What’s up folks on today’s podcast, you’re going to be hearing of an interview I did with Rick Blangiardi who is currently the mayor of Honolulu here in Hawaii. Now, the reason why I’m having him on the podcast is to me when I was interviewing him , it really made me think like this guy is like in his eighties, but there is some kind of fiery passion that still propels him forward to keep doing what he’s doing. Most people, I think they get the financial freedom or most people in our group very unlike most people out there in the world get to financial freedom pretty quickly.
Most people want five to seven years, especially if they’re already an accredited investor. We get them up to $3- $4 million net worth. At that point, they’ve reached an end game. Most of us are frugal, right? So they have enough and they they can probably live out the remainder of their days with a pretty healthy wine budget, and travel budget to do what they want.
Now, but what do you do after that? There’s a handful of folks that I’ve come across that they’ve gotten to that net worth scale, and they really want to take it to that next. Ticket to the eight figures, $10 million plus net worth. The reason behind that is just a little bit higher level of wine budget, but they also want to make an impact and money is an amplifier of what you want to be doing, or they want to have some sort of legacy.
Or again, the word impact. So Rick Blangiardi is obviously somebody kind of personifies this. And when you listen to this interview, I want you to really pay attention to, why does he do what he’s doing? It’s not for the money. It might be because of ego.
It might be because of impact, but you know what? I think this heart is in the right place and when listen to this these are the kinds of the people that I like to surround myself with, right? Not the people who just work to their 62 and quit because that was supposedly their retirement age. But the people ran through the finish line, even though they didn’t need to keep working, but they’re operating at such a high level, a high impact, and they’re making a change.
Might not be your thing, but I think once you get to yourself to a point where you’re a few million dollars net worth, I think a lot of these higher portions of the masses hierarchy of needs become something that a lot of people think about at least something I’m thinking about personally, these days too.
One of the big goals. If you guys haven’t checked out the mission, simplepassivecashflow.com/mission is to help folks like yourself to get out of the rat race by implementing, investing in good deals that cashflow . Secondly, do the right tax and legal strategies that the wealthy do that’s very different than what average people do, and also implement infinite banking as the third step. Three very simple things that I’ve found and develop the network around and build systems.
And so we have all the, e-courses go to the website, check those out. A lot of this is in a firm, very consolidated, curated curriculum. And it’s not that hard to get people to that point. This is something to think about once you get to that point, that’s going to become more of a apparent.
For now, you guys don’t care potentially, but a lot of people that listen to this podcast have very high net worth, and that’s why we have these types of interviews. At these special topics, but there’s something else that you guys want to hear in the future. Let me know, I always look for feedback, email email@example.com.
Check out the website too, we’re gonna revamping it this year, simplepassivecashflow.com.
This is Lane Kawaoka . You probably recognize our guests here and you’re probably thinking, what the heck are we doing interviewing Rick Blangiardi . But here he is, we’re not going to really go into too much of the issues that are currently going on.
Like we do on the simple passive cashflow podcast. We get to know the people and, whenever I’m going into deals, working with partners, we never know what’s going to happen in the future. And therefore I want to know the context of the person. We’re going get to know Rick a little bit better and yeah, thanks for coming on Rick, really appreciate it.
I know this is a little wild card and your schedule here, but yeah, let’s see what we can do to make the most of it and I think we’re reaching up a bunch of folks like myself, who typically don’t vote and don’t care.
That’s even new to me, to be honest with you, when you say something like that, because I’ve not been a career politician I find it interesting generationally where people are at and honestly, your generation, I would think would be the most active more because there’s so much at stake.
But I find that interesting, I don’t know where the I don’t care comes from, but, because, I would tell you in my short time now making this decision, lot to be said for who’s in power and who has positions of authority. It sounds so. I don’t know. I’m not that power monger, but you know what I’m saying? When you have the authority, you can make things happen. There’s a lot of responsibility with that as well.
Let’s dive right into here and this is that Han solo moment question that made you think of star wars. So those of you guys who haven’t heard of this question before, it’s, Han solo and his buddy Chewbacca from star wars cruising the galaxy as low light smugglers.
I think cross paths, Luke and Leia and they went off on a little adventure. You probably have a few of these, but we call it bridges. I was watching another podcast with coach K and JJ Redick from duke and coach K calls these bridges, but take us to one of earlier bridges and just give us a little context of yourself.
Okay. Yeah. And there have been several of my life. I’ve thought about that. In fact when I’ve come to those crossroads, just to, and I’ll come to your question. I learned a long time ago. I don’t even know who the source is for the attribution, but it was said to me once before, and it was moments, the purpose of all education.
