EPISODE 320

art bell – innovation and the founding of comedy central

Episode Summary

Throughout this episode, Art shares details of how he created Comedy Central, the humbling experience of being told his idea was terrible, and the importance of his passion and vision to turn the odds around and make such a successful network. We delve into some leadership lessons HBO’s Chairman, Michael Fuchs, taught Art, how competition makes us better, and the importance of relying on our passion for finding solutions.

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger. And we have a very interesting and experienced guest with us today. He is a writer and former media executive, known for creating, building, and managing successful cable television channels. His memoir, published by Ulysses Press, is “Constant Comedy: How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor”. This book was recently honored as a finalist in the 2020 Best Book Awards for memoirs. So, welcome, Art Bell.  

Art Bell: Thanks, Steve. It’s great to be here.  

Steve Shallenberger: Really looking forward to this. You have such an interesting background, you’ve accomplished so much and made so many contributions professionally. I’ll just tell you a little bit more about Art before we get going. While working at HBO, Art pitched the idea of a 24-hour comedy network and helped develop and launch HBO’s The Comedy Channel, which became Comedy Central. And he went on to hold senior executive positions in both programming and marketing. And after leaving Comedy Central, Art became president of Court TV, where he was a guiding force behind one of the most successful brand evolutions in cable television. And in addition to writing, Art plays piano and drums, and jazz piano. 

Art Bell: And classical. But mostly jazz these days.  

Steve Shallenberger: That’s good stuff. And he co-hosts The Constant Comedy Podcast with Art Bell and Vinnie Favale. Well, let’s get going. It’s so good to have you here. If you don’t mind, Art, let’s start by having you tell us a little more about your background, any turning points in your life that have had a significant impact on you? How in the world did you end up where you were career-wise? We’re just excited to get to know you a little better.  

Art Bell: As a kid, I loved comedy, and that’s what I focused on from the time I was eight years old. I liked to write comedy, I was a class clown. I got thrown out of class plenty of times. And I thought I was pretty funny for a while. But I got to college and I majored in economics mostly because I failed my first economic test. It was the first test I really flunked, 17 out of 100. And I thought, “Okay, I’ve got to really adjust my approach here.” And I worked so hard in economics, I fell in love with it. So, I got a job as an economist out of college. And I worked for three years in Washington DC, solving pretty hairy problems and doing econometric forecasting about the economy and the energy economy. I worked for the EPA and the Department of Energy. It was fascinating. And that was the smartest period of my life, those three years. It’s pretty much been downhill since then. But I decided I didn’t want to be an economist or go to grad school for economics, I wanted to get into television. And I have been told all my life, mostly by my parents, “You can’t make a living in television. Nobody can make a living in television.” It’s like a myth. I guess I sort of believed them. That said, a few of my friends from college went to Hollywood and actually did pretty well by the time I was three years into economics, I said, “Well, what the heck! I’m gonna give it a try.” So, I went back to business school. And in business school, I was fortunate enough to get involved with what was called the follies, the Wharton Follies. And the second year I wrote it. It was a comedy musical review, I wrote it, and it reminded me how much I love comedy. I came out of there and I said, “You know what? I really want to work at a comedy channel, but there isn’t one. What the heck’s going on?” There was a music channel, there was news, there were all kinds of 24/7 cable channels coming along. And I was just stupefied that nobody had put together a comedy channel. 

Steve Shallenberger: This is quite the background – music, economist, going to the Wharton Business School. That’s a serious background. So, I think it’s good to underline the fact that you were working hard to gain skills and look for ways to find what you like to do. And now you’re going to apply it in this industry. That’s very cool. Tell us more. 

