Hello and welcome to South Beach Sessions, doing it a little bit differently over the course of a few episodes here, want you to get to know the man who is now running our dysfunctional little family here, the CEO of Meadowlark Media, John Skipper, my friend, over many episodes. We are going to show you who the new CEO is. And this is the second of those episodes from the first. If you have not caught the first, you can get it.
But if you have caught the first, I thought this one was better than the first one in terms of telling you what it is that we're going to lay out here in front of you as we build out the pirate ship. Here is our friend and the new CEO, John Skipper.
First, in terms of messaging, there are a lot of people here, a lot of sports media reporters who are interested in what the hell you and I are doing together because nobody knows anything. In fact, you and I have only talked around the fringes of some of this stuff that we're doing. So this is the first glimpse some people are getting into this and into you because they don't really know you. You for all of your power, you can have some anonymity because it's not a face that's on television a whole lot.
Yeah, it's funny. I used to believe that I had the greatest job in the world in which I was never recognized in public. And that was actually a quite a great luxury. Right. I've been with you and I've seen both joy you get from encountering some of your fans and community, but also the seen with a number of people I worked with, the sort of interruption that that provides your ordinary life. I never had that ordinary life interrupted.
I'm thrilled to be able to come on and have a direct conversation and then relationship with your fans. One of the things that excites me the most about being with you is that I know that your legion of followers, friends, colleagues, has a special relationship with you. And I want to make sure it's one of the reasons we're doing these podcasts is that I want to make sure that audience understands what we're doing and understands why. I believe we're going to use what you're doing to leap off and form an even bigger venture.
I've been asked if this was a venture or an adventure, and I believe it is in fact, both. If we want to simply describe what we're doing, we're forming a company. That company is going to be focused, at least initially, on sports content. That company is called Meadowlark. What we're going to do is across all genres of sports, try to create best in class content, whether that be your radio show, the Taj's and Friends podcast, highly questionable television show could be scripted, unscripted, reality or dramatic or comedic.
Episodic content could be documentaries, could be feature stories, could be books. We won't were ever great stories are we want to tell them in a multitude of genres. We're not, however, going to publish them on a platform that's called Meadowlark, but we want to do is to sell them to third parties. And in doing so, and in creating a pipeline of those projects, executing them, selling them, we want to become known as the supplier of choice, the standard bearer for what it means to create sports content.
If you ask people who makes the best animated movies, they say Pixar. If you ask people who makes the greatest sports content out of an independent entity, it's very difficult to think of any names. And that comes in the midst of a moment where there's this extraordinary global bull market in content. There's a void and great companies providing that content to the Netflix is Who Loves Disney, dare I say, ESPN, NBC, Comcast, HBO backs BBC, Sky.
There are a lot of companies that need content. We think sports is generally underrepresented on those platforms. We're going to make that content for them.
So you're a visionary. For those of you who don't understand, you see things that others have not seen. You don't get to the position you were in in sports by accident. So when I ask you, why would you sort of lessen your role at the Zone in a big job, a big sports rights company, what is it that you're seeing here that is value at this time? Now, obviously, you love me and you love us, but you're seeing an opportunity here or you're not.
I am indeed sometimes accused of seeing things that other people don't see sometimes could be a hallucination. And yes, maybe occasionally it's a revelation. About where things might be going, I think it's clear right now that things are going towards streaming services. It was a great pleasure to serve as executive chairman of the zone. As you point out, I'm going to remain the chairman nonoperating of design for some period of time. What I do see is this great void for creating this kind of content.
And I saw it at the largest global support streaming service. Well, we had lots of love rights. We also needed content to complement that. So that helped me see the need there. I am grateful for that. I'm happy to be continuing to have some relationship with that while I do this. Yes, I am doing this partly because I can do it with my friend and I hope that you and I will continue to include other friends. I want to have fun.