Is to do the things that we’re supposed to do at the time that we have to do them, whether or not we want to do them. That’s about overcoming that inertia that is coming to that crossroads and realizing, okay, I need to make a decision here. And how much do I have in front of me to make the decision that I know I should do?
And how much am I going to yield to the pushback, if you will. Okay. Because that’s the defining people ultimately become it’s those moments in time when you are willing to pivot or not pivot and, and then there you go. So I think probably the most profound one that happened to me early on, it had been several significant ones quite honestly, was when my decision to leave college football coaching.
Because I was 30 years old, had a master’s degree. I was associate head football coach at the University of Hawaii. I was a defensive coordinator. I had a guy like Dom Capers on my staff, went on to NFL fame, having been a head coach and a few other really good coaches. We were winning in those days.
Everything was right about that picture was a low aspiration from the time that I realized when I went to college, what I thought I wanted to do because the game was self, had such an impact on me. And I was doing really well with that. I was coaching all during my twenties and the only thing was wrong was, I came out of a blue collar family.
I was the first to go to college. Everybody had expectations that would do that, so I could make more money than they were earning in factories. And my father was a machinist and hardworking people but I got into a business. Everything was right about it, except it didn’t pay any money.
So in 1977, I had good position in coaching was successful coaching and I was making $15,000 a year and Larry Price, the head coach was making $25,000 a year. In fact, after Larry left, which was subsequent to my leaving, they brought in Dick Tomey at $35,000 a year. I mentioned that because Nick rollovers has just left for $15 million a year.
So maybe 40 years later, maybe if I had been able to stay there with it would have been one thing. But that aside that was a major decision for me because at 30 years old I pivoted to reinvent myself in order to stay in Hawaii and I take a mail-in coaching job. My then wife was mother of my three children, ultimately, really grown to dislike the demands of coaching.
I had very idealistic notions in those days about not only keeping my marriage intact, but also about fatherhood and what to do and coaching was very demanding. So I took a job that I really knew nothing about to sell television time and on the com that CCF tells them time said to me, Rick, if you want to work hard in this business in three years, you can make $50,000 a year.
Working hard at the age of 30 and the life I was living, wasn’t even an issue. I thought, wow, it’s the first time in all those years, even when I got out of grad school, anybody talked to me about making what seemed to be serious money at the time, and I felt a real deep compulsion to go for it. So that was probably and I have no regrets.
I’ve got a 43 year old son who’s done really well for himself and a 40 year old son has done well, it’s 35 year old daughter and my kids. But that changed my life changed my destiny.
So at the age of 35, you made that pivot. So you are a little older to start your professional career at that point, right?
Yeah. I spent my entire twenties coaching football, but here’s the deal that was a professional career. That’s what I wanted to do just to college football. Unlike today, the top 100 coaches at division one schools all make $2 million or more a year in those years. We just did it for the love of the game.
And it wasn’t all that long ago. It was four decades ago, a little bit more than that, but the bottom line is I thought that was my profession. It was everything about it was professional. So there a lot of work and everything else, it just didn’t pay anything it’s invading money. Yeah, that’s a big transition moving from one track and then going back to the bottom and another.
Yeah, Lane little did I know though that so much of what I learned. You know look, I don’t know how much you know about belief systems, but most experts will tell you, you lock them in pretty much in your twenties.
And I locked in a lot of my belief systems that were rooted in sports team, sports coaching, a lot of other things that I learned along the way. And as it turned out, even though I got into a business, I knew nothing about, I found out that a lot of that would be the foundation for me going forward on how I would lead.
They say a lot of folks in military positions, high stress positions in their twenties translate well into a long career. Would you say it was more like just grit that you had developed or if you were.
I think grit is important. I think you have to have determination. People that I’ve known them to succeed, look, you can get lucky in, in the financial markets. There’s no question and we’ve all seen that, but I don’t denigrate anybody’s success.
But the path that I’ve chosen required a lot of grit, a lot of determination and it never stopped. So I will tell you I’ve been a guy who’s been in one setting after another turnaround failing companies and that’s not some magic potion. That’s a lot of hard work and determination to succeed.
So hard work and determination, you jumped on that highway for the next decade or so.
Look I jumped on that early on. I don’t know, usually talk about myself, but in this kind of podcast, look, I went from being a grad assistant to associate fellowship coach. In five years, I went from knowing nothing about television.
And five years later, I replaced the guy that hired me and in seven years I became a general manager and then I never look back and I’ve had title after title. I’ve been president of two national broadcast companies. I’ve run major market television stations, and I can talk a lot more about it. I’ve worked at CBS in New York, but I came home 18 years ago and did some things that nobody thought were even possible starting first and foremost, we’re taking over KHNL and KGMB.
