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Neil Cavuto: The FOX Anchor is Bullish on the Future

Facing financial problems and more with a level head and positive outlook.
Chelsea Greenwood

(Watch Neil Cavuto and Dave Ramsey discuss money and SUCCESS here.)

ARE YOU LISTENING?
Because Neil Cavuto is talking to
you. Yes, you. Really. Tune in to him
nearly any day on FOX News Channel
(FNC) or FOX Business Network
(FBN) and the anchor is delivering
today’s business news for the layman,
omitting acronym-laden jargon and
keeping the bottom line crystal clear.
He’s speaking to Main Street, not Wall
Street, following your dollar and telling
it like it is.

“I think people can get this stuff if you try not to
talk like the smartest kid in the class,” Cavuto says.
“By avoiding speaking in arcane language that might
only appeal to brokers, we’re getting to the gist of
what’s going on in the country right now.”

This simplified approach seems to be paying off for
Cavuto, who serves as senior vice president, anchor
and managing editor of business news for both FBN
and FNC. He hosts Cavuto on FBN daily and Cavuto
on Business every Saturday on FNC, as well as his daily
show, Your World with Neil Cavuto, the top-rated cable
news program in its timeslot. Plus, Cavuto was named
“the best interviewer in broadcast business news” by The
Journalist and Financial Reporter, and he has two New
York Times Best-Sellers and fi ve CableACE Award nominations
under his belt.

The fact that this powerful on-air personality has
long been battling serious health problems is something
viewers likely wouldn’t realize, except for his often-raspy
voice, which is one of many symptoms associated with
multiple sclerosis. Cavuto was diagnosed with MS in
1997, after surviving an advanced case of Hodgkin’s
lymphoma in the late ’80s.

Whether enduring a crippled economy or a crippling
condition, Cavuto takes the long view and faces the
present with an unfaltering optimism. “No matter how
bad something gets, something good can come out of it,”
he says, “which is what I try to remind people who are
in the midst of a financial crisis, or any crisis. I’m not minimizing
or mitigating the moment, but I try to remind people that it’s just a
moment. Our time on earth is extremely precious.”

His Approach

As a husband, a father of three (two young sons and an adult
daughter), an MS sufferer and the managing editor of business news
for two networks, Cavuto certainly has a full plate. He credits waking
up early—at 4:15 a.m. every weekday—for his success in juggling
these roles. “I think that is absolutely crucial, if for no other reason
than, psychologically, you feel you’re ahead of the game,” he says.

He devotes time to exercising and catching up on the latest news
before waking his sons at 6 a.m. and getting them ready for school.
“Then I’ve done my daddy thing, and I can do my work thing,”
he says.

That work thing started in 1996, when FNC’s founding CEO,
Roger Ailes, hired Cavuto to cover business news for the fledgling
channel. “He was very wise to ask early on, ‘How will you define
what you do in business news for FOX?’ ” Cavuto recalls. “I said,
‘I’m going to preach to the mainstream. Let the other guys preach
to Wall Street.’ And that became ultimately the DNA for FBN.”

Cavuto and his teams on FNC and FBN are extremely self-critical,
he says, and they’re constantly watching their work to
find areas for improvement: “Is there a better way we can present
this? Is there a better way we can focus on this issue? Is there
something we’re missing in this health debate that no one else
is pounding?”

Being prepared for every show is a daily challenge, and, on top
of reading the news every morning, Cavuto does all the research he
can on specific guests and issues. What drives Cavuto and his team
daily is a collective, deep-rooted passion for journalism. “We follow
[news] with a great passion, like a dog with a bone,” he says.

That passion helped tremendously when FBN was founded
in 2007. “People say, ‘Boy, you have such an uphill climb here,
and you’re against entrenched competitors. But you guys seem
to be either oblivious or just so psyched,’ ” Cavuto says. “It’s the
psyched part. We don’t pay attention to
the naysayers.”

His Advice

Cavuto says that he has been impressed
with the American public’s reaction to the
recession, as many people “have refocused
and gotten their priorities right.

“I think we were on a sort of hell-bent
spree that our lives were defined either by the
number of homes or cars we had,” he says.
“But I think people are realizing they can live
with less as long as they have more quality
time with their families and they have things
that money can’t buy or define.”

He points to the story of a successful CEO
friend of his who “had the trophy second
wife, had the go-go life and all that stuff.”
But, when his brokerage house failed and he
lost his job, he lost everything—including
his wife. And the children he alienated by
marrying that second wife are no longer in
contact. Now, Cavuto describes him as “a
shell of a man.”

