I recently finished Ted Turner’s autobiography, “Call Me Ted.” Among his other claims to fame, Turner is the founder of CNN and TBS, as well as Jane Fonda’s ex.
In an interesting twist, several dozen vignettes written by people close to him are scattered throughout the book. People give their own impressions of Ted or their occasionally slightly different take on various events that Ted describes. Even if you or your editor get to see what was written before the book is published, it is a brave man who gives his ex-wife as well as a former business partner a chance to have their say in his autobiography.
Turner is well known for being his own man, a man who walks to the beat of a different drummer. I found one vignette of particular interest because I enjoyed both the human-ness expressed and the philosophy brought to life by humble action:
Muhammad Yumas, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote, “I remember walking to a meeting with him on the streets of New York and as we walked and talked he’d stop and pick up little pieces of trash. Along the way, any trash he found he picked up and he always held onto it until he found a trash can to deposit it.
“He did this very meticulously and I thought it was very funny. There are so many people in New York City and so much trash, why should one person keep on picking it up? But later on I understood how committed he was to keeping the city clean and also his notion that if everyone did their small part like this, we wouldn’t have any litter piling up.”
Ted Turner lives his philosophy of doing his part in other concrete ways as well. He has given $1,000,000,000 (yes, one billion dollars, 1/3 of his net worth at the time) to a charitable foundation to support the work of the United Nations. The man walks his talk. Quite the real-life example for all of us.
“If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “’Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” — Martin Luther King