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MTV's Bill Roedy gives lecture and book signing at Westminster College

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 9:00 p.m. CDT; updated 5:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011

FULTON — Draped in black school robes and saying he felt like Harry Potter, MTV executive Bill Roedy shared his "Top 10" list for being a successful global business leader with Westminster College students Wednesday afternoon.

According to the former chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International, in order to be successful students must:

  • Have passion;
  • Go global and then go local;
  • Take risks and learn from them;
  • Show leadership;
  • Practice;
  • Stand up for tolerance and diversity;
  • Never accept 'No' for an answer;
  • Master the digital world;
  • Have fun; and
  • Make a difference in the world

As part of Westminster College's annual symposium, Roedy appeared comfortable standing in front of a full auditorium of college students. He led MTV, a network geared toward younger viewers, for more than 15 years.

"It's a bit daunting to follow him," Roedy said after the college's president George Forsythe introduced him. "But I'm reminded U2 once opened for the Spice Girls."

Roedy, who served as a combat officer in Vietnam, was given an honorary degree by the college at the symposium. He is known for transforming MTV Networks International into a media force consisting of 200 channels in 175 countries and 33 languages.

To accomplish this, Roedy and his team tailored each network specifically toward different audiences. For example, MTV Arabia broadcasts the call to prayer five times each day.

Roedy said success didn't come immediately.

"We actually had a business plan in hindsight that made no sense," Roedy said. "The business plan was MTV Europe and the reason it made no sense was because it went across different boundaries, different languages."

Struggling to draw in viewers, MTV Europe had institutional flaws that Roedy strove to change.

"Not only did we struggle with content, we struggled with revenue," he said. "We worked very, very hard to change the mentality of the advertising agencies, the buying agencies — to develop their marketing strategies to go across the whole continent."

Years later, MTV has become one of world's largest television networks.

Roedy is also a global health advocate. Early this year, he received the Cinema for Peace Award for Fighting AIDS for his work with the Staying Alive Campaign. Recently retired, Roedy plans to continue his efforts for improved global health.

Westminster junior Benjamin Bor enjoyed Roedy's presentation, adding that he was particularly impressed by Roedy's ability "to do what he does and recognize the impact of giving back."

Roedy's lecture was followed by a book signing for his recently released book, "What Makes Business Rock: Building the World's Largest Global Networks."

Although Roedy's book delves deeper into global business techniques, Roedy said he really believes in his 10 tips for success.

"Keep learning and you'll never grow old," Roedy said. "Never, never, never, take no for an answer."


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