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Starting in the mailroom and rising to become inaugural Executive Chairman of ESPN, Inc., George Bodenheimer is a recognized leadership and corporate culture expert who was ESPN's longest serving president. In his current post he provides the strategic direction for ESPN's global business and is chair of its board of directors.

As President of ESPN Bodenheimer was responsible for all multimedia sports assets of The Walt Disney Company and was also co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. He doubled the number of domestic television networks in ESPN's portfolio, created a network of new websites, increased the number of households taking ESPN by 25 million and more than trebled its workforce.

Bodenheimer's success comes from a simple but effective leadership style which placed the employee at the heart of their own career and asked them to follow the simple mission statement of: "Serve Sports Fans. Any time. Anywhere." He viewed his primary role as maintaining and growing this corporate culture.

In business, Bodenheimer designed initiatives which had one ultimate goal - to bring greater value to all of those whom ESPN was serving, namely affiliates, advertisers, rights holders and consumers. Through a series of acquisitions and bold initiatives he has established ESPN as the globally recognized leader in sports broadcasting.

Full Profile

George Bodenheimer is the executive chairman, ESPN, Inc. In that capacity, he provides strategic direction for ESPN’s global business and chairs ESPN’s board of directors.


Bodenheimer is an ESPN and cable industry pioneer and as the company’s longest-tenured president (13 years, 1998-2012), he led an unprecedented period of global growth. He oversaw all multimedia sports assets of The Walt Disney Company from March 3, 2003 – January 1, 2012 and was co-chairman, Disney Media Networks from April 20, 2004 – January 1, 2012.


Bodenheimer’s path to leadership mirrors that of ESPN itself—with his sharp focus on creativity and cutting-edge innovation, always enhancing value for sports fans and ESPN’s business partners, and his conviction for teamwork. He believes ESPN’s culture is the company’s strategic advantage. As president, he viewed his primary role as working hard to preserve and enhance that culture while emphasizing career development for all of ESPN’s people.


Consistent and substantive growth defined Bodenheimer’s tenure as president, leading to unprecedented success. His leadership style was simple but effective: empower all employees to proactively take charge of their careers and to base decisions on the company’s stated mission: Serve Sports Fans. Anytime. Anywhere. His vision created a vibrant, innovative workplace.


Since 1998 when Bodenheimer took over as president, through the time of his appointment as executive chairman, ESPN grew to:


– Eight domestic television networks, up from four

– Five HD services, from 0

– One 3D network, from 0

– Nearly 100 million households for ESPN and ESPN2, from 75 and 62 million, respectively

– 48 international television networks, from 20

– 13 international SportsCenter editions, from 0

– 18 web sites, from one

– 750 ESPN Radio affiliates nationwide, from 620

– 7,000 employees worldwide, from 1900


The Bristol Campus increased to 116 acres (from 39), 18 buildings (from eight) and 1.3 million square feet (from 260,000). A state-of-the-art production facility in Los Angeles opened in 2009, and construction has begun on a second Digital Center in Bristol that is set to open in 2014.


BUSINESS INITIATIVES

Throughout his career, Bodenheimer’s contributions were integral to ESPN’s success. His business initiatives were designed with one goal in mind—to bring greater value to all of ESPN’s constituents: affiliates, advertisers, rights holders and ultimately consumers.


While president, his vision led to company and industry-leading innovations in integrated sales and marketing, original programming, acquisitions and new technologies. At the same time, he solidified and enhanced ESPN’s position as The Worldwide Leader in Sports via the following primary pillars:


Content Across Platforms

His focus moved the company from mostly television deals of a shorter length to multiplatform deals of significant length. ESPN acquired a collection of rights unparalleled in scope, underscoring ESPN’s mission to serve sports fans.


