There have been a number of articles in the past few days speculating and debating whether the former CEO of the Walt Disney Co., Michael Eisner may become the next chairman of the Tribune Co. The LA Times reported yesterday this news citing several people had knowledge of the situation.
The Chicago Tribune Co. has been in bankruptcy protection for the last 20-months with Sam Zell at the helm and numerous investors looking to get out of a complicated situation and make some money. If Michael Eisner did lead this company out of bankruptcy you can count on some sweeping changes being made at the Tribune.
Always, a colorful figure, Eisner was born in Mt. Kisco, New York to a well-to-do lawyer and investor, where he was raised on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Eisner’s parents were strict and rained his consumption of TV and movies. Eisner enrolled in Denison University as a pre-med student, but quickly found his passion for English literature and the theatre.
He got his start in entertainment in a summer job as a page at NBC studio in New York. He’s a classic example of how important the summer intern jobs are to a path in a career. After graduation he returned to NY as an FCC logging clerk with NBC and within six weeks he moved to the Programming department at CBS.
Unhappy with his work he sent out hundred’s of résumés trying to find a place in media and received just one response, but it was a great one from Barry Diller who worked in the programming department at ABC. Diller liked Eisner and lobbied for him to be hired as the Assistant to the National Programming Director. He got the job and worked there for two years. The rest is history and Eisner was on his way to become one of the most significant media moguls in recent history.
Looking at Eisner’s climb to the top of entertainment it is apparent how determined he was to follow his passion. He built a network from a young age finding mentors along the way and rewarding other’s that helped him get to the next level. He wasn’t afraid to take risks, still isn’t, and lives with the repercussions of his decisions.
In 2004, Eisner relinquished his post as Chairman of Disney and as CEO in 2005. In his 21 years at Disney he transformed a film and theme park company with $3 billion in enterprise value into an international multimedia valued at $60 billion. His is a dominant figure in the entertainment industry.
Whether you like his style or not, you can’t ignore his success, wherever he goes. This man doesn’t take No for an answer and adds value to everything he touches. I like his style; bold and non apologetic. He sets the rules and others follow. We’ll see if the Chicago Tribune is ready for change, because if Eisner becomes CEO, major change will come! Tighten your seatbelts, Chicago!