Art Bell: That’s right. And I just want to point out that I came to understand that any job you ever have, whether you love it or hate it, teaches you stuff. You learn things, you learn how to work, you learn skills that can come in very handy in any job you’re doing. So, that’s pretty much the story for me. I went to CBS, spent a short time there as a financial analyst, didn’t like it very much. I was nowhere near the product, programming television. And I got a call from my friend at HBO. And HBO in those days, by the way, was Netflix – the coolest place to work in the television business. They were going to change television, and they were working hard to do it. So, my friend called me and says, “You know, they’re looking for somebody here to do econometric forecasting for their subscribers. Why don’t you come interview for it? Because I don’t know anybody in the business who can do that.” And I did, and they gave me the job. Now, let me point out that was the last thing I wanted to do at HBO was subscriber forecasting. What I really wanted to do was be involved in programming, but it was a foot in the door. And I figured, if I did a good job, maybe I’d get noticed, and maybe I’d have a little leverage in order to get a better job. And that’s pretty much what happened. And I always point out that it’s good to understand the closer you get to the product, to the thing you want to work with, regardless of where you are in the company, the better off you are. You don’t necessarily have to start at the place you want to end up. And that was my story.  

Art Bell: So, I was at HBO for a while I finished this subscriber forecasting job, I got another position in new business development. The project I was working on failed miserably. It wasn’t because of me, I hope. There were a bunch of us working on it. But I was working with programmers, and I did talk to them about, “Hey, you know what about an all-comedy channel? That seems like it could go somewhere.” And they said the same thing, they said, “You know, it sounds good, but it’s not going to work. It’s expensive to put together a channel like that.” And they gave me lots of reasons why. The more I talked to people about it, the more I heard their objections; why it wouldn’t work. And I sort of built up a portfolio of objections and ways to get around those objections. They said, “It was too expensive.” I said, “Okay, how can we start this inexpensively?” And I figured out a way to do that. Finally, I got up enough nerve to go pitch the Head of Programming at HBO. Her name was Bridget, she was considered a television programming genius. And she was at the top of the org chart. I was pretty much near the bottom of the org chart at that point. But I figured, “Okay, now or never.” So, I walked in – I didn’t walk in, I made an appointment, obviously – and I sat down and I said, “Bridget, I really think HBO ought to have an all-comedy network.” And she said, “Stop right there. That is a terrible idea, and I’m going to tell you why.” And she spent the next 15 minutes telling me why. I didn’t get to say much more. She said, “No decent comedian would want to be on it. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, these people would not be on an all-comedy channel.” “Too expensive. Why would HBO risk its reputation?” On and on. And they were good objections. They were reasonable objections. She wasn’t crazy. And then she said, “Well, thanks for coming in, you obviously don’t know much about television.” She did say that, and sent me on my way. And that was a hard moment for me. But by the time I reached the elevator on my way back to the office, I knew she was wrong. I knew somebody was going to put together an all-comedy network. So, that was, talking about a turning point. I went back to my office and said, “How am I going to do this by myself? Because HBO is not going to do it.” 

Steve Shallenberger: Wow, what a story. One of the reasons I was excited to have this interview with Art is he’s written this great book about Comedy Central. The subtitle, I might add, is very interesting, is: “How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor.” Well, we’re going to get into this. And his book, it’s kind of a different approach because it’s a memoir. And I don’t think I’ve interviewed anyone that has done a memoir and then put it into a book. And what I like about that is every one of us can learn from each other, regardless of where you’re at in your career. And as we listen closely today, we can each find ways to make greater contributions within the organizations we’re in, whether we’re the CEO, the head of programming, division manager, in charge of HVAC technicians, or we work in a warehouse. I think we’re going to get some great ideas today of how we can all do a little bit better. And sometimes just having the chance to reflect back gives us that gift. So, that’s why I’m excited Art to be with us. So, if you don’t mind, share with our listeners about the memoirs; how did it come about? How did you come up with the idea? And how did you put it into a book? 