Two failing stations, the financials were there, same ownership, never one guy before ever did that turn both of those around very quickly, both in revenue performances, rating success. We make KHNL that on Fox affiliate in the country, not once, but twice after 16 straight quarters of ownership of a downward spiral went on to stay with KGMB, took it to 2007.
Sold at eight claim broke everybody. Brought everybody to their knees. The week before Christmas, 2008, we made this decision to try to build what ultimately became Hawaii news now out of a broken economy, pending FCC and DOJ approval. We merged three television stations together. We understood mobile technology and we created a 21st century multimedia company.
Okay. So I will tell you that my whole life has been about that. It’s been about starting at a bottom of working through or inheriting things that weren’t working and making them work. Before I came back, I was president of a company of Telemundo called Telemundo. Second lives of Spanish language network owned by very sophisticated players.
Sony was one and Liberty media was another new to private equity groups. They had just bought it for $500 million SAR niche in the marketplace in Hispanic broadcast, saw the trends understood what Latinos meant for in economic terms. Invested heavily lost a hundred million the first year and their very first year fired the two people brought myself and a guy named Jim McNamara and was the CEO. He stayed in Miami. I stayed in LA.
I lived on airplanes for 45 weeks a year, and we sold that at that puppy for 2.7 billion, three years later and we would have sold it for three and a half billion. Jeff ML was on record because we sold it to NBC of saying that was one of the things that came out of 9/11 was they saved nearly a billion dollars in the acquisition of Telemundo and that’s because they had private equity guys who wanted to sell and they put a deal on the table that couldn’t refuse, even though it was discounted, I’ve been involved in those kinds of things Lane, okay.
So my life and I, when I tell you I was living on planes 45 weeks building a company that’s based in LA. We had a big operation up in the Northern bay area. I have three stations, one of which we bought on my watch in Dallas, big market, just a transaction for that alone was a couple hundred million dollars was complicated plus Houston, San Antonio, Miami. I was in out of all the time where our headquarters were.
So I don’t want toPuerto Rico as our largest operation. Our second largest operation was in New York city and then Chicago, Denver. We were buying Phoenix when I left. And then when the deal was on, I was traveling post 9/11 commercially, not privately. I would wake up in Miami, work in Chicago, sleep in Houston.
Now I’m just telling you that because that’s the kind of seasoning I’ve had through my life. I came home after all of that, at that point at 25 years in the business, quite honestly, it wasn’t about the job. I came back to it because I made a decision, which is something I learned my next pivot point in my forties about alignment.
After going through some pretty toxic experiences. And I decided for me, it was on a macro basis. My alignment was where I wanted to wake up in the morning. And Hawaii had been my touchstone. I told the press where I came back in 2002. I told them that. I said, I moved to the mainland in 89. I never left Hawaii, which was true.
Not only that come back every year, but let me offer this insight. When I first left here, I went to Seattle, brought my three kids with me to run KING-TV. One of the most prestigious jobs in America and they recruited me. I had been working for them for a couple of years. They could have hired anybody.
So they offered me the job on my 43rd birthday. I was in Wyoming. I was doing a football game with Jim Lee and I got this up. If they said we’ve made it this year, they called me up to wish me happy birthday. They called me up. They told me he made a decision when I moved my family and I really didn’t want to move out of Hawaii at that point.
I really didn’t. I’ve been here since ’71. My kids were born here. They loved it here. I was doing well and television. I was proud by that point I transitioned over to KHNL and now we’re doing all youth sports. We’re making a real contribution to the community. I was doing a lot of public speaking. I was enjoying just a sense of being a real integral part of this place through sports, which was my interesting enough in my origins of my coming here in 1965 as a player, to be living like that, it all felt good.
But in that spirit of challenge there was in that crossroads, like I said, I knew all roads led to that. I had to do something. This is my second big pivot point that I really didn’t want to do, but I knew that I had to do it and I answered the bell to do that. So I didn’t know they were going to sell the company.
He brought me to turn it around three years later. We did. They sold it. Next thing I know I’m in CBS, New York, but during those three years, I’m in Seattle. Everybody always referred to me as the guy from Hawaii. It always felt good that when I went to New York, it’s a variety of this big article about, I was a guy from Seattle, but I’m not the guy from Seattle, guy from Hawaii, with this Boston accent, but I knew where my roots were, so it’s been like that.
Okay. It’s not been an easy road. It’s been really a hard road. So that’s why you bring up the subject of grit. I take a lot of pride in that. And as you get to talk about that, but nothing has ever come easy. Nobody’s ever handed me anything. Okay. Anything.
There I also hear undertone. Nothings can go your way. They sold the station. They had to be very big out. You were in that shuffle.
