I’ve been very lucky in business in that I’ve had quite a few exceptions to the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished.” Case in point: I gave Michael Buffer (you know who I’m talking about – the fabulous boxing announcer who is famous for the phrase “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”) his first job.
Did I know that giving a young announcer a break in the early 80s would result in the juggernaut career and business that Michael has created? And, would Michael even remember that I gave him his first few jobs? Finally, how did I know that taking a risk on a complete unknown boxing announcer wouldn’t be the end of my career?
Answers: No. Yes. I didn’t.
Here’s how it happened:
First, after my stint as a Playboy Bunny (more about this soon) I was promoted to Director of Events and Entertainment. My responsibilities included organizing tons of boxing events at the Playboy Casino. Boxing was, and still is, a great way to bring people into a casino.
We had been employing a number of different ring announcers and this gorgeous man (yes, he was gorgeous even then) kept coming by my office asking if he could audition as a ring announcer. Despite his efforts, I kept pushing him off. After perhaps a year (maybe longer), he started to wear me down. He said he had experience, knew what he was doing, and could work a crowd, but I still wasn’t sure. After his constant campaigning, I decided to give him a shot. Did I know then and there that he was the one? Did he come out into the ring with his trademark “Let’s get ready to rumble”? The answer is no. But he did a fine job, and I noticed that he got better and better with each passing fight.
Unfortunately, the casino was sold and we all had to find something else. I moved to a large theatrical agency in Los Angeles, and Michael continued as an announcer. From his prolific career in the ring (the World Series, NHL Finals, you name it he’s announced it) to appearing in over twenty movies and television shows, you could say he went on to bigger and better things.
Sadly we lost touch, but I still followed his career.
Then, in 1998, I was appointed Sr Director of Programming Acquisitions at DIRECTV. Surprising enough, one of my responsibilities was Pay-Per View Boxing. Michael was the announcer for all of HBO’s fights, so it was inevitable when we finally met up again. I’m happy to say that Michael was as gracious as when I gave him his first job in the early ’80’s. I continued to see him throughout the years and he never missed an opportunity to say thanks for the break. Further, he even went as far as giving me a shout out in a Howard Stern interview.The best part of all of this was when I asked Michael if he really knew what he was doing when I gave him his first job. Turns out he may have bolstered his resume a bit. Oh well, I forgive him!
Why do I share this story? Because it goes to show that giving someone a break can benefit you in more ways than one. Whether it be a return of the favor, or just the general satisfaction of seeing a great person achieve such massive success, the payout is often worth the risk. As you can see from my story, it’s not always instant, so it’s important to stay connected and grateful; Michael being a perfect example of both.
Thanks for listening as always,