”

“Castro’s charisma was apparent the instant he entered the room. He’s a tall man and his eyes sparkle and dance when he speaks to you. We were clearly sizing each other up but our conversation was friendly and cordial. He appreciated the gifts and put on the Braves cap, but looking at the fishing gear he explained that he was a spearfisherman. I offered him a rod and reel demonstration and before you knew it, there I was, in the halls of Castro’s palace, giving casting lessons to Fidel and his bodyguards.

“When meeting someone with a completely different background and contrasting point of view, I’ve always found it helpful to start out by discussing things you have in common. In this case, we broke the ice by talking about baseball and fishing, and we developed a strong enough rapport that Castro invited me for a visit that weekend at his retreat on an island in the Bay of Pigs.”

“We actually became so comfortable that during that night after dinner, when we had both had some rum and smoked cigars, our conversation turned to world affairs. At one point I leaned over and asked him, “Are you really interfering in Angola and Central America?” Castro looked me right in the eye and said, “Yes, and so are you. What makes you think that it’s okay for the U.S. to interfere there but Cuba shouldn’t?”

“After this eye-opening trip I flew home with a whole new desire to understand more about other cultures and political systems and to do what I could to increase communication and dialogue between nations. With this realization, and after seeing Castro’s interest in CNN, I knew that we had a real opportunity to build an international news business. It wasn’t long before we were having meetings with leaders from all over the world and working on distribution deals to make CNN not only the first twenty-four-hour news channel but also the first global television network.”

“I was proud to underwrite these prestigious shows and being around the Cousteaus made me want to work that much harder to use my influence to expose more people to the important issues facing our planet.”

“Over a very short period of time I developed relationships with people like Carl Sagan, Audubon Society head Russell Peterson, Lester Brown of Worldwatch, and former President Jimmy Carter. Going back to my high school debate days, I’ve enjoyed discussing topics with people who don’t necessarily share my opinions. While getting to know these people, I often engaged them in interesting and stimulating conversations.”

“Being exposed to these big thinkers pushed me to consider how I might use our company’s cable channels to improve the world, but there was not enough of an audience or advertiser base to fund this kind of programming. Then I thought, What if we put together a nonprofit entity, populated its board with a diverse group of world leaders, thinkers, and advocates, and produced programs paid for by the group’s own fund-raising efforts? We could then air the shows on TBS and expose them to our growing audience. In addition to producing some interesting and provocative programs, gathering such a body of people might stimulate discussion and action on issues that could make for a better world.”

“The Better World Society is an international nonprofit membership organization dedicated to fostering individual awareness of those global issues which bear directly on the sustainability of human and other life on Earth. Beyond awareness, the Society seeks to instill in citizens of all nations a sense of common responsibility for the fate of life on Earth. As well as an understanding of the constructive actions we can take, individually and in concert, to redirect our nations toward sustainable progress and world peace. From this perspective, the society will focus chiefly on the issues of nuclear arms control and reduction, population stabilization, stewardship of the Earth’s environment, efficient use of its resources, and fulfillment of the basic human needs of the world’s peoples. Meeting with these people was an incredible experience.”

“While this fund-raising was frustrating, the intellectual stimulation we received from the board was tremendous and this experience had a profound impact on me.”

“My first exposure to people from other countries was through sailing, and it occurred to me that elite athletes have more opportunities to associate with their peers from around the globe than just about anyone. When they do, despite the competition they usually get along. It’s easy to hate people you don’t know, but it’s hard to hate people once you get to know them and recognize how much you have in common.”

“were translated into Russian over the loudspeakers. When I looked around the arena I didn’t see a dry eye. Whenever medals were handed out to Americans or Soviets it was remarkable to see athletes from these two rival nations standing at attention and showing respect while the other country’s national anthem was played. At the rowing venue, the Soviet army band of about one hundred musicians played the anthems live. Given the troubled state of our relations at the time, seeing and hearing them play “The Star-Spangled Banner” was incredible. At one point, after the eight-oared shells competition, four Soviets got into the American boat and four from the U.S. team got into the Soviet boat and they rowed back and forth together.

They were worrying more about the previous night’s ratings than the long-term future of their business.”