You did point out that you thought this might be my last venture. I hope it is my last venture. I've had the great pleasure being in Rolling Stone during its Halcyon Days Spin magazine, Disney Publishing, the Walt Disney Company ESPN during great days at ESPN was dramatic, fun, great creative opportunity, great financial success. I merely helped to sort of build upon what lots of people before me had done at all those places. I did often believe that I understood sort of where things in media trends might be going.
Think about the magazine, the largest sports magazine for years and years and years of Sports Illustrated matter the most to me when I grew up. In terms of sports, what we were able to see there is with the doubt of the Internet and with the ubiquity of SportsCenter, having a news magazine about sports that had happened in the last week was obsolete. It didn't matter. You got all of that information somewhere else. And at that point, reading Sports Illustrated was a habit, not an affection and a necessity.
We created a magazine on ESPN. You were there. The first issue we had was called next because we thought we understood what a magazine and sports could do next. And that was to talk about the future, to to take culture and the world around it and mixed it with sports. This notion that sports existed in some kind of vacuum bubble where the collision of mighty men and women is an end and means up to itself seemed kind of anachronistic to us then.
So we created this new magazine that was a big magazine like Rolling Stone. That's not a coincidence with great photography, graphics, typography, a different kind of sports magazine. Remember, we at one point Dan referred to maps and maps did for meaningless action photographs, which was if we were doing a story on Ricky Williams, which you wrote for us, in which we put on the cover, putting a picture of Ricky Williams running down the field in a New Orleans Saints uniform was a meaningless action photograph.
It didn't tell you anything new. What would tell you something new was spectacular, insightful or clever comedic photography. And we did that. So, yeah, I think that was a moment where you saw something in the future. I went to ESPN dot com and the sports Internet sites were about scores and highlights in HTML text, and I thought that the Internet could be a place for long form journalism and analysis and commentary and great writers. So we invented page two, which had David Halberstam and Bill Simmons and Ralph Wiley and Hunter S.
Thompson. So I don't know. It's what people care about is the great Steve Jobs is it's what they don't know they want. And it is wonderful things. Sometimes I sort of think you're often wrong. Sometimes you're right. That's about my batting average. But when you get it right and go, oh, I think this is what people might like, they don't know they would like it. But I think that's a wonderful phenomenon here. I think that lots and lots of these companies and platforms don't know that they need more sports.
Sports really, really, really matters to people. And I think when you go on these services, you want to see more sports. I think that you're entering a place where a lot of the traditional sports media companies are, I think, to a degree beyond what is necessary. They want to stick to sports and only sports events. And I think there's been an opportunity for somebody else to make that content that complements a sports experience, that connects it to the culture and society of our of our country in the world.
Keep in mind, over several episodes here, you will hear from this man who is building this so that you can understand. And better what this story is and what this company is and when he says that Meadowlark Media is the story of the Songbird ushering in a story to greet a new dawn, that is what we are going for. But is it too ambitious, John, to say that you think we are just this is next.
Oh, I think this is next. I mean, that's what we're trying to do, this and that. We do think we are going to get to be that songbird that greets the new dog. And I think we can build a great company. There are in most areas, there is a standard bearer, somebody that everybody else aspires to be. I do not get a great answer as I go around and ask people who's the standard bearer, who would you call to create that great documentary or who to create that great next form storytelling?
Look, for years we must give credit where credit is due, and that is to mind your previous employer. I to some extent this is not arisen because ESPN has been such a dominant force in the world of sports in the United States. It's been splendid the amount of great content that's come out of there, but there's lots of need for lots of great content that is not obvious being. And we're going to create that. And by the way, I'm unabashed at my admiration and my respect for how I was treated at ESPN, and I would love to create some content from them.
So this is what I'd like to do over the course of several episodes here. I want to talk about you biographically. I want to talk about the industry because you have some keen insights there. I want to do some stuff with you where we cover some of the accomplishments and some of the things you've done, some of the difficult things that have arisen in your career. So let us begin here. Where do you think this entire business is going? Because it's changed a lot since it even you were at ESPN and it wasn't that long ago.
