45: "The Math and Magic Man" - Bob Pittman

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"The Math and Magic Man"

Bob Pittman has lived several lives in the course of this one. At 28 he gave birth to MTV. Then turned Nickelodeon into a lasting success and launched VH-1 and Nick at Night. He ran Six Flags and Century 21 before becoming COO of AOL-Time Warner. In 2014, Bob became Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia. We talked about the science and showmanship of leading creativity, about tortured geniuses and what he thinks about his failures and his legacy. 


Three Takeaways

  • Have real intention in everything you do
  • Have a sense of urgency with everything you do
  • Be willing to say no

"FEARLESS CREATIVE LEADERSHIP" PODCAST - TRANSCRIPT

Episode 45: "The Math and Magic Man" Bob Pittman

Bob Pittman has lived several lives in the course of this one. 

At 28 he gave birth to MTV. Then turned Nickelodeon into a lasting success and launched VH-1 and Nick at Night.

He was at the center of the creation of Time Warner, ran Six Flags theme parks and then Century 21 real estate before becoming CEO of AOL. He did all of that before the Millennium.

In this century he has been the COO of AOL-Time Warner and co-founded, Pilot, LLC an investment group with a remarkably diverse portfolio, before joining Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.

From 2011-14 he was named the most powerful man in radio.

In 2014, the company was re-named and Bob became Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia.

He has been the chairman of the Robin Hood Foundation, fighting poverty in NYC, the Chairman of New York Public Theater, and served on the boards of an extraordinary number of companies and not for profits.

Along the way, he’s found time to spend 6,000 hours behind the controls of a plane, and learned to fly helicopters too.

He is a human being of diverse interests. He is a man of intention and intense action.

We talked about the science and showmanship of leading creativity, about tortured geniuses and what he thinks about his failures and his legacy.

This an action packed thirty minutes. A reflection of the man.

I hope you enjoy it.

Charles:                              

Bob welcome to fearless thank you so much for being on the show.

Bob Pittman:                    

I'm delighted to be here thanks.

Charles:                              

My first question, the one I asked most of my guess is when did creativity first show up in your life? What's your first memory of something being creative?

Bob Pittman:                    

You know, I don't know whether I ever think of anything as creative. I've always had my own vision of things in my head and they don't seem creative. They just seem like what I wanna do, or what I think we should do or it seems like the logical place to go.

Charles:                              

Where do those visions come from? What inspires you?

Bob Pittman:                    

I don't know. I don't think I'm necessarily ... I don't think of myself as inspired. I just think, you know we all sort of absorb everything in the world and informs every other action we take, and to me it is, you know whether it was an MTV or what we should do with AOL, and the beginning of the internet, some of it is research and I do spend time, a lot of time with research informing sort of who these consumers are, but as someone told me early on, you know, it's a mix of the math and the magic.

That you can research the consumer to death, know everything about them, doesn't tell you how to do something exciting. For that you need some showmanship, you need some just tada! And you need to think of something really cool, you know what they're looking for, you know what kind of people they are, it's okay. Yeah, okay this is probably great for them, but you still need the magic. And I think you always have to have that combination, and often I see in my job, people are one or the other. And when I can find people who can do both, they're the real stars.

Charles:                              

Is creativity the magic as far as you're concerned?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well, I think it is although I think there's creativity and everything people do. I think there's creativity in the way people look at research and to get that consumer impact. I mean you know data science was creative, solution to it. It's not the way we used to do things. We used to survey research and suddenly we go these data sizes, look at them, look at patterns.

I sat with a doctor the other day, I'm at that age where you know you're at the doctors and they tell, oh boy, we're looking for a lot of stuff, and he said there was a ... the data scientists looked at cancer. I hope this is true, it sure makes my point, and he said you know we spend so much time saying don't smoke, and we talked about these risk factors, and we look hard at people who have risk factors, he said actually when the data scientists got in charge of it, it looks like 70% of all cancers are just an accident. Not related to risk factors. So he said the takeaway for him is that I look very hard at cancer in every patient I have, because it's not heavily related to the risk factors. Yes, the risk factors will increase your odds, but if 70% are not related to a risk factor, they just a dumb luck.