“His opposition wasn’t based on whether it made sense for his company or its shareholders but rather because it might have a negative impact on himself.”

“My corporate financial people and I flew to New York to meet secretly with Pickens at a suite in the Helmsley Hotel. He was tall and thin with bright eyes. He was also very smart and engaging and we got along quite well. His experience was largely in the oil business but he grasped the potential of our plan right away. He said he’d think about it and get back to me.”

“Pickens and I agreed that we would work out the mechanics of our takeover strategy and line up the money. He had connections with Drexel Burnham, one of Wall Street’s top investment banks at that time, Carl Icahn, and others, and in those days these guys would get together and go after companies aggressively. My role would be to help him put a value on the television properties and to use my experience and contacts in Washington to sort out the broadcast regulatory issues that this deal would present. It was a promising start but, unfortunately, after a handful of discussions over the course of the next few weeks, Pickens got tied up in a takeover bid for Unocal and told me that he just didn’t have the time or resources to simultaneously pursue RCA. I was disappointed, but I learned a lot from the process and remained determined to keep trying.”

“To some, my stance may have been surprising coming from someone who was himself struggling in a second marriage, but I always believed that television is such a powerful medium that broadcasters have a responsibility to air programs that featured positive role models.”

“The takeover business was controversial then and none of these guys wanted to back a hostile bid for CBS only to find Mike Wallace and a camera crew knocking on their door to do an investigative piece on their company. It was eye-opening for me to see the powerful influence the networks had.”

“The press coverage was tremendous. It was a crazy and chaotic time and I enjoyed it. Throughout the buildup to the deal, some of my own executives tried to talk me out of all this activity, saying it was too costly and that it wouldn’t work. Deep down, I knew our bid was a long shot but so was just about everything else in my career. Between legal and banking fees, the whole venture would cost us about $20 million, but the way I saw it, we were getting at least that much value back in publicity. And in the process, we were tying one of our major competitors in knots trying to fend us off. CBS, of course, did everything they could to kill our deal.”

Since so many people who watched the SuperStation were movie fans, it would be a particularly effective promotional platform for new MGM releases. His 50 percent stake in MGM/UA was of roughly equal value to my 80 percent of Turner Broadcasting, so I proposed that we form a 50/50 partnership and run the new company together.

“These concerns led him to politely pass on doing a deal at that time. It wasn’t until the subsequent months—when he observed my handling of our run at CBS—that he decided that I might be someone with whom he could do business.

“Unconventional deals were fairly common. I guess it’s pretty clear I never had any issue with doing the unconventional.”

“I was elated. We had reached an agreement to buy one of the premier studios and the world’s greatest film library, but the dose of reality was that we still weren’t sure how we were going to pay for it. We had been prepared to take on significantly more debt to acquire CBS, but that company had tremendous cash flow that we felt we could immediately improve. MGM was different. We didn’t have overlapping operations between our companies, and given the extremely unpredictable nature of the movie business, their profits were usually low during good years and nonexistent in bad ones.”

“He continued, “You probably want to know why I bought this company and I’ll tell you why. You own my two favorite movies: The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.” We waited for the other shoe to drop and he then pointed to his mustache and said, “Don’t you think I look a little like Rhett Butler?” Of course he does, so once again we all nodded yes! It was quite an introduction.”

“Ted!” He must have said “Call me Ted” two hundred times that day. It was quite a tour. Ted seemed to be most enthusiastic and impressed by what he saw and people were very excited to meet their charismatic new owner.”

“I still controlled a majority of the company’s voting shares, we raised the capital we needed, and we had a dream team of industry partners invested in our company. As part of the deal, seven of our fifteen board seats went to representatives of our larger cable investors, including TCI, Time Inc., and Continental Cablevision. I liked the idea of having smart cable operators on our board so much that I filled one of my eight seats with Brian Roberts of Comcast. (Comcast’s investment wasn’t large enough to earn a seat but I wanted him and his company to be involved.)”

“Handing over veto power to Time and TCI would ultimately become one of my greatest regrets.”

