This week on How Success Happens, I spoke with Rich Stern, who is the CEO of the audio streaming service TuneIn. Stern has an amazing career working with some of the most disruptive media companies. I was curious to learn how he got where he is today, so we dove into his upbringing, early startups and what drives him to success. You can listen to our full conversation below, and I’ve pulled out three key takeaways.
Personal passion over pay
Media played a role in Stern’s life from an early age. Growing up in the Midwest, everything he knew about the world came from media. His weekends were spent all day at the movies or watching television. It pushed him to think more expansively about the world outside of Illinois and sparked a passion for entertainment that has led him to some of the top media companies including Amazon Studios, Audible and now TuneIn, which is leading the charge on the digital transformation of radio.
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Challenge the status quo
Stern worked at Amazon Studios when it was first attempting to break into the film and television business, which was a pivotal moment for both Stern and the company. He was coming from a tech and product background and knew breaking into a traditional Hollywood studio would be nearly impossible. It forced Stern to ask himself who the status quo was not serving and led him to Amazon Studios, which was willing to take a chance on him.
At that time, Hollywood’s door was also closed to Amazon, but its approach to disrupting the status quo has since completely transformed Hollywood. Now it—along with Apple and Disney—is among the largest media companies in the world.
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With the right people, you’ll always succeed
When Stern joined TuneIn in 2020 during the pandemic, there were a lot of unknowns. However, as people were forced to stay home, audio experienced a huge burst. People were looking for ways to stay connected. Since then, TuneIn has undergone a massive expansion on its mission to bring radio programming to nearly every device in every corner of the globe. Stern’s job has been to foster an environment where people can come together to innovate. As it continues to reinvent radio for the digital world, TuneIn’s people have taken the role of the true architects of the company’s future.
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