Charles:                              

Yeah.

Bob Pittman:                    

Bad luck. Then you know, you have to look harder. So, I think that is an example of data scientists coming to a much different collusion than the usual way of researching issues.

Charles:                              

Yeah. I mean, willing to just be as open minded about looking at something that other people looked through.... for a long time. And to come up with .......  you got involved in the media very early on right/ I mean you were a teenager I think when you first got involved?

Bob Pittman:                    

I was at age 15, I always loved airplanes as a kid and I wanted to learn to fly planes. And I didn't have any money, and my parents said you better find a job, and I went around the small town in Mississippi in search of a job, and the only job I could find in this small town was as a disc jockey, on a small radio station, a day-timer. A.M. station that signed off the air when the Sun came down. And that began my radio career and my media career.

Charles:                              

Good heavens. And then that evolved how?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well, I actually got very interested in radio at that point, and probably because there were girls on the other end of the request line who called me, and if you're a 15 year old boy was like nerdy and you go, wow, somebody wants to talk to me. I went to the other radio station in town, which didn't sign off until about 10 o'clock at night, then went to a progressive radio station in Jackson Mississippi, this was 1970. It was the 102.9 stereo Rock in Jackson. And underground radio and from there went on the Milwaukee, and Detroit. I got to program my first radio station in Pittsburgh in charge of the product, and had a big success and NBC hired me at age 20 in Chicago, to do their am and then their FM and then they sent me to New York when I was 23 to do WNBC, the flagship. And I had a great success there and so that's sort of how the radio got me to New York City.

Charles:                             

  And what was your insight about programming that gave you such early success?

Bob Pittman:                    

Actually, I was a research guy. I had been doing some research in college and very interested in sociology and social methods research, and working on some projects and it struck, and back then everybody says well, this is a hit record I can hear it. The Golden Ears. And I said, well, you know we can actually research that and so there were some other people in radio beginning to do some of that, all over the country we sort of banded together and we'd do these conference calls every week or so and just talk about what we were learning. And we would begin to research and we would have a scale of I love this song, I like this song, neutrally I like it, but I'm tired of hearing it so much, I dislike it or just like it so much I turn off the radio every time it comes on. Or I've never heard of it.

And from that we began to develop positives, negatives ratio, we began to figure out what got more tuned out, was it I don't like the song or I like the song but I'm tired of hearing it. And so it was this interesting way, and from that we realized we could have segments now called cohorts of listeners with different tastes and figure out how we could build the largest coalition of those listeners to a radio station, listening for different reasons, different songs, how much we could push one group to accept another group, and that was really to me the fascinating thing about radio, and I think probably led to my success. Now along the way I hope I had some showmanship, and we had fun interesting radio stations, and I had a good ear for talent and could work with people and help them, coach them on really becoming themselves and being the most charming person they could be.

Charles:                              

Do you see science as the foundation for that, or do you think science is an element of your success?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well, you know, I think it's all a part of it. I truly do practice math and magic and I make sure I really home my math skills, and I hone my showmanship skills, and I know a lot of people who know math better than me and a lot of showmen who are better than me. And we try and build a team of those people so we're loaded with all of them. And we're willing to take people. You know, when you build a team ... one of the head of HR at AOL observed this he said, you know why we're succeeding is because we're willing to accept people with towering strengths and they have towering weaknesses as well.

And he had come out of traditional HR as both traditional companies, and he said most companies don't want anybody with towering weaknesses, and often they don't get him by with towering strengths either. If somebody's got a great skill you're willing to tolerate quirkiness craziness anything except sort of you know illegal or truly bad behavior, but if people are hard to get along with or they cry often or they you know are fuzzy talkers or thinkers, but if they've got a skill we need you're willing to do it, because what you're building is a team, that as a team you have skills that no single person could have.

