Turner to GSB students: ‘Work like hell and advertise’

April 22, 2010, 1:04 a.m.

Media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner spoke on Wednesday afternoon at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) as part of the school’s student-run View from the Top speaker series.

Turner, 71, is the founder of CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network. He is also active as a philanthropist, having donated $1 billion to create the United Nations Foundation.

“One thing that should be abundantly clear is that when Ted Turner does something, he does not do it meekly,” said GSB Dean Garth Saloner ’81 M.S. ’82 Ph.D. ’82 in his introduction.

Turner to GSB students: 'Work like hell and advertise'
Ted Turner, media mogul and philanthropist, addresses an audience at the GSB Wednesday afternoon, providing life advice in a conversational tone. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

Turner kept the conversation casual and humorous, insisting that students address him as “Ted.”

The discussion, moderated by second-year MBA student Jason LeeKeenan, covered a variety of topics, including how to succeed in business.

“It’s a lot of work,” Turner said. “You’ve got to have a good concept of what you want to do … the secret of success in business is early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.”

The conversation moved to Turner’s work with the United Nations Foundation and his views on government.

“We’re going to have to get our government to work better…they have to multitask,” Turner said. “Why can’t they do two or three bills at one time?”

Turner also stressed the importance of tackling global climate change, saying, “It’s time to say goodbye to coal and oil.”

“We can’t really afford to lose this one,” Turner said. “The planet’s collapsing all around us.”

Turner also emphasized the importance of playing by the rules in business and getting out of debt.

“Aim in your business career and in your life to be out of debt by the time you’re 60,” he said.

Before taking questions from the audience, Turner paused to recite memorized passages from Thomas Macaulay’s “Horatius” and Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” highlighting the importance of honor, courage and humility.

Asked if the advent of the 24-hour news cycle was a positive or negative development, he said it depended on how the cycle was used.

He contended that CNN sought to “tell the truth in a nonthreatening way” and “seek out leading proponents of both sides and let viewers decide.”

“Ted Turner is awesome,” said first-year MBA student Jason Lin after the event.

“We were just enjoying how honest we was,” added Dan Nord, also a first-year MBA student.

Ashish Nagar, a first-year MBA student, said he had been coming to View from the Top for the past two quarters and liked that it was “more personal” and “focused toward a student audience.”

Before concluding, Turner said he considered the founding of CNN his greatest accomplishment and the failure of his marriages his biggest regret.

“I’ve had a great life and I’m having a great life right now,” Turner said.

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