Things seem to be changing really fast. I'm curious, you as a leader in this industry, why didn't it seem like too many people noticed that cord cutting was coming? Like it feels like that was something that escaped some people's attention somehow?
Yeah, I'm not sure it escaped people's attention. I think that some people may have wanted to deny it because the world they lived in was pretty amazing. It is possible that the greatest business model for a media entity ever in existence was ESPN at about twenty twelve because that's when corporate cutting began. But at that point you had most of the American households buying a pay television subscription and ninety five percent of those people got ESPN and ESPN received a monthly distribution fee per subscriber.
That was about four or five times what the next most valuable service got. And add to that, you still had not had the disruption of Facebook and Google and the advertising market. And it was still the heyday of the 30 second branded commercial. And it was no more attractive audience than a sports audience of large groups of disproportionally populated by young adult males who are very attracted to advertisers. So you could sell mass amounts of advertising, you collected the distribution fees and nobody else really followed ESPN's lead.
The other sports media companies remained essentially broadcast weekend distributors of large sports while ESPN had the playing field. That, pun intended to itself, were shocking numbers of years. But it has happened. And when you talk about the dramatically changing landscape, it's not sports. It's all of the way that people consume their entertainment. Right. Roughly speaking, they're kind of four major big buckets of entertainment. There's music, there's general entertainment comedies and dramas and that traditionally lived on broadcast networks and then moved to Netflix and other places.
Then there's news and there's sports where you've already had the music transition has happened. There are no more hard goods. Right? People don't buy the quirky individuals, including myself. People don't buy CDs. I don't buy CDs about records. Still, they get all their music on streaming services. There's a second wave happening, which is that now that there are established music streaming services, they need to differentiate themselves. So they're adding podcast radio still exists, live streaming radio.
My understanding is that possibly. The best current live radio happens at 8:00 to 11:00 in the morning on Danilov Batard. That's right. That's right.
I just heard it it lord a big guy out of a you know, out of a big job.
But, Lord, there was something happening over here that caught his attention, something that happened in music. It's now happening in general, entertainment, Disney, Plus, Hulu, Netflix. And then just last year, you had HBO Max launch Petcock Discovery Plus just announced their intention to create a big streaming service. So everybody is going to get content. Sports will be last because it's complicated technologically to do live streaming the huge concurrent audiences, but it does own.
I got to see firsthand that that is what's going to happen. It's already happened in Japan. It's happened in Germany and Italy. It's going to happen in the US three to five, six years after the current round of sports strikes deals, they'll move to streaming and that's going to create an overwhelming demand for content as all these players vie for dominance or share market or just try to survive. And we hope to supply content for all of those categories.
So, John, what bit of information do you have now that you would have loved to have had in 2012? What could I have told you in 2012 that you would have been like, yeah, I need to be out in front on this that, you know, now, nine years later?
Well, if you could have predicted the exact arc of decline for pay television, it would have been helpful, though it is a misrepresentation to suggest that the people in charge of the Walt Disney Company and ESPN didn't see it coming. We were we had the most information of anybody. We had the most stake of anybody. The question is not, can you predict the future? We could not predict it exactly. But this is not surprising. What is hard to figure is what do you do about it?
And there were, of course, lots and lots of critics who were like, don't they understand what the future is? And the answer is we do not exactly. I think isn't the expression maybe from revelations that you see through a glass darkly, we sell through a glass darkly so we could see what was going to happen, but not in all of its granularity. And what people who were critical seem not to understand was it was the most profitable ESPN was media entity in the history of the world.
And you don't suddenly go, gee, I've been making caramel colored soda water for years and years that the Coca-Cola Company and GE people now sort of think that they want to eat and drink healthier, you know, having all that sugar in something, not a good thing. But what do you do? Quit making it go dip a bucket of oil and sell water because it's healthier. You know, that's the future. You just don't do that, including your public company, which has as its obligation, the responsibility to return value shareholders.
