April 17, 2017
Jon Litner, was named President of the YES Network, the number one regional sports network in the country, in September 2016. A 25-year media veteran, Litner oversees all aspects of YES, which is 80% owned by 21st Century Fox and 20% owned by Yankee Global Enterprises.
The most-watched regional sports network in the country for 12 of the last 14 years, YES is the exclusive local television home of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York City Football Club of MLS.
In October 2016, YES Network was included in Forbes’ list of top 10 most valuable sportsbusiness brands in the world for the seventh straight year. The network has won 95 New York Emmy Awards and has accumulated 402 Emmy nominations since its 2002 launch. Its Web site, YESNetwork.com, has won Emmy Awards twice for best sports site in New York.
Prior to joining YES, Litner was Group President of NBC Sports Group from 2011 to 2015, where he was responsible for NBC Sports’ eight regional sports networks and Golf Channel. Litner oversaw the RSNs’ production of live games and studio coverage of more than 20 pro sports teams, along with other Emmy Award-winning original programming. In addition, Golf Channel was the fastest-growing television network under his watch.
Before taking over the reins at NBC Sports Group, Litner was President from 2007 to 2011 of Comcast Sports Group and VERSUS, its cable network devoted to outdoor sports which was re-branded NBC Sports Network during his tenure.
From 2005 to 2007, Litner was President of SNY, the regional sports network which is the exclusive local television home of the New York Mets. He oversaw SNY’s 2006 launch and its rapid early growth.
From 1999 to 2005, Litner served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Hockey League, overseeing all of the league’s broadcasting, communications, special events and new business and technology initiatives. Litner was responsible for the Canadian launch of the NHL Network, along with the development of the NHL’s first outdoor game in the modern era, the Heritage Classic.
Litner began his sports career at Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., where he held several executive positions from 1991 to 1999. He led ABC Sports’ acquisition and coverage of programming such as the Indianapolis 500, the Kentucky Derby, Wide World of Sports, the Brickyard 500, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Big Ten, SEC, Big XII and Pac-12.
He also oversaw ABC’s securing of MLB television rights in 1994 which, among other things, resulted in the launch that year of The Baseball Network with partner NBC. Litner later was Vice President of Business Affairs at The Baseball Network.
A three-time member of Sports Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” sports executive list, Litner was inducted into the Sports Business Journal Hall of Fame in 2001.
Litner earned his Bachelor degree from Yale University in 1985 and earned his law degree from Cornell Law School in 1988. Litner has been a member of the Little League International Board of Directors since 2006.
For SBC members actively seeking employment or opportunities in the sports industry, especially opportunities in the world of sports network television such as YES Network, Litner had this to say:
On achieving goals and success as a group from a leadership position…
“Everybody’s role is critical. Your entire team must buy into the mindset that each person’s job or contribution is equally important to the complete success of the group. I often think of the story about President John F. Kennedy’s visit to NASA in the early days of our country’s space program: whether it’s a janitor or a scientist working at the NASA Space Center in Houston, they’re both working toward sending a man to the moon.”
On learning how to do the most…
“Always look for growth opportunities. Get yourself a mentor. Learn from someone else. When I was young, I wanted to hitch my train to an engine that was going somewhere. None of us has ever been able to create something new without first being inspired by someone else.”
On pursuing opportunity and challenges …
“Get out of your comfort zone and embrace challenge. Life is not about guarantees, it’s about probability. Make up your mind, know what you want, and go out and get it. I’ve never been afraid to chase opportunity.”
On confidence and finding your passion…
“Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you don’t get something right the first time. Always own up to your mistakes. Take the initiative. Find what you’re really good at, and then figure out how you can become great at it."
On importance of details…
“You’ve got to sweat the details. Always strive for excellence, not perfection, because you can’t achieve perfection, but you can achieve excellence.”
On self-advocacy and believing in yourself…
“Be intellectually curious, and be your own best advocate. Take the time to invest in yourself, because betting on yourself is the only bet you should make.”
Thank you to Jon Litner for making the trip all the way from New York and taking the time to share his invaluable insight with our club about the ins and outs of working for a sports network like YES Network as well as his advice on how to succeed in such a competitive industry.
Learn more about YES Network
Follow YES Network on Twitter: @YESNetwork
Follow YES Network on Instagram: @yesnetwork
April 11, 2017
John Burke is the current president and chief executive officer of Trek Bicycle Corporation and the author of works such as “12 Simple Solutions to Save America” and “One Last Great Thing: A Story of a Father and a Son, a Story of a Life and a Legacy.” Burke is an avid reader, and keeps an up-to-date list of the 50 favorite books he’s ever read.
Burke’s father, Richard (Dick) Burke, along with Bevil Hogg, founded Trek Bicycle in 1975. In 1980, Trek began constructing the company’s current corporate headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Burke is a graduate of Boston University and the younger brother of former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and Democratic candidate for the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election, Mary Burke.
John Burke began working at Trek Bicycle in 1984 and has held his current role as president and CEO of the company since 1997. Beyond his decorated career with Trek, Burke has previously served as chairman of President George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he is also one of the founding members of the Bikes Belong Coalition.
John is an avid cyclist himself, and has finished Ironman Wisconsin multiple times as well as the Boston and New York Marathons. In 1997, Trek signed a sponsorship contract with former 7-time consecutive Tour de France champion (1998-2005*) cyclist Lance Armstrong, who would go on to ride for the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team the following year. Prior to being stripped of all cycling achievements and results between ’98 – ’05 due to long-term doping offenses, Armstrong had become the first American to win the Tour de France aboard an American bike in 1999.
John Burke shared 12 key words of advice for every student striving for success to keep in mind:
1. “Make your bed every morning. If you can’t do the little things, you will never do the big things.”
2. “You are interviewing every single day.”
3. “You are what you read. Readers are leaders.”
4. “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
5. “Never give up. Don’t ever ring the bell.”
6. “You are capable of more than you think.”
7. “[Assemble the] Best team on the field. Who’s on your team?”
8. “Fire the unhappy employees.”
9. “Climb the mountain to see the world, not so the world can see you.”
10. “Pay it forward…” Do a favor for someone who can’t return it to you.
11. “Just show up… on time.”
12. “Do something for your country.”
Thank you to John Burke for taking the time to share his invaluable insight and speak with our club about his journey with Trek Bicycle Corporation!
Learn more about John Burke
Follow John Burke on Twitter: @JBTrek08
Learn more about Trek Bicycle Corp.
Work for Trek Bicycle Corp.
Follow Trek on Twitter: @TrekBikes
Follow Trek on Instagram: @trekbikes
My name is Karli Schmitz and on behalf of the entire board, we hope you find this information valuable.