Malcolm Gladwell started off the Opening General Session with a ten-minute address. He told the story of David Sarnoff and how he convinced RCA to broadcast the Dempsey-Carpentier fight in 1921 and sparked a new medium. The cable industry and other businesses are filled with such entrepreneurs.
Gladwell said there were three key points that we ought to focus on.
- Some challenges seem so enormous that we imagine they will take take a long time and a lot of resources to address. In fact (as addressed in his book The Tipping Point), there can be key moments — as with the broadcast of that boxing match — that can tip the scales and bring rapid change.
- You need to frame the issue properly. What are the real challenges our industry faces? What business are we really in? As Discovery founder John Hendricks said later in the discussion, things might have been different years ago if the broadcasters had realized they were in the content business and that delivery method wasn’t important.
- What gives a person the power to affect change is not authority or money, but having social power and vision. The cable business is filled with such people, some of whom were on the panel, such as Hendricks, Gerry Laybourne, Brian Lamb, and Bob Miron.
So, let’s keep developing sticky products and services that grab our consumers, have a vision of our future with advanced services, understand what business we’re in and what our customers expect, and keep letting our best and brightest do their thing.