And we don't build a team of everybody's just alike, we're a team of very disparate people. I think when you look for skills you're looking for that combination.

Charles:                              

You know for a long time the creative industries were built around a model of the tortured genius, right? How do you see that shifting these days? Do you think that ... is there still a willingness to put up with that?

Bob Pittman:                    

Oh, I think so, And I think what we're not willing to put up with is the abusive genius.

Charles:                              

Right.

Bob Pittman:                    

And I think there were some tortured geniuses, there were a lot of abusive geniuses. And I think no one wants to work in that environment in which they're called names and have people deliberately mean to them. I can be tough, I consider myself a tough grader and I think that's actually important. As I look at my career I had two great mentors. One mentor really taught me about creativity, showmanship, financial engineering, going for big, going for great, and one taught me be a hard grader. That the guy who was great on all the first points would never tell me exactly what he felt. He would never say Bob, that just really sucks, or that just really didn't cut it, or wow, that's bad. He would say, well, that is good, that's good. I couldn't tell what was good and bad. The other one would go, well, that's terrible, not with any malice, not with any Vendetta, but he's just thought I ought to know that wasn't good.

And I found that so helpful, because I could help. It helped me differentiate good from bad, because when you create something you know intent. If you are the recipient of something, you don't know intent, and without intent you really get what it is. And I can't escape intent. So I'm very reliant on other people being honest with me and as I tell people here I say, I have very thick skin. I'm not a thin skinned person, just lay it on me. I'm not gonna be offended. I'm here to make a great product. So if you need to be brutal with me be brutal with me fine.

Charles:                              

I mean, yeah.

Bob Pittman:                    

And they are. And, you know, probably some more than others, I've always had wherever I've been in a senior position, I've always had someone worked with me as a doctor no. That no matter what I get excited about they think a terrible idea. And they torture me over it, but what they're doing is they're forcing me to explain why it's a good idea to think it. Sometimes I crater under there, you know, when I go on you're right, and sometimes I push through and I sell them and when I've convinced them I know I'm right.

Charles:                              

That requires a resilience on your part, right? Because I mean there's a lot of creative people who have great ideas who fold quickly under the pressure of reality towards a better description where do you think your resilience, your willingness to push back against that kind of energy comes from? The willingness to get up every day and think, yeah there's a better way to do this.

Bob Pittman:                    

Well I think it's not a better way I'd say it's just not ... I see a way to do it and I'm gonna drive through. And I think, you know, there are times in everybody's career when things aren't going so well, and I think in those times you have two choices. You can either try and suck up to everybody so you won't get fired, and do things other people want you to do, but you still may get fired, and you know what you're gonna do then, you regret you didn't at least try what you thought was right.

So my view always is, I'm gonna do what I think is right, and I'm gonna do what I think will get us there. Not that it's not gonna have ups and downs, and you know we fail more than we succeed, but it's that willingness I think that's important to us all to do what you think is best and right. And as I often tell people I push them like crazy but sometimes I'll say but don't let me convince you if you don't agree, because I'm gonna hold you responsible. So if you think that's the wrong thing then let's fight it out right now. And sometimes I'll say. you know, you make the decision, you've heard my point of view but you need to make what you really believe in.

Charles:                              

I'm gonna spin you back to MTV's just for a second. Was there a moment where you saw MTV and what it could be? Was that a process? How did MTV came about?

Bob Pittman:                    

I had done a TV show on NBC after Saturday Night Live, I hosted, and produced what they called the album tracks, in which we played these nifty little things called music videos. Pieces of [inaudible] the whole thing and we did music news. And that was probably ... I went to with this new company Warner MX satellite Entertainment Corporation. At the time the cable business was building cable networks as we were going into the big cities, so it was no longer just a big antenna, for just a TV set box. What we were looking for in that world was, you know, the new ideas and how you do something new.

