Commentary By M.C. Antil CTAM’s Cowan Growing with the Job Maybe your first encounter with Anne Cowan was 15 years ago when she was teaching public affairs during cable’s industry-wide crash course in grassroots communication. Maybe you remember her from her CATA days, working tirelessly on behalf of small cable operators as a member of Steve Effros’ talented staff. Or maybe you know her from her current incarnation as Char Beales’ communications guru at CTAM. But however it is you’ve come to know Anne Cowan, chances are you don’t know her as well as you think. (And even money says you don’t know CTAM as well as you think you do either.) Anne is a former actress married to a working actor, and even though she’s packed her dreams away in a trunk, she always keeps her acting tools well-honed and on display: the active listening, the ability to use her eyes to engage you, the diction, the movement, the energy. Ann is a midwestern girl who carries her burdens quietly, while caring deeply about yours. When she smiles and calls you "pal," that’s not just a verbal crutch, but an honest term of endearment. Being called "pal" by Anne Cowan is like being a comic and having Johnny Carson wave you over to the couch. Please understand, Anne and I are old friends. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Anne has my old job. The difference is, even on her worst days, she is better at it than I ever was. Where I might have been able to juggle a few things simultaneously, I would often wear my effort like a badge of honor. Anne, on the other hand, can keep dozens of balls in the air and make it seem effortless. But it’s more than just the person. The job itself is remarkably different, in part because CTAM is too. When I was at CTAM, it was driven by its desire to be a force within the industry. And its role – again, in the context of the industry – was to wait in the wings and support individual members. But that’s changed dramatically since Anne took the job. Sure, CTAM still works for its members. But it now works for their companies too, and not just within the safety of the industry, but in the fast-paced, unforgiving world of the consumer marketplace. A couple years ago CTAM formed a marketing co-op in which MSOs pooled their resources to promote themselves as a product category. Anne is a big part of the co-op and has played a huge role in taking a multi-million dollar campaign called "Only Cable Can" and delivering value to participating MSOs. Where my job was to tell a handful of trade pubs like CableFAX Daily about CTAM events, Anne is now pitching books like People, Redbook and Cigar Aficionado on the power of On Demand or cable’s growing retail presence. Where I was writing copy for a handful of CTAM members-only Web pages, Anne has developed an entire site that gets tens of thousands of consumer hits/year and allows people moving from one system to another to transfer service seamlessly. Where it was my responsibility to promote CTAM at regional events, Anne is doggedly forging relationships with nationally syndicated columnists at CES and the TCA tour. When we caught up a few weeks ago, I was amazed. It was Friday afternoon, the end of another long week. And while we spoke and exchanged pleasantries, I began to realize how much Anne had on her plate. And my amazement was two-fold: I was shocked to learn how much CTAM had evolved in five years. But more than that, I was stunned to realize how well my successor had learned to listen, laugh and juggle at the same time.