What I Learned When I Almost Died: How a Maniac TV Producer Put Down His BlackBerry and Started to Live His Life

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Overview

Equal parts Mitch Albom and Jerry Maguire, Chris Licht tells the tale of a brilliant career nearly cut short by a brain aneurysm—and how that near-death experience changed everything.

• An inspiring tale: Chris Licht was a “killer” at his day job as the executive producer in charge of running MSNBC’s must-watch politics and morning news show Morning Joe . A thirty-eight-year-old control freak who thrived in the high-octane world of media, he had spent years sacrificing ...

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What I Learned When I Almost Died: How a Maniac TV Producer Put Down His BlackBerry and Started to Live His Life

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Overview

Equal parts Mitch Albom and Jerry Maguire, Chris Licht tells the tale of a brilliant career nearly cut short by a brain aneurysm—and how that near-death experience changed everything.

• An inspiring tale: Chris Licht was a “killer” at his day job as the executive producer in charge of running MSNBC’s must-watch politics and morning news show Morning Joe . A thirty-eight-year-old control freak who thrived in the high-octane world of media, he had spent years sacrificing relationships with family and friends in the fiercely driven pursuit of his career. But that was before a brain aneurysm nearly killed him. Chris is suddenly humbled—forced to recognize the richness of the life he nearly lost and to reckon with his family and career. This is a story of a guy who nearly died—and found a way to remove what doesn’t matter and wound up more in love with his work and his family than ever.

• Behind-the-scenes drama: What I Learned When I Almost Died brings to life the set of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and plunges readers into the competitive world of television, revealing all the egos and adrenaline it takes to create a popular cable TV political show. Licht also flings back the curtain to one of the nation’s most prestigious emergency rooms as his life hangs in the balance, detailing the extraordinary courage and professionalism it takes to bring him back from the edge.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"MORNING JOE EP SUFFERS APPARENT ANEURYSM", the early headlines read, but the real story came somewhat later. Chris Licht, the hard-working Executive Producer of MSNBC's hit show Morning Joe, had indeed suffered a brain event in April 2010, but it was what happened after his one-month hospital recovery from "the worst headache of my life" that truly merits our attention. The self-transformation registered in this memoir's subtitle stands as a heartening lesson to all of us have not had a life-changing, near-death experience. An apt reading choice for those who had suffered through health changes.

Kirkus Reviews

TV news honcho Licht was used to calling the shots as executive producer of MSNBC'sMorning Joe, but that changed one day when something popped inside his skull.

Instead of prepping for another episode of the successful morning show with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the author, not yet 40, landed in the emergency room. There, he learned that his brain was bleeding—and no one knew exactly why. Licht, who up until then was the picture of health, found that he was no longer in control. What followed was a harrowing ordeal that, even if it didn't ultimately kill him, was destined to change him in ways that he could never have dreamed of before. As a "stop and smell the roses" parable, Licht's tale of sudden life-threatening illness covers familiar ground. Still, hearing how this classic type-A personality was forced to confront some hard truths about himself in order to survive makes for a compelling exercise. Readers might not care much about how attentively Scarborough and Brzezinski buzzed around his bedside, or that Vice President Joe Biden personally got on the phone with the hospital in an effort to ensure his recovery. But other candid observations, like the impact the author's steady-as-a-rock father had on his son's healing, are right on the money.

Not exactly revelatory, but often moving.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451627671
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/24/2011
  • Edition description: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.26 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Licht

Chris Licht is the co-creator and original executive producer of Morning Joe—the popular daily morning show on MSNBC hosted by Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist. Before Morning Joe, Licht worked as executive producer on Scarborough Country. He lives in Manhattan with his wife Jenny and their two sons.
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Read an Excerpt

prologue
The Killer Producer

Lately, if I happen to be looking through my address book for a phone number, I’m apt to stop when I come across the name of someone I haven’t been in touch with for a while. A friend, maybe, or an acquaintance. When I do, I’m likely to fire off an e-mail with no more length or gravitas than this:

Hey, how you been?

The gesture is a small one, but I didn’t used to do this. Days that were filled with the pressure and crises of running a national cable television program had little room for casual nicety. If I wasn’t in the control room producing it, I was in my office thinking about how to produce it. If the talent was unhappy, I’d let it gnaw at my gut. If somebody screwed up, I could go off like a roadside bomb, in a finger snap. I knew this. But the show so consumed me that it couldn’t be merely acceptable. It had to be great. I had ambitions. I had to be the killer producer.

Then one day, with no warning whatsoever, I became scary sick in a random and hard-to-figure way, given that I was not even forty years old. Most people with the medical emergency I had do not emerge from the experience physically intact, if they emerge at all. Weeks later, my health restored, I went back to work, and was eager and happy to do so. Illness hadn’t scared me into some big life makeover. I had no urge to surrender my spot in the fast lane for ownership of a B&B in Vermont.

But serious illness had recalibrated me. It had brought a trove of knowledge, as if I had involuntarily paid a painful tuition for an elite education. It was about letting go of my fears. It was about what I could control and what I couldn’t, and how people felt about me, really felt about me. It was about how to use time. It was even about Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States.

It would be nice, I thought, if everyone could get the education I had gotten without having to nearly die.

So I decided to write a book.

© 2011 Chris Licht

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Great book to show what's important in life

    Chris Licht was a busy television producer when he suffered a brain hemorrhage. Finding out that this could have killed him and that he was lucky to survive with few impairments, Chris realized the importance of paying attention to the people around him, including his colleagues who helped him through his hospitalization and after he returned to work. He appreciated more what his wife had done in working and caring for their son and supporting him through his illness. He had to slow down to recuperate and began to pay more attention to everyday things, such as his son playing and other such events. This book does cause one to think about what's truly important in life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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