Art Bell: I wrote the memoir because I wanted people, especially now, Comedy Central is 30 years old and it’s a cultural icon at this point. I mean, up there was Saturday Live as one of the great brands of comedy in the United States. And that was always my dream. Now, I was only there, I started it. We went through a horrendous first year, where we almost got shut down. And when I talked about losing my sense of humor, that’s when the going really got rough. And people said, “Well, how did you get through that first year?” I mean, the press was brutal. The press came out almost immediately saying, “What is HBO thinking? This channel is not funny. It’s stupid. There’s no reason for it to exist.” And they were taking great joy in putting HBO in its place because HBO and Michael Fuchs, the chairman of HBO at that time, were very powerful and very big forces in the industry. And here I was, responsible for HBO’s biggest flop, and that’s what it felt like. I wrote the memoir because I wanted to give people a personal look at what it’s like to start a business inside another business, and how difficult it is. As I started to say, Comedy Central is a big deal now, and kids watching it today, or people watching it today probably think, “Yeah, they started, it was probably successful immediately.” Not even close. I went to work every day that first year, assuming we would be shut down. And as a matter of fact, this subtitle comes from a point at which the chairman, Michael Fuchs, called me in, and he said, “It took a comedy channel to get me to lose my sense of humor.” And he wasn’t laughing, and I wasn’t laughing, and nobody was laughing. I mean, it was tough times. We did turn it around. I went to work every day, saying, “What can I do more of that’s working? And what can I do less of that’s not working?” And I just had to keep pushing ahead.  

Art Bell: I’ll tell you the other thing that I did in that period when things weren’t going well – I kept looking for little glimmers of success, just anything that I could not only see myself and take some heart in, but I would also broadcast that to the rest of the company – Like, “Look what’s happening. This is great. This is really important.” One of the things that happened early on, before we even launched, actually, was we got a tape in the mail from some guys in Minneapolis, and they said, “We heard you’re starting a comedy channel, we’re wondering if you might be interested in this.” And it was Mystery Science Theater 3000, which became a hit for us, obviously, pretty quickly, eight or nine months into it. And of course, we wanted that. We flew out to Minneapolis the next day. And it occurred to me at that point that that is a hallmark of success because we hadn’t even launched and good comedy – great comedy, maybe – was going to find us. And that was part of my vision for it. I used to say, “I wanted Comedy Central to be –” or Comedy Channel, when we first started – “to be the center of the comedy universe. And that’s what it’s become. But in those days, it wasn’t the center of anything. 

Steve Shallenberger: So, I’m really curious, Art. How did you go from the meeting with the director of programming where she said, “No, this is a dumb idea” to actually getting back and putting it on the radar and making it a reality? How did that happen? 

Art Bell: I went back to my office and immediately started working on basically a plan for a comedy channel. And the reason is, I thought, “Okay, HBO is not going to do it. That’s what I want to do. I want to see somebody start a comedy channel. So, I am going to send my resume out, attach this idea for a comedy channel, and hope that somebody thinks it’s a good idea and maybe hires me.” I was going to send it to movie studios and television companies. And I got… not caught because I wouldn’t do anything wrong, but my boss’s boss walked in and they said, “What are you working on? The project we just had failed, and you’re sort of benched right now.” I said, “Well, I had this idea and I’m kind of writing it up.” He said, “Let me see.” So, he looked at it and he said, “Wow! This is great. The Chairman of HBO, Michael Fuchs, should really see this.” I said, “Wow! That would be great.” He said, “Come on, we’re going to his office right now.” I said, “Right now?” I was in no way prepared. I was absolutely petrified. Michael Fuchs had just been named the most powerful man in Hollywood by the New York Times. I was probably not named but the least powerful man in Hollywood at that time. So, there I was marching into Michael Fuchs’ office without an appointment. I was introduced as, “Here’s Art, and he’s got a great idea, you ought to hear it.” Told him the idea. And at the end of my pitch, he said, “Sounds good. Sounds interesting.” He asked me some questions and said, “Let’s take a look at this.”  