So you don't go, guys, hold on for a decade, you won't see dividends and your stock won't go up. But trust us, the world is changing and we're going to get ahead of it. You don't want to get too far ahead of trends because then you're just too early. Lots of smart businesses are too early. I think that the Walt Disney Company and again, I had my disagreements with them, ultimately parted company, my responsibility, not theirs.
But I actually when you look at a company that is doing it the right way, they are I guess you could say you can predict the future, but you can't necessarily prevent the future is the distinction that you are making. And the thing that you didn't mention there in terms of why it is this was such a profitable business, is that the grand majority of the people paying for ESPN weren't watching ESPN? Correct. Like that is the great secret in the business model is that one hundred and twenty million people were paying for something and one hundred and ten million of them largely weren't watching it.
That's that's I would say, my friend, is a slight misrepresentation of reality. First of all, there were about ninety five million households to be paying for ESPN. And you were correct that in any one moment in time, 90 plus percent of those people weren't watching. So you are you are accurate. However, that wasn't really the point. The point was of those ninety five million households, how many of them thought that ESPN was the most valuable thing they got?
And the answer was that no channel was more important than ESPN. And what matters is not to the distributors, not oh. Ninety five million people are paying and at this moment time, only three million people are watching. It is how many of those ninety five million people would cancel their subscription. If they didn't have this channel available, you understand the distinction. So ESPN earned that money and the beauty of the business model was what we did was we got great content all year long, all the time.
So there was no moment in time at which the consumer could think about cutting it off because, gee, it's August. Well, here comes the opening college football weekend that can't be missed. And here comes the NFL season on Monday Night Football that can't be missed. And here comes the NBA that can't be missed. And by the way, before that, there's the US Open tennis and it's the only place I can watch so Korrell dramatically with anyone who suggested at the time that, gee, they're getting somehow their disproportionate share.
I would have friends. I was on the board of the cable television industry and it would be populated by other people from other networks. And they were friends of mine who were smart people that were good people. And they'd go, it's outrageous that you guys are getting so much money. Our ratings are just as high as your ratings. And I'm like, I know they are. But if your network goes down next week, millions of people don't cancel their subs.
If ESPN goes down next week, they do.
What was the hardest part of that job that you had? What would you identify as the single hardest part? Or and I don't know if this is the same question. What part of that job don't you miss? Because you might have liked some of the hard stuff?
I would say the scale of the job. And it just we were doing near the end of my tenure, eighty five ninety thousand hours of television a year. And since there are only eight thousand seven hundred sixty hours in the year, that is eight or ten hours for every hour, you can't watch it. You can't keep up with it. The physical demands of trying to answer the emails, answer the phone calls. I probably was a little bit too much.
I don't mind being hands on. I just don't hands on everything. So I've probably had hands on too many things. And it deprived me and it was my choice. It was my choice to deprive myself of of deeper friendships, deprive myself. I miss some things with my family. I didn't have any hobbies. I was running around kind of like a meadowlark or a wind blowing hither and thither. And I didn't one stop to enjoy it enough.
I missed other things and I never quite figured out how to manage to have some kind of work life balance. We became friends more deeply after I left. There were more than one reason for that, but it started with when I was there. I didn't have time for friendships. Right. Bill Simmons, who I regard as a friend, speaks eloquently about, gee, John was my supporter and we did things together. And suddenly as he descended in the company, he wasn't there for me and couldn't be.
And he understood it. But it it made it difficult. And that was true with everybody. I'd walk down the halls in Bristol and people would say, do you see the show last night? And I'd be like, oh, my gosh. You know, there happened to be we had about nine networks. I think there were nine at the same time. Right.
