Saying goodbye is not a strength of mine. Never has been. I’m not alone. It’s as difficult of a thing any of us will be tasked with as we get through this thing called the human experience. No one is immune. Live long enough and you will assuredly lose someone or more likely many someones close to you. And it will hurt. That said, there is a sweetness to saying goodbye that reminds us of the blessing of life itself, getting to know our fellow human beings.
This past weekend, I and the show lost a good friend and supporter. Dan Greene, a Veteran of the 82nd Airborne, founder of an independent ad sales company PS Promotions, and an all-around good man, moved on to the next realm. Dan was 30+ years older than me, but I got along with him almost as soon as we met.
When I would get frustrated with the rigors of trying to be an independent media entrepreneur, I’d often call Dan and we’d end up talking for longer than we both probably should have given our respective “to-do” lists. Mainly we’d laugh and complain about how business ethics and “doing the right thing” just didn’t seem to resonate with some folks like it did he and I. We were full of righteous indignation and we loved it and we regaled each other with stories of crooked characters, shady shysters and incompetent, puffed-up, insecure people in a business renowned for them. It got me through a lot of frustrating moments and we never took what we said or ourselves too seriously.
Dan was an entrepreneur as well, and he was battling it out in an even more cut-throat area of the business. His company sells ten-second, closed-captioned spots or IDs as they are sometimes called. At the end of ours and other syndicated shows, you will often see these uber-short commercials air during the “Closed Captioned” break. It is a niche part of the business, but to this small, independent producer, the revenue generated from these ads weekly, often meant the difference between continuing production or hanging it up, especially during the crucial early months of a show’s launch.
Dan’s company always supported my various media endeavors, and even after I got a little full of myself and succumbed to the slick, overblown promises of a charlatan competitor (who eventually went bankrupt and left with a lot of people’s money, thankfully, not ours), Dan took our show back with the grace of a saint and the chuckle of a wise monk who’d seen this all play out before.
He never said, “I told you so” or fought me when I told him the decision I’d made to use another company to sell our limited closed-captioned break inventory. He didn’t make me beg or revel in the negative experience I had just had.
He just took us back, knowing I had learned my lesson well and also knowing, with the wisdom that only he could provide, that I needed to try the “grass is greener” approach before I’d eventually come to my senses. Dan was not the kind of man to beg you to let him help you. But if you needed help, he’d sure offer it. Dan could have easily exploited that situation but not once did he gloat. That experience brought us closer.
After I sold my first media company and took a break from TV for a while, I eventually came back with another “bite of the apple” in the form of Raw Travel TV. Dan was again there to support me with encouragement and much, much-needed advertising revenue from his clients. Even though the business was changing dramatically… even though Dan was fighting to keep his clients as the competitive sharks circled… even though if the show didn’t work out those sharks would have had used the failure to feast, Dan took a chance, one he didn’t have to take.
Like me, Dan had no idea if Raw Travel would work or if I’d just gotten lucky the first time with American Latino. Dan didn’t know seem to know much about Latino culture or about the travel business, but he believed that I believed and that was good enough for him.
The bet he made on behalf of his clients paid off. Raw Travel worked well beyond even my expectations for seven, going on eight seasons now. Hopefully, Dan’s clients show appreciation, but I doubt if they ever realized what he’d done for them. He’d just gotten them the best deal going, delivering more “eyeballs” at a fraction of the price they’d have gotten with a competitor.
But Raw Travel would have never even gotten to first base without Dan’s and PS Promotion’s early support. Almost every new show loses money and Raw Travel was no exception. I can’t overstate the importance, both tangibly (ad revenue) and intangibly (psychologically) it was to have Dan and PS Promotions in our corner.
Dan knew that I was financing this show, not some big well-funded media company or wealthy gazillionaire, and even though it’s risky betting on the little guy to deliver not once but twice, he did. I hope the success of Raw Travel made him proud. He should be proud that he went with his gut instinct and it paid off. But then again, Dan has a lot to be proud of.
In many ways, I think Dan was a lot like me, a contrarian, always rooting for the underdog or little guy to succeed. He worked with a lot of big media companies, some of the biggest, but he never made us feel like we were 2nd class citizens or not important. He never held what power he wielded over our head. In fact, he did the opposite, always taking my call if he could and always ending each call with a “phone hug.”
Dan’s company is made up of some of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure to get to know in the TV and media business. Some of them, I’ve never met, but I’ve spoken to them over the years and I’ve always trusted them more like family than business associates.
I’ve spoken and written at length about my fondness for the many good people in the broadcast TV business and Dan’s company exemplifies what I’m speaking of. There are many, many more good people in this business than the few shady shysters and I’m proud to be associated with it.
Dan was “Exhibit A” in the principle that I strongly believe in, which is that a good leader attracts good soldiers or perhaps in Dan’s case a better way to put it, is that good people attract like-minded good people.
Dan reminded me a bit of my father in many ways, with his old school values which I sincerely hope never go out of style. He loved to talk and seemed to like people or at least most people. A gentleman whose handshake was better than 90% of any contracts you or I will ever sign.
When you see an episode of Raw Travel and you see my face all over the screen and my name on the credits and me whining about the many “hats that I wear”, also understand this – there’s a whole team of supporters like Dan who made this possible. Dan was one of the most crucial ones.
Without Dan, and the good people like him, I’m not sure this show would have even gotten the chance to succeed. Without Dan and the good people like him, I’m not sure I’d care too much about succeeding in this business. I’d probably be doing something else, less fulfilling, less rewarding.
It’s hard for me to put into words what Dan’s faith in me meant to me professionally but most importantly, personally. In fact, I can’t.
I’d love to write something beautiful to show proper respect for Dan’s life and his legacy, but I can’t seem to find the words. I could work on this post for weeks and I would never come close to giving this man’s life justice. So I’m going to publish this bit of free-form, stream of consciousness first time out of the gate. I think Dan would understand. He knows how hard I work because he worked that hard himself, up until his 80s.
Dan’s main concern, even when he knew he wasn’t going to be around to run his company anymore, was the welfare of his people. People who have so ably run the company for the last three years during Dan’s illness.
In a way, Raw Travel is a legacy of Dan’s. But perhaps, more importantly, the way we do business and conduct ourselves every day is a legacy of Dan’s as well.
Honesty… integrity, ethics and a commitment to excellence all while never letting the stress of business or the need to “succeed” get in the way of one’s humanity.
Dan wasn’t just a good man, he was a fighter. While he didn’t win every battle, (he who does hasn’t fought many battles… an example of a classic line I’d tell Dan in one of our phone convos), but he won plenty of them and he won the most important fight of them all.
Gonna miss you, Dan. Here’s one last phone hug from me to you my friend.
POSTSCRIPT: A donation to Friends of Horses has been made in Dan’s name. You can learn more about and donate to this fine organization HERE. PS Promotions continues on as they have for over 40 years, as the leader in ten-second TV advertising!