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#327 Ted Turner
November 14th, 2023 | E327

What I learned from reading Ted Turner's Autobiography. 


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(9:00) My net worth dropped by about 67 million per week, or nearly 10 million per day, every day for two and a half years.

(10:00) Once to drive home a point about the difficulties of attracting good loyal employees he told me: Jesus only had to pick 12 disciples and even one of those didn't turn out well.

(10:00) Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise .

(11:00) Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Founders #141)

(13:30) The problem isn't getting rich, it's staying sane. — Charlie Munger

(17:00) I learned a lesson that would stick with me throughout my career. When the chips are down in the pressure's on it's amazing to how creative people can be.

(20:00) My father always maintained many of the different billboard businesses as separate legal entities. (He didn’t want to dilute ownership of his main company and separate entities allowed for periodic reorganization to offset capital gains liabilities.

(20:30) When you own an asset your job is to maximize its value.

(23:00) He combines the assets he has in a way his competitors can not.

(24:00) The more I learned about TV stations the more I realized that ours was a disaster. Of the 35 people who were on the payroll when we took over only two were still there a year later —the custodian and the receptionist.

(25:00) Ted Turner believed in the power of television more than almost anybody else.

(30:30) My dad taught me early on that longterm relationships with your customers and partners are very important. You never know how the guy who you're friendly with today might be able to help you tomorrow.

(31:00) Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business by Mark Robichaux. (Founders #268)

(32:00) What other people in his industry sees as a threat, Ted sees as an opportunity.

(37:00) These issues were all unchartered territory. All of us, the regulators, the broadcasters, the program suppliers and the leagues were sorting things out on the fly. I was working as hard as I could. I'd go all out during the day, working on sales, distribution, regulatory issues, whatever the battle happened to be, and I'd worked right up until it was time to fall asleep. I had a pull down Murphy bed in my office and I would literally work until the point of total exhaustion. Then I'd put my head on the pillow at night worried about problems. Then I'd wake up and spend the entire next day trying to solve them.

(44:00) One of the most important ideas in the book is the power of Belief: Clearly the company for whom the economics of 24 hour news would have made the most sense with a big three broadcasters. They already had most of what was needed: studios, bureaus, reporters, anchors. They had everything but a belief in cable.

(45:00) I'm going to be a billionaire. And here's why. I'm going to put this station up on a satellite and I'm going to get a news thing going. Sports, movies and news, 24 hours a day, all over the world. He said this in 1976.

(46:00) Henry Ford didn't need focus groups to tell him that people would prefer inexpensive, dependable automobiles over horses. Alexander Graham Bell never stopped to worry about whether people would prefer speaking to each other on a phone.

(49:00) I'm always convinced that one of the reasons that I've been successful is that I've almost always competed against people who were bigger and stronger, but who had less commitment and desire than I did. For Turner Broadcasting this dispute meant everything. We had to win.

(52:00) Ted’s Superstation idea is printing money: $177 million in revenue and $66 million in profit. This is in the 1980s!

(53:00) It would be 13 years before we faced another 24 hour news channel.

(57:00) He has a keen understanding of how to combine assets to create an advantage that no one else has.

(58:00) The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History by William C. Rempel. (Founders #65)

(58:00) Genius has the fewest moving parts. Never get into deals that are too complicated.


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