They bring it out. They have you report to a suite at the Four Seasons, this was in Seattle, and it was speculated that all of us would be out and see our manager. They said, Rick, there’s nothing personal. We just bought this company for million, billion dollars and we have our guy and we wish you well, here’s the HR people we’ll see you later.
It wasn’t even like getting fired. It was just part of the transition. But that led me to CBS in New York. I was at a decision then do I stay at and go? I get out of broadcast. I just left Hawaii, went up to Seattle. I spent three years in Seattle, turning that puppy around. I still have a handwritten note from the CEO.
We brought that station back from a death spiral. That’s why they hired me because they had done an employee survey and they realized they had a house of cards and they knew because it was company was founded by a woman named Dorothy Bullet and she had passed away and the previous year now it was time to look at the asset and an old board of directors.
She was 96 that she was recognized one of the top 100 women of the 20th century. She was legendary. She was 56 years old when she started television, the Northwest legendary person. Anyway, I can go off and tell you stories like that, but all of those things were these Han solo moments.
I’m going through space, if you will and life is happening and I’m trying to be as good and as aggressive as I possibly can. Not really know. Nobody offered me anything to guarantee and then just dealing with stuff. So in that regard Lane, it wasn’t too later in my late forties, I was down in Australia.
We had just sold the company. I was president of a national broadcast company, 9 TV, 27 radio and I had partners was a two year deal, was supposed to be a five-year deal. Thank God, it was only two year deal. Most toxic experience of my life. These were bad guys. I got aligned with bad guys. I’m down in Australia and I’m trying to purge if you will.
And I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next that brought a bunch of books at the time. Bill Gates wrote a book called the Road Ahead, and this is pre don’t. Think about all this happened. This was in the nineties. Think about all this already 30 years ago, they were all that’s happened since then.
And it was a real prophetic publication. He was talking about the movie, The Graduate and he referenced it in the context that it was a great movie. You’re probably too young to remember Dustin Hoffman and it was a word in there. It was an experience in there which, how Holbrook is advising this young man.
And he tells me the word is plastics Benjamin, became such a colloquial expression from this one movie line about plastics, like what you want to do with your life going to plastics. And Gates was saying in the book, if they wrote, if they redid that movie today, The word would be communications.
He was talking about that. He said, it would be that’s the word. And I was in one of those sorta youngian moments, maybe a little bit like this and thinking, gee, what did I just learn? I just went through two years of a really toxic experience with people. I’m not gonna mention anybody’s name or flat out evil.
These guys are bad guys. I couldn’t wait to get away from them and the sale of the company allowed me to do that. I’d never been in that experience before. And I thought to myself, you know what alignment I slipped into that. I let them buy me into that job. Not going to do that anymore. I’m going to pick my alignments from this point forward because I was evaluating my life at that point and think of what worked, what didn’t work and why.
When I got out of sync was what, because of the wrong alignments. And ever since that I’ve been very selfish. So I tell you my decision to come back to white post the self Telemundo, which was influenced also in my life experiences of 9/11. 9/11 impacted me in a big way. My dad died that year, but it also impacted me.
I was up close to that, but it also just resonated with me about life, a lot of circumstances. And so I was single, my kids were grown and I could make a decision for myself and so I chose my alignment was I wanted to come back and live here. I wanted to come back here and serve this place where all the experiences I had gained over those 13 years in broadcast, in my career.
And I came back to a fertile setting of having KHNL and KGMB. It was really about this place. It was really about coming back to Hawaii, which is important because that decision on that premise 18 years ago was the exact thing that hit me a year ago. When I made this decision to run from there.
It makes me think of a couple of things. When people invest a lot of money in these real estate or whatever they’re investing in, you’d get a point ’til you’re financially free. Really the freedom is doing what you want, where you want with more importantly, who you want and also when you want. Also there, you came back home and, a big issue.
That’s a lot of people realize is a lot of the pious talent leaves Hawaii, and the brain drain. They go to the mainland for how much higher paid jobs. When I came back home, I had to take a 30% pay cut. I’m like, how can anybody survive in Hawaii? But you’re obviously in a position where you could and make an impact. Take us back to the opportunity that was presented to you to come back. What did you think at the time of the impact that you could make.
Full disclosure: 25 years in the business, I just led that life that I told you, turning Telemundo around I’d run major market stations while I was on the mailer, including working at the network, I was in a lot of cities, whatever. I decided that, that was not a sustainable model because I felt like I was not connected to anything even though we were having some big success and all of that stuff that happens in that kind of mode.
But I actually wanted to come back and be athletic director through University of Hawaii. That was the year that Evan Debelle announced that he will start off with you. Your shooter said he was going to retire. 2002. So anyway, we sold Telemundo. We made the announcement come on October 11th, one month to the day, 2001, I’m going to be safe.
