After I graduated from BC in 1987, I started working in radio at WHDH in Boston. I was basically a glorified gopher making $5 per hour, but I had the title of “Producer.” Everyone was nice, but I definitely wasn’t treated as someone at the top of the food chain. By the way, I absolutely understood that I was a rookie and had to prove myself, so I worked hard, and was insatiable when it came to taking on more tasks and responsibilities. So much so, that I was noticed by the PM host, Eddie Andelman.
For those of you who are not from the Boston area, or are unfamiliar with Eddie and his show, he is The Godfather of Sports Talk Radio in Boston. He has a thick Boston accent and a passion for sports and food; two things we strongly shared in common. Eddie took a liking to me and my “can do” attitude. I didn’t understand the word “no.” Every time he asked, with no hesitation, I was in “Do Mode.”
Then, as luck would have it, his Executive Producer of 15 Years, Bruce Cornblatt, was offered a job with Bob Costas. Eddie approached station management and requested me for the job. I was three months into the business at the time; the Program Director was hesitant, but he eventually caved in to the request. I became Eddie’s right hand man; he began taking me to every meeting he attended, and introducing me to all the power brokers in Boston. Every day, we met with a new CEO; I sat in the meetings like a sponge, listening to everything that was said, watching facial expressions, and taking in the nuances of the discussion. After the meetings (and usually on the way to grab something to eat), Eddie highlighted things that were said, why they were said, and what the meaning behind the statements represented.
I was the Executive Producer of Eddie’s show for almost 10 years. We did events together, TV shows, live broadcasts from all over the country (and one in Germany), and produced shows from just about every major sporting event in the US. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the experience I was receiving and the situations he allowed me to be witness to were better than any master’s degree or PhD. I was a 22-year-old kid, and Eddie extended the generosity of allowing me to network with the likes of folks that no young kid from East Boston could ever meet on his own. His unselfish attitude in this area is a major contributor to why I was able to develop the business skills I possess today. It wasn’t just what he told me; it was witnessing how all those CEOs operated. I didn’t make a ton of money back then, but I could never have afforded the education I received from him.
One of the power brokers I met early on was Jack Connors, the CEO of Hill Holiday, one of the largest advertising firms in the country. I remember eating lunch in his office at the John Hancock Tower overlooking the Charles River and the city of Boston (which Mr. Connors basically ran), and getting the feeling from both Jack and Eddie that I was welcome and that I belonged. I’ll tell you, that goes a long way to boosting the business confidence of a kid just out of college. Here’s the amazing part: from that day on, whenever I bumped into Jack Connors, he always remembered who I was (by name) and was unbelievably gracious. After I had started working with the Patriots, I saw Mr. Connors at the Four Seasons in Boston; he stopped, said hello and then proceeded to tell me that he had been following my career. He said that he was thrilled about my success and to keep up the great work. Amazing.
What’s even more amazing is that there is a list of other wildly successful people Eddie introduced me to who have treated me in similar ways as Mr. Connors did. All of the meetings that Eddie took me to built my equity with the folks he was meeting with. Eddie’s mentoring allowed me to make a quantum leap in the world of business. Beyond that, it instilled me with the confidence to be able to take a meeting with anyone, regardless of title or wealth.
I joined Eddie on his radio show the other evening; he said that he was proud of all that I accomplished, never once saying that he was the one who gave me the extra opportunity to succeed. I am very thankful for Eddie’s generosity, and hope that I can live up to his example of what it truly means to be a mentor.
Thank you, E.G.A.!