Well, we kept getting in trouble, John, because nobody was actually listening to our radio show. The only time that we would get in trouble is when some blog put a headline on something and then all of a sudden the executives were getting the story. It was very clear, John, I got suspended for putting up billboards on LeBron James in Akron when I been talking about it for ten days on the radio. And the reason I got suspended, I was told, is because we didn't give anybody a heads up.
And I'm like, we were talking about it for ten days on the radio. Like, what do you mean? I didn't give anybody a heads up?
Well, you know, my predicament was the same predicament with the other executives at the network. ESPN had a very lean management structure. And you're right, nobody can watch everything and everything. You know that radio is harder to keep up with in television. Right? I had televisions all in my office all the time, but they had the sound off. And so I kind of could see what was happening, but I couldn't hear it. Putting up radio in the office was an impossibility because it would have been like being at a cocktail party and trying to conduct business, particularly with your show.
So, yeah, and and by the way, print probably is even more obscure. We knew on ESPN dot com at one point on ESPN dot com. We were publishing a thousand pages of content a day, a thousand pages, so no, nobody read it. And of course, we had many people who didn't do much reading start with. So we knew when I was just in his dot com, which I was for a couple of years, I knew I would get trouble because nobody was reading so I could see where you're at.
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New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Only restrictions apply. See Draft Kings Outcomes Sports Book for details gambling problem. Call one 800 gambler or an Indiana one 800 nine with it. I'd like to tell people about your history, where it is you came from, how it is you arrived at ESPN and we will get to that over the course of several episodes here. But what are you proudest of having done at ESPN? If you could just name a handful of things that give you the greatest source of pride, they would be what?
Affording the opportunity to be on television to a wider range of people than had been empowered before? It was a priority of mine that we would change the complexion, literally, and the gender, and we succeeded spectacularly. ESPN was the leader in diversifying the sports media world. And when you look at the number of people who came to the network, again, both behind the camera, on the air, on the mike, in the magazine, on the Internet, I'm quite proud of having done that.
And a lot of people wouldn't be far behind. That would be the aggregation of sports rights. Right. When I became the chief content officer in 2005 with the blessing and support of my then boss, George Bodenheimer, we decided that the best way to build ESPN was on live sports rights. And we were going to be very aggressive at aggregating rights. And I had the great privilege to participate in buying all of the U.S. Open tennis and all of Wimbledon tennis and by all but one game with the FCC buying every sports contest for the AC, DC renewing the NFL Monday Night Football package, getting big package regular season games for the NBA, getting for the first time one hundred baseball games on the air.
So I loved aggregating those rights. And then I'm quite proud of all the content initiatives. Be hard not to start with. Thirty four thirty in the documentary business that done really, really good work on sports century, sort of chronicling sort of historical look at different subjects. But in terms of really making films, thirty four thirty marked a new standard. And it is now the standard for documentary filmmaking and story sports telling. And Simmons and Grantland was pretty spectacular.
Five thirty eight with Nate Silver, the undefeated, which Kevin Mariota helped me start, really allowed different kinds of voices and brought different kinds of content to ESPN. We established ESPN Dotcom as the largest Internet site in the world, large sports site. You know, I'm proud of many, many things. Of course, they didn't happen singularly. They happened collectively with a whole bunch of people. So I don't miss they were my accomplishments. They were the company's accomplishments with lots of people.
And the accomplishments were pretty significant. Those are a few. And I'm sure launching the magazine, by the way, I'll answer a question you didn't ask, but which is a question next door, which is one of the things you are most proud of and were the most fun man. Launching the magazine was fun. We were in New York City in some good offices with smart people, a diverse collection of talent. And we got to sit in an office and make up a new magazine that was really fun.
Being in Seattle and doing these become really fun. Launching your television show in Miami, one of the highlights of my career, I felt it was a little too Bristol centric and I could never get you away from that damn Miami Herald. We hired you as a sports columnist at ESPN Magazine. I think in nineteen ninety eight we beat the Herald a couple of years and that began. I think it was about a decade long effort by me to get you to come work and played hard to get with Skipper, who doesn't get a lot of know the most powerful executive in sports I played hard to get.