And I think that's been for me, you know, going back and looking at MTV, was probably the most important thing. Was just like we've got a vision sort of what we do, I'd sort of taken the album tracks idea and to me it was pretty clear when I got through this company we were looking at new ideas that there was room for a, call it a video radio station. It hadn't been ... maybe a decade earlier FM had knocked out AM by having great sound. So good we can add pictures to it and we'll leapfrog FM radio. And that was really the concept of MTV. And it seemed perfectly logical to me, and clear. I didn't have a lot of doubt about it, probably part of it because I was in my 20s, and 20 somethings don't have a lot of doubt about anything, thank God.

Charles:                              

How did you pitch it?

Bob Pittman:                    

I pitched it as video radio station and I've ... I pitched it as, we have a generation who's grown up with TV and the same generation's growing up with rock music, and the two have never come together. So why has it not come together? Why it's not come together as people keep trying to make music for the TV form, we're gonna create a network or to make TV fit the music form. Image, attitude, emotion, not story-arc. And that was the pitch.

Charles:                              

That's so good. What about Nickelodeon? What was your insight about that?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well, Nickelodeon was ... I inherited Nickelodeon, been a preschoolers channel, and it was really sort of built by the company to try and get to cable franchises, because they were do gooders, and it wasn't gonna make much money. And a lady named Gerry Laybourne was in programming there, not running it, but in programming, and Gerry and I began having conversations. And Gerry really pushed the idea, which I thought was brilliant, of let's do a tweens channel. Like the teens but older than kids. And there's a whole huge void. And that's what we did with Nickelodeon, and it was Gerry's really that drove it. But I really pushed the idea of let's brand the network not the shows. And the unique thing about MTV was people tuned in this see what was on MTV not to watch programs. But on NBC they tuned to a network to see a program. They often didn't really remember which network it was.

Charles:                              

Right.

Bob Pittman:                    

And today of course you see the impact of that, because if the TV network was merely a delivery system of programs they can get the programs to other places now. Netflix and all things and it hurt the TV business a lot, whereas with an MTV or Nickelodeon they tuned in to watch the network. That was the product, that was the thing. It was the gathering, it was community. And actually we had the genius guy Fred Seibert who did the on-air look for me for MTV, I put him over to Nickelodeon to help Gerry Laybourne do that incredible on-air look for Nickelodeon too with the idea let's really brand the network and make it cool in here.

Charles:                              

Looking back at your career, you seem drawn to disruption, innovation. Is that a fair analysis? Are you drawn to disruptive opportunities?

Bob Pittman:                    

You know what, I think anyone who's disrupting stuff is probably kidding themselves. I never realized that I was disrupting anything. I was just ... I found to consumer ... I said the consumer wants something, I'm gonna give it to him. And I think a lot of the great ideas were not disruptive, I don't think Google said ooh, we're going to disrupt AOL or the search, they just say oh I gotta better way to search. This a better search engine and Facebook was a better Myspace, or a better way to gather people, or a better way to build community. I don't think anybody wants to destroy the past I think they just see something's missing and they want to fill the void.

Charles:                              

Do you feel like you're solving problems in that moment? Are you identifying a problem that needs to be solved?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well, I think our job in leaderships of companies, is to look for the problems, because those are the opportunities. You know it's like success and failure, I have two teenage kids and I preach to them all the time that success and failure are exactly the same thing. They're just stepping stones, nothing is the end. So, when you step on something and you keep going straight, you call that a success, when you step on the stone and you turn left or right you call that a failure, because you need to go somewhere else. But they're merely stepping stones. And by the way, the stepping stones of failure can take you to a bigger goal and a bigger win than necessarily always having stepping stones of success.

Charles:                              

How do you define success?

Bob Pittman:                    

I think success is achieving what you set out to achieve. By the way I think your odds of that are pretty low, I worked for a wonderful guy, Steve Ross who took his father-in-law's two funeral homes and turned it into Warner Communications and then Time Warner, brilliant entrepreneur, and great for managing creative people, and Steve used to say, you know Bob around here you'll never be fired for making a mistake. Here you'll be fired for not making a mistake. If you're not making mistakes tells you're not trying anything new, that mistakes are the byproduct of innovation. You will get it wrong more times than you will get it right, and you just can't stop and agonize over things.

