Cathie Black is the wise, funny mentor that every woman dreams of having. She was a pioneer in advertising sales at a time when women didn’t sell; served as president and publisher of the fledgling USA Today; and, in her current position as the president of Hearst Magazines, persuaded Oprah to launch a magazine. In 2006 she was named one of Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in American Business” for the seventh consecutive year. Now, in the exuberant, down-to-earth voice that is her trademark, Cathie explains how she achieved “the 360° life”—a blend of professional accomplishment and personal contentment—and how any woman can seize opportunity in the workplace.
No matter where you are in your career, Basic Black offers invaluable lessons that will help you land the job, promotion, or project you’re vying for. At the core of the book are Cathie’s candid, personal stories. She walks us through her decision to risk dropping a huge ad agency that handled the USA Today campaign in favor of a small boutique agency run by a wild man. (It was a smash.) She admits that her sometimes brusque style once led to a mutiny of staffers at Ms. (She learned to be more flexible in her managerial style.) She offers a clear-eyed look at what happened during the twenty-eight months between the launch and the close of the much-buzzed-about Talk magazine. And throughout, she offers fascinating glimpses of media and business personalities, such as Rupert Murdoch, Tina Brown, Frank Bennack, Vic Ganzi, former CosmoGirl! editor Atoosa Rubenstein, Bonnie Fuller, and the legendarily difficult Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today.
Above all, Basic Black is motivating. It provides a close-up look at the keen judgment, perseverance, and optimism that have propelled Cathie Black to the top of her game, along with the kind of straight-up practical advice you get in a one-on-one session with a career coach. You’ll find out how to handle job interviews, which rules to break, and why you should make your life a grudge-free zone. Equally important, you’ll be inspired to pursue your passions and achieve your very best.
About Cathie Black
CATHIE BLACK heads Hearst Magazines, a division of Hearst Corporation. She manages the financial performance and development of some of the industry’s best-known magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Black made publishing history in 1979 as the first woman publisher of a weekly consumer magazine, New York, and she is widely credited for the success of USA Today, where for eight years, starting in 1983, she was first president, then publisher. Before joining Hearst, she also served five years as president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and daughter.
From the Hardcover edition.
Bonus Content for Paperback
Who did you write this book for and why?
This book is meant to be a how-to guide for women just starting out in their careers, as well as a refresher course for women who are a rung higher, or have made it to the managerial level and are worried they are going to stall there. The funny thing is that, while I wrote Basic Black for women, there have been many men who’ve told me how helpful it was to them, whether it was insight on how to manage people or how to hold a really effective meeting.
Most of all, I wrote Basic Black because I wanted to share my experiences — my successes as well as the things that didn’t turn out as planned, in the hopes that readers could learn from them, as I did.
I also realized that asking myself the tough questions was the key to moving forward -- figuring out what my priorities were: how do I achieve a balanced life? How do I get maximum enjoyment from my career and my life outside of work? I have been pretty fortunate in that I have been able to build what I call a 360° life, and I wanted to share my advice and strategies in the hopes that other women would strive for the same fulfillment.
How is your message tailored to today’s woman, especially in the current economic climate?
Basic Black is a mentoring tool for women seeking guidance in their careers and lives. The concepts in the book are easy to embrace, and they apply to all industries. In today’s economic climate, employers want us all to work smarter and more efficiently. There is a lot of practical advice in this book; for example, never surprise your boss, and never say (or even think!) “We tried that already” when someone raises a new idea. Hopefully, Basic Black will be a reference book — something readers can consult again and again when they need advice, both professionally and personally. Think of it like a portable mentor that you can pop into a tote bag or on your bedside table.
What advice do you wish you could go back and give yourself in your early twenties?
Everyone owes it to herself or himself to figure out what you really enjoy doing. If you’re doing something you like, you’ll be better at it. Whether you’re just starting out, gaining experience or contemplating a mid-career change, it makes sense to step back and examine what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Not everyone has a passion, but everyone has things they like doing.
Important tips I’ve learned along the way:
•Be who you are in whatever you do.
•Find something that excites you.
•The only person who can hold you back is you, so believe in yourself.
•Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are bound to make mistakes, but you’ll gain respect if you can laugh at yourself.
•Take credit when it is yours, because you will get the blame when things fail.
•Don’t personalize things that are not personal.
•The worst case scenario is rarely as bad as you think.
•Take calculated -- not crazy — risks.
What book is on your nightstand now?
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
The Ten Commandments for Business Failure by Donald R. Keough
The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith
“Basic Black does a great job of telling the story of how Cathie deftly navigated the challenges of the workplace and the media business, while also trying to balance the demands of a busy life. Her practical tips on handling typical workplace situations make this an important read for any woman who wants to become a better colleague, a better leader ... and a better person.”
—Meg Whitman, President & CEO, eBay Inc.
"Bravo for Basic Black! After reading this book, I understand more than ever why Cathie Black is the huge success she is today. She’s totally fearless! She shares her triumphs, but perhaps best of all, she shares her mistakes so that we can learn from them. I love her candor. Whether you're starting your career or going full throttle, you will benefit from Cathie's insights into business--and life. Basic Black is a true must-read.
—Gayle King, editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine
"I’m a big Cathie Black fan–in part because we both believe that where you come from in no way determines where you can get to. If you think it, you can create it.Cathie’s career is living proof of that and her experiences, both professional and personal, make for fascinating reading. The life lessons in these pages are smart, true, and reassuring, no matter where you are in your career."
—Suze Orman, author of Women and Money and The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom
"Cathie Black is exactly the kind of mentor every woman needs: a talented executive at the top of her game willing to tell it like it really is. Imagine having a private lunch with one of the most powerful women in business, and then feast on her wonderful book. Basic Black is among the very best insider accounts of how to succeed as a leader."
—Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor and author of Confidence and America the Principled
"Cathie Black demystifies the workplace with her typical brand of pragmatic insight and engaging humor. Basic Black provides a practical guide to the traits we see demonstrated by our greatest leaders at GE---passion, drive, attitude, risk taking, and the ability to nurture and develop great talent. I had fun reading Basic Black, and thought to myself...This is someone I would like to work for."
—Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
"As every woman needs basic black in her wardrobe, she also needs Basic Black on her bookshelf. This is the perfect handbook on getting ahead while staying true to yourself."
—Donna Karan, Designer
From the Hardcover edition.