Photo: Xhanatos via Flickr
The woman right next to me was alive one second, then a taxi came up on the sidewalk of 42nd Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, hit her and veered off and now the woman was dead. This happened on the first or second day of my work when I started at HBO. I tried to call 911 in the payphone (there were still payphones in August, 1994) and then I had to go. The woman was dead.And I had to go to work.
I loved HBO like I would love a parent. I wanted them to approve of me. And kiss me as I went to sleep at night.
Before I got the job offer to work there I would watch HBO all day long. My friend Peter and I would watch HBO or MTV for 10 hours straight. I’d go over his house around 1pm in the afternoon and by 10pm we would look at each other and say, “what the hell did we just do”. Everything from the “the Larry Sanders Show” on HBO to “Beavis & Butthead” on MTV. We couldn’t stop. I loved the product. I wanted to work there.
You have to love the current output of the company. If you work at HBO, love the shows. Watch every single show. No excuses. If you work at WD-40, know every use of WD-40. Make up a few more that nobody ever thought of.
If you work at Otis Elevators, understand all the algorithms for how it decides which floors to stop on when. If you work at Goldman Sachs, read every book on the history, study every deal they've done, know Lloyd Blankfein's favourite hobbies and how he rose through the ranks. You have to love the product the way Andre Agassi loves playing tennis or Derek Jeter loves playing baseball.
(one of the best shows ever: ben stiller, sarah silverman, judd apatow, garry shandling, etc)
When I started at HBO I would every day borrow VHS tapes from their library. I watched every show going 10 years back. In my spare time I'd stay late and watch TV. I'd watch all the comedians. I even watched the boxing matches that initially made HBO famous. Which leads me to…
When my first company, Reset, was acquired by a company called Xceed, I learned the history of the mini-conglomerate that Xceed was created out of. There was a travel agency for corporations. I visited them in California.
There was a burn gel company.I visited them and met all the executives and learned the technical details how the gel was invented. There was a corporate incentives company. I met with them to see if any of their clients could become my clients.
At HBO, I learned how Michael Fuchs (the head of HBO Sports at the time. Later CEO of HBO) in 1975 aired the first boxing match that went out on satellite. And how Jerry Levin (the CEO of HBO, later CEO of Time Warner) used satellites to send the signal out to the cable providers.
The first time that had ever happened. Ted Turner had been so inspired by that he turned his local TV affiliate, TBS, into a national TV station, and the rest became history.
Your entire job in life is to make your boss look good. You don't care about yourself. You only want your boss to get promotions, raises, etc. Remember, you can never make more than your boss. So the more he makes, the better he does, the better you will do. It's the only way to rise up.
Work hard, give him full credit for everything you do. Don't take an ounce of credit. At the end of the day, everyone knows where credit belongs. But even then, thank him for everything and direct all credit back to him (or her). Here's how you make your boss look good:
- Get to work two hours before him. If that means you have to wake up and go in at 5am then do it. Two extra hours of work a day is an extra 500 hours of work a year. None of your co-workers can compete with that.
- Walk with him to his car, train, etc when he leaves work. You need to know his goals, his initiatives, his plans, his family troubles, etc.
- And, again, give him full credit for everything. And thank him regularly for the opportunity to do the work you are doing.
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