And then I was given the mandate as president of the company to get the deal closed. By the end of 2002 and every day earlier, it would be a creative to GE. So there was a lot of pressure and because they’re requiring partner that’s who owned NBC at that time. So that’s where I was living on airplanes and doing the things I was telling you, which is like crazy life.
And I was a lot, it was my cup runneth over, I got my fill of conference rooms and all the other things you can get through. So I wanted to come back. I thought, okay, this is a great thing. She is retiring and Dobell is the president of University of Hawaii and he’s making these noises about, he’s going to bring in, this great athletic director.
You saying all the things that really spoke to me. In fact, I was hearing from everybody in town, Rick, he’s talking about you. They wanted a business guy with media background who had connections to Hawaii, all this stuff. And I’m thinking, that’s me, he’s talking to me. . I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee with this guy.
He already knew they were going to hire him and Frazier. So I backed into the job because again, it wasn’t about the money or even the positions, everybody that I left at that time, given the success we had. But I was absolutely crazy to leave the fast lane. Okay. Because I gained a lot of recognition was on front cover of magazines and crap like that.
I could have stayed on the mainland that came back to my wanting the alignment of my wanting to live here. I could be cavalier about Manessa bills to pay and you know what? You could make some money, but let me tell you the first time you see the government take half of it.
It’s pretty eyeopening. The numbers look a lot different. Okay. And the one on the short of it is I came back because I wanted to make a difference in this community. And I really felt that circumstance was not the one that I initially wanted. I wanted to be D.A.D. at the University of Hawaii and I thought back to my roots, but I’d learned enough about television.
And this was enough of a challenge because you have precedent of nature. The fact that the businesses were failing under his ownership, I did it for that. I did to come back and try to apply everything and anything I knew about improving local television. Now I started in 1977 KGMB was the dominant station.
But, I can tell you those years, we used to be a one week delay programming or whatever and technically there wasn’t that kind of investment. I can remember early on once I started understanding the business, people always say things like how come local TV so junk will go the main road so much better.
That kind of thing from that in this last go around, I’m not just going all the awards we won and everything I can say Hawaii news now is one of the most did we go. Yeah, I wish statewide television market. And one of the more highly regarded broadcast entities.
Greg bought us a year ago, they had a hundred stations. They bought 63 Raycom. We merged into a publicly traded company of 163 stations. And Hawaii is now what right to the top of that. To me, that is a contribution to Hawaii. Just like in 84, we started doing youth sports as a contributions of Hawaii.
That was a vision that we understood that Hawaii sports. They went from the Northern tip of Kauai to the Southern tip of the Hawaii island and everywhere in between. I understood the feeling of the pride of that and what’s what we began to do on a pretty good basis. So I came back to serve at that point.
Serve a place that I had loved that I always felt strongly connected to. And that began, I didn’t know what was going to win. I didn’t know what was going to happen going forward and I’d never had a crystal ball. For me, it’s never been about trying to predict the future. It’s about how you create this over the course of 18 years.
There was one thing after another. We created some great success, so it’d be here in the broadcast business. But beyond that for the people, I heard I’m a media today. Make a comment about making profits for mainland company. For me, it was first and foremost, always about the people creating a great place to work.
Hawaii news now is the only media company, the voted best places to work five years in a row, I didn’t do it in the last year because we went through a sale. I waited five years before I tested that. And it has to be voted on by 80% of your employees and quite honestly, in news organization people are pretty cynical.
They don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Yet, we were, by our employees, they loved working there and I brought back a number of people Lane. I brought back the Lane Kawaokas. I that’s why I brought back and we got to give you a bunch of them that I hired, who were succeeding on the mainland created something they could felt they could take their career and bring it back here, even to the extent that I wasn’t able to pay them quite what they were making it on the mainland, but they prefer to be home with family and actualizing their careers.
I can give you a bunch of names there, but I’m really proud of that and they’ve all evolved. To me it was that even, and I have to be careful there because I’ve had some really great union endorsements, my folks be certified. They voted out the union that doesn’t even happen on this now because of belief in management.
So we’ve made a great place to work in which we inspired people to do their best. And I used to joke I’d say the same thing to you, as I’ve gotten older, everybody looks at. Even though you’ve already sure. I don’t know much about you have accomplished a great deal, your best is in front of you, but you need to be in a situation where it’s not just you alone doing that necessarily.
You’re going to need, at least in people who work in organizational settings, but in the kind of dynamics I was in with people who wanted to belong to an organization, cause that’s face it, in news or even sales or whatever marketing, that’s the setting. That’s the kinds of people who come into it. We made it a great place to work, but I always challenged everybody to say your best is still in front of you.
