Published on: September 4, 2014
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe. This is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I'm coming to you today from San Francisco, a city that I've always loved … and not just for all the usual reasons. You know, the streetcars, the romance, the restaurants, the easy access to Napa and Sonoma, the resonances of movies such as Bullitt, The Conversation, and The Maltese Falcon, and, of course, the chilaquiles at Cafe Zoetrope. All the usual stuff.
But there's another reason. San Francisco happens to be the place where something very important happened in my career trajectory. I want to tell you about it, under the subject line, "The Power of Belief."
About 25 years ago, I was working as a writer for a magazine that covered the supermarket industry. I was approached by the producers of "Supermarket Insights," which was a division of Maclean Hunter Media, which owned Progressive Grocer, to work for them as a writer, producer and on-camera reporter for a video program that went out monthly on VHS tape to senior executives all over the world. (VHS tapes? Remember those days?)
Because I'm a very smart guy, I rejected the job offer. I thought print was the way to go, and wasn't convinced that there was much of a future in video.
Some months later, while we are all attending what I recall was a NAWGA meeting here in San Francisco, they asked me to meet again. They hadn't been able to fill the slot, and I think they came back to me because I had an unusual skill set - no visible scars, I'd studied TV and film in college, I was used to getting up in front of cameras and audiences, and I knew a little something about the industry they were covering.
We met for breakfast. This time, however, they brought out the big guns - a fellow named Hal Clark, who was the senior vice president of the company then charged with oversight of the video division. The thing about Hal was, having been given this responsibility, he took it very seriously. He had no background in video, so he did an enormous amount of research and became a total believer in video as a communications tool. And when he talked to me about the company's future and my future at that breakfast, he did it with an evangelical fervor that I found hugely persuasive. He believed totally, and made me believe. Totally.
The funny thing is that if you quizzed Hal Clark and me about 100 different subjects, we'd probably disagree on 98 of them. But in talking to me that morning in San Francisco a quarter century ago, he had on his side the power of belief, and the power of persuasion.
I said yes to Hal Clark. And when I said yes, I positioned myself so that years later, when the internet beckoned, I believed and was ready to act.
Maclean Hunter eventually sold the company, and somewhere along the line, the financial types who bought it decided that video had no future, so not only did they close down the division, but they threw out videotapes that in essence were a vivid historical record of some fascinating times for the food industry; they not only had no respect for the future, they had no respect for the past. I ended up working on a website called "IdeaBeat," which had its own problems and ended up being a debacle … but when that all went south, I decided that it was time to strike out on my own. And MorningNewsBeat was born.
It all happened, I think, because of the power of belief, and really the power of Hal Clark's belief, which had an enormous influence on my life and career.
And, here's one illuminating postscript. I recently met a fellow who was hired for an entirely different business by - you guessed it - Hal Clark, and he'd had exactly the same experience, persuaded to make a major career move by Hal's total and complete passion for the business at hand.
So sure, when I come to San Francisco I fall in love with the city all over again for the usual reasons. But there's also a soft spot in my heart for this city because it was here that my career and life took a turn for the better. All because of the power of belief, and the ability to communicate it.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: