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MSLCE Students Get Business Advice from CBS, Comedy Central

By Zach Silva

The following post focuses on the trip to New York the MSLCE students took over winter break.

The students in the nascent Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program visited New York City for a week, meeting with Northwestern alumni and friends of the program in various media industries to explore professional opportunities related to our own interests.

Although the snow and sleet in the first days of our trip appeared to be a sign that we brought Chicago weather along with us, New York City’s palpable hustle and bustle provided an electricity that warmed us up for the presentations provided throughout the week. Or maybe it was just the heat from the numerous hot dog vendors and $0.99 pizza stores. Either way, my classmates and I were excited to take advantage of what will maybe be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to sit down face-to-face with some of the most influential and talented people in the creative industries today.

In my opinion, there was no better way to end our quarter – everything we had learned in our first set of courses was coming to life in these professional settings. From our dinner with David Lefkowitz the first night in town, to our discussion with Broadway’s Barbara Whitman and Scott Lazarus, to our meeting with senior staff at Comedy Central and CBS Marketing, and everything in between, we had the incredible opportunity to take a closer look at some of the media industry work we are all pursuing. We were able to see how these Northwestern alumni made their way from school to their current positions and even how to build up our own experience and professional networking to hopefully follow the same path of success.

The reason why this trip was so important lay in a comment Jane Gottlieb of CBS Marketing made, calling her own time at Northwestern “an experience of intellectual exploration and freedom.” This networking trip showed how Northwestern still values that exploration, embodied in this creative industries program and this professional development trip. The knowledge and experience we gained this week is priceless. Among the sage business advice and marketing research statistics, there was one simple, yet poignant theme that was addressed throughout the week that will stick with me most: “Be remarkable,” Lee Overtree (SoC ‘03), Artistic Director of Story Pirates, shared with us the first morning of our trek. “Do great work” and “Make your mother proud,” stated the mantra of Mother New York’s culture, as evidenced by the portraits of all the workers’ mothers on the main wall of the office. “Always challenge the status quo,” which was #6 on DirecTV Executive Vice President Paul Guyardo’s list of “Ten Lessons I Learned The Hard Way.”

All of these preach the importance of trailblazing and humility in the arts. In the arts world, it can be easy to get caught up in profit-driven work or audience analytics, but in the end, the work we do should be meaningful. My classmates and I will hopefully take our passion for our respective arts fields and use it to create the most unique experiences we can imagine. Everyone we met this week got to where they were with hard work and a vision of a new, exciting creative industry.