Newport taught Canafax to measure success in more than money and power. "I think everybody is successful in their own right. It's measured by your relationship to your family, your community," he said. Canafax didn't set out to becoming Fidelity general manager or to attain any particular position. "I never really plan anything. My philosophy is you have to be passionate about your work. If you're passionate and blessed with talent, everything else will fall into place," Canafax said.
He earned a broadcast management degree from Southern Ohio College and launched a career in broadcast news as news and sports director at WRBI radio in Batesville, Ind. in 1986. He married his wife, Jamie, that same year. He moved up to WSCH in Lawrenceburg, Ind., in 1987 and onto WKRC radio in Cincinnati on the overnight shift as weekend news anchor.
By 1989, Canafax was also a part-time news writer at WKRC TV, but he was ready for a change. With a growing family, he and his wife wanted to remain in Greater Cincinnati. So, Canafax thumbed through the yellow pages. "I literally picked up the phone book. I don't know why. I cold-called the Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau for openings," he said. The bureau had no openings and referred him to the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau. As luck had it, the bureau was mulling the creation of a communications manager position, and Canafax got the job. Canafax was in the right place at the right time for his next promotion. In 1990, Don Klein, vice president of the visitors bureau, was too ill to give a scheduled speech to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
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The bureau president was out of town, so the speech fell to the 25-year-old Canafax. "Apparently, I did well enough that John Garman (chamber president) remembered," he said. The chamber needed a public relations officer, and Canafax won the job. His four years at the chamber, 1990-94, were another turning point in Canafax's career. He began professional relationships with Northern Kentucky's movers and shakers on the chamber board at the beginning of an unprecedented 10-year economic expansion that would not end until 2000.