Some examples of the roughly 30 agreements reached with major leagues, conferences and associations:


– SEC, Pac 12, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12—all 10-15 years for multiplatform coverage entire Bowl Championship Series

– Multimedia rights for Monday Night Football and NASCAR

– English Premier League television rights, which led to the creation and launch of a live sports network in the

UK

– A wide-ranging, multimedia, multi-year agreement with the NBA

– 12-year deal for the entire Wimbledon tournament and long-term extensive coverage of US Open tennis

– Long-term multimedia agreements with MLB, the NCAA, including every game of the Women’s Basketball Tournament

– FIFA World Cup Soccer, The Masters, British Open golf, Indy 500


He also focused on creating new television networks and growing popular brands:


– ESPN HD in 2003, ESPN Deportes in 2004, ESPNU in 2005, ESPN 3D in 2009, Longhorn Network in 2011

– X Games global expansion and enhanced competitions

– Live SportsCenter editions every weekday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

– Programming outside the network’s traditional event and news/information offerings such as the critically acclaimed 30 for 30 film project

– New multiplatform businesses such as ESPNHS and espnW


Under Bodenheimer’s leadership, ABC Sports had one of the broadcast industry’s most comprehensive sports programming schedules and contributed to ESPN offering more leading platforms than any other sports media entity.


International, expanding the brand across countries and platforms


– Expansion in Latin America: television, including the launch of ESPN3 in Argentina in 2011; ESPN Play

(broadband); ESPNdeportes.com; ESPN.com.br and ESPNsoccernet.com (online); ESPN The Magazine Mexico and Brazil (print); ESPN Mobile and radio

– Acquired ESPN America (formerly NASN) which showcases North American sports across Europe

– Launched ESPN UK in 2010, just six weeks after acquiring Premier League rights

– 13 international versions of the flagship SportsCenter

– Global X Games competitions around the world


Innovation to better serve fans anywhere, anytime, across any platform


ESPN continued to drive innovation in the industry.  While Bodenheimer was president, ESPN debuted 21 technological enhancements, launched five high definition simulcast services and developed the industry′s first 3D network and first authenticated online networks. Four companies were acquired to further advance innovation and two development labs opened to continue researching cutting-edge technological breakthroughs. The technology team won four Emmy Awards and was awarded 19 patents and Inventor Awards.


Examples:


– WatchESPN app, a groundbreaking extension of ESPN’s “best available screen” philosophy, allows fans to watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU live online and on mobile devices

– High-definition simulcast services of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes

– ESPN’s Digital Center, one of the world’s largest HD facilities, followed by the Los Angeles Production Center.

– DC2 is under construction in Bristol and scheduled to open in 2014.

– The first 3D network for sports

– Enhanced on-screen graphics (First & 10 line, K Zone, Shot Spot, virtual technology, ESPN Axis, etc.)

– Relaunch of ESPN3 as the online home for live sporting events—more than 4,000 per year

– Multiple applications for a variety of mobile devices

– Launch of an Innovation Lab in Orlando and a Media Ad Lab (in conjunction with Disney) in Austin, both in 2009

– Localization of ESPN.com with sites dedicated to local fans in Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.

– New multiplatform businesses such as espnW, a digital venture serving female athletes and fans, and ESPNHS, focused on high school student-athletes and fans.


INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP

Bodenheimer’s leadership has been recognized throughout the industry. In 2008, he was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame for his leadership, innovation and contributions to the cable industry and his community.  Throughout the years, he has been honored with many other prestigious industry awards.


Bodenheimer serves on the boards of NCTA (The National Cable Telecommunications Association), Cable in the Classroom and the Cable Center, a Denver-based institution that educates and informs about the power of cable television. In 2010, he was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board.


Bodenheimer elevated the company’s numerous corporate outreach initiatives, most notably The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which was founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach and commentator Jim Valvano. The V Foundation has raised more than $100 million since 1993 and 100% of cash donations go directly to research. Bodenheimer also championed an impressive increase in ESPN employee volunteerism during his tenure as President, highlighted by more than 30,000 hours of service given to those less fortunate as part of the company’s 30th anniversary efforts.


