Originally published in the Competitive Edge Newsletter, May 2018
Bill Geppert will be in the running for Mr. San Diego as soon as Malin Burham wants to relinquish the title. It seems Bill is always stepping up to the plate in some capacity to get things done or shepherd a local organization through a difficult period. I met him back when he was running COX Communications. Now in retirement, he’s my neighbor and as active as ever. Bill’s the kind of guy, when you meet him a few times, you begin to wonder, “does this guy ever have a bad day?” He’s always engaging, upbeat and smiling and that comes across in this Edgy Interview.
Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.
Started my career in the communications industry just as cable and then the Internet took off. I was very fortunate to be a part of the burgeoning industry for 38 years during a technologically evolving, growing time!
What’s the best thing about the USA?
Freedom and the opportunity to pursue our dreams! We have free choice, and education provides a pathway to realize potential. We are genuinely blessed to be in America!
What’s the most important issue facing California, why, and what should be done about it?
The housing shortage coupled with escalating prices for homes. Excessive regulations and an elongated approval process is producing 70% fewer homes in the state each year than needed to meet demand. The result is a squeeze on home affordability and availability resulting in first-time home buyers often priced out of the market. Rental rates are now soaring and making it difficult to impossible for many families to stay in California!
If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?
I had the opportunity to talk with President Carter when he was here for Insights in 1996 about the Camp David Accords, which were one of the most significant achievements of our lifetime. I’d want to hear his take on what happened then, how the Middle East has evolved since, and how peace could be reached today.
What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?
Then: Rock N Roll: Zeppelin, Clapton, Stones Now: Christian rock: Hillsong, MercyMe, Lauren Daigle… quite a shift!
First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?
Pittsburgh PA: YES, and the little-known backup band stole the show- The Eagles!
Favorite sport and why?
Cycling and Golf, I enjoy the challenge and the competition, both are a test of your internal fortitude. Cycling is more physically demanding and golf more mental, and you can do both for the rest of your life! Additionally, both bring you to some amazingly beautiful places all around the world!
What was the last good movie you saw? Give me a one sentence review.
The Darkest Hour Brilliant performance from Gary Oldman and movie about Winston Churchill, who relied on his instincts and talked directly to the British people to affirm his difficult decision in the direst circumstances during WWII. [ed. Saw it, liked it, especially the impromptu focus group conducted on the Tube]
Favorite alcoholic beverage in winter and summer?
Ice cold lager beer in the summer, red wine with great food anytime!!
Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?
The Voice – what a gift it would be to be able to sing and perform and participate at that level, but I can’t carry a tune, so it’s probably not in my future?!
What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
It came from my Dad. He said somewhere in your life an investment opportunity will come along and it won’t be in your field of expertise. After due diligence, follow your instincts and make the strategic investment. I did this investing in a media company that does advertising in movie theaters. Successfully sold the startup company eight years after building it up. He was right, I probably wouldn’t have invested in it without his advice.
What advice to you have for young people starting out?
Get experience! Don’t be as concerned with position or compensation, as long as you can make ends meet. Gain invaluable experience by doing as many things as you can, that’s most important. Best advice I ever got: “Seek to understand before being understood.”
If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?
Italy’s Tuscany region. My wife and I want to go live there for a summer, ride my bike through the hills, learn the language, enjoy the people, food and wine!
Name a living person you admire. Why do you admire them?
In San Diego, it’s Malin Burnham. He is still engaged and making a difference at 90 years old! Amazing visionary, studies community issues with intensity and he is bold in his willingness to challenge us to be better as a community. His mantra: Community Before Self!
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
My faith, family and friends, and sharing this lifelong journey with my wife Amy! Recent – riding across America on my bike for Challenged Athletes!