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Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, was honored Monday at The New York Women in Communications Matrix Awards, which recognize exceptional women from various communications areas.
Hammer oversees the NBCUniversal cable portfolio, which includes E!, Oxygen, Bravo, Style, Logo, USA Network, Syfy, Esquire, Sprout, TV One, Chiller, Cloo and Universal HD, as well as Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios.
During Hammer’s acceptance speech, she compared the entertainment industry to football and even cited T.S. Eliot — but not before thanking New York Women in Communications for the recognition. “I am so proud to be part of that legacy,” she said.
“Sometimes the more experienced guys have a little something extra that can make the difference. I know I will never be able to throw a perfect spiral, nor thankfully will I ever be called on to do so, but I can relate to the idea,” Hammer said later. “That over time you develop an intuitive, big-picture sense of what’s happening on the field. You know what play to call, you know when to keep running. And you know when to get rid of the ball.”
This year’s Matrix Awards also honored Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles, Bank of America global strategy and marketing officer Anna Finucane, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman, IPG Mediabrands’ CEO of North America and president of global clients Jacki Kelly, Audra McDonald and editor/reporter/author Kara Swisher.
Ryan Seacrest, an E! mainstay, presented Hammer with the award. Joan Rivers emceed the event, held at the Waldorf Astoria.
Below is a selection from Hammer’s acceptance speech:
To describe it, I’m actually going to use a football analogy.
Since my husband played football in college (with the broken-down joints to prove it) and my son’s a die-hard Jets fan, I’ve got a multigenerational perspective on a subject obsessively discussed around my house.
So I’ve heard that when quarterbacks are in the prime of their careers and they talk about WHY they become better as they get older, they say it’s because the speed of play seems to slow down in their mind’s eye, and they’re able to focus ONLY on what’s important. Knowing WHEN to change a play, and knowing WHO should get the ball.
They also develop an intuitive sense of when a BIG defensive lineman is about to flatten them. Most impressively, they are able to do this quickly and decisively. I’m told that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, two of the oldest quarterbacks still playing — if you can call 38 old — get rid of the ball a half-second faster than their peers.
That’s why although there MAY be players on the field who are faster and stronger and clearly younger, sometimes the more experienced guys have a little something extra that can make the difference.
I know I will never be able to throw a perfect spiral, nor, thankfully, will I ever be called on to do so. But I can relate to the idea that over time, you develop an intuitive, big picture sense of what’s happening on the field. You know what play to call, you know when to keep running, and you know when to get rid of the ball before you get sacked. It’s all about tuning out the noise, tuning out ALL the stuff that simply doesn’t move the game forward — the doubt, the personal agendas, the often deafening fear of judgment and the need to please — so that you can ultimately get to that place of quiet, of calm, where you can focus on what really matters.
And, ironically, I’ve found that once you’re able to do that, something else resurfaces. The enthusiasm, the passion, the excitement for the business, and the pure untarnished joy you felt as a rookie, right where you started.
I know that T.S. Eliot didn’t have quarterbacks — or TV executives — in mind when he wrote the following lines, but they DO capture the point perfectly:
We shall not CEASE from exploration
And the END of all our exploring
Will be to ARRIVE where we STARTED …
And KNOW the place for the VERY first time.
Now for someone who’s been on the field as long as I have, it’s great to feel like a rookie again. I wish the same for all of you.
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