“So there I was, in my late twenties, sitting on this board that was full of very strong-willed entrepreneurs who were very colorful characters—not at all shrinking violets. It was not a textbook Harvard board but it was a great education for me and the dynamics were fascinating. I used to joke that our meetings themselves would have made a great cable channel!”

“Because we would target the networks directly, when deciding on what to call the channel I felt we should use the word “network” and came up with Turner Network Television, or TNT. We planned for this channel to be dynamite!

“These victories were reassuring to me as they supported one of my fundamental beliefs about running a business: when you own an asset, your job is to maximize its value. For Turner Broadcasting, that might mean using unsold billboards to promote our radio stations, airing the Braves on the SuperStation, or disappointing some film purists by updating old movies. Our competitors had more resources than we did and we had to do everything we could to get the most out of what we had. While colorization wasn’t accepted in certain circles, TV audiences responded well. We had run Miracle on 34th Street on the SuperStation at Christmastime for years, and when we first showed the colorized version it did nearly six times its average rating (and when we added color to Santa’s outfit we had a high degree of confidence that we were getting it right!).”

“For one thing, I’ve always had a lot of energy. Ever since I was little, my mind and body were active and I couldn’t stand sitting around. Even today, I’m constantly moving. Purgatory for me would be spending twenty-four hours with nothing to do but to be alone with my thoughts. I do a lot of thinking when I’m out walking, riding horses, or fishing, and at mealtime debating and discussing ideas with others. (This might explain why I used to have a problem with the popular view of heaven. Sitting around on a cloud playing the harp all day always seemed more like hell to me!)”

“I also keep my sights set on the future and don’t spend much time dwelling on the past. I’ve had some tough experiences as a child and have had my share of business and personal setbacks, but sitting around thinking about them isn’t going to change anything. Someone once said that I was a good winner but a better loser. When I have a setback, I put it behind me as fast as I can and keep moving. I don’t play golf but I compare the way I respond to disappointments to the way a golfer does after he hits his drive into the water. He doesn’t walk down to the pond, dive in, dig out his ball, examine the ball, and ponder what happened. Instead, he takes another ball out of his bag, tees it up, and keeps on playing.”

“For one thing, I go to great lengths to be efficient with my time and try to make the most of every minute of every day. When I run meetings, they start on time. A lot of that came from my father and punctuality was stressed at McCallie and the Coast Guard. For much of my career, I didn’t even waste time getting to and from work. There were long stretches when I spent most of my weeknights sleeping in my office, and later, when I could afford to, I built an apartment on the top floor of CNN. So when millions of Atlanta drivers were wasting their time sitting in traffic, my commute was nothing more than walking up a flight of stairs, and I had that much more productive time to work every day.”

“Another way I save time is by managing information efficiently. A lot of people become inundated with paper and e-mails, but I make a point to keep a clean desk. I never let things pile up. I couldn’t do this without a great executive assistant and for the last twenty years, it’s been Debbie Masterson. She is invaluable, and in addition to keeping me on track and on schedule, I’ve always counted on her to screen out correspondence that I don’t need to see. (Incidentally, Debbie handles all my electronic correspondence—I don’t use e-mail myself.) The volume of mail I receive is tremendous—from business reports, solicitations, and so forth—but over 90 percent never makes it to my desk. For most requests, Debbie knows how to respond.”

“Some of my passion for efficiency comes from my experience in sailboat racing. Races are won and lost by picking up a second here and a second there, and I learned a lot about how small things matter. Racing also contributed to my skill at delegation, an ability that’s been of vital importance to my business success. Once you begin racing bigger boats, it becomes impossible for one person to do it all. Instead, you have to have good people, assign them responsibilities, and then let them do their jobs. As skipper, you steer the boat, plot strategy, and issue orders.”

“Basically, I ran my company the same way I ran my boat. I found the best people I could to run our businesses while I stepped back to keep an eye on our overall strategy and what our next move should be. A lot of entrepreneurs and company founders have trouble leading as their company grows. Part of the problem is that they become so used to having their hands in everything when the company is small that they find it difficult to delegate successfully once the business gets big.”

“but I let my managers manage. This gave me time to focus on the big picture.”

