As a newcomer to CNBC, friends and acquaintances eagerly asked about all the personalities that make up the network, Mark Haines being front of mind. They wanted to know the story behind the American-flag tie, how tall he was in person, and whether I would mind telling him hello from a devoted viewer.
It was always met with disappointment when I said his perch at the New York Stock Exchange meant we had yet to cross paths in the office. My only interactions with the curmudgeon had been the few times we met on camera — and hardly pleasant ones.
Mark was aware of my training wheels as a convert from the ink-stained world of print — but that hardly earned a handicap on his beloved Squawk on the Street.
His sharp introductions made sure to butcher my last name in one of 20 different ways. He complained when the producers wrote it out phonetically for him. And he wouldn’t listen when they corrected him.
I made the grave mistake of ending a segment with a joke, one that hardly struck Mark’s fancy. What resulted was silence — and the wise words of Darren Rovell, who stopped by my desk to say, “Never make a joke on Squawk on the Street — unless you’re invited to.”
Which is not to say he was a stranger to levity. I once flubbed a word’s pronunciation, and Mark completely disarmed the moment by croaking, “Easy for you to say!”
Even in his light-hearted memory, our hearts are heavy, mine for the regret of not being one of those blessed to work with him for decades.
But through wisdoms collected and lessons learned about Mark from my colleagues and the entire investment community, it’s clear the honor was mine, to be treated under his golden rule, the rule that will be his legacy.
That is: Don’t let anyone off easy.