Rob King ESPN
Photo Credit: Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

Rob King is ESPN’s Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large. His role is to help define ESPN’s journalistic direction.

He oversaw ESPN’s original content portfolio including: ESPN Films, 30 for 30 and ESPN+ original series, ESPN the Magazine, The Undefeated, and Outside the Lines.

Previously Rob served as Senior Vice President, Original Content and Senior Vice President, SportsCenter, and Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of ESPN.com.

He received an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a graduate degree from Penn State.

He’s also served as a Pulitzer Prize judge and is a member of the Associated Press board of directors. He chairs the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board and was named by Fast Company among its “Most Creative People.”

Rob’s LinkedIn Profile

WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What’s it like having one of the most important jobs in sports.
  • Why he often gets called upon to be “wise in real time”.
  • How to help your team think bigger.
  • How Rob prepares his team to surprise and delight in every story.
  • Where the idea came from for pivoting ESPN’s College GameDay to the Masters.
  • How to leverage utility and wonder to communicate your messages.
  • The key to ESPN’s successful navigation of the Pandemic.
  • The moment they knew “The Last Dance” was going to be big.
  • How to recognize and tell a great story.
  • The key components of a great story.
  • The greatest gift leaders can give their team.
  • The phrase that inspires creativity at ESPN.
  • How to generate creativity in yourself and others.
  • The question Rob uses to open his meetings to inspire creativity.
  • A classic Improv activity to boost creativity.
  • Rob’s advice for those from under-represented groups who’d like to advance in their career.
  • How former ESPN President, George Bodenheimer, turned a perceived failure into one of their greatest opportunities.  
  • Rob’s most colorful story from doing a live event.
  • Rob’s book and music recommendations for leaders.
  • The daily 15-minute activity that Rob uses to get his day started, and what he does when he needs to take a break. 
  • The career decision Rob made that led cartoonist to the executive ranks.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Three Questions that Rob uses to identify a great story:

  1. Will it drive empathy?
  2. Will it take you places you didn’t think you’d go?
  3. Will it make you share that story with someone else?

Two success routines Rob picked along the way:

  • Being present for the family.
  • Doing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

QUOTES:

“Great storytelling allows you to see the world through the ideas of others.”

“The story has to make you feel something.”

“A good story makes you want to share it.”

“The greatest things a leader can give their team are hope and optimism.”

“Hope and optimism inspire creativity.”

On identifying a great story…”Listen for something in someone’s journey that others will immediately identify as the same as theirs.”

“On what it’s like working at ESPN…“Most days it feels like family.”

RESOURCES:
New York Times Cross Word Puzzle

The Last Dance Trailer

National Association of Black Journalists

National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communication

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green

Utopia Avenue, David Mitchell

Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Ride of a Life Time, Robert Iger

Every Town is a Sports Town, George Bodenheimer

Pappyland, Wright Thompson

I Came as a Shadow, John Thompson

MUSIC DISCUSSED:

Prince and the Revolution

The Police

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (The soundtrack from his wedding)

Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain

Magic Slim and Tear Drops

Buddy Guy

Rolling Stones

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