Ted Rogers—In his own words

On risk, debt, piracy, culture, life lessons and luck

Ted Rogers quotes

On the influence of his father: “He didn’t have a lot of life insurance at that age, so the businesses were sold, or shut or stolen. My job, my mother made clear to me, was to get the family back in the communications business. So I knew at age 8 what i had to do.”

On people: “People who suck up are of no value. I need people who stand up for what they believe. Close arguments, fighting back and forth, usually produces the best decisions. I can assure you I don’t always win.”

On the lessons of his early life: When he was still in school Rogers managed a number of dance bands. He recalled a time when a prominent Toronto businessman hired his group on short notice to play new year’s eve, asked the band to play over time, and then refused to pay the bill. He never forgot it. “I learned a lot about people in business. I learned that a big house and a big name didn’t mean the guy would pay up. So you learn early in life and it stands you in good stead.”—Canadian Business, 1978

On his main weakness: He once confessed to an interviewer, amid his chaotic office, that organization was not his strong suit. “People like me are not well organized. I’m not being modest when I say that. I mean, look around.”

Also at Macleans.ca Ted Rogers—in pictures

On Piracy: “We’re not losing [customers] to competition, Canadian competition. We’re losing them to a bunch of thieves who are now fencing stolen property. They’re selling programs whose Canadian rights have been bought by Canadian companies and are being stolen from them. I mean this gets to the moral character of our country.”

On his own management style: “I consider myself a broadcaster, not a businessman. There’s a difference. A businessman would likely be selling his shares because the price on the market was high or cutting back because it would help his rate of return. His cash flow would go to finance manufacturing plants or acorn plantations. I’ve chosen to re-invest ours.”—Toronto Life, 1980

On risk: “If you haven’t got problems, you haven’t lived right; you haven’t tried enough.”

On debt: “I never had a lot of money to do things. I think if you work hard and you’ve got ideas, you can get other people to put up the money.”—Toronto Life, 2001

On Canadian culture: “We need companies that can tell Canadian stories and paint Canadian dreams.”

“I am a proud Canadian and our culture and identity are worth fighting for and protecting. I like Americans, but I don’t want to be American.”

On education: “You can give your money to the united Way and all these other things. they’re all very worthwhile. But education can re-make a country, can remake a city, can make it in a generation a different sort of place. We’re going to make a difference, and that’s a key word. It’s easy to say: make a difference. I slow up when I pronounce it, and underline it sort of verbally. Make. A. Difference.”—Toronto Life, 2001.

On control: “If you’ve got a vision, never give up control. If you’re lucky enough to get somebody to put up some money, they’ll want to share control and their idea of sharing control is to have vetoes on you, and you’re just a serf in your own business. Don’t sell control, even if it means you have to stay smaller
than you would otherwise be.” —High Wire Act

On luck:
“I’d say I was bloody lucky.”