ESPN’s Rob King: It’s not your career, it’s your journey

ESPN's Rob King at the Friday SND STL keynote. (Photo by Steve Dorsey)

“It’s going to work out. You just don’t know how yet.”

That was some advice that Rob King got from his boss a few years ago at a difficult time in his life. He and his wife were trying to start a family.

And it’s advice that he also passed along in an inspirational keynote speech at SND’s business lunch Friday. While the last few years have been tough for our industry, his message was that it’s going to work out — one way or another — for all of us.

And he made me believe it.

King, who is vice president and editor in chief of ESPN Digital Media, encouraged us to “know who you are, what you value.”

And also to know your own promise. To commit to goals and achieve them.

That might not seem like revolutionary advice at first glance. But King’s intent delved deeper. It was more personal.

“Make sure your promise is more than being really good at live coverage or really good at cropping a photo,” he said.

King also said we should think of our jobs as “a journey, not a career. … If you think you’ve been in the same job for years, you’re not doing it right.”

Those are words to live by.

And, of course, since he works for ESPN, King had a few inspiring things to show and discuss. An ESPN The Magazine cover that wasn’t published for content reasons was a hit. And news that ESPN is going to partner with McSweeney’s on a quarterly collection of stories from their longform writing-outlet Grantland (sounds like the first one’s cover will be made from a basketball) is something to look forward to.

But I appreciated that those examples weren’t his focus. He connected with us in a personal way, just like we aim to do with the people who view our publications.

And by the way, things did work out for King and his wife. Through adoption, they have a boy and two girls.


About Jonathon Berlin

is graphics editor of the Chicago Tribune and a past president of the Society For News Design.

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