ESPN CAREER

During his career at ESPN, he was strategically involved in the development and distribution of the ESPN domestic networks including ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes and ESPNU, as well as ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com and ESPN Radio. He led the most successful launch of a new network in the modern era of cable when ESPN2 debuted in 10 million homes in October 1993. ESPN2 is the nation’s second largest sports network and features a programming lineup on par with ESPN.


Prior to becoming president, Bodenheimer was responsible for affiliate sales, advertising sales, marketing and research for all of ESPN’s domestic networks. In 1995, Bodenheimer implemented an integrated sales and marketing unit to facilitate multimedia buys across all of ESPN’s franchises. ESPN’s multimedia platforms provide the most effective and efficient sports marketing vehicle worldwide for advertisers and affiliates, who cite ESPN number one in subscription acquisition, retention and local ad sales.


RAPID ADVANCEMENT

Bodenheimer, who began his ESPN career in the administration department as a driver in the mailroom just 16 months after the launch of the network, became president 17 short years later. He learned the company from the ground up by taking positions in the affiliate sales and marketing department throughout the country—Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Bristol and New York.


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Bodenheimer was graduated from Denison University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. He is married with three children.


George Bodenheimer Speaker Videos Back to top

VIP Speaker Series- George Bodenheimer


George Bodenheimer recalls his early days at ESPN, when he was “sort of" offered a job as a driver in the mailroom. He remembers, “We have various student loans, and you could get a job at entry level with IBM in the Midwest for $30,000, and this job I had been offered was $8000. So I spoke to my father, and he gave me perhaps the best bit of career advice I have had; he said if you're interested in a career in sports broadcasting, then you should take it. So they called me, and I accepted the job, and two days later I was delivering the mail at ESPN, and I've been there ever since."

Thinking about initiatives which were not successful, Bodenheimer reveals his philosophy: “We've got plenty of business examples that don't work, but I don't look at them at all negatively, I look at them positively; if you're running a successful organization, like ESPN or the University of Texas, and you're not trying new things, you're not trying hard enough."

Speaking of some of the problems attached to sports, particularly with reference to violence, Bodenheimer says, “Yes, we have a voice, we provide all sorts of platforms, whether it be on television.com, digital businesses, radio, we do certainly bear a responsibility to be a place where those conversations can take place, and that's a large part of what we do."

Keynote Speech


Intersport Activation Summit - ESPN's George Bodenheimer (Featured Interview) Intersport


Disney's Steve Wadsworth and ESPN's George Bodenheimer



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


One of the most respected leaders in the media world, George Bodenheimer is happy to participate in audience-based discussions, answering questions on innovation, leadership, recruitment, media and specific sports business-related questions.

Bodenheimer offers presentations on the ways in which a business can foster innovation and sustain it as the business grows. He explains how corporate culture can be built to recognize and develop good, new ideas.

Bodenheimer's philosophy is that the bottom line will only grow when a company focuses on people, and he offers his leadership insights into using empathetic skills to make employees feel valued and trusted so that they give their best to the company.

A Conversation with George Bodenheimer
Consistently named one of the most respected leaders in the media business, George Bodenheimer will engage in a wide-ranging discussion on critical issues impacting business. Bodenheimer draws from his varied and vast experience as a global business leader to discuss issues such as: innovation and encouraging organizational risk-taking; leadership and growth; the business of sports; traditional media in the digital age; recruiting and retaining top talent; cultivating next-generation leaders; and more.

Unleashing Innovation and Leading Growth: Lessons Learned from ESPN
Innovation is the bedrock from which all great organizations are made. But how do you keep innovation going once you have progressed from “start-up” to “grown-up”? What are the key elements to sustaining growth through any market condition? As the Executive Chairman of ESPN who rose from his first position in the company’s mailroom to become one of the most respected figures in the media business, George Bodenheimer led ESPN through an unprecedented period of global growth during a period of rapid transformation in the media and sports industries. Bodenheimer discusses the difficulties of managing innovation across large organizations—and what leaders need to know to foster an environment where good ideas are cultivated, developed and executed. Speaking from his experiences expanding to global markets and leading brand extensions, Bodenheimer also discusses the importance of looking outside traditional avenues to put organizations on the path to sustainable growth.

