Jim Spanfeller on Leveraging Change

James J. Spanfeller serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Forbes.com, a leading media Internet company, and as Executive Vice President of Electronic Publishing for Forbes, publisher of Forbes, the nation's leading business magazine. As CEO of Forbes.com, he oversees all aspects of the strategic and operational management of the company. He is the first person to hold the position of Executive Vice President of Electronic Publishing at Forbes, a position created in recognition of the driving need to link all elements of the company's business to the Internet. In this capacity, Mr. Spanfeller develops and oversees joint opportunities for print and online across all areas of Forbes.
Prior to joining Forbes, Mr. Spanfeller was President, Consumer Magazine Group of Ziff Davis Media, Inc., the largest technology publishing company in the United States. The titles under his responsibility were PC Magazine, Yahoo! Internet Life, Smart Business, Family PC and Expedia Travels. He also managed Corporate Sales and Custom Publishing and was on the company's Board of Directors. He joined Ziff Davis Media in 1996 to launch Yahoo! Internet Life, as Founding Publisher, and oversaw all aspects of the business, including editorial, circulation, production, marketing and advertising sales. This magazine launch was one the most successful in the last decade, and the publication now has a circulation of 1.1 million. He also had direct supervision of the magazine's Web site, which attracted over 4 million page views a month. Before working at Ziff Davis Media, Mr. Spanfeller was Publisher of Inc. magazine, and he has also been Senior Vice President, Marketing/Associate Publisher of Playboy Enterprises Publishing Group, which owns and operates Playboy Magazine. Prior to this he held senior sales positions at Newsweek.
Mr. Spanfeller has a BA in English Literature from Union College, Schenectady, New York. He sits on the Board of Directors of The New York Chapter of The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship To At Risk Youth (NFTE); served as Executive Director of The Magazine Publishers Association, 1999-2000; and was named one of Folio magazine's "40 Industry Visionaries" in 1999. Mr. Spanfeller lives in New York City with his wife, Peg, and their three daughters.
  • Transcript


Question: What is the best advice you have ever received?


Spanfeller:    Change begets opportunity. I’m sure a lot of people have said but the fellow who told me that was Chris Sinclair, at that time he was the marketing director at Newsweek and then I went off to become president of Pepsi and you know, this is going way back to the mid ‘80s that we have some changes in Newsweek which in my tender young years, mid ‘80s, I think I was in Grammar school, okay I was out of college.  You know, I was… you know, my God so-and-so’s leaving, Chris just said, “Change begets opportunity.”  And yeah that’s really been an incredibly important knowledge nugget to have because if you think about it, the velocity of change has not slowed down and in fact has increased radically as we moved through the years.