Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Lee deBoer
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Lee deBoer is a renowned cable pioneer and chairman of the mind, body, spirit cable network LIME Media.

Many have claimed that the rise of the Internet would do to cable what the rise of cable did to broadcast television. And yet most cable companies have allied themselves with the Internet, as access providers, and appear to be thriving. Has this “competition” been successfully converted to a win/win situation? Lee states that “the amazing adoption rate of the Internet and its technologies has put us in touch with more relevant (and irrelevant) content. The Web has allowed people around the world to get involved in online communities and interest groups that are connecting us in unforeseen and valuable ways. New technologies will accelerate an even faster and deeper experience. Clearly, the interactive and democratic nature of the Internet allows it to do many things that cable – as a primarily broadcast medium – cannot.

“There are certainly some fundamental parallels between the growth of the Internet in the last few years and the growth of cable two decades earlier. First, there is the move from broadcasting to narrow-casting of content. Then there is the move from a limited channel selection to limitless selection. But clearly it’s a different jump, both quantitatively and qualitatively, when going from straightforward television reception – even in cable today – to what’s most likely around the corner on broadband over the Internet. The change is more revolutionary than evolutionary.

“So far, one of the Internet’s biggest attractions has also been one of its biggest commercial challenges – people are willing to pay for Internet access, but they tend to want all of the content to be free. However, I think we’ll start seeing more openness to paid content subscriptions. iTunes has begun chipping away at that wall. People have been buying things on the Web for awhile now, but primarily tangible things that arrive a few days later in the purchaser’s mailbox. Just as Amazon has often been held up – and emulated – as the model for successful retailing via the Web, I believe that iTunes is emerging as a model for successful selling of intangible content. The last word has yet to be written about competition and cooperation between cable broadcasting and the Internet.”

We asked Lee if he sees more programming – and advertising – being targeted at Flipsters. “You say ‘Flipster’ like it’s one defined market,” responds Lee. “But as you know, there are myriad ways to flip – almost as many as there are Flipsters. It’s been difficult to identify a single group with clear edges, one that could easily be quantified. We’re probably talking more of a psychographic target than we are a demographic, at least in the traditional sense.

“For example, for quite some time now, people have been examining their lives more closely, trying to live them in a manner that’s not only more sustainable, but also more holistic and conscious. This phenomenon has grown in recent years, and it certainly has our attention. But it’s always been a challenge – and probably will continue to be a challenge – to identify specific market segments or to clearly demarcate the similarities and differences among members.

“One of LIME’s traditional focuses has been alternative health programming,” mused Lee. “At that high level, one might expect to see a more geographically balanced audience than with a specific topic like yoga programming. Likewise, environmentally focused content might have a broader age or geographic distribution than something more specific like organic nutrition. Other topics might have more of an urban or rural appeal. You begin to see the challenges in targeting the programming and advertising.

“Here’s what I do know: I know it’s a smarter customer. It’s a consumer who tends to be better educated and wants to make more informed life choices. It’s a valuable customer. And it doesn’t necessarily have to bring with it any particular income profile. But it certainly might have an attractive profile… such as thought leader, for example. So it’s a customer that would be of interest to a variety of broadcasting and marketing plans.

We asked Lee to give some examples of how his own cable company, LIME, might address Flipsters in the future. “We talk about a greener and healthier lifestyle. I think our primary angle would be on holistic health practices and perhaps complimentary integrative medicine, though I don’t think our focus is going to be disproportionate to conventional health practices and treatments. Balance is key to our programming.

“Balance will also be key in who we target – in the sense of where people are along the bridge. We certainly want to have connections and bring value to those who have already flipped. But we’re also hoping to really bring the attitude to newcomers considering changes in their lifestyles or open to new and balanced ways to live. We want to show what people are doing – without excessive judgment – just ‘Here’s what people are up to, and here’s what people are thinking about.’ We want to encourage conversation, whether it be about health or lifestyles or eco-travel. Sustainability, in general, is a big focus for us. So is finding balance. We want to be inclusive, rather than exclusive or reclusive. We’d like to put a lot of possibilities in front of viewers as they are considering changes and making choices: ‘Here’s another perspective to consider.’”

Finally, we asked Lee about competition for Flipster viewers, be it from other cable programmers or the Internet. Lee was confident: “My philosophy is that if we attract some competition, we’ll know for sure that our audiences and other constituents are responding favorably. I look forward to that. If LIME turned out to be The Lone Ranger, it might mean we had boarded the wrong train. I don’t think that will be the case. I believe that our ultimate success will boil down to, week-in-and-week-out, how much value we bring our customers and how much we’re allowing the community to not only communicate with each other but also get access to the ideas and products they need. I’m an optimist. Bring it on!”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

The Flip is available at your local bookstore or online at, Barnes & Noble, Joseph-Beth, and Borders.


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