Culture Rules: Putting People First and Building a First Class Team
Many corporate leaders believe that growth comes only when focusing on the bottom line, but George Bodenheimer believes just the opposite—that great organizations only become that way when they focus on people before focusing on profits. The longest-serving leader of one of the most recognized media companies in the world, Bodenheimer has nurtured and sustained a strong organizational culture built around trusting employees, giving them the tools they need to do their jobs and empowering them to innovate. His leadership insights show that empathetic skills—motivating through listening, caring and encouraging—coupled with business skills, ultimately fuel creativity, innovation and bottom-line growth and is the key to success. Bodenheimer’s refreshing approach to leadership and commitment to people encourage all leaders to work on making an impact on their organization, no matter how large or small.





* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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A Conversation with George Bodenheimer
Consistently named one of the most respected leaders in the media business, George Bodenheimer will engage in a wide-ranging discussion on critical issues impacting business. Bodenheimer draws from his varied and vast experience as a global business leader to discuss issues such as: innovation and encouraging organizational risk-taking; leadership and growth; the business of sports; traditional media in the digital age; recruiting and retaining top talent; cultivating next-generation leaders; and more.

Unleashing Innovation and Leading Growth: Lessons Learned from ESPN
Innovation is the bedrock from which all great organizations are made. But how do you keep innovation going once you have progressed from “start-up” to “grown-up”? What are the key elements to sustaining growth through any market condition? As the Executive Chairman of ESPN who rose from his first position in the company’s mailroom to become one of the most respected figures in the media business, George Bodenheimer led ESPN through an unprecedented period of global growth during a period of rapid transformation in the media and sports industries. Bodenheimer discusses the difficulties of managing innovation across large organizations—and what leaders need to know to foster an environment where good ideas are cultivated, developed and executed. Speaking from his experiences expanding to global markets and leading brand extensions, Bodenheimer also discusses the importance of looking outside traditional avenues to put organizations on the path to sustainable growth.

Culture Rules: Putting People First and Building a First Class Team
Many corporate leaders believe that growth comes only when focusing on the bottom line, but George Bodenheimer believes just the opposite—that great organizations only become that way when they focus on people before focusing on profits. The longest-serving leader of one of the most recognized media companies in the world, Bodenheimer has nurtured and sustained a strong organizational culture built around trusting employees, giving them the tools they need to do their jobs and empowering them to innovate. His leadership insights show that empathetic skills—motivating through listening, caring and encouraging—coupled with business skills, ultimately fuel creativity, innovation and bottom-line growth and is the key to success. Bodenheimer’s refreshing approach to leadership and commitment to people encourage all leaders to work on making an impact on their organization, no matter how large or small.


VIP Speaker Series- George Bodenheimer


George Bodenheimer recalls his early days at ESPN, when he was “sort of" offered a job as a driver in the mailroom. He remembers, “We have various student loans, and you could get a job at entry level with IBM in the Midwest for $30,000, and this job I had been offered was $8000. So I spoke to my father, and he gave me perhaps the best bit of career advice I have had; he said if you're interested in a career in sports broadcasting, then you should take it. So they called me, and I accepted the job, and two days later I was delivering the mail at ESPN, and I've been there ever since."

Thinking about initiatives which were not successful, Bodenheimer reveals his philosophy: “We've got plenty of business examples that don't work, but I don't look at them at all negatively, I look at them positively; if you're running a successful organization, like ESPN or the University of Texas, and you're not trying new things, you're not trying hard enough."

Speaking of some of the problems attached to sports, particularly with reference to violence, Bodenheimer says, “Yes, we have a voice, we provide all sorts of platforms, whether it be on television.com, digital businesses, radio, we do certainly bear a responsibility to be a place where those conversations can take place, and that's a large part of what we do."

Keynote Speech


Intersport Activation Summit - ESPN's George Bodenheimer (Featured Interview) Intersport


Disney's Steve Wadsworth and ESPN's George Bodenheimer