One of my other great mentors Henry Silverman used the biggest insult he ever had was study and review. What are you? One of those study and review people? But he loved math and he loved facts, but it's ... you'll never find all the information. And you know we try and encourage people here to do is, make a decision soon as you have enough information to make a decision. Don't ever kid yourself that you're gonna find all the information. All you're doing stalling, you don't want to make a tough decision, you know.

Often be you say when you make the decision next week, I'll say well what are you gonna know then that you don't know now? Let's just make a decision right now, because it’s really like, it's hard, I don't wanna make it so I'm stalling. And once you admit you're stalling you make quicker decisions. And the other thing is once you're not afraid to make a mistake, fine. One of our corporate values here as we expect and tolerate mistakes. That's it. It's this way we learn and sometimes we can figure it out on paper, most of the times we can't. So let's try, see what happens.

Charles:                              

Have you learned more for mistakes and failures?

Bob Pittman:                    

Yeah, of course. And I don't really count them. I really don't even think of things as failures or wins, I just go, okay we gotta move here, we gotta move here. Everything is constant movement. You never get anywhere. It's, you know, life is constant movement. We're moving to death. Oh, that's the only place we ever get, and maybe there's more beyond that so we're really not even getting there. But we're just always moving, and to come up with a solution that we're creating permanence, or there's at the end of the road or now we can stop, that's crazy.

Charles:                              

How do you lead?

Bob Pittman:                    

Well you know, I don't know if I have ever defined it. I think we try and have very clear goals, we'd have to have a very clear mission, and I try and articulate that mission, and I try and sell everybody to get a board. I mean we all wanna be going in the same direction we wanna be on a mission, and we wanna be in a mission from God sometimes. I mean that kind of fanaticism to achieve what we're gonna achieve. I think we're trying to help people understand what it looks like what it feels like, what the key metrics are so we know we've achieved it, and then create an environment in which people have a great sense of urgency, yet also have the flexibility to have fun doing it.. And, you know, are able to exert their creativity and innovation, and reward the innovation, and let's move past the failures quickly.

And in our company if somebody said that really didn't work, we made terrible errors, would you learn this? Okay let's go. The only time I sort of get on people is when they say, how'd that go and they go, wow, sort of working. Sorry, and they're bullshitting themselves first, and me and everybody else. And they're wasting our resources and assets. So I start the Inquisition. Really? Let me ask a couple of questions. And you know when people can't definitively say it worked, it failed.

I think the problem with a lot of companies is, I'm gonna pick these numbers hypothetically, let's say you've tried ten new things, ten are clear winners while it worked just as we planned. Two were clear losers, woo. Those dogs, let's say there's six in between, usual way nothing sort of clear winner clear losers. Most people only killed clear losers. The great people kill everything except the two clear winners, because it's that six in between that really weren't winners really want losers they're eating up all of our resources, they're not giving us a return on our money, they're distracting the organization, and now let's compound them. If I have nothing but two clear winners I'd kill everything else. Over time I'll have two winners, two winners, two winners, and I may have a hundred winners, and I only have about six or eight losers.

Now let's do the math on the other side. If I only kill the clear losers I'll have two clear winners and six mediocre junk that turns our company into the most horrible companies, nobody wants to work in. So then I have two more I've got four and I've got 12, and then I've got six and I've got 18. Pretty soon the junk far outweighs your clear wins, and you become a stupid sluggish bureaucratic company that's not gonna win.

Charles:                              

How do you take people on the journey ... on that kind of journey because there's real power in that kind of analysis, right? There's real power in that kind of willingness to edit, but creativity requires a lot of emotional investment, it's a tough process for a lot of people and killing that kind of energy is a difficult thing for people to go through. How do you create an environment in which that's welcomed.

