The Cable Center recently named its Cable Hall of Fame Class of 2016, a group of individuals recognized for their dedication and contributions to the cable industry. Given the wealth of experience shared by this group, we thought we’d ask them to divulge on mentorship, advice for industry newcomers and their proudest careers moments.

This year the honorees are: Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s Morning Joe; Pat Esser, President, Cox Communications, Inc.; John D. Evans, Chairman and CEO, Evans Telecommunications Co.; Tom Rogers, President and CEO, TiVo Inc.; Robert J. Stanzione, Chairman and CEO, ARRIS; and John O. “Dubby” Wynne, Retired President and CEO, Landmark Communications, Inc.

Here are the words of wisdom they offered:

PatEsser_RT

Pat Esser, President, Cox Communications, Inc.

Who is/was your mentor, and what’s the best advice that he or she gave you?

I have been fortunate to have a number of mentors in my life and in my career. Their roles have ranged from leading to listening, and they’ve taught me a great deal about the importance of people and passions, never taking myself too seriously, and never underestimating the importance of what I say and do. And of course, I still call on mentors regularly. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop seeking out their invaluable support.

 

 

 

JDE CSPAN (1) John EvansJohn Evans, Chairman and CEO, Evans Telecommunications Co.

What advice would you give to up-and-comers in the cable industry?

My advice to all new up-and-comers to our industry is:

•          Develop the “humility of listening,” for only by listening can you learn and evolve.

•          Learn to use the “pause button” before speaking or if being personally attacked.

•          Seek mentors who are both your teachers and your students.

•          Be thoughtful how you use judgment—it destroys honesty and shatters trust. Excessive, harsh judgment will shut down innovation and creativity, the fuel that empowers our industry.

•          Be authentic. This was an important lesson for me being an openly gay man and now a leader in the LGBT Community. Authenticity is one of the key ingredients to building trust.

•          Develop your personal vision and align your aspirations to corporate cultures which are transparent, open, nourishing, and allow for prudent risk taking. When you fail or falter, learn humbly from the experience.

•          Develop authentic, nourishing and caring relationships because in the final analysis you are only as good as those on the team.

•          Think and read material outside the “box.” Be a sponge and ask the question “why not?”

•          Explore and nourish your metaphysical being. There will be times when you need to fall back on something deep inside of you and what will that be?

•          Finally, stay focused and don’t let all the distractions of the digital age sidetrack you from your goals and nurturing important relationships.

Who is/was your mentor, and what’s the best advice that he or she gave you?

I have been blessed to have so many mentors in my life and career and I thank all of them.

•          Former WJR Radio (Detroit) EVP and station Manager Jim Quello, who later became the longest serving FCC Commissioner. Jim was my friend, my mentor and my guide for over 40 years, and helped teach me the ways of Washington. I would not be where I am today had Jim not believed, nurtured and mentored me.

•          Gus Hauser, my business partner for over 15 years.  Gus is one of the industry’s visionaries, and helped me hone my operational skills, legal/regulatory insights, finance structuring, and local political skills.  Always patient and, while we had many insightful and intense strategic and tactical discussions, we never had an argument. Gus could get me to see the big picture.

•          My friends at HBO – Jim Heyworth, Peter Frame, Matt Blank, Tony Cox and Tom Oliver. Since I was building a stand-alone cable system in an urban market under the shadow of the FCC and the Capitol Dome, I needed marketing and programming help. We collectively helped write the book for launching pay-TV in urban markets.

What was your proudest career moment?

My proudest moment was being with my friend Brian Lamb at the White House when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his life’s dedication to C-SPAN, an idea we had over lunch one day in July 1978 as I was building Washington’s first cable system in Arlington.  For me personally, it was being inducted in to both the Virginia Cable Television Association’s and The Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, and sharing those evenings with my Virginia cable colleagues, friends and family.  Also, receiving the “Courage in Business Award” from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, of which our industry is a big supporter.

Tom Rogers - TiVo - Hi Res copy

Tom Rogers, President and CEO – TiVo Inc.

What was your proudest career moment?

Three moments stand out. First, founding CNBC and in doing so, watching it change the entire face of business news—even as pundits said at the time that the cable industry would never let NBC become a part of the industry. Secondly, getting the Cable Act through Congress when the industry had left it for dead. Finally, leading the charge for TiVo to be embraced by the cable industry when most said it would never happen.

Robert J. Stanzione, Chairman and CEO, ARRIS

What advice would you give to up-and-comers in the cable industry?

Everyone is different and success is measured in many different ways; so I hesitate to give advice.  But since you asked…

I’ll start by paraphrasing a quote that I once read: “The Master of the Art of Living makes little distinction between work and play, labor and recreation. That person hardly knows which is which, and is always doing both.”

To me, this means finding something that you love doing.  Surround yourself with smart, positive-thinking people. Ignore the naysayers. There is a lot of opportunity out there.  Don’t play it safe; put yourself out there and take a few calculated risks.

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John O. “Dubby” Wynne, Retired President and CEO, Landmark Communications, Inc

What advice would you give to up-and-comers in the cable industry?

Lots of change is coming.  Embrace it, innovate around it, and get with great people.

Who is/was your mentor, and what’s the best advice that he or she gave you?

Frank Batten, Sr., who developed Landmark Communications, Inc., the owner of The Weather Channel and Telecable.  “Preparation and high performance standards will be the key to your success.  You will make mistakes.  Admit and fix them.  Nurture and develop great people.  Focus.”

What was your proudest career moment?

Securing the support of the cable industry to pay a subscriber fee so The Weather Channel could continue in business. A second is supporting the early development of weather.com.

The 19th annual Cable Hall of Fame celebration will be held on May 16, 2016 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. For more information on the Cable Hall of Fame celebration, visit www.cablehalloffame.com

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