And the way we did that was I pushed innovation all the time on new ideas, more than I did improvement was just a basic expectation. We’re going to get better. We have metrics, but no, where are the new ideas? What are we doing? It’s different and better. And so people, when you talk about making work fun, get off in that kind of stuff.
And the, the log of yesterday were in there and crime created tomorrow. So right from the beginning, when we’re stepping, it’s almost, it’s interesting it was 10 years ago, because at that point, I said, we’re in the first year of the second decade, just 2012, we started October 26th 2009, when the first year, the second decade of the 24th century.
And look, what’s going on in broadcast media. And what are we going to do about? And we jumped all over mobile technology, we really on the studio, I’m on a podcast. Again, we understood all that stuff and we made it happen. It was a contribution to why was precisely why I came home. The success is that earlier on the KHNL and KGMB and those recognitions, that was all one thing. This was a significant change in the trajectory of local media in Hawaii and we’re able to accomplish that.
If you can illustrate the differences between the Telemundo years and the Hawaii years, it seemed like in the Hawaiian years you had more of like an impact where the Telemundo years you’re more of within the operations.
I got hired initially with eight stations. Three of them were negative EBITDA. Three years later, we had 11 stations. We tripled the EBITDA, the whole company. We made strategic acquisitions and all the way that we created a presence on a national landscape. When I started the consumer buying index was $80 billion in Hispanic market.
When I left three years later, it was 650 billion. What a trajectory to hit a trillion dollars. This was a high stakes game and it had that hit that trajectory. It hit that point a couple of years after I left. This was understanding the moment in time and how to capitalize on it but that was just a lot of personnel work.
To be honest with you Lane, that was a lot of people picking, I had to put general managers in place and provide the right kind of leader. In a tough place, because first of all, the Hispanic market had one big giant gorilla. This company called Univision and they were very territorial and they made it very clear as soon as we began to make some inroads.
If you leave here to go work at Telemundo, you’ll never come back here. They drew some hard lines in the sand. And so I found myself hiring general managers, like what I’ve been for a lot of years had 10 of them. They were great. think eight of them had never been GMs and just picking people who understood what was at stake, who had capabilities and skill sets and whatever.
So that was different. But that’s been the same here. When I came back. Let me tell you a story. So KGMB and KHNL were both owned by the same company MS communication. And I knew Jeff’s mine and my days from Seattle because he owned the Seattle Mariners and I was trying to work at GLL for 5% equity of his club.
I’d buy a second television station and paid with broadcast rights provided he gave us the equity. I could never make that deal happen, but I got to know. Okay. So I come back and I look at Jeff. He’s a big radio guy in KHON that 16 straight quarters of downward ratings and revenue.
16 quarters, less, less, less. In that process, they’d bought KGMB through the acquisition of we enterprises had not invested heavily in it and it was really downtrodden. They had that for two years, they had two stations in Hawaii. They’ve been operating on a temporary grant from the FCC that allowed them to maintain a duopoly, even though the FCC, one of them ultimately to divest because it was a rule violation, but nonetheless, they had it and they basically said, what do we do?
In KGMB, it should be a perspective. When I walked out in 1984 to go start what was then Kiko, which became KHNL who were doing just under 20 million a year. When I walked in 2002, she was doing under 10 million a year. So you can imagine from 84 to 2002 less than $10 million gross what I walked into.
In Hawaii over that course of time and that’s how broken the place was. I asked to be with the management team of both. They had never done it. There would, there was like resentment, KGMB and the original building over in Cape, on Kapiolani Boulevard in a P koi street was all this brand new glitzy K Joanne.
And it was like bad blood because broadcasters compete against each other. And it was like the haves and have nots so there’s a lot of bitterness. So I wanted to look at the manager. So I asked all the advantages to come day one before any of them in the station had a meeting in the conference room with the elite talent to Hilton Hawaiian village.
I told them to bring their number twos and number threes if they had it. I wanted everybody to bring whoever was, it was in charge of stuff. So sure enough about 35 or so I never really counted the exact number showed up and attention to the room was palpable. You could feel it.
And I walked in and I pretty much laid out, what it was about. I want to tell them. Yeah, cause here’s the deal, the night before I’m watching Leslie Wilcox and run Mizutani on television. I’m sitting in a hotel room and I’m watching him and they said goodbye that day they fired their general manager and they started speculating about me.
Rick Blangiardi has come back to Hawaii he’s going to run two stations at the same time. I’ve seen that a hotel listening to them speculate about my arrival. Okay. Meanwhile, I’ve got this meeting set up the very next morning for all the managers and they’re like shaking their heads and I’ve known one Alyssa this is impossible.
This can’t happen, what’s going on here, and they had people crying over the guy, they just fired and stuff, it was like, so I go in that room and I tell them pretty much, this is the way it’s gonna be. I just want to make it really clear to you that, I am come back home to retire.