“Another quality that worked to my advantage was my ability to create a fun, exciting environment. Everybody worked hard, often for less pay than they might have made elsewhere, but at Turner Broadcasting there was always a sense that we were the underdogs and we were motivated by the opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong. I certainly had a temper and there’s no doubt that I yelled at people on occasion, but I was good at putting those disputes behind me and the next time I saw the person I’d been angry with, we usually shared a laugh and a pat on the back.”

“I’ve tried to be the best person that I could be, both at work and in my personal life, but monogamy for me has always been a struggle. As noted earlier, from an early age my dad told me “real men run around,” but as I’ve reflected on his philosophies I no longer think he had it right. Maybe it’s too late for me to change my ways but as my children have grown I’ve encouraged them to follow my advice and not my example when it comes to being in committed relationships.

“Janie and I weren’t on the same wavelength when it came to thinking about the big picture and as I became more involved in working on global issues, we had less in common.”

“When I met J. J. Ebaugh, things were completely different. Not only was J. J. concerned about world problems, she also challenged me to think more about them myself. It was a better partnership than any I’d had before.”

“she helped me understand the value of getting counseling during times of stress. I’d had some problems with mood swings when I was a kid—probably because of being sent away at such a young age and the anxiety that my life produced. I remember at the age of nine or ten just deciding on my own that I was going to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative—just like that song suggested—and that helped me a lot. Still, in the 1980s a doctor diagnosed me with bipolar depression and put me on lithium.”

“hard work is important and so is follow-through. In this case, I really wanted to go out with her, so when she told me she needed six months, I made a note to call her back then. When the day arrived, precisely six months after our first phone conversation, I called her again. I said, “Hi, it’s Ted Turner. The six months are up. Will you go out with me now?” She must have appreciated my persistence because she said yes and we agreed to see each other for dinner during my next trip to Los Angeles.”

“My sense was that, like me, she had a difficult upbringing that contributed to her drive to be a super achiever. Jane and I also figured out very quickly that we cared about a lot of the same issues. Our first date together ended with a hug and I told her that I was smitten. I knew that Jane Fonda was someone I wanted to get to know better.”

“When I enjoy something, I have a tendency to overdo it, and when I was told that a larger ranch was coming on the market, I was interested. Jane and I were still getting used to the scale of the Bar None when I told her that now I was going to look into a property that was many times larger. The Flying D Ranch is more than 119,000 acres, situated between the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. It’s a beautiful property with good trout streams and it had a lot of pasture that would be perfect for a large bison herd. Jane thought I was crazy but for $21 million (or about $200 an acre) it seemed like it would not only be a great place, but also a terrific investment. I bought it in 1989.”

“I realized that Ted also saw his land as a haven—a safe haven for native species. Now all three of those vignettes came together eight years and ten ranches later at our ranch manager’s conference. All of us who worked for Ted knew what his land ethic was firsthand.”

“Being outdoors is my chance to unwind, clear my head, and think. The time I spend in nature refreshes and recharges me and reminds me how much raw beauty exists in the world—and how careful we should be to preserve it. The ranches are also great places for me to spend time with friends. On nearly every trip I make in the United States or Argentina, I invite friends and family. I’ve also hosted business colleagues and world leaders. (I’m proud to say that three Nobel Peace Prize winners have been among my houseguests—Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.) I also enjoy observing and interacting with nature and it’s a special feeling to be part of the natural environment.”

“I’m often reminded of Scarlett O’Hara’s father in Gone With the Wind, who told her, “Why, land’s the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” I’ve realized this to be true, and I’m proud to know that I’ve done what I can to make sure that my land is protected.”

“Ted was told the guy hadn’t made up his mind yet, Ted said, ‘Tell that goddamn guy if he can’t make up his mind he has no place in our organization!’ and he withdrew the offer.” Bill followed that story by telling me he looked forward to working with me. I told him I still had to do some due diligence on the opportunity and suggested they do some on me, too.

“He didn’t, and we took a lot of flak from officials in Washington, who accused us of letting Saddam use CNN as his “mouthpiece,” but I held to the view that it was our job to deliver the news from all sides and if the leader of a country with whom we were about to go to war wanted to give an interview, we couldn’t turn him down.”

