Ted Turner spoke frankly to Christiane Amanpour about CNN, his success, failures, family, and goals for the future. The billionaire media magnate and philanthropist found success in practically everything he’s done, including making billions of dollars; $1 billion he donated to the United Nation.
In a CNN interview with Amanpour, Turner said he follows the advice of his father–be sure to set your goals so high that you can’t possibly accomplish them in one lifetime. Ted’s father tragically shot himself when Ted was just 24.
In March 1963, Ted took over his family’s business, Turner Advertising Co., after his father’s suicide.
Contrary to what people may assume, Ted Turner did not study business in college. Instead, he focused on the classics at Brown University.
Turner recalls his father learning about his choice of the classics as his college major.
Ted said his father was irate and sent him a scathing letter, which read in part as follows.
“My Dear Son, I am appalled, even horrified that you have adopted classics as a major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today. I think you are rapidly becoming a jackass, and the sooner you get out of that filthy atmosphere, the better it will suit me.”
Ted was so amused by the letter he sent it to the college paper, which republished it in its entirety.
Later in Ted’s life, he founded the Turner Broadcasting System and the 24-hour cable news channel CNN, including cable channels TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies.
CNN was launched June 1, 1980. As Ted approaches his 77th birthday, CNN, the first ever 24-hour news network remains very close to his heart. He still deals with the regret of losing it.
Turner simply said this about being pushed out of his own company and losing CNN.
“You’ve got to be able to take some disappointment in life; too… you just have to roll with the punches [when] adversity hits you.”
Ted admitted that in CNN’s first year, things were going so financially poor, bankers were asking for their money back.
Ted briefly explained he had faith in making CNN successful.
“It was really fun. I mean — and it was scary. I knew what I was doing. At least I felt like I knew what I was doing. And it turned out that I did.”
Ted’s simple response on how he deals with failure is, “Try to avoid it.”
Turner has a magnificent Montana ranch; part of the two million acres he owns across several states. He also owns the world’s largest private herd of bison that roam everywhere.
He admits he’s tired and suffers from atrial fibrillation; however, the billionaire still stays active by fishing, horseback riding, and spending time with the animals on his ranch.
The current aim for Ted Turner is protecting the environment. His greatest fear is nuclear weapons. He wants to get rid of all nuclear weapons saying they are like having “dynamite in your basement.”
On the topic of war, Ted had this to say.
“It’s time to put war behind us. We’ve made enough progress to where we can say goodbye to war.”
His next major project and business endeavor is clean energy. He’s already involved in a solar power business and tells other entrepreneurs, “We have a chance to make a fortune in [clean] energy.”
“There’s not one blemish on my honor in my entire 76-year career. I never paid anybody off. It’s very easy to slip into a lot of corruption. Very easy. But I resisted it all the way along.”
[Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]