Art Bell: Now, people say, “Well, how did you get through that pitch? You didn’t get through Bridget.” It was a combination of having passion. You’ve got to jump up and down. I was literally jumping up and down, but people have to sense your excitement about your idea. And the second is vision. Because I did say to Michael, “You know if this thing works, we are going to be comedy. This will be comedy in the US in 10 years, and we will be the center of the comedy universe.” Michael loved comedy. He was the one who put all those great comedy specials on of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal and all those people. And he loved comedy and he said, “Yeah, I’d like to do that. I’d like to be the king of comedy.” So, that’s how we got started. He teamed me up with the Head of Comedy Program in HBO. Now, mind you, this is important, what I knew about the comedy business at that point was nothing. I mean, literally nothing. I hadn’t been in it. I was a finance guy. I was passionate. And I knew something about comedy, but I didn’t know about the business. Stu Smiley – that’s a great name for a comedy guy, right? Stu Smiley was the Head of Programming at HBO Comedy. And when he met me, he didn’t even say hello, he said, “What do you know about comedy?” Just like that. He was a little bit angry because there he was doing his day job and suddenly he gets teamed up with some guy he doesn’t know, who’s a finance guy who thinks he’s got a swell idea. And from then on, Stu always said, “Oh, there he is, the guy with the big idea.” Now, I mention this because, first of all, in my memoir, I don’t hold back. I tell them the good stuff and the bad stuff. And that was tough.  

Steve Shallenberger: What was that like, Art, to share personal information? What was that like? 

Art Bell: Well, what I learned from Stu instantly was that he was not going to take me under his wing and say, “Okay, over here, kid. I’m going to teach you about the business.” The comedy business, like many businesses, I assume, was pretty insular. It was a club – you were in the club or you were out of the club. Obviously, if you were a comedian or a comedy writer, you’re in the club. If you’re a businessman, you’ve got to fight your way in and say, “Hey, look, I know what I’m doing here. I can get you work. I can put things together. I can produce comedy.” I was none of that. And I was instantly not accepted. Let me just say that it was very hard. It was very hard for me. And it was surprising because, previously, I had been relatively successful at the things I was doing. I wasn’t in business for very long, but I felt like I could do it. I was a little bit cocky, but not real cocky. And here I was being cut down aside by somebody who was in the business, and that worried me. But I kept going. Stu and I put together a demo tape of what the channel would be like, I did the finances. This is where the intrapreneur stuff comes in because when you’re inside a company, then you have access to a legal department and the finance department, and all the other departments that can be supportive of your business. That’s the good news. The bad news is, as I said, they’re not necessarily dying to add to their day job and give you some help. For the most part, people at HBO were happy to help. They knew Michael Fuchs was excited about the project and they wanted to be involved. But they had to put in some extra time, and not everybody thought it was probably a great idea. Although, that wasn’t talked about too much.  

Art Bell: I will tell you one interesting thing that happened. I had to give a presentation to top management, 25 of the top executives at HBO, and Michael Fuchs, and Bridget, the head of programming. I gave a presentation of what the channel would be and what the finances were and how it would change our lives. Michael, before he said yes or no, before he gave it the thumbs up or thumbs down, he did something I found fascinating. He went around to each person individually in the room, and he said, “Bridget, what do you think? Larry, what do you think?” And went through 25 people, looked them right in the eye, and said, “What do you think?” And everybody said, “Oh, I think it’s great.” Bridget said, “Oh, I think it’s wonderful, Michael.” Good for her. But I thought about that long and hard for years, why did he do that? And then I realized that he did that because he wanted everybody’s buy-in on the record so that they wouldn’t come back in six months when the thing was not doing so well and say, “Look, I told you this was a bad idea. I knew in my heart it was. I should have spoken up.” He didn’t want that. He wanted everybody on the record saying, “I support this. I’m going to throw my weight behind. I’m going to give my team permission to work on it.” And I thought that was a brilliant leadership move on his part. 

Steve Shallenberger: It is. That is wonderful. And my guess is that he also was willing to hear contrarian points of view, if they had it, to help him think more clearly. 

Art Bell: I think that’s probably true. But you had to really pull yourself together to give Michael a con. I’ll tell you a little bit about the entertainment industry management. It’s really a top-down situation, for the most part – a lot of egos. And I’m sure that your audience, whether they’re in the entertainment business or not, read about the entertainment business because it’s talked about a lot. And it’s the big egos of the guys who make a lot of decisions, and some of them are scary. Michael was a scary guy, and you felt his presence in the room. Interestingly, a lot of my memoir is talking about my interaction with Michael through the several years I was there because it was a power dynamic that I learned a lot about from him. Sometimes I was in his jaws, I’ve got to say, I was at several board meetings where he was just taking me apart in front of everybody. And I had to really rise to the occasion, I couldn’t just hide under the table or run out crying, even though that wasn’t my instinct sometimes. I had to answer his questions, or say, “No, Michael, you’re missing it,” or “It’s wrong,” or “We have faith,” or “This is gonna work. Trust us,” or whatever I said. But it’s not like these people are bully so much as they’re strong-willed. And I think a lot of leaders of companies are strong-willed and have a good sense of what’s right and wrong for their company. But intrapreneurship is about developing new business ideas inside a company, and that really takes listening. And I credit Michael for all his braggadocio, all his bluster, and all his power, he listened to me. And I was a kid, I was nobody. And he listened to me and took a chance. And so, two things – if you’re in a company, and everybody walks into a company and says, “You know what they should do here? They should add this product, they should do this thing.” But not everybody talks about it. That’s number one – you can talk about it. Number two – top management, their role. And I learned this when I became heading up a company, is that the role is not only to come up with ideas and directions, it’s to listen to ideas that are coming in from the rest of the company and choose the good ones and bad ones. And that’s a lot of what I did in the latter part of my career. I always said that I had one or two good ideas in my life – like Einstein, he said that too – the rest of the good ideas come from elsewhere. 

Steve Shallenberger: Now, on the title page of your book, it says you lost your sense of humor. I can see that. Any of us can see it that are in business or trying to help something succeed. And especially when there’s adversity, it’s not as fun as maybe we thought when we conceived the idea. So, I can see that. So, my question is, did you really lose it? Maybe so for a while. And did it come back? Did you get your sense of humor back? And how did you get your sense of humor back? 

Art Bell: Well, as I said, the subtitle really came from that meeting with Michael where he was chewing me out because the channel was dying. Did I lose my sense of humor? There were some moments where it was very serious. I mean, listen, you’re in the comedy business, everybody’s funny. And by the way, one thing I learned is when you’re in the comedy business, you don’t compete with the professionals. If you’re in a meeting with a really funny guy, don’t try and outmaneuver him with your sense of humor. Just enjoy the meeting. Because these guys, the professionals are really a riot, they’re really funny people. But anyway, truthfully, I never really lost my sense of humor. As I said, you have bad days, you have setbacks, you have tough times. And I wrote the book with my sense of humor in mind. I mean, I wanted to make the good parts funny and enjoyable. But I wanted to also portray how hard it was, how difficult it was to get this thing going. I mean, one of the things I talked about is six months after we launched, we got competition – talking about kind of a crazy turn of events. A year before, everybody thought a comedy network was the stupidest idea, suddenly there are two. Again, another lesson learned: Don’t underestimate the competition. Never underestimate the competition. The competition, in this case, was MTV Networks. And they were scary because they had a bunch of cable TV networks. They knew how to do it. And when they said, “Hey, we’re going to do a comedy channel too.” We got nervous. They were resourced and they had a lot of power in the television business. And suddenly we were going head to head with a formidable competitor.  

