What I've learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you'll find that you put the time in. You won't just ask somebody if it's a good idea, you'll go figure out if it's a good idea. – Mark Cuban
Exactly four years ago today–the last time there was a leap year–it was my last day of my professional career as the Program Manager for #HDNet (#AXStv) and I could not have had more influential, and yes a very eccentric owner and president that taught me many things, Mark Cuban. I also cannot say enough wonderful things about Rachael Weaver, my former boss and mentor, that progressed as the Senior Director of Network Programming to Vice President of Programming, and is most recently the General Manager of HDNet Movies. And finally, I must thank Philip Garvin the former Chief Operating Officer (#COO) of HDNet, and also the CEO of both Colorado Studios and Mobile TV Group.
This trifecta of individuals set me on a career path that encouraged and taught me many things about; how to operate a business, treat employees, and continued to develop a work ethic within me that I still continue to use to this day through all of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
Obviously, there have also been other numerous individuals that have helped encourage me professionally and as much as I would like to name all of them, I'd like to give some honorable mentions to; Travis Swenson (Engineer-in-Charge #EIC and assisted him in building mobile TV truck Mountain Mobile #MMT 6), Joe Cronin, Glenn Valenta (RIP), Glenn Moore (Director of Broadcast Operations for AXS TV), Jacque McNair (best Post-Production Suprervisor that allowed me to lounge in her office from time-to-time and often helped with my office shenangians and pranks), Kelly Porter (of the notorious Edit Bay 6), Bo Vongsakoun (Producer and now EP of ONE Championship), Angela Seda (Garvin), Darrell Ewalt (EP of Sports), Lauren Riaski Young, Robert Ray (Dallas office), Evan Haiman (infamous EP of Music and Entertainment), Wayne Nelson (former EP of the CBS Evening News and now the EP of Dan Rather Reports), Dan Rather himself (#legend), Jeff Cuban (Mark's brother whom I worked with for years and is now the Executive Vice President for AXS TV), Judy Arbogast, Robert Theole (our amazing in-house Legal Attorney), Brian Brieske, Russ Rollins and Mike Miller (amazing accountants), Paula Avila, Glenn Nickerson, Carol McDaniel, Gregg Dobbs, Lenny Young, Kim Francis, Jessica Sorber, Megan Magana, Colette Carey, Pete Eichert, Lauren McKillop, Shannon and Drek Lofdahl, Laurie Sommers, Jennifer Parr, Sara Arbogast, Dan Farley, Sarah Cook, Ed Martinez (helped train me in my first live NBA Denver Nuggets game), Nick Bee, Billi Capra (KSE), Brian Peters (camera and director extraordinaire), Mike Treber, Josh Winter, and the list goes on and on!
I wish I could name each and every person, including all the amazing television freelancers I've worked with for years in Denver as well as those in Los Angeles and New York, especially being given the responsibility when I was about 23-years-old and I was honored to be the Crewing Coordinator for Monday Night Football for the Denver market by Hal Schmidt (EP for #ABC/#ESPN Sports in NYC), just so many people that I feel I cannot thank enough!
However, as I mentioned the trifecta of individuals that truly helped develop my professional career and set me on a professional path are truly unique individuals and I would like to take a moment and talk about them and how they were incredible mentors that instilled a strong work ethic within me and I am both greatly honored to have worked with them, alongside them, and, of course, to have learned from them daily!
I'll never forget meeting with him for my second and final interview, because at that time the company was so small that Philip insisted on conducting all final interviews even as an entry level Runner/Production Assistant position. I'll never forget sitting in the conference room of the office–just the two of us–and he asked me, "Troy, where do you see yourself in five-years?" Pausing for a moment, I answered honestly and said, "I have no idea. All I know is that I have just recently graduated from high school and am just beginning college."
Since, I had sent my resume to their company applying for a Senior Accounting Position via Monster.com, with the objective I stated on the top of my resume: Any Entry Level Position Available due to my limited professional work experience other than the typical after-school jobs, we both knew that this was a bit of a gamble hiring someone so young.
After pausing for a moment, Philip, said that he was willing to give me a chance, even though I still wasn't quite sure what their company did (even after asking several times to both Theresa Shaw and Philip) and what my responsibilities were, because it was difficult to explain. Some days I was picking up clients from the airport in the company vehicle, other days I was sweeping out the hangar where our mobile television production trucks were being built, or even walking around the property with a canister of weed killer spraying weeds. I even contemplated quitting after a few weeks because some days I felt like a janitor.