“You shouldn’t take success for granted,” he
says. “If we’ve learned anything in this financial
crisis, it’s that it’s fleeting.”

"No
matter how bad something gets, something good can come out of it."

In the words of his father, Cavuto advises
people to stay humble, especially during
tough financial times. It’s dangerous, too,
to rest on one’s laurels, assuming that past
successes guarantee job security. “Don’t
assume that you yourself are irreplaceable,”
he says. “I think that’s a good lesson, too, in
this business particularly. There are no guarantees.
You’re as good as your latest ratings.”

As a student of history, Cavuto points out
that conditions during the Great Depression
were much worse than those we face now.

He remembers his parents regaling him
with stories of eating onion or potato
sandwiches because they couldn’t
afford anything better, and that unemployment
rates were between 30 and 35
percent. It’s important to reference the
past to keep the present in perspective,
he says.

“Either we’ve gotten soft, or we
have a whole ’nother view of hardship
than our parents, our grandparents
and our great-grandparents. We didn’t
corner the world on suffering, and
I think we can learn a lot from the
previous generation.”

History also shows that recessions
are cyclical, lasting about 18 months,
Cavuto says, and the most telling part of
a recession is when it’s over. “We always
get through these things, and our character
is briefly defined by our temperament
afterwards. Do we [embrace] the
lessons, or do we return to our old
profligate ways and refuse to learn what
history is trying to teach us?”

Meanwhile, Cavuto advises people to
hold onto the money they have and to
stop worrying about increasing their bank accounts for now. “Don’t
focus on trying to double and triple your money,” he says. “Do focus
on trying to keep what you have. I’m not saying you pass up great
investment opportunities. You keep your horizon in perspective. I
always remind people: When do you need the money? If you need it
sooner rather than later, be conservative. If you need it much, much
later, or your life goals for retirement are many years away, you can
be a little bit chancier.”

His Struggle

Battling a near-fatal bout of cancer was bad enough. So,
when Cavuto found out, less than a decade later, that he
had MS, he was crushed (the odds of contracting both
are about 2 million to 1). “I was very bitter,” he says. “I
was very angry at the world.”

He recalls staying in bed during his self-described
“self-pity campaign” while friends of his, including CEOs
and politicians, called to offer their support. Cavuto
didn’t want to speak with anyone. His wife, Mary,
recorded all of their messages, and, eventually,
Cavuto returned their calls.

“One guy said, ‘I lost my son a year ago.’
Another CEO, ‘I lost everything I had, my
business and everything burned in a fire.’
Someone else, ‘I just lost my wife in a tragic
car accident.’ I was thinking about this: ‘I
guess other people do suffer.’ ”

Mary suggested that he compile these stories into a book, and
More Than Money: True Stories of People Who Learned Life’s Ultimate
Lesson became a best-seller.

“The book was a modern-day Profiles in Courage for democrats and
republicans, liberals and conservatives, those who were very rich,
those who suddenly were not,” he says. “It was very good therapy for
me because it taught me that [others] can teach me a thing or two
about dealing with difficulty. Most of these men and women I wrote
about dealt with far worse, and it got me over me. I think it got a good
response because people were in the mood for something uplifting.”

He says that the “ultimate lesson” referenced in the book’s title is
that life “is very, very short.”

“Some people listen to me and say, ‘Neil, you have this incredible
view of death.’ I think when you have a disease, you don’t look at life
quite the way others do. I think that gives me a better insight into the
stuff that matters.”

Cavuto shares this insight through his philanthropy with the
MS Society, National Fatherhood Initiative, Boy Scouts of America,
Catholic Charities, United Negro College Fund and more. He urges
people dealing with difficulty not to play the victim. “We have to
get over blaming others and being angry at others for what is our
own physical problem,” he
says. “It’s not your wife’s fault or your
husband’s fault you have
this disease. It’s not your kids’ fault
you have this disease. Everyone carries their own cross in life,
and everyone carries their own burden.”

Now, despite living with MS for more than a dozen years,
Cavuto remains as excited as ever about the varied roles he
plays: family
man, dedicated journalist, walking
inspiration.

“I just have a passion for life,” he says.
“We
live in challenging times, and it’s
exciting to follow them. And I have a
front-row seat. I get to talk to the big
players and get their insight into this.
I’m doing something that would be
analogous to a kid running a candy
shop. It really doesn’t get any better
than this.”

Post date: 
Jan 18, 2010

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