A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

I had just returned from a whirl-wind tour of Europe. Six cities in 14 days. As a young American man in his twenties, I didn’t appreciate how old everything looked. Rome (ancient), Paris (Eiffel tower-so what?) Berlin (grim), London (too proper), Amsterdam (where does all the water go?), Copenhagen (beautiful blond girls with blue/green eyes – don’t remember anything else :) Why didn’t I stay?

I got on the bus in New Jersey on my way to what I expected to be a very exciting job – salesman for a television program distribution company, on Park Avenue, New York City. Once in the city, I proceeded on two more buses until I reached Park Avenue and 59th street. Standing on the corner looking south, I had to inhale as my breath was taken from my chest. Park Avenue was split in the middle by a series of grass islands between each numbered street, all the way to 43rd street, where  the view was blocked by the old Pan Am building strattled across the avenue. Both sides of the islands had canals laid with black asphalt – one going south, the other north. As my eyes were drawn south they were pulled up from the street to reveal each side of the avenue’s glass sky scrapers standing proudly, glistening in the sun.

“My God – this is America!”  I said to myself. In one moment, I realized what a great country I lived in. I wanted to run to my new job which was in a 38 story sky scraper on the left-hand, or east side of this great throughoufare, on fifty-third street. It was one of the great new buildings – The Seagrams building.

I took my time walking down the avenue and as I looked up at all of the sky scrapers. I couldn’t believe how may sales opportunities awaited me. I imagined myself spending a month alone making calls on just one street.

As I approached my new place of employment, I marveled at the steps leading up to a plaza with dual water fountains welcoming me to revolving doors and marble floors in an expansive lobby. A sign pointed to the entrance of one of the city’s Power restaurants: “The Four Seasons.”  I would later be mildly scolded for entertaining potential clients at my “Power Luncheons.” On any given day, you were lunching with the city’s power brokers, celebrities and sports stars. I decided quite quickly that I liked this life.

Much copied but not matched, the Seagram Building is generally recognized as the finest example of skyscrapers in the International Style.

The elevator whisked me up to the 36th floor and my new office. I loved it. It looked out over the entire city. The man who owned Sterling Communications, Inc., also owned Sterling Movies. He was known to everyone as “Chuck”,  or Charles Dolan. Before I was hired, I had to pass a screening test by a sales psychologist, something unheard of at this time. Two weeks later I received a call that I had passed, and could report to work the following Monday.

Sterling Communications also owned Manhattan Cable (now Warner Cable) and Chuck was in the process of laying millions of feet of cable underneath Manhattan’s sidewalks and streets. It was an enormous task, frought with political backlash, not to mention kazillions of dollars in financing. In these early days, I could sense that it was a touch-and-go undertaking. I can still vividly remember my first comments, “What is this guy crazy?”

Manhattan cable went to hotel rooms in those early days, and the company had a difficult time getting anyone in a hotel room to watch what was essentially a news ticker. And then came along Michael J. McCurdy with an idea that would transform the world of cable. I am sure that with this idea alone, Chuck Dolan would make me a vice president. After spending several days flirting with his secretary, I gave her a note for Mr. Dolan…would she please pass it on to him. She smiled, and said yes!

Weeks went by before I got the courage to ask her if he had seen it. Yes, he had.

That was it – nothing else. How could he not see the benefit of having “Live Burlesque” on his channel in hotel rooms! Surely every man visiting New York could not wait until he registered at his hotel. The press would have a field day. I consoled myself by rationalizing that he was just too busy to get back to me. :)

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:  In 1972, Mr. Dolan founded Home Box Office Inc (HBO) the first premium programming service in the cable television industry. After selling Home Box Office to Time-Life, Inc. (now Time Warner), he organized Cablevision Systems Corporation on Long Island, and has spearheaded many of the company’s advancements. In 1986 he took the company public, and since 1992 the stock has risen by 400%. Estimated worth is 2.3 billon dollars.

Oh yeah, he also owns Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, NY Rangers, and Radio City Music Hall. Me? I was wooed away a year later to a television production company as a producer. I loved every minute in a long career. Now?  I’m writing this blog :) If only Chuck had read my note :)

Mike McCurdy, Founder/Publisher   HealthNewsDigest.com

Tell the Truth – Are You Thrilled About All of This?

November 16, 2008 by Michael McCurdy · 2 Comments
Filed under: Commentary, Health, Public Service 

Are We Getting “Thrilled to Death?”

“We are thrilled that Kristi is joining us this year as chairperson of our annual Christmas Seals Campaign,” said Bernadette Toomey, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. 

“We are thrilled to have reached this major milestone in creating the new Stanford Hospital,” president and CEO Martha Marsh said.

We are thrilled to provide you with exclusively created formulas that are sure to please you!

France was thrilled with Obama — long before he won — and certainly now that he has. – The Huffington Post.

UK Catholic Bishop: “I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it.”

Drivers are thrilled, as gas prices drop below $2.00

Palestinians Thrilled by Sarkozy Support – Middle East Times

Schmidt says he’s “thrilled” to be re-elected state’s attorney …

Portland Trailblazers: Greg Oden Couldn’t Be More Thrilled With …

London Zoo thrilled by progress of green unicorns – Times Online

Pet Owners Not Thrilled with Poison Food Settlement

The News-Gazette.com: Spokesfamily for Tree of Hope thrilled with …

Marinelli thrilled with vote for new Warren Hills Regional High field

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: We’re thrilled about this NBC …

HAPPY!! – Is anyone else thrilled??? – 7th Nov, 10:20 PM – Nursing …

Indio families thrilled by makeovers at their homes | MyDesert.com …

Military vets thrilled to become U.S. citizens :: CHICAGO SUN …

Jolie-Pitts ‘Thrilled To Be Adding to Their Brood’ – Babies …

Department of Homeland Security Will Be Thrilled…

U.S. Envoy “Thrilled to Return to Qatar” – U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar

UA Physicists Thrilled at First Beam in Large Hadron Collider …

New citizens thrilled to vote | CITIZEN-TIMES.com | Asheville …

CNS STORY: Catholic University students thrilled to welcome pope …

USA: Amnesty International Thrilled by Constitutional Victory in …

Owners not thrilled with bailout – Jan Norman on Small Business …

Do you remember when everything was “Marvelous?”  Let’s just hope and pray that “Awesome” doesn’t catch on :)

Mike McCurdy – Just Thrilled to be Here :)     HealthNewsDigest.com

Stop the Bus! There’s a Woman Underneath it!