But, of course, I am glad that I stuck with it, because later I realized that the company was testing me to see how much they could trust me with various responsibilities. After the first few weeks, I began driving expensive $100,000-plus cameras and other television equipment to the various stadiums around Colorado. Through this, Philip taught me that trust is earned, before responsibility is given. He also taught me a great deal of how to operate a company by how to treat employees, something I would later learn that other former business partners lacked greatly in, primarily my last business partner (you can read that blog HERE).
Once I announced that I would be leaving the company on November 1, 2012 (providing the company with four-months notice, which many family and close friends thought was far too much time, but I knew our company all too well, and I wanted to show my gratitude and respect) because after 12-years, I always knew that I would schedule a time to sit down with Philip to thank him personally for everything.
We discussed how much the company has grown through more than a decade, all of the different roles I was fortunate enough to be promoted into, and this was the time that I received the absolute greatest professional compliment one could.
As I sat in Philip's office, we spoke for nearly an hour if memory serves me correctly, which for a COO of a national television network and a CEO of two separate businesses is quite amazing that he would let calls go unanswered! I asked him, "do you remember when you interviewed me nearly 12-years ago and asked, 'where you see yourself in five-years?' and I didn't have an answer for you? Well, Philip, I just want to thank you personally, because by taking that chance on me, I am forever grateful because that chance and decision put me on a career path that I would never had contemplated."
Looking back at me across from his desk was when I received the largest compliment as he looked me directly in the eyes and said, "Troy, I feel that I should be the one thanking you! Every single position we have promoted you to throughout the years, not only did you do an incredible job, but you surpassed my [and our] expectations!"
After hearing this, I was completely speechless! All I could do was smile. Stand up. And, shake his hand. He also told me that wherever this journey may take me, that if I do end up returning to Colorado on a more permanent basis that I should contact him first, and that again showed me the type of CEO I knew I wanted to be in the future. Therefore, thank you again Philip for everything that you have taught me both directly and indirectly!
Even though Mark lives and works primarily out of Dallas, Texas, there was always a constant exchange of emails that he was always included on and responded to as he insisted on being heavily involved in all decision-making process of our network. And, throughout the years I learned a great deal from watching his interviews, hearing his take on controversial business tactics and strategies, one that comes to mind is how he complete shook up the current Hollywood model and all of the major studios with his Day-and-Date-Release (Simultaneous Release), since he owned companies that allowed him to produce a film, market it, distribute it in his own chain of national theaters (Landmark Theaters), premiere the film on our sister channel HDNet Movies, and consumers could purchase the film via Amazon and other online resources.
This completely challenged the traditional model of how films were released in theaters where after months it was released for consumer purchase and filtered down through the premium cable channels and then after more months or possible a year or more it eventually would be seen on broadcast television. This still continues to be the case today as Netflix and other networks are continuing to change the face of both broadcast television and the entertainment industry as a whole, which, I of course continue to follow from time to time.
I feel that I am very much of an observational entrepreneur. One that is highly analytical and methodical. I am constantly pausing to quietly observe and study various business models, both those that have been successful and especially those that have failed!
I feel that I must give both Philip and Mark a lot of credit for the fact that the businesses I have started in life have all been profitable within a seven-day period with limited partners and investments of no more than $100 per partner. Also, my last business venture had more than a 60% profit margin with extremely low overhead costs and my former partner fought me on many of the business models I had to convince him of in order to be both relevant and grow the business. This model has been something I've continued to develop and I've also learned the value of branding and adapting to the ever-changing global market of international business. Several others in the past have tried to take my successful businesses and models by recreating them without success, and again I've learned from some of the very best business owners and therefore by working hard and understanding these systems has also helped to ensure the protection of my own entrepreneurial ventures for the most part.
I wish I had access to some of the direct quotes from Mark from our interview years ago, but even without it, I just want to thank Mark for all he did for my career by placing an enormous amount of trust in me! So, Mark how about a ride on your private jet to my next global travel destination, lol? Hit me back on twitter, @troyhendershott :)
Ironically, I first met her husband Mark, while working a broadcast television freelance event with him, and later when Rachael was brought in as the Programming Director for the first all-high-definition television network that was developed by Philip and Mark and launched in September of 2001, we were able to connect the dots.
Rachael is by far one of the hardest working people I have EVER met! She was always in her office early in the morning until late into the evening most days. In my opinion, she often was the driving force that kept our network both on-air with our programming and ensured that our contracts, promos, and commercials were delivered (often last minute).
While I was dubbed as Rachael's number two (even heard whispers of being referred to as a Mini-Rachael, which never bothered me, but I saw a complete compliment) in the Programming Department, our department began with just three of us; Rachael, Kim Allen, and myself. Wow, when I think back to operating a national television's Programming Department with three people where each of us wore many different hats and operated using Excel spreadsheets for years still brings a smile to my face!
