Dec 5, 2009

Everything I need to know in business I learned from Howard Stern

I've been listening to Howard since I was 12 and I would drive to my dad's work with him. Every once in a while he'd listen to Howard after getting bored with NPR or some other AM station. My dad owned his own printing plant, so he definitely was a fairly savvy businessman and someone who I still to this day view as being on a pedestal that no other can touch. I would imagine even the mere mention of a female admiring Howard will turn a few folks off - some may even decide to stop 'following' me; and I'm OK with that. I suppose this is my coming out party.

I'm 40 now, so that means that Howard has been some sort of influence on me over the past 28 years. Wow. I've never really waivered from my loyalty ~ when he went through his divorce I think I had a little bit of trouble with him because I felt that he confirmed for me what I thought he wasn't. But he's brought himself back to superhero status in my eyes and here's why...

1. Howard is exceptionally loyal. He has had the same core folks with him for years upon years; Fred, Robin & Gary (some know him as bababooey) have been his trusted inner circle for well beyond my years. Even the folks who have only been with him for 20 or less years he stands behind, perhaps even to a fault - but I don't think so. It really is hard to find true leaders that are loyal to their subjects.

2. Howard is strategic & methodical. He could have easily jumped the shark (a John Hine reference) much earlier in his career opting for the quick payout. But he has taken his time - set his sites on the ultimate goal and been very calculating in his approach. I think of the Rolling Stones, who I love by the way, but who have so sold their soul to the merchandising devil they will never get it back. I will always love the Stones' music, but they're a different band to me now than they were before. Howard never sold his soul - if anything he demonstrates the opposite...

3. Howard has integrity. I'm sure this one will provoke the most angst for some. How could I possibly say that Howard has integrity. The joke is actually on those who don't know this. Howard stands for what he believes is right - no matter what. So, when he has a member of the KKK on; he does it because he believes unequivocally in freedom of speech and far be it from him to NOT allow a KKK member to speak because Howard disagrees with their viewpoint (and I know that he does indeed disagree). I believe that it's hard to be certain your position is the correct one if you don't actually hear the other sides point of view. I would imagine there are very few opposing points of view, if any, that Howard wouldn't at least listen to.

4. Howard is shrewd. He is a shrewd businessman. Who else would role the dice on their own career and leave a pretty lucrative gig for some unknown "satellite radio" idea? Howard bet his brand on that idea and I think it paid off. Sirius may not be the cash cow that Howard envisioned (what is nowadays); but it has offered him the freedom to be exactly who he truly is. I'm sure the persona he represents on the air is very different from his normal life. He's married; he has 3 daughters; and he's self conscious to the point of being recluse - all very different from who he is on the air.

Howard has always inspired me to aim for the stars but even more so, to identify what it is I stand for and never waiver. That approach has always served me well and for that I'm very thankful. Knowing him, he'll see this at some point and I sincerely hope he knows that I mean everything I say. Thank you, Howard. No matter what people say, there are so many of us who have been influenced by you in a truly profound way.