Comedy Central president cultivates creativity and leadership: Ganeless comes to town in April for Generation W
Michele Ganeless, president of Comedy Central, doesn't have a favorite show among the many included in the brand.
The Colbert Report? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? South Park?
"I love all of my children equally," Ganeless said diplomatically during an interview with the Daily Record
Ganeless will talk about her role, and the challenges and opportunities it provides, at the Generation W Women's Leadership Conference April 5 at the Lazzara Performance Hall at the University of North Florida. The event is presented by Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.
Ganeless will be one of almost three dozen women in local and national leadership roles featured at the conference. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical expert.
Launching her professional career at a small market research company in Chicago, Ganeless, 48, has worked her way up the ranks of leadership.
Along the way, she learned to identify emerging leaders.
"Executives, when they are ready to take the next step and ready to lead, you can see it," she said.
"It's how people respond to them, how their peers respond to them. It's the quality of what they do. It's their productivity," she said.
"It's a combination of factors."
Ganeless, based in New York, credits her participation in Generation W to her friendship with conference founder Donna Orender, leader of Orender Unlimited LLC, formed in 2011.
Donna Orender and her husband, M.G. Orender, are Northeast Florida residents.
The first Generation W event was in 2012.
Orender is past president of the Women's National Basketball Association, a former senior vice president with the PGA Tour and a former television sports producer.
She played college and professional basketball.
Ganeless said they became friends when she was working at USA Network and Orender worked at the Tour.
Since 2004, Ganeless has visited Northeast Florida, "always to see the fabulous Donna Orender."
Ganeless will serve on a panel to discuss leadership. She said the panel will take questions and talk about what it means to be a leader.
"My style is very hands-off," Ganeless said.
"I model myself in my boss's image. I worked for an awesome man for 20 years and he has always given me the opportunity to manage my own world, always supporting me but not telling me how to do my job," she says.
Ganeless reports to Doug Herzog, president of the Viacom Entertainment Group, whose brands include Comedy Central.
According to her bio, Ganeless' mandate is to bolster the strength of the Comedy Central brand and its programming across the "increasingly diverse digital universe."
She is responsible for the leadership, strategy and management of the network as well as the day-to-day operations of the channel.
How does she do that?
"I hire great people who are self-starters," Ganeless said.
"I love being a part of the creative process and I love giving people a platform and sit back and enjoy it," she said.
She says she is there "setting a common vision, setting the tone, to be there as a sounding board, but to let them do their jobs as they best see fit."
She said her challenges are the same as those faced by any leader.
"It's making sure you are keeping everybody focused on the same goal," she said.
Teams need to assume that "everyone has positive intent" while "juggling a lot of balls at the same time."
Asked which of the Comedy Central programs draw the most questions and spark the most curiosity, "it runs the gamut," she said.
"Jon and Stephen (Colbert) are enormous, but they have been on the network a long time, so we get questions," she said.
There's also interest in the younger talent, such as the Workaholics, which the comedycentral.com site says "follows Blake, Adam and Ders, three friends who work together as telemarketers from 9 to 5, live together from 5 to 9 and party together 24/7."
Ganeless isn't an on-air personality.
"I am strictly a behind-the-scenes person. I stay away from the camera," she said.
Ganeless is on her third tour at the network. She rejoined Comedy Central in 2004 and before that she was executive vice president and general manager of USA Network, where she worked closely with Herzog, who was its president and CEO.
Her bio shows that while at USA Network from 2001-04, she had oversight of acquisitions, program scheduling, marketing, press, on-air promotion and research.
"She played a key role in that network's turnaround story, overseeing the launches of successful series including 'Monk' and 'The Dead Zone,' helping the network grow its ratings after the loss of wrestling," says her bio.
Before her role at USA Network, she was senior vice president of programming at Comedy Central, which she joined in 1996 as vice president of programming and was promoted to senior vice president in January 2000.
"In that role, Ganeless was a key architect of the programming strategy that drove five straight years of ratings growth, and was a key member of the team that launched 'The Daily Show' and 'South Park,'" it says.
From 1992-95, she was vice president of research and planning at MTV, and before that was her first tour at Comedy Central, where she was research manager from 1990-92.
Before that, she was an account manager at Young & Rubicam in New York in 1989-90.
Ganeless has a bachelor's degree in communications from Northwestern University in Chicago. She graduated in 1987.
The Generation W Conference on April 5 begins at 7 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast and the programs begin at 8 a.m.
Morning topics include "Can Women Have It All," "My Take On Leadership" and "For Love Or Money."
The lunch series of topics include breakout sessions about "Discovery Through Entrepreneurship," "Reinventing Yourself," "Unleashing the Power of Connection," "Lady Love Food," "The Learning Curve on Education" and "Here is to a Better You."
The conference continues at 1:30 p.m. with "My Take On Leadership," at 2:30 p.m. with "Trending Topics," at 3:30 p.m. with "Difference Makers," and at 4:30 p.m. with Snyderman.
Ganeless will be on the "Difference Makers" panel.
A network reception begins at 5 p.m.
Winn-Dixie and Wells Fargo will contribute $25 for each ticket bought, for the first 150 tickets purchased, through today.
Depending on the number sold, those who buy their tickets today will pay $150. After today, ticket prices rise to $175.
For more information about the event, visit genwnow.com.
Gate approved at Emerson
The City approved the construction permit Thursday for a new Gate Petroleum Co. store at 3150 Emerson St.
Auld & White Constructors LLC is the contractor for the 3,968-square-foot store at a project cost of $900,000.
The Daily Record previously reported Gate would buy 2.28 acres of a 9.57-acre tract to develop the store, according to plans filed with the City. The existing Gate, at 3230 Emerson St., is about 2,400 square feet on a half-acre. The building was constructed in 1969, property records show.
The City approved renovations for Xorail on the second floor at 5011 Gate Parkway.
Tenant Contractors Inc. is the contractor for the interior build-out of 6,761 square feet at a project cost of $163,000.
Xorail describes itself as one of the nation's leading railway signal design and construction companies. Jacksonville-based Xorail was established in 1990, Xorail and also has a system assembly and wiring facility, according to the Xorail.com website.
It has 11 more offices throughout the U.S. and India.
Xorail says it specializes in railroad signal and communications and its services include signal and communications design, estimating, material procurement, field surveys, field testing, signal construction, construction management, project management and commissioning support.