Some of you may think that because it was a lot of stuff, talked about the press just coming off of incredible success. But I came back home because of my love and passion for this place and to make a difference. So let’s do think I’m going to give you a railroad to talk today about, you got to run harder, jump higher, there’s a new sheriff in town. That’s not the case.
I’m here to serve notice on what I believe and that is the reason why the stations will not be performing is it’s lacked the leadership. I’m going to challenge all of you. I’m going to tell you right now, the people who are most at risk of a men, a woman in this room, because that’s what I’m going to look at first.
If we expect to inspire performance, I want to look at who’s leading. Okay, because I don’t know how any of you got your jobs. I don’t know that these stations are both dysfunctional. They’ve been dysfunctional for quite some time. So all I can do without casting aspersions on anybody is simply tell you to me, that’s a leadership challenge.
So my first job is not about, but as I am everybody else, it’s going to be to evaluate you and whether or not you should be in that job, show me what you have. I want to see it up close in person. I’m going to get to know you. I want to watch what you do. I want to see how people respond to you. So it was with that understanding that I had a leadership challenge on my hands predetermined.
They barely but predicated on poor performance. Okay. But at the same time, there’ll be fair and I just started to tell you, probably at the end of the year, there were five people left from that group. Some of the people that we changed were internal promotions, a number of them, good people.
Yeah, that just speaks to how important leadership is. Who’s leading in the decision about who’s leading is really important and that can make a huge difference. And that quite honestly is why I chose to run for mayor made that decision in a title of my life. When I could have said, I just had a hell of a career, what am I doing?
And I’ve told people repeatedly, I made this with my heart. Maybe that’s the wrong place to point to, but it certainly wasn’t what my brain, I was driven by this as a referendum for leadership because of what’s at stake and this was pre Covid. So I made that decision based on love of place, not very much different than the decision I made in 2002, 18 years ago to come back here and make a contribution to Hawaii.
For the standpoint of where TV was at, what these properties or for that matter when I took over a broken television station in 1984, and what we then did with that with UHC sports. Now, we certainly. For that matter, even when I go to KGMB, all the things we did or the years of when I came over here, I announced I was running for mayor at the old stadium park.
And the reason why he did it cause I’m really a sentimental guy, because that was the place in 1965 that I first saw the pride of Hawaiians, local people. That’s the first time I saw it, it’s also the same setting was the first time I learned how to fight for Hawaii. I wanted to announce my mayoral candidacy in that setting because it brought me all the way back to Hawaii in a very different time in 1965.
But my life experiences over the course of that time and what I’ve tried to do here, we’ve all been to the good. And now this last chapter, this again was pre COVID, which as I said earlier, is going to redefine my entire time as mayor. But this was all about that, this was all about making a difference in a place you live, feeling connected to it.
And then quite honestly, who’s going to help run this place. I’ve made it clear to everybody that I’m not doing this alone. I’m asking for responsibility and the accountability, but I’ve said repeatedly, I’m going to try to bring in the best minds. I can possibly get people who are smart thinkers, smart doers, and who also want to be held accountable because we’re in a time right now that we’ve never seen before.
This is the most difficult setting any mayor has ever walked into it and I’ve been told that daily by a lot of people, I realize what’s at stake. It’s not just because it just functioned with heart and the mayor and what’s happening with the rail or for that matter. Anything else that you want to say, we’ve got a lot of issues here.
If you were to categorize, when you made that decision to go for a mayor, was it more of a you’re compelled by your optimistic? What kind of impact you’re able to make with the position? Or was it more, you’re frustrated at what’s happening out there? And if so, what specifically frustrating you?
That’s good question Lane, it was probably neither in a sense. This was not really ego-driven and quite honestly, when you make a decision of this consequence, it really is a certain amount of trepidation. But you feel you’re being drawn to it. There’s a sense of responsibility. That you almost can’t deny. You don’t want to turn your back on it.
Like I said earlier with silver referendum for leadership. So if I live here and I say, I love it here. I love its people. I love where I’ve been in. My life has been here. Then you come to a moment in time like that. That’s never just one thing you feel compelled to be. I could have turned my back on it easily.
For some reason, I was up there with people whispering in my ear, Rick, you got to do this well, what more do you have left to in television? You got a lot of gas in your tank. We need you to do this and so since that time that’s been gratifying because look, when we announced, I had no idea how I was going to do.
I don’t even know how many people are going to run. At one point we had 15 people running for mayor. We had three experienced politicians running. There was a lot of unknowns and uncertainties here with no guarantees, but now I find myself not only having one of the primary, but as you may or may not be aware, decidedly ahead, tuition today is election day in the polls who do everything we possibly can to make sure that we meet that.
