The Ambassador at lunch
In 1998, I undertook to convert the Voice of America from a short-wave radio operation to television by training the radio reporters to replace their nagra tape recorders with video cameras.
It was a big success.
Each month I had to report to the Board of Governors.
One member of the Board was Carl Spielvogel.
One day, Carl called me and said he wanted to meet me in his office in New York.
He was also on the Board of the Financial Times, and had an office in their building.
When I got to the FT, I was taken not to an office, but to a cublicle on the floor. There was Spielvogel. He pulled another chair into the cubicle and offered me a drink.
I was a bit surprised. I thought surely a Board member would have an office. So I asked him. “Is this your office?” He said, “sure. I have a phone and a rolodex. What else do I need”. It was my first lesson. Spielvogel said to me “you are on the cutting edge of a Revolution. I am going to make you a rich man.”
Sounds good to me.
Spielvogel had a fascinating background. He went to City College in NY and then went to work for the NY Times as a reporter. He was the first reporter to cover the advertising business. But he soon migrated to the business itself, and over time built, on his own and from scratch, one of the largest ad agencies in the world -Backer and Spielvogel. Later he went on to build and own the largest auto dealership in the US, the United Auto Group. In his copious spare time, he was also US Ambassador to Slovakia and sits on the boards of major corporations, museums, Lincoln Center and universities.
Impressive? You bet.
But the most impressive thing is that for the past ten years he has always made time to talk to me, to help me out, to give me advice, both business and personal, and to partner with me on a few projects.
Every once in a while you get lucky in life, and meeting Carl was one of those lucky happenstances.
So thanks Carl, for your many years of friendship and advice. I hope I can repay you with a big success one day.