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Discovery Channel founder hopes to inspire at Entrepreneurship Day

The founder and retired chairman of Discovery Communications — the parent of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and Science, among many other ventures — is the keynote speaker for Colorado Mesa University’s Entrepreneurship Day on April 23.

Asked what advice he’d give to budding entrepreneurs, he said, “This is a simple thought. Really listen carefully to your daydreams … Our daydreams tell us what we’re really interested in in life.”

In Hendricks’ case, his daydreams took him into the world of television, a medium he would eventually help revolutionize. Prior to the arrival of Discovery in 1985, high-quality documentary programming on television was scarce. Today, Discovery operates in more than 220 countries, has 2.5 billion subscribers, 206 worldwide networks and 49 network entertainment brands.

Television wasn’t all that drove the 62-year-old Alabama native.

Several years ago he was looking for a ranch in the west to build a retreat for his family. He was very close to signing a contract for a place near Santa Fe when he saw an ad in the Wall Street Journal for property in Gateway, Colo.

Thus Gateway Canyons Resort was born. It now is much more than a family retreat — it’s one of the premier resorts in the world. Last year Condé Nast Traveler named it the No. 1 resort in Colorado, No. 3 in the United States and No. 12 in the world.

Gateway Canyons will also play a key role in what Hendricks refers to as his “Chapter Two.” When he retired as chairman of Discovery last year, he began work on the Curiosity Project, a two-pronged program.

One component will be the creation of Curiosity Stream: a subscriber-driven video-on-demand service where one can see and hear the world’s leading thinkers in science, technology, civilization and the human spirit.

The other piece, dubbed Curiosity Retreats, will bring groups of the “greatest minds on the planet” to Gateway Canyons for four-day conferences.

The point, Hendricks said, is to foster lifelong learning. It may not be possible for people in mid-life and beyond to go back to college. But it is important for them to stay abreast of developments in the world in which they live.

“When I went to college,” Hendricks said, “there was no string theory. There was no nanotechnology.” But he believes it’s important for people of all generations to know about such things. It’s important to be curious. Thus his Chapter Two, the Curiosity Project.

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