A short trip down memory lane, I think about how Kim and I worked together to create our own library system, keeping contracts in binders, a constant pile of HDCam tapes around my office space–often overflowing my bookshelves, and days that I would fill in as an editor, Quality Control (QC) Specialist, calling editors or producers to notify them of the spelling or technical errors I would find, watching Rachael and Kim organize our little team into one that become an extremely efficient tripod!
Well, of course, as our company and network grew so did our staff. I would meet with Rachael daily, often more than once and came to enjoy our daily meetings–I'll never forget even helping her prepare to take the United States Citizenship test, since she was born in America's top hat aka Canada, lol. On a side note, I love to tease my Canadian friends, and I'll never forget when I called my traveling mate Krista Braun a top hat. When she asked what that meant, and I told her that Canada is just America's top hat, without skipping a beat through her wit and humor she said, "well, that's because it's where America keeps it's brains!" Ouch! haha. I had to laugh and give her props for such a quick and witty comeback, aye!
Returning back to our topic, the other very memorable moments of the previous chapter in my in life of broadcast television that I enjoyed were our weekly staff meetings, and was honored to be entrusted with such responsibilities, including being there to coordinate the last NASA Space Shuttle launch of the current era, since Rachael was on vacation and the shuttle launch had been scrubbed numerous times.
I'll never forget that as I was out at happy hour with a few friends, Tim and Miriam Laws, telling them of my future plans to leave my job I received a phone call from our TV Host, Greg Dobbs, where he told me he had just came out of a meeting with NASA in Florida and that there was a 30% chance the shuttle would launch in the next 24-hours or so.
Immediately, I sprung into action–of course taking a page from the good ole Rachael playbook–and apologized to my friends as I stepped outside to make a variety of phone calls to all of the executives that needed to be notified. I told all of our Department Heads that I was calling a meeting for tomorrow morning to discuss our course of action.
I'll never forget that in our meeting, I took the chair, normally reserved for Rachael, that was at the head of the conference room table and began going around the table confirming with each of our department heads; I ensured we had our graphics packages prepared for all scenarios, asked our Senior Engineers if our satellite test had been completed, discussed details with our Director of Operations, requested all Promos were completed and given to Master Control, and of course confirming and answering any questions my staff may have had to ensure we were all prepared. Even at one point, Philip Garvin, was walking by and noticed that all of the Department Heads were in the conference room as I was running this meeting and popped his head in and said, "It looks like this may be important, should I be joining this meeting?" After briefly telling him what it was about even telling him that he's welcome to join us, he decided that it was under control and quickly left. Once again, this simple gesture demonstrated how much trust and faith Philip had in myself as both a professional and as someone to lead such a meeting.
I'll never forget, however, that while conducting this meeting, at the end of the table Dan Farley our head of the Promos Department was sitting there and smiling, and it's as though I could tell what he was thinking. I felt as though he was thinking, 'One day Troy, when Rachael decides to retire or is promoted, you will be taking that chair and fully running the Programming Department,' but all I could do was smile back thinking, 'wow no one has any idea that in just a matter of months I'll be giving my notice, resigning from my career.' The reason I mention this story is because it just goes to show how well Rachael prepared me throughout the years and how much I learned from her. I give her full credit for SOOO very much of the development of my work ethic and all of the professional organizational skills she taught me.
I remember how some (unnamed individuals that no longer are with the company) would ask me, how I could work for Rachael? Because, they thought she was very demanding like a pit bull. I told them easy. It's because; one, we have worked together for more than a decade and two, she is the driving force of our network to keep us on-air and while she can be demanding that is a good thing, because she knows how to lead and motivate others by setting a high-standard for herself she in turn expects the same in our own department. I couldn't agree more, and as I continue to both be offered and seek out entrepreneurial ventures I've learned to continue to hold myself to a high-standard as well as doing the same toward others, whether that be business partners or business ventures.
This is important, because while I've worked with other businesses and partners throughout my entrepreneurial ventures, one thing I've learned from her is to reward your staff and NOT to stifle other's motivation. There are times you need to crack the whip and there are times that you need to be a coach. This can be a difficult challenge to balance for many people, especially business owners. I know that when my former business partner was both stealing money from myself and our other employer, while at the same time tearing down my own motivation, it made me realize how completely opposite he was from Rachael and gave me more respect for her and that I needed to move on from this business partnership.
Therefore, in closing, because otherwise I will keep writing more and more about Rachael and I need to get going on my day, as I'm still both a traveler and an aspiring entrepreneur that has clients waiting on me even though I've began this morning before the sun came up! I just want to continue to thank Philip, Mark, and Rachael once more for all of the amazing and wonderful qualities they have taught me and close with a quote from John F. Kennedy, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."