Overcoming Adversity: Facing Health Challenges and Finding Balance
Based on his first book, What I Learned When I Almost Died, renowned veteran executive producer Chris Licht shares his journey surviving a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. Licht was at the helm of MSNBC’s Morning Joe—one of the most popular shows on cable TV. He had become a real-life Jerry Maguire: hard-charging, obsessively competitive, and willing to sacrifice anything to get it done. He felt invincible. Then one day, Chris heard a pop in his head, followed by a whoosh of blood and crippling pain. Doctors at the ER said he had suffered a near-deadly brain hemorrhage. Chris’s life had almost been cut short, and he had eight long days in a hospital bed to think about it. In this inspiring talk, Chris tells the story of what happened next.
Leadership: Authenticity, Creativity, and Reinvention
Veteran executive producer and Chairman and CEO of CNN Chris Licht has spent decades in the media business, transforming shows and networks through his leadership and earning countless accolades. In this compelling talk, he shares his insights about his journey as a leader, leveraging authenticity and creativity to build strong and resilient teams and leading large-scale transformations by leaning into innovation and empathy.
Speaker Spotlight: Chris Licht, titan of the television landscape
Throughout his career, veteran executive producer CHRIS LICHT has been at the helm of major networks and produced news programming audiences trust and tune into every day. Licht is currently the Chairman and CEO of CNN, sharing that he felt “a genuine pull to return to news at such a critical moment in history.” Discovery CEO David Zaslav described him as "a dynamic and creative producer, an engaging and thoughtful journalist, and a true news person." Licht joins CNN from CBS and MSNBC with a wealth of experience in television news, including as Executive Producer of CBS’ critically acclaimed morning news program, CBS This Morning, and Executive Producer and Showrunner for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He was also the co-creator and original executive producer of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Licht’s first book, What I Learned When I Almost Died, shares his journey surviving a near-fatal brain hemorrhage and how he overcame adversity to find more balance in his life.
As Licht wrote in an internal memo, “too many people have lost trust in the media.” He encouraged the CNN team, “I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think,’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.” Drawing on his depth of experience, Licht shares key insights about building resilient teams, change management, and leading transformative large-scale organizations by leaning into innovation and empathy.
Chairman and CEO of CNN, veteran executive producer of critically acclaimed news shows, and author Chris Licht is a titan of the television news landscape. Previously, as Executive Vice President of Special Programming at CBS, Licht consulted on various forms of content for divisions across CBS. In addition to this role, Licht served as Executive Producer and Showrunner for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – the most-watched show in late night television. Licht was also an Executive Producer on Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News on Paramount+. He joined The Late Show in May 2016 after five years at CBS News, most recently as Vice President of Programming for CBS News and Executive Producer of CBS’ critically acclaimed morning news program, CBS This Morning.
Under Licht’s guidance, CBS This Morning became the Network’s most successful morning newscast in more than two decades, generating CBS’ largest audience in the time period in 23 years during the fourth quarter of 2015. During Licht’s tenure as executive producer, CBS This Morning earned a prestigious Peabody Award, two News and Documentary Emmys and one Daytime Emmy. Also, the broadcast and Licht were honored with an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award as part of CBS News’ division-wide coverage of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Licht joins CNN from CBS News and MSNBC with a wealth of experience in television news. He was the co-creator and original executive producer of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and was at the helm as the show garnered critical acclaim for its interviews with newsmakers and perspective on the top news stories. In addition to covering nearly every important news event in recent history, Licht led the show’s comprehensive on-location coverage of the 2008 election. Before Morning Joe, Licht was a Senior Producer and then Executive Producer of Joe Scarborough’s Scarborough Country on MSNBC.
Licht’s first book, What I Learned When I Almost Died, tells the story of what happened after a near-deadly brain hemorrhage left Chris in a hospital bed over eight long days to think about how his life had almost been cut short.
Licht graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and political science. He lives in New York with his wife and their two sons. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisLicht.