Getting Back to Business in Anaheim

11/25/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

I was at a meeting on the morning of Sept. 11 and after hearing of the attack, I walked 80 blocks to get my daughter from her school. We returned to Insight headquarters, and when we walked into my office with its fabulous New York view, the reality of what happened left me shell-shocked.

Colleagues, who were in the office that morning and watched the whole thing happen, wept. The two mighty towers outside my window were no more than a huge billow of smoke and a memory.

At that very moment, I knew that much more than my fabulous New York view had permanently changed. I looked at my terrified 14-year-old daughter and I realized how much more had changed. Everything had changed.

I first thought about important things like the safety and well being of my family. I feared that we were going to war. I sobbed for the unimaginable fate of so many fellow New Yorkers — firefighters, policemen, bond traders, secretaries — who woke up that morning and simply went to work.

It took weeks before I even could consider the more mundane things that changed on Sept. 11, such as how this attack would affect our industry. But after a while, I began to have the sense that we had to shake off the shock and start the process of healing. Part of that process was getting back to business.

The events of Sept. 11 and the ongoing acts of terror against America have forced us all to reevaluate many of our daily routines. We are more mindful of suspicious activities around us. We consider the mail we open. We watch the news more often and with far more concern. We think twice about traveling.

So why are we getting on airplanes and going to meetings such as this one in Anaheim, Calif.?

The larger answer is that we cannot let them shut us down. Our nation enjoys the most vibrant and resilient economy the world has ever known. It is this uniquely successful economy that is the primary target of the terrorists. By undermining our sense of personal safety and by causing unthinkable acts of violence, they are trying to terrorize Americans into paralysis in order to break down our economy and, therefore, our very way of life.

An already sluggish economy, complicated by recent events, is challenging our nation. We in the cable industry are being tested as well. Unless we get back to the hard work, carrying on with investments and activities that we know positively impact our business, we may stifle the great broadband opportunities that we are still destined to bring.

So this year we come to Anaheim with two major purposes. One is to talk about our business and to share, in face-to-face meetings, our thoughts, strategies, and opinions. The other is to defend our great nation by getting back to business.

Being at this year's Western Show means getting back to work and regaining our stride. When cable people get together it is always a tangible statement that we intend to do business as we always have — with terrific success.

Shows, conferences and forums historically have been a part of how cable does business. I've always believed that successful shows not only identify a timely theme (See Change!)
that allows attendees a point of reference to debate and discuss the state of our business, but must also provide a good mix of attendees and exhibits to match the industry's diversity. While the marketplace this year has definitely helped refine the Western Show's exhibit floor into a more focused broadband technology exposition, the other show features continue to push for all sectors of our industry to use this venue as a resource to get business done.

With all that said, our industry has been reflecting on the number of shows that we hold each year. Exhibitors are reevaluating the price/reward ratio of these trade shows. I hope that a balanced result will come out of that review. I think these meetings are very important because they allow us to communicate with one another and to showcase our industry to a number of important constituencies.

I am in complete support of the need to review the number of these gatherings, and confident we will find a proper balance between our need to meet with one another and our new economic environment. Fewer, more diverse gatherings would help to reduce expense pressures, and still give us the opportunity to convene.

As for this year, I'm here because I know we are in a fiercely competitive business and I really want to see and learn about new broadband services and products that will keep our industry at the forefront of technology and content. I understand that there are 304 exhibitors who have come together to dramatically demonstrate how the cable broadband platform can help provide content and better services to my customers.

Being here allows me to focus on an array of issues. I can seek new technological solutions to deliver wireless networks within customers' homes. I'm also interested in the integration of in-home devices, and I'm always looking for answers on how best to deliver the full bundle of voice, video and data to consumers. This show is full of sessions on these and other critical issues.

I also want a soapbox. We at Insight believe in the prospects of interactivity, and we have some things we want to share on how critical we think these services are to our industry. Several of Insight's senior executives are speaking here and I am thrilled to be on the Tuesday Kick-Off Session. We will discuss the prospects of interactivity ¾ something we know our customers want, and something that our company is now successfully offering.

Oh, there's one more reason I'm here – the most important one. This new century with its new set of realities makes me think much more often about simply spending time with friends and family. I have had the honor of making many close friends with whom I share an interest in this industry and, for me, being with them every now and then is more important than ever.

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