Cox’s Rooney A Man for All Seasons Joe Rooney is not the kind of guy whose life fits neatly into a 650 word column, much less a paragraph-but let me give it a shot. Joe’s been in cable for two decades, a former Times Mirror guy who eleven years ago was acquired along with his company by Cox. He’s worked in both operations and marketing. In his career, he has been based in Jersey, in the coal mining country of western Pennsylvania, at a couple of places in the heartland, in the O.C., and now in the southeast. He is a husband and a father. He rides motorcycles and owns four of them. He started chairing SkiTAM a couple of years ago and has since also become the chairman of CTAM. And, as of a couple of months ago, Joe became (by my count) one of two chief marketing officers on the distribution side of this industry. But those are just the broad stokes, and the devil, as they say, is in the details. When Joe and I caught up this past week we talked about a lot of those details. It was March, so as he normally does this time of year, Joe was gearing up for SkiTAM, the industry’s annual fund-raiser for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and an event for which he has developed great passion. A few years ago, Joe had a chance meeting with one of the team’s members, a young African American named Ralph Green. Ralph was a budding football star in Brooklyn, but at 16 ended up losing his leg after a blood vessel in his buttocks got severed in a drive-by shooting. Ralph wasn’t much of a skier, but he oozed energy and charisma. Joe, who saw something special in Ralph, asked him if he had a sponsor. He didn’t. So Joe offered to sponsor the young man’s pursuit of Paralympic gold in exchange for his services as a motivational speaker. Joe and Ralph now comprise a most unlikely pairing, the smooth-as-silk white guy marketer and the street smart black kid with one leg and a million dollar smile. And for the past two years, they have visited Cox locations throughout the country giving employees what Green calls "the old one-two." Rooney says Green leads off each speaking engagement with a first-hand account of the shooting, the loss of the leg and the unlikely but highly inspirational story of his sojourn west to learn how to ski. He then gets up and talks about competition and the things every employee is the company is going to have to do to keep Cox well ahead of its competitors. "It’s very effective," said Joe, "but I have to tell you it’s no fun following someone like Ralph." As for Joe’s brand new role as the chairman of CTAM, he said he’s really focusing on cooperative marketing among the MSOs. "There are so many things the operators in this industry could and should be doing together, and we’re going to be focusing on those," he said. And as for his new gig as CMO, when I asked Joe how things have changed, he told me: "I continue to push the marketing sciences and the more thoughtful, cause-and-effect type of marketing, as opposed to the when-in-doubt-mail-it-out approach. That, and I’m continuing to focus on Cox as a brand and trying to find new ways to get all the different parts of this company delivering on that promise."