Art Bell: But let me tell you, it makes you better when you know where the competition is coming from. It makes you better. And we got better and we fought hard. And we thought we were winning The Comedy Channel wars. That’s what they called it, the press loved it – loved seeing us go at each other for audience and talent and programming. We were fighting constantly for everything. Then I get a call at the end of another six months – we’d been in business for a year, and they’d been in business for six months – that they were merging the channels. And talk about a turning point. At that moment, I was as distraught as I’d been because I had been fighting so hard to keep this thing going. And it wasn’t just me at that point, I mean, we had 400 people working on the thing. And a lot of people had taken this on as a full-time job when they had a good job at HBO. And they said, “Okay, you know what? We’re gonna throw our hat in this ring.” They made a bad bet. So, the merger did come with a lot of people getting fired. That was hard for me. I did not get fired. They put me in a room with the head of programming from the other channel, which was called, by the way, “Ha!”, the comedy network. They said, “Okay, you guys figure out what programming you want to use, how you want to put this channel together, who you want working with you, and you gotta rename it because it can’t be The Comedy Channel and it can’t be Ha!” And again, that was a blow because The Comedy Channel, as long as I thought about it, that’s what it would be called. Because in those days, that’s what you called your channel. You called it what it was, Music Television, MTV. We had to rename the channel, and that was a crazy experience. But I will tell you this: Merging two completely different cultures, two completely different concepts of what a comedy network could be, was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Their concept of a comedy network was sitcoms. They wanted sitcoms all the time, old sitcoms. Our concept of comedy network was edgy comedy for young adults. We wanted to really focus on that. That’s why we had Mystery Science Theater 3000, that’s why we had stand-up comedy. A lot of stand-up comedy and a lot of experimental stuff too, I gotta say. 

Steve Shallenberger: As you reflect now and you sit on this end of things and you look back into an amazing career, what are some of the most important lessons learned that you would recommend to others – employees within an organization, or an intrapreneur, or entrepreneur, either one of lessons learned just on getting things started? And how do you make it successful? And how do you bring the people together? What are the most important lessons learned? What would you recommend to others? The critical things as they’re trying to bring forth innovation and good ideas and help things be successful? 

Art Bell: I mentioned the two most important earlier, which is: You’ve got to have passion and you’ve got to have a vision. Vision is if you don’t tell people how your idea is going to change the world — not how it’s going to make a lot of money, people will take that for granted if it’s successful — but how it’s going to change the world, that’s what you want to say, that’s what you want to talk about. So, those are very important. Second thing, tell everybody about your idea. That was something I did; I did not keep it under wraps, for a lot of reasons. One, I found out what the objections were, why it was not being done, and I learned from that. And second, you get a lot of feedback that gives you ideas about what it should be. And the whole idea that people are going to steal your idea. As I said, we got into business, the day after we announced, MTV said, “Yeah, we’re going to do it, too.” You’re gonna get competition, so just get out there with it. Third, don’t compromise your vision but be ready to change it a little bit. You’ve got an idealized version of what this thing could be, what this business could be. But it may not end up being that way. I guess the term these days is pivot, “We pivoted to something else.” It’s not so much pivoting because, for example, when we were renaming the channel, we hired a naming company. And one of the things they said is: “Whatever you do, don’t put ‘comedy’ in the name of the channel.” They said, “You want to be Comedy Central, you told us that, but you can never call yourself Comedy Central.” They recommended names like big and acme and other crazy names. And I said to the guy, “Why wouldn’t we call ourselves ‘Comedy Something’?” And he said, “Because it’s too on the nose. What if you want to pivot to something else?” He did say that. I said, “You know something, what are we going to do? Cover girl’s basketball?” I mean, it’s a stupid thing. You don’t want to compromise your vision to that extent, but you do have to understand that things are going to change.  