How hard was it to get this thing built in Miami? Because I'm convinced that no one at Disney knows where this actually is, because if anyone at Disney showed up and saw where we are, I feel like I think they'd flee the premises and say, what the hell? Hoo hoo hoo said this was OK.
Well, there's a couple of funny things about that. You're band, you did play hard to get, but you look, you are hard to get because this will slightly embarrass you. You were extremely loyal and cared about being a Cuban American Hispanic voice in Miami, and you cared about the community and the people there and felt like you had almost an obligation to stay and be there. And I kept trying not because I want to pull you away from Miami.
I did it because I felt like you could. Do the same thing in the entire country, and I can remember being somewhere with you and you're like, well, I don't want to do this, I don't want to move, I don't do this. And I said, I tell you what, then how about I put you oh, you're doing the show from somewhere else. I think in the arts district of Miami, you have a terrible commute.
And I was still trying to get you to come to ESPN full time. I said, how about this? How about we put a studio on South Beach and you can walk to work and you could put your father on the show. And I can't remember what else we did. And my brother doing the I know you kept throwing things on the table that were impossible to say no to is what you did.
And then I remember I was told by somebody in Bristol that somebody else in Bristol had said, there's no studio in Miami. We got a lot of studios based in Bristol. It's crazy to do that. And that angered me because I wanted to do it. And, you know, there's something called a pocket veto, and that is when you're a leader, you tell somebody to do something, they put it in their pocket and just don't do it because they disagree.
They're not willing to tell you they disagree or think it's crazy, but you just never hear about it again. So I forget who I call. But I called somebody and said, I want to find a studio in Miami. I want to find it in the next week and we're going to do it. And I do not really want to have any more discussion. Please get it done. And as you know, it happened very quick after that.
And you were in the Clevelander Hotel in the not many days after that, because I wanted to have an authentic show from Miami. Let people know it's from Miami as the signal that we were the country sports network, not the New England countries, not sports network, but the whole country. That's why I wanted to be more overt that I was coming from Washington, D.C. and I wanted and we did during my tenure. This was not highly opposed.
We did my tenure big office next to the Staples Center in L.A. I felt like we needed not to be tagged with these people up in New England who spend all their time arguing about the Yankees and the Red Sox.
How did you experience I want to go through your points of pride at ESPN one by one. So you're proud of having diversified the voices and then you look up and people have already reported that you and I right now are forming a left leaning company. And you and I haven't actually talked about any left leaning things. All you've done is join forces with someone who is a minority. And now we've both become a left leaning company, even though we haven't had those conversations.
So when that was weaponized, when Trump when basically ESPN became a political organization, it might have happened with Caitlyn Jenner, I don't know. But when it became a political organization, your reaction was what? Were you surprised by it?
Well, first of all, we didn't become a political union accused. Excuse me. You are accused immediately of becoming. You must have been weird. You help Trump himself did it. I don't know if you were there at the time, but Trump himself was basically coming after ESPN because it was easy to. And it was because you had put, you know, Jamal and Michael on SportsCenter six.
We weren't doing anything overtly political, but we were trying to do was draw talent from all places where there are talented people and try to empower people who otherwise would not have been empowered. I don't think that's a political statement. It's interesting to me that it is sometimes seen as a political statement. We also felt like there ought to be tolerance for all human beings again. Oh, my gosh. How did that become political? What do you see? It's peculiar or admirable.
It's admirable that somebody discovers late in life who they are and fully invest themselves in that. When we honor Caitlyn Jenner, that's what we were trying to honor for yourself. Assuming you're not hurting somebody else, why does somebody else object? Why is that political? And of course, the answer is that people can weaponize that action, make you the adversary, and create support for themselves with people who are similarly mistrustful of people who aren't like them or similarly intolerant.