“It was wild in the control room and I remember looking up at the monitors we had tuned to CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, the BBC, local affiliates—you name it, every single one had switched over to CNN’s coverage. They hadn’t asked for our permission, they just took it, so I called Ted and he said, “Just let them have it for a while.” Before you knew it, we had faxes and phone calls coming in from all over the world from television outlets that wanted to become CNN affiliates and share footage of our broadcast. It was an incredible night and somehow, to our great relief, everyone made it through.”

“The creation of CNN is the business achievement of which I’m most proud, and CNN’s coverage of Operation Desert Storm was the network’s proudest moment. By being there—live and in person—we gripped viewers around the world. Bernard Shaw, John Holliman, Peter Arnett, and our crew showed incredible bravery and did a fantastic job. Here in the United States our ratings skyrocketed and there were nights when our viewership surpassed the broadcast networks’. Just over ten years after launching and being ridiculed as “Chicken Noodle News,” CNN had established itself as the most capable, trusted news outlet in the world.”

“was overjoyed that this wonderful, intelligent woman would now be my wife.”

“My mom was a beautiful, dignified, and gracious woman. She had some tough times with my dad and even more difficult struggles caring for my sister but she remained strong throughout. My sadness at my mom’s passing was tempered by the fact that she had been able to enjoy her grandchildren and some of my success.”

“At the conclusion of ’91, I was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. The recognition came in large part because of CNN’s emergence as the world’s news leader following its Gulf War coverage but the article also gave me credit for my past success as a yachtsman and my other contributions to the communications industry. It was a long way from selling billboards in the South, but I knew that I wasn’t finished yet. “

“Ted was very straightforward about his interest in buying our company and very quickly thereafter we worked with his financial people on the subsequent details and had all the deal terms in place.”

“it, if there was one person we might be open to talking to it was Ted Turner. He’s an iconoclastic guy. He’s not a bureaucrat and we weren’t bureaucrats.”

“he went on with the meeting as if he had already done a deal with us! It was like someone turned on a switch in him and he said, “I’m acquiring you guys and you’re going to come in here and make more money than your business has ever made before. We’re on the same wavelength. You formed your business and are still running it, I formed my business and I’m still running it.” He just went on and on and it was really overwhelming in a funny and bizarre way. We had a lot to think about as we flew back to New York. Bob and I had always enjoyed being independent and emotionally we weren’t ready to sell our company. But in many ways Ted was right—we were on the same wavelength. We had very similar business experiences and were in many respects similar kinds of people.”

“I got to know Dan Burke, Capital Cities’ CEO, and as we looked at the advantages of a joint Olympic bid, the conversation naturally went toward the synergies we could create if our two companies were combined. They were also straight shooters who always treated people with respect.”

“Today, every single broadcast network is aligned with a studio (ABC with Disney, NBC with Universal, CBS with Paramount, and Fox with 20th Century Fox). Sure enough, the industry did go vertical—I just wish I’d been able to convince them do it with me, first.

“Seeing the way he used his newspapers to advance his personal political agenda really bothered me. I certainly encouraged our networks to air programming about issues I considered important, like the environment and overpopulation, but Murdoch specifically supported or tore down individual political candidates through his publications, particularly in Europe. We had worked very hard to establish CNN as an impartial outlet with the highest journalistic standards and doing a deal with him would jeopardize everything we’d built.”

“And because we were growing quickly and launching so many new businesses, opportunities continued to present themselves to our talented and hardworking employees. It became part of our company’s culture to take chances on younger, and oftentimes unproven, executives.”

“This part of the job was enjoyable for me and I still believe that quality programming was an important differentiator for us and I didn’t want anything going on our air that I didn’t feel good about.”

“if he would have done a deal with us instead. I think my personality and Ted’s would have worked fine together because we’re both long-term conceptual thinkers, willing to bring in a broad set of considerations into any decision. He’s a wild optimist and I count myself the same. He’s always thinking about how the pieces can come together in a different way. We both love decisions that seem crazy to other people but then they wake up five years later and see why it was obvious when at the time it seemed weird.”




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Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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