Art Bell: Finally — I say finally because there’s probably more but I’ll end with this one — you’ve got to be prepared to fail. That comes with the territory. You’ve got to go into this knowing that as hard as you work on it, and as much as you try, not everything’s inside of your control. You have to spend all your time solving problems. People, and businesses, and everything – they’re going to roll giant boulders at you while you’re trying to get this thing started. I’ll tell you one story. I mean, we were going to use short-form programming and we had to get permission from the Directors Guild and the Writer Guild and some other guilds to use clips from movies and comedy specials and things like that. And we did. I spent a year going around to all these places. And they gave us permission, we got clips, we put a ton of clips together that we were going to show in addition to other programming. And six weeks before we’ve launched, the Directors Guild called up and said, “You know what? One of the board members said no, he doesn’t like this idea, and we’re withdrawing our permission.” So, there I had a huge ton of programming that I had just put together for launching this channel. Six weeks before, it was no longer available. And I remember, my staff came to me and said, “Now, what do we do? Give up?” I said, “No, we go to plan B.” And they said, “What’s plan B?” I said, “I don’t know yet. But we’re going to come up with plan B, we’ve got six weeks to go, we will find something.” And that’s what we did. But you’re going to get bracing moments like that all the time where it looks like it’s over. It looks like, “Okay, that’s it. We’re shut down.” You’ve got to just keep going, knowing that it’s possible that you’re going to fail. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, what a story. That’s a great story. I’m always amazed at how fast time goes. We’re done. We’re at the end of this interview and I want to hear more.  

Art Bell: Well, you can hear it in glowing detail in my book. If you listen to the audiobook, you’ll hear it. It’s all there. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, what’s the final tip that you would have? 

Art Bell: I recommend writing a memoir. I know that’s not the obvious thing that comes to mind. When I started writing the memoir, I didn’t know how it was going to come out. I looked around for business memoirs. There’s a few, but there’s not a lot. And memoirs are different. I learned that when you write a memoir – because I took some classes before I got into this – you have to turn yourself inside out. You really have to tell it all – the good stuff, the bad stuff. My wife, she would be reading some of it before, when I was writing, and she’d say, “You can’t say that. It makes you sound like you’re scared, or you’re unhappy, or you’re insecure.” I said, “Look, that comes with the territory. That’s what I was.” I wanted people to see that. And it really does give you a chance to consider whatever you’re writing about, whether it’s a previous job. In this case, for me, it was one aspect of my career. And really find out what your lessons are so that you can transmit those to your staff or other people. And then I will add that intrapreneurship, every CEO should want intrapreneurs running around his company. I know that there’s an intrapreneurship institute in this country that trains people in intrapreneurship because CEOs now want their employees to come up with ideas and push them. 

Steve Shallenberger: That’s how good companies survive and succeed over the long term. They create an environment or open the opportunity where they can bring out the best in their people. Art Bell has done that. He’s worked his whole career on becoming his best and making a difference. And he’s still at it. He’s still thinking that way; what does my best look like? And I admire that, Art. That’s great. 

Art Bell: Thank you, Steve. 

Steve Shallenberger: How can people find out about you and about your book?  

Art Bell: Well, you can go to my website, artbellwriter.com. It’s got a lot of information about me. I do an interview with myself, which is pretty funny. My bio is there, some other writing that I’ve done. And you can instantly link to Amazon or any of the other booksellers to buy my book or the audiobook. And you can see our podcast. I did a podcast with Vinnie Favale, and that’s also on there. So, I encourage people to do that as a first stop. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, thank you, Art Bell, for being part of this show today. It’s been great. Wow! So interesting. And congratulations on the contributions you’ve made to have a better world. 

Art Bell: Well, thank you, Steve. That’s very nice of you. 

Steve Shallenberger: You bet. Well, we wish you, our listeners, all the best as you, too, are making a difference in the world. Just never forget that every single day you’re influencing and lifting and building, and that’s our opportunity. So, we wish you the best today and always. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host. 

Steve Shallenberger

Steve Shallenberger

Founder, Becoming Your Best

CEO, executive, corporate trainer, and community leader.

Art Bell

Art Bell

Author and Podcast Host of The Constant Comedy Podcast

Podcast host, Author, President of Court TV.

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