And then some and so I have a sense of destiny about this Lane. I really do all roads have led to this and all I can possibly do from this point forward and getting elected is to apply everything in my life that I’ve learned, my love of this , place, the people that I know, you look in the challenge of all the unknowns.
I’ve said repeatedly, this is going to take collaboration at the state level. It’s going to take collaboration with the federal government, and it’s going to take collaboration with the private sector in ways that perhaps have even happened before from the standpoint of the mayor of the city and county of Honolulu.
And I intend to do all of that c ause we’re going to need a lot of help and a lot of things we’re going to go right back to what I talked to you really about innovation. We need some new ideas. There is nothing about the situation I’m walking into that says perpetuate the status quo, nothing. Now, if we see things that are working really well, I don’t have that kind of ego.
Like I’m not that person, that’s one of the things that really helped facilitate turnarounds. You don’t walk in there, which is such a classic mistake. When you take over in your number one job and feel like, okay, I’m here. It’s my signature. We have to reinvent something. No, I want to look for everything that we’re doing well and capitalize on that and stopped the things that we’re not doing well and figure out how we can do it better. That’s how you operate in turn arounds.
When you jump into the position, what is something that based on your experience? So with your skillsets and what you’ve learned throughout the years what specifically made you for this position or speaking on any issue out there that you’re a big guy exactly for that issue?
You asked me earlier about grit, for some reason I’m wired the way I’m wired my whole life. I’ve just been like that. I think it’s also a really, I really do. I’m an old team guy rooted in team. I love building teams, people around me. Watching people thrive and being a facilitator in that.
I’m looking at this job as daunting Lane, as it feels right now, given the circumstances and believe me, there’s good reasons to say that it’s a very exciting opportunity right now. Leadership is situational. There’s some real silver linings in this. I’ve talked openly about it and we’re going to try to see the best we can do.
I think the landscape is fertile right now for us to do some things that maybe hit a four year. In the group for the sake of a greater good, the challenges is significant and so I’m just drawn to that kind of thing. Why do people climb things like Mount Everest?
I’m gonna go through all this stuff with crazy things people do. It just something in you and I’ve been in just go this is in me to do.
We’ll wrap up here with the Tony Robbins question, break down a couple of things for us. First, what is the some kind of a secret or hack or any kind of ritual that you do that led to you being a high performer, high output? Basically a science achievement. And secondly, what is your secret or hack for the art of fulfillment? What keeps you motivated? What keeps you going?
Well, I’ve never taken myself too seriously going to be really candid. I would tell you I’ve been blessed, I think with a certain sense of humility and recognizing my own limitations and always trying to work over that, I learned this. You’re going to crack up since you brought up Tony Robbins. Let me bring up Barbara Walters. I’m watching, this is years ago. Barbara Walters is doing a 25th anniversary show every year for 25 years.
Once a year, she interviewed four people. They were the world’s most famous people from Kings to movie stars, celebrities, athletes, business tycoons and so now it’s in a 25th and then doing a special anniversary show and she’s being questioned about, okay, 25 years have gone and you’ve had the privilege of interviewing 100 of the world’s most fascinating, successful, not successful I’m less said that, people like that, what were the common denominators?
You saw you saw them up close in person. She said, I remember at the time I was getting dressed in a hotel room, she said, tell ya. It was two things that really popped out. One, they understood their work and they took it more seriously. But secondly, they didn’t take themselves very seriously. They understood who they were. They’re human foibles if you will. I look at my life like that. I know the impact that can have and what I do professionally, but I also understand I’m an imperfect person in many ways.
What is your secret or hack for the art of fulfillment or any other kinda mindset tricks that you use to keep yourself going?
I think you have to stay positive, from a leadership standpoint, you have to be positive. You have to understand that when you’re a leader, you have to have broad shoulders. I’m being tested right now and this negative campaign stuff that’s going on. If they’re broad shoulders and I think people look at that and look for you to fulfill that expectation. So consistency is really important, having integrity.
Appreciate your time Rick. If people want to learn more about your campaign, you want to talk your website for folks.
We have a website and everybody around me laughs all the time. It’s RickBlangiardiformayor.com. I always have to think about it cause sometimes they say friends or it’s RickBlangiardiformayor.com. I’ve enjoyed this. I know we didn’t go through all your questions, but I thank you for allowing me the opportunity too. I think because all of this was designed, I think in some ways to showcase a little bit of how I tick inside and so I chose to articulate it that way. And thank you for allowing me to do that.
Yeah. We never know what’s going to happen. People ask once you get into a deal what are you going to do when this happens? Or that happens? We don’t know if that’s going to happen. So let’s just talk about, where we are between the two years right now. Thanks for listening everybody. We’ll see you guys next time.