The Softer Side of Mike LaJoie

Retiring Time Warner Cable CTO Reminisces With Former Colleague Yvette Kanouff
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There was no talk of OFDM, or DOCSIS 3.1, or WiFi, or any of the hard-core tech fare that typically characterizes an SCTE Cable-Tec Expo general session, when Time Warner Cable chief technology officer Mike LaJoie sat down Wednesday with his friend and former colleague Yvette Kanouff, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Service Provider group.

Instead, it was a look into the life and driving philosophies of the outgoing CTO, who will retire from the MSO at the end of this year.

The camaraderie between the two, who first worked together at the Full Service Network effort in the ’90s, contributed to an alternately witty and wise discussion.

Highlights and key quips:

• LaJoie partipates on a 5:30 a.m. phone call with a few male friends, every day. The intent: To coach each other on how to be better people. “It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time. That clarity has been working on me.”

• His area of desired improvement: Kindness. “As hokey as that sounds, having a higher purpose is so important to me. I’m not as kind as I should be,” he said, to much audience chortling. “Some of you out there know that I can be a little gruff.”

• LaJoie doesn’t view his working life through the lens of “career progression,” but rather as a quest to “work on the bleeding edge of technology with leading-edge people.”

• Tip: Business alignment matters to a successful career. LaJoie, who once worked as a stockbroker, urged attendees to understand how finances work. “You have to take time to know how to read an income statement, what a balance sheet is, and establish how to contribute” to a company’s business goals.

• Also: Communicate well. “I can’t tell you how important it is to speak in language that other people understand.”

• And: Have fun. “If it isn’t fun, make it fun. If you can’t make it fun, go somewhere else.”

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