Bob Pittman:                    

We only reward real success. I don't say gosh, you've done some great work. Yeah I know I wanna work, but you deserve to have a loser. We'll do your loser. I'm not gonna let anyone do their loser. You know, my job is to keep us on the mission. My job's to keep this ship on track and get us to America. I'm not gonna let the first say, well I wanna go left but I wanna go right, well, okay, we'll do it all. It's not a vote. I listen to everybody, but at the end of the day my job is to keep us pointed in the right direction and keep us functioning as a team, focused on a common mission, on a common goal and really calling and reporting on where we are.

Much more ... Steve Jobs was a friend, I'm much more in some ways a manager like that in terms of being in the details. I wanna read the press release and I don't say well, I wouldn't have written it that way, if I would I have thought of another way to write it, I'll write it. I'll pull the pen out, say let's write it this way. It's like my job is about cohesion. My job's not have all the good ideas but, it's to edit it so all the ideas work together, help us reach that goal faster and in a bigger way than we anticipate.

Charles:                              

When you're hiring are you looking for certain kinds of people?

Bob Pittman:                    

Yeah. I think, look. We're looking for people who really do value urgency, we're looking at people who can tell a story and understand the story, communicate well, we're in that business, we're looking for people who collaborate well can work on a team, we're looking for people who have a passion for where we're going. And some of it is; there are lot of great people who wouldn't care to be on our mission. So I articulate the mission and if they go well, I don't want to do that I want this, well, this isn't the place for you. Or they go, you know I'm kinda looking for a really balanced life. And I go, I respect that but you're not gonna have it here.

I think balanced life is over a period of time. 10 years 20 years. I don't think every day is balanced, I don't think every week's balanced, maybe not every year’s balanced. And I'm willing to live life that way. Some people want that balance every day and by the way I respect them wildly, they may be making the better choice than me, but that's not our company. Our company's people are really just maniacal about focus, they wanna win, they see a big win they really want to make history. And those are the people we want.

Charles:                              

What would people be surprised to know about you, that they don't already know?

Bob Pittman:                    

Gosh, I have no idea. I like tequila?

Charles:                              

How do people see you do you think?

Bob Pittman:                    

I don't know. I mean, I think some people probably think I'm a horrible taskmaster who doesn't appreciate what people do, because I don't give ‘that a boys’ easily. I think other people like that, because they know I do, I mean, I like working for people like that in my career, because I always know where I stand and it helps me to be better because it keeps me right on track. I think, you know, generally we have a lot of fun, but we're also very intense about winning. And we wanna move faster than anyone else, I think everything is better done sooner, we do believe urgency wins. We have this 24-hour rule here, which is half joke and half reality. You know, people would say when are you gonna do that? If you let people choose their own time frame they always push it way out, and then we have to beg them and you know come back and do it sooner. I always thought we could, then tell me why we can't do it in 24 hours. And I make people argue why they need more time than 24 hours. So our default isn't three months, our default's 24 hours. We obviously make a lot of exceptions but we start from that point and therefore we only push ourselves out as much as we need to push ourselves out.

Charles:                              

Are you conscious of your legacy? Do you think that?

Bob Pittman:                    

No, there's no legacy, I mean it's crazy. I worked with Lew Wassermann at Universal, could've been a, you know, controlled Hollywood, Steve Ross was my great mentor in my life and Bill Paley you met with, was like the big you know overhanging personality when I was growing up, CBS, and I ask people at job interviews ‘have you ever heard of any of those people,? Never heard of them. It doesn't last, it's gone. So you know life is about living this moment, and that it's about living the next moment, but legacy's silly.

You know, if want people to remember your name and put it on a building or something as long as the building's up they may remember your name but they don't know you have a name, they just know there's a building with a certain name on it. If you want people to think you're a building, put your name on it.

Charles:                              

What's the difference you're trying to make?

