Massachusetts Conference for Women speaker Cathie Black is a well-known media executive, New York Times bestselling author and now an advisor, board member and investor in digital start-ups and entrepreneurial companies. In our Q&A, she explains how the lessons she learned as president and chairman of Hearst Magazines help her advise young entrepreneurs today.
Q: Please share how your professional career began and how you ended up where you are today?
A: As an English major in college, I wanted to go into publishing, advertising or PR. Once I started interviewing, I found the magazine companies most interesting and accepted a job selling small ads at a beautiful travel magazine. It was the beginning of a 40-year career in publishing, to include being advertising manager and associate publisher of Ms. Magazine, the feminist bible, the president and publisher of USA Today in its launch years, and finally becoming president of Hearst Magazines, one of the world’s largest magazine publishers (Cosmopolitan, O, the Oprah magazine, Food Network, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and many others). Today, in my next chapter, I am a board advisor, investor or mentor to six digital start-up companies ranging from Yieldbot, a data analytics company; to a career site, the Muse.com. It is incredibly exciting and stimulating to be surrounded by all these twenty-something’s who are building businesses and making a difference.
Q: Can you name a leader for whom you have great respect and tell us why?
A: Caryl Stern, the CEO of UNICEF, who travels the world to help in any threatening situation to bring food and healthcare to the world’s most deprived people, particularly women and children.
Q: As a leader in your company, what is the best piece of advice you would offer to a new employee to help them succeed?
A: Do your job really well. Be proud of your company and choose to be an important part of its growth, no matter your job title or responsibilities. Make the most of any assignment. Do more than asked, volunteer, be the solution and not the problem. Be a pleasant colleague; leave your bad moods at home. Be ambitious and make a difference.
Q: What would you say has been your driving force in your staying power in a male-dominated industry?
A: Choose to be ambitious, and do all of your jobs extremely well. Develop relationships with mentors and supporters who can help you advance. Most of all…deliver results.
Q: As a seasoned professional, how do you share your experience with your team on a daily basis?
A: My main role today is to act as mentor/advisor to many digital start-ups with very young management. I share my experiences about choosing teams, hiring the best people, having a vision and a plan for execution, understanding revenue and expenses, and developing new products. It is fun and energizing.
Q: What is the one thing you make time for in your daily life that helps keeps you refreshed and positive?
A: I make time in my daily life to spend time with people that I love, like my husband and friends, and exercise religiously. Exercise, eating healthy and being fit must be priorities. They are for me.