Executive Chairman of Viacom
In my business career, I frequently turn to Ace Greenberg of Bear Stearns. I've known him for well over 15 years. In connection with all the transactions in which I have been involved, starting with the Paramount acquisition, Ace was one of my advisors. He has consistently advised me that you must follow your own instincts, rather than the views of naysayers or others who see the world in a different way.
I put that advice into practice with Viacom. I had a terrific battle -- most people forget it -- a really vicious battle with Terry Elks for Viacom. People said at the time that I overpaid. They said MTV was a fad. They said Nickelodeon would never make it. I knew so little at that time about our businesses. But I saw MTV not as just a music channel but as a cultural channel, a generational channel, and a channel that could travel around the world. As for Nickelodeon, my instincts as a parent and as a grandparent told me, What's more important to people than a kids' channel? My instincts also told me that children are pretty much the same all over the world. They have the same issues with their parents, with their teachers. Everyone said I overpaid. My investment was $500 million. And even at the low price of our stock today, my stock is worth many, many billions. And that is a great illustration of why Ace's advice has been so valuable.
What happens when you ask 21 luminaries from all walks for the one piece of advice that got them to where they are today?