Rogers CEO Ted died this morning at home, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 75. He was also a visionary, a risk taker, a mogul, a workaholic, a family man, a decent guy and a billionaire.
Ted hadn’t been looking very well for some time. He had a weak ticker and in addition to a pacemaker he was living with congestive heart failure. That means, in layman’s terms, his heart wasn’t keeping up with his body’s needs. Still, he went to the gym in the Rogers Campus and put in long days, hating to take a day off, really. He recently released his autobiography and TV producers were instructed that they were not to shoot him in close-up. (I know because some of them told me.) Everything he said or did could affect the company’s stock prices so he had to tread carefully. A sickly looking CEO is not good news for shareholders.
As one of his thousands of employees, I was touched when he approached me with an outstretched hand at one of the Rogers radio Christmas parties, and chatted me up a bit. Whether a handler or his devoted wife Loretta whispered to him who I was, or he actually knew, doesn’t matter. He was a genuinely nice man, not slick, and not above making a little societal faux pas. He loved the company he built so much that he installed a shower and a full size bed in his office on the 10th floor. Sometimes he stayed overnight and was up and at his computer before any of his staff were even in the building. He also spent time on his luxury yacht during which he no doubt kept tabs on everything back home and made decisions as they were needed.
He tells some amazing stories. He was advised by his team to stay away from the wireless business. Can you imagine if he had listened? He trusted his instincts and once again they proved correct. I admire that kind of confidence.
Ted Rogers was driven by an inner need to fulfill the destiny of his brilliant father who died quite young. Even when he surpassed his Dad’s wildest dreams several times over, it was never enough. “The best is yet to come” he used to say. He loved what he did and he did what he loved. Money didn’t make him weird or probably even change his personality much. I’m proud to have worked for his company for a decade and I can compare it to several others in the broadcasting industry – they don’t compare. Ted Rogers was generous, innovative and knew it was better to act and be wrong than to sit back and let opportunity pass him by. There aren’t many others like Mr. Rogers, that’s for sure.