CEO, TIME WARNER
Not many people know that the Chair and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the largest media companies in the world had his roots in Queens.
Richard Dean Parsons or Dick, as he prefers to be called, heads up Time Warner and was recently named by institutional investor magazine the top CEO in the entertainment industry.
He has come a long way from his difficult days growing up in South Ozone Park and attending John Adams High School. But maybe that is what made him such a strong leader. He was from a modest home but his family values of hard work, honesty and integrity have influenced everything he does and how he lives.
We had an opportunity to chat in his handsome orchid-filled offices on the 11th floor with spectacular views overlooking Central Park from the Time Warner building on 58th Street.
Anyone can “Google” him to learn about his steady rise to the top of career.
However, I was more interested in the values and cultures that shaped his life. Moreover, the road he has traveled to achieve his success.
He was very honest, warm and friendly even when I asked him about the rumors that he thought about running for mayor. After all, I said, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proved that a businessperson could make a great political leader.
Parsons flitted around the subject but did not deny the idea.
He moved on to personal memories of his growing up as one of seven children. He honestly shared how tough it was to get through middle school because of the rough kids he had to deal with. The 6'4'' Parsons I saw did not grow to that size until high school. It was not easy surviving those years, he admitted “but, I made it into high school and kind of slid through those grades.” He was honest about not being a very “interested” student. When it came time to select colleges to send his SAT scores to, his first choice was Princeton, his second (to please his mom who wanted a free school), CCNY, and then on a lark because a beautiful girl who sat next to him in high school was from Hawaii, his third choice was the University of Hawaii. To his amazement, he got into that “exotic” school and was wait-listed at Princeton. It was in the Islands that he met his future wife, Laura, a child psychologist. He then realized he had to take life seriously and work hard.
He set his goal on getting a law degree and attended Union College's Albany Law School. He has had a career as managing partner at a prestigious law firm, worked in state, and federal government, was counsel to Nelson Rockefeller, a senior White House aide under President Gerald Ford, Chair and CEO of Dime Bancorp and then Time Warner. Who says this man could not be mayor? It seems his life has led him to that door.
His grandmother, a devout bible reader impressed him with the passage: “Whatever a Man Soweth, That Shall He Also Reap.” It has become his mantra. Right now, his newest career is only weeks away, becoming a Grandfather! Good luck and congratulations!