Bob Pittman:                    

I'm not sure there's a difference I'm trying to make. I'd say you know, clearly I want the world to be a better place, and I want to help in any way I can, but I'm not sure, and we do a lot of things in our heart to do that. When I was at MTV we did Live Aid and a bunch of things that no one had done before, and here we've done some great events there, and we did the 12/12/12 relief for Sandy at Madison Square Garden with the garden and a couple of other folks but we ... you know.

I think we're making a difference by helping people reach their potential. I see my success not through the companies or the products, I see it through the people. Was I able to take somebody that thought they were going nowhere and give him a shot to be a star and reach their potential? I still, you know, my great choices was Judy McGrath, who was a writer at Conde Nast, and I brought her over to be the writer on MTV, and she wound up as the CEO. And there are a million examples like that and that's what my pride is at.

My difference in you know making the difference is to help people find their potential, find the passion and help them achieve it. Help them reach their potential. And to me. whenever I look at that I smile. I don't smile that MTV has X number of subs or has much profit, yeah, I'm gone I don't care. But I do care that the people who built it, are still building and they achieved success and they really found skills that they maybe didn't even know they had. That's a success.

Charles:                              

What are you afraid?

Bob Pittman:                    

Dying. How about you?

Charles:                              

Yep, but only every day.

Bob Pittman:                    

I, you know, what am I afraid of everything? I'm a worrier and I think in this job I'm paid to worry, you know, being complacent will kill us. Patting ourselves on the back as why would I do that? Everybody else is patting everybody on the back, my job is to figure out why we shouldn't be patting ourselves on the back and sounding the alarm, and refocusing our resources where we've got a weakness. And so, yeah, my job's somewhat the miserable job, because all the joy has kept at lower levels of the company. What is kicked up to me are the problems people can't solve. Oh my God I got problem I can't solve. Let's kick it up, and that's what life’s about sitting in this chair.

Charles:                              

Wow, that's a powerful. It's a powerful summary. I wrap every show with three themes that I've heard. So let me throw this at you and tell me whether I've heard you at all. One is I'm struck by the fact you have obviously real intention in everything you do. You marry that, I think, with this extraordinary sense of urgency and you've said this a number of times, but I'm struck by how rare I think that is, and how powerful it is. And then I think the third thing, and you mentioned Steve Jobs and he was known for this as well I think was, your willingness to say no to a whole bunch of stuff. There were just so many people out there and you made this point who were willing to be indulgent of possibility past the point where it's valuable.

It seems to me when you put those three components together, you create the kind of success that you've had. Do those resonate for you?

Bob Pittman:                    

Yeah, I think that that's right. I would just sort of add to it. I think an organization's, I'm a great student of why small companies can be nimble and quick and innovative, and as companies get bigger they're not. And one of the things has to do is sort of approvals too. You know, going to the point you just made, let's say there are ten levels between me and the bottom of the company in terms of positions. For an idea from that person to get to me it means 10 people have to approve it that means ten people have to approve it. That means, ten people have to all say yes, and anyone could say no. Do the math. We've stacked the odds a hundred to one against a no to yes. That can't be good for innovation.

So we try here to not sequentially look at ideas, we try and parallel it, so that any one person can save an idea. So if we put the idea out to all ten people at once and somebody starts trying to kill it the other nine could say, oh no, no, no no. Let's don't kill that. When people come to me and say, okay we've all looked at this and we've agreed this is the way we wanna do it, I always say what did the dissenters say? What's that outlier, because great ideas are never consensus, There's one person who's found an idea and everybody else is scared to death of it, because it doesn't fit where they thought they were gonna go. I wanna hear that idea.

And I sometimes will side with the outsider against the group. And now the group will get mad. Well we all agreed upon it. I go, I don't care, look my job's to try and make as best one. That's the better idea and let's go with that.

Charles:                              

Wow, that's powerful. Well, thank you so much for being here today, I've thoroughly enjoyed this.

Bob Pittman:                    

Well this is great, thank you. I appreciate it.

Charles:                              

Thanks. Thank you so much really, really.

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