5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Interning at ‘The Colbert Report’

December 26, 2014

6:30 pm

Back in 2008, then-college junior Ben Goldman interned The Colbert Report for a semester. Goldman is currently the chief creative at Qork, a startup whose upcoming mobile app aims to connect users with anything and everything happening in the local area – from news from and about the community, to events and even conversations taking place around town. With the era of The Colbert Report now at a close, Goldman recently published a blog post on entrepreneurial lessons from his time while serving as an intern on the show – and it’s being touted as one of the best pieces ever seen on Reddit.

Posted to Reddit earlier this week, Goldman highlights the 5 entrepreneurial lessons he took away from his time at the show. From his interactions with Stephen Colbert himself, to the work he did behind-the-scenes, Goldman notes the most memorable aspects of working at the Comedy Central show during one of the most significant periods of our modern history (indeed, it was during a period at which Barack Obama had just been elected President of the United States).

You can read the whole post in its entirety from Goldman’s blog, but here’s a highlight of the 5 entrepreneurial lessons he learned from interning at The Cobert Report:

1. Company Culture Can Lead to Greatness

“One of the most poignant memories I have of my time at [The Colbert Report] was the company culture…There was mutual respect among everyone, a feature that began at the top with Stephen himself who would know the name of every employee and intern that worked on the show. The result was that we were united in our obsession with the product being great.”

2. Work Hard, but Be Prepared to Pivot

“The staff and crew at [The Colbert Report] were never afraid to pivot. Sometimes a show would be written and taping only a few hours away only for some news to break that we had to cover. Instead of taking the easy way out, the team would go into emergency mode in order to pivot to take advantage of the news.”

3. “Bunt” Even When Everything is Working

“At one point, TCR was gliding smoothly with high ratings and numerous awards, but that didn’t stop the team from trying new things…[Some projects] never took off, but it was a cool idea to engage fans, and it represented the willingness to try crazy new ideas.”

4. Hire People Who are Smarter Than You

“Stephen Colbert is a genius, without a doubt in my mind. But he didn’t let that get in the way of hiring people who were smarter, and perhaps even funnier, than he is. Some of his writers were truly prodigal in their ability to write jokes, and Colbert would encourage them relentlessly.”

5. Your Brand is Everything

“The funny thing is, that Colbert has very little public persona outside of the character he built. The reason all of this was made possible is because he has branded a character so powerfully that somehow it all made sense.”

Read the full post from Reddit or right from Goldman’s personal blog. 


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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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