And it's just a mischaracterization. And the far right in this country is quite skilled at labeling things. And suddenly it's the reticle ESPN. It's silly. We were trying to do the right human things and it's at this point a badge of honor for me to have been attacked by this president who made it a four year reign, not of. Good government and stewardship of our country, and I'm going to be the president of all the country. It became a four year reign of polarization, mischaracterisation mocking of people who are different.
Racism, misrepresentation, mendacious mis. And it's it's abominable. It's one of the other things, Dan, that you and I want to do in this in this company is we want to be able to be who we are. And again, I'm not going to allow myself to be mischaracterized by simpletons who think the world is by the West or to say divided to black and white. I think that's kind of how they'd like to divide the world and who are respectful of their fellow human beings.
Maybe maybe I just made a mistake by calling them simpleton's. I should be respectful. They're human beings. They feel about things differently than I do, but I do not misrepresent their point of view.
I will explain to the audience a couple of things about who you are and why it is that I never wanted to work for Disney. I wanted to work for this man and the things that he believed in and the things that he empowered me to do in ways that were obvious and meaningful because he handed down his privilege. And if you saw what we were doing, you saw that we were doing his work the entire time at ESPN, elevating people who might not have had the same kinds of voices to be themselves and to play in the sandbox and to enjoy themselves.
But how and why did you become that way? Where are the landmarks? Why and when did this stuff become important to you? Was it during the rebellious Rolling Stone days or was it some other time? Where do you point to in your childhood, in your upbringing, in your work, where you're like these are the things that for my viewpoints here, I grew up in North Carolina.
I was fortunate to be raised by lovely people. My mom and dad, they were tolerant people. They believed in a time where it was not easy to do so, that we ought to accept other people and who they were and not make judgments because they had a different skin color or because they had a sexual orientation that was different than the majority. And that was lucky for me. But I was raised that way and I was raised in a circumstance which some people want to suggest is far, far in the past.
It's not it was in my lifetime. I grew up in segregation. I spent the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade in a segregated school with white people and black people in Lexington, North Carolina. I went to a separate school not because we made those choices are they make those choices because it was the law. It was the law. You could not play basketball on the same court. When I was nine years old, you could not sit in the same portion of a restaurant.
You could not drink from the same water fountain. And I don't know, I've raised my own children. And what I do know from that is, to some extent, you are who you are when you are born, for you start out and you're stubborn. You're probably going to be somewhat stubborn. You can learn, but it's hard to change who you are. I do believe because of the influence of my parents and for some benevolent something, I grew up believing that I should be tolerant, I should let other people be other people.
I'm not particularly doctrinally religious, but I do believe in something. It is the New Testament. Despite not being religious, I do believe I read more the Bible and lots of people to proclaim their religion. And I believe it is, John, that they say love, faith and hope are the greatest, greatest characteristics. I'm misquoting, but love is the greatest of all these. And somewhere in there says something to the order that you should treat others as you would like to be treated.
That seems like it is called the New Testament. And by the way, I'm not preaching, but the New Testament is the new paradigm for how human beings to treat each other, which stands in contrast to the Old Testament, which was the testament of a different world. This was the testament that was supposed to lead people to figure out how to get along. And I believe that while not believing in this sort of organized religious part of it, and my parents had great influence and living in a segregated society, I think I understand how hurtful and how painful that was.
Again, I grew up and I've told this many times, I grew up in a society where if a ten year old white boy was walking down the sidewalk and a an adult black man was walking towards him, that adult black man had to avert his eyes. Get out of the way and humiliate himself in order not to run afoul of the mores of the time. So anyway, I think sort of that sort of for me. And then I went to work in New York in nineteen seventy eight, and I didn't know it exactly at the time, but it was an intolerant environment.