November 10, 2008 by Michael McCurdy · 3 Comments
Filed under: Environment, Health, Public Service 

I was having lunch recently with an old friend of mine, Rocco Sacci, of Sacci PR, at one of our favorite restaurants, Dock’s Oyster Grill on 40th street and Third avenue in Manhattan. We like to eat at the bar, where the bar specials are always a top choice of clams, oysters, chowders and grilled fish. An assortment of cold beers is usually pushed aside by Rocco, who likes a straight up vodka martini served in a frosted bird bath glass, with a slice of lemon tossed in for good measure.

As I was signing the bill, Rocco mentioned to me that he would walk north with me up third avenue to 42nd street and go west, and I would turn and go east to First avenue, and back to my office. As we exited the restaurant, there were hundreds of people on the sidewalks, as it  was only around 2pm, and 42nd street afterall is one of the crossroads of the country. As we were approaching 41st street, for some reason or another, I looked ahead through a sea of people, and watched as a bus pulled into the bus stop at 42nd street. Surely, one of the more mundane scenes blending into the overall staging of life at this time of day. People were exiting the bus, as a short line waited to enter, while throngs of people were crossing the street at all four corners of the intersection. As a woman appearing to be in her fifties was hurrying to get on the tail end of the line, she slipped on the curb and fell to the pavement, rolled off the curb, and slid under the bus with her head resting up against the rear wheel. She lay there stunned, and unable to help herself up, as there was no room to manuver. Amazingly, not one person in the vicinity noticed her as they all were concerned with getting off and on the bus, and crossing the street before the traffic light turned green or red in the intersection.

As the door on the bus was about to close, I began at full speed to dart through pedestrians and started screaming from across the street “Stop the Bus – Stop the Bus!”  Some people started to look at me as if I were just a crazy commuter, trying to halt traffic so that I could get a ride uptown. I kept on screaming until two women in their twenties saw what I was screaming at, and reached down and pulled the woman by her arm closest to them, and got her onto the sidewalk. By this time other people in the crowd started yelling at the bus driver.

The woman, looking embarrased, quickly brushed herself off, thanked the women, and walked away, as did all other commuters and pedestrians. In the seconds that all of this took place, I found myself standing in front of the bus driver who had just set foot on the sidewalk, looked me in the eye and said “What the hell’s wrong with you?”  He got back on the bus, closed the door and drove off. By now, a totally different crowd of people were walking by, oblivious to the scene that just took place.

Rocco ran up to me and said, “Do you know that you just saved that woman’s life?”

Thanks Rocco. Next lunch is on me :)

Mike McCurdy, Founder/Publisher – HealthNewsDigest.com

New York City’s First Marathon – From One Woman to 26,525

New York City’s First Marathon – From One Woman to 26,525

It was a balmy Saturday afternoon one fine spring when I received a phone call from an old high school friend of mine, Jimmy. He had just moved into New York City after a short-lived marriage. After we got past the reminicing, he asked me if I were working out anymore. Jimmy was the captain of our basketball team, and I had labored on our football team. “No, not really. Just elbow bending.”

Jimmy had developed knee problems, and was forced to quit his college team. “Mike, yesterday as I was taking a shower, I felt my butt, and it’s soft as a girls. I couldn’t make a muscle!”  He went on to ask me if I were interested in starting a morning jogging routine. The next morning we began running on an oval track in Central Park, that for me, develped into years or rewarding exercise. Not only did it get me back into shape, but it does wonders for your daily mental outlook.

I started to run the six-mile road that weaves through the park, every morning at 6 am. What do I remember most of those first few years?  There was only one woman brave enough to be in Central Park at that hour running by herself. Most curiously, she ran the entire six-miles with her head down, looking at the pavement. On most occassions I ran with a male friend, and if we came across her, we would run behind her at a comfortable distance, just to let her know she wasn’t alone.

As the years went on, the number of women runners greatly increased, until I noticed in the 90’s, that the number of women running, matched that of men. In the 2007 marathon, the field had 26,525 female runners! 

I ran in two early New York City marathons, underestimating how much training is necessary, and only finished 12 miles, each time. Instead of running 2 miles every day, I would have to run at least six, starting in January. In 1989 I began running six-miles per day, in an attempt to finish the race in November. One-week before the marathon, I caught the flu and was bedridden for two-days. On the morning of the marathon I bundled up and got myself to the start line on the Veranzano bridge. I made it through Brooklyn, Queens, and entered Manhattan at 59th street and 1st avenue. I was totally out-of-steam, but gallantly made my way to 75th street and First avenue, which is exactly the 17 mile mark. On that corner is a famous Irish pub, the Wicked Wolf, which I decided was my finish line. Everybody cheered me as I entered the establishment, and a cold beer was waiting for me!  I chugged it down – then quickly barfed it up…so much for marathons. Since then I just cheer on all of the women :)

Mike McCurdy, Founder/Publisher – HealthNewsDigest.com