Women were mistreated and were verbally harassed on a sort of regular basis. And I grew up in a time where when you looked at who the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were at, the boards still drew some largest. It all came from the same damn place. And it doesn't seem right. And by the way, I grew up a very, very proud American and continue to think I think we've got some corrective action to take. That is the greatest, freest, most productive place in the world.
It's a great place to be. I remember fondly and I think post Berlin Wall, there was a point in time where if you asked the seven and a half billion, I think that's about right, maybe a little different. It happened to the world. See if you had to go somewhere else in the world. So maybe you're asking everybody except Americans, where would you go? And the overwhelming plurality of them would have said, I want to go to the United States.
That's where you can be free and find success and take care of your family. And that's what your parents did when they left Cuba and came to Miami, made a life for themselves, have a son who made a success for himself, two sons who made a success for themselves, had freedom. And I think is what bothers both you and I is, you know, to what extent have the past four years tarnished that we were the shining light on the hill?
That's what John Calvin said. I think it was 17th century Massachusetts that the America is a shining city on the hill. And I think that's what we should be. I think when we are that we are tolerant and everybody gets to live on the hill, not just the people who came from Western Europe and whose skin is pale.
Your father was a postman, right? You grew up without very much money, correct. I never thought of this growing up without much money. But my dad yeah, my dad for most of my childhood was a walking mailman. He was the guy in that light blue shirt and those dark blue trousers with a pair of skinny legs like mine with a leather satchel on his shoulder. Who brought you your mail? And my mom, who grew up Charlotte, North Carolina, was multi tasking, very talented woman who was a seamstress for people to make money.
She was a very good watercolor painter and gave painting lessons. She, without an accounting degree, did taxes for people in our house. And my parents were the embodiment of the American dream. My father was a veteran of World War Two, came home. The GI Bill allowed him to get a job in the civil service, which was the post office. They made a better life. And my brother and I were first generation college. We both were the University of North Carolina and Opportunity my parents did not have, but which they made available to us.
So anyone who wants to suggest that I'm not a patriot, that I'm not an American, that I don't love the flag, I do. And I was raised with that and my parents were patriots, but they wanted this country to be that shining city on a hill. That's my ambition for this country as well. Again, I spent a lot of last year in Europe working for a company based in London own. And you run into a lot of people who wonder what's happened in this country.
I find myself in the frequent position of defending it and suggesting that we're in a moment of aberration and that we will be that city again. By the way, I live in that city now. I do think New York is to some extent a bit of that city. We live in New York. Nobody expects to look around and not see people from everywhere in the world of all cars and colors and ethnicities and sexual orientations. I live in West.
I live in Greenwich Village, and I see a lot less judgment than I do. Other places, people, large parts of the country like to make fun of New York. I think New York is a pretty spectacular place. I Miami a pretty spectacular place. People get along in Miami to get love perfectly. No, but is it is it where we should be is where we should be going. I hope you're enjoying listening to John Skipper as much as I am.
Some of these questions that I'm asking him, I have not asked him in our friendship. And it is rare to sort of get to see the insides of what being the most powerful man in sports used to feel like. And so now he's coming over here and running this ragtag outfit. We will have parts three and four for you, if you like what it is you've heard. If you want to bail on this, I certainly understand. If you think it's self-involved, if you think it's too much.
Look at me, but I want you to understand the nature of this partnership, and so we're introducing a guy in four parts and I don't think we've ever done this in any more than two parts before when something with Bob Costas or Dan Patrick is really good. So if you want to hear parts three and four of South Beach sessions with John Skipper, those are coming out next week. And we ask you again to support all the Lieberthal and friends properties to poddy mystery Crate Batard and Friends podcast network and of course, the radio show Dan Leveton show with the guys that soon hopefully will be Dan Leadbitter and Stewart and might not be a radio show.
Might be just a podcast. I might not be calling it radio show very much longer. Who knows? John Skipper will be deciding parts three and four with him next week. Again, a reminder, please subscribe and review. Thank you. And.