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Judith R. King is one of the most prominent and respected names on the New York PR circuit. As the charismatic owner of King + Company, Judith is known for her abundance of enthusiasm, which comes bundled up with her high-energy persona; together, these are unquestionably at the core of her charm. These qualities, alongside her commitment to delivering stellar results for her clients—of course—are undoubtedly at the core of Judith’s success.

Over the course of her career, Judith’s ingenuity and passion for crafting bespoke branding, PR, and social messages have earned her the respect and custom of star players in the non-profit arena (with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Susan G. Komen For the Cure and The Estee Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign among them), as well as consumer brands including household names like Rodale, DreamWorks Classics, Marquis Jet, Ritz-Carlton Club, and David Barton Gym.

Public Relations  Expert Judith King is Fearless but not Reckless

When she’s not busy crafting slogans, conceptualizing ad campaigns or writing top-notch marketing materials, Judith travels the country giving media training to CEOs, celebrities and prominent figures who are facing the public eye.

A couple of weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to grab five minutes to sit down with Judith for a quick tête-a-tête during which we picked her brain, learned about her career track, and discovered a little about what makes her tick.

gA: Describe your journey from account exec at Dan Klores to founder of King + Company.

JK: I was working at Dan Klores as a writing and ideas consultant—or a freelance writer—call it what you will. One evening, I was driving somewhere with my parents and my mother turned to me and asked “Judith, do you believe being charming is a career? Because, quite frankly, your father and I do not.” She then continued her diatribe during which she advised me to use all my gifts as well as the abundance of interpersonal relationships I had generated in order to get my career on track. And that is what I did—I started a small PR firm. Of course that makes it sound so simple but, really, simply using my contacts and my friendships, I did it! And I have since grown it into a company that grosses a revenue in excess of $3mn a year.

gA: New York is a heavily saturated playing field for PR and marketing professionals. How have you endured at the top for more than 12 years in the industry?

I got the best advice from my good friends Ian Schraeger and David Barton: you must always look to the word ‘modern’ as the most important concept there is. Meaning, STAY RELEVANT.

To this, I would also add the following advice:

1. Nothing is ever wrong or boring when you have the right ideas—you can never saturate the market enough with good ideas—they’re what keep your company fresh and your clients impressed.

2. Nimbleness is not as important as constantly innovating. You see, PR victories have very short shelf lives so you must always be thinking on your feet. It is essential that you remain engaged with your client and the world around you because you can always learn more. And I have to tell you, I don’t want to ever wake up thinking “I know enough.”

3. Nobody is indispensable but everyone is important, including yourself. Make the people around you feel that and believe it. It’s infectious. Seriously, I wish more people in my position understood that, as a leader, you can’t just command—you have to commend. I believe it’s because of my attitude that my team knows that, while I am the boss and I expect a lot from them, I want their success as much as my own. I can honestly say that for this reason I’ve never come into the office in a bad mood… ever. It’s not fair for bosses to put their own negativity on the people who are just there to do their best for them. At the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to be kind than unkind; so bring your life to work but don’t make work your life. I believe that it’s essential for both our success and our wellbeing that we all come to work as fully engaged human beings, approaching each new day with a love for it.

4. And last, but not least: Be fearless but not destructive.

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What makes a business book so exceptional that it becomes a classic? Is its popularity alone or how many times people mention it in their conversation? Is it how it impacted the way we do business? Or is it because it has become such a reference that other authors use it as a pillar to build and develop their own theory. Since there are many great business books which already stood the test of time, picking only 10 books for our list isn’t an easy task, so forgive us if your favorite business book didn’t make the cut.

Top Ten Best Business Books of All Time

1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

The inspirational author Og Mandino, a former World War II US Army fighter pilot and insurance salesman, overcame alcoholism, wrote 19 books and headed Success Magazine. The Greatest Salesman in the World is a story about an ancient merchant and his 10 mystical scrolls, each bearing a spiritual precept that is applicable to sales success. The author’s works have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.

2. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

This book is a collection of tips for people who wish to start businesses, or even, as author Guy Kawasaki claims, other sorts of projects, including nonprofit organizations. Kawasaki got his start in marketing at Apple Computer and went on to found several high tech businesses. He currently runs the venture capital firm Garage Technology Ventures.

3. In Search of Excellence by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

This book presents the results of a research project that authors Tom Peters and Robert Waterman conducted from 1979 to 1980. They investigated the qualities common to the best-run companies in America. After selecting a sample of 43 companies from six major industries, they examined the firms’ practices closely. Although they did this study more than 20 years ago, their results provide a model of eight core principles for excellence that are still true for companies today.

4. Success Built to Last by Jerry I. Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson

From 1996 to 2006, Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson interviewed more than 200 “enduringly successful people,” seeking their personal insights as a follow-up to Porras’ bestselling book Built to Last. The authors began each interview with an open-ended question designed to provoke an unstructured conversation about the meaning of success. The authors drew from these highly personalized revelations to extrapolate the qualities that high achievers share, particularly a driving desire to have meaningful impact.

5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was ancient China’s most renowned general. His classic text on strategy survived through the centuries and is still as applicable to war, politics and economics today as it was when Sun Tzu first drafted it. Many translations of Sun Tzu’s manuscript are available, but this one is both attractive and focused. General Tao Hanzhang supplements the actual text with his commentary. Sun Tzu has inspired countless generations of writers and businessmen including best –selling author Richard Greene who wrote “The 48 Laws of Power” and “The 33 Strategies of War

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Doug McMillon, the newly appointed chief executive of global megastore Wal-Mart, recently met with the company’s top execs, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. We’re not sure exactly what the meeting entailed, but we do know that it ended with a surprising assignment from McMillon: they were all told to read The Everything Store, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s book that depicts the rise of the company’s early days where it was run out of a garage, to its current standing as a leading global retailer.

It might seem strange, but in The Everything Store, Bezos reveals that the Wal-Mart business model was something he frequently referred to when developing a plan of attack for growing his online retailor. So McMillon’s thoughts? For a company that has seen five consecutive negative quarters of sales in the U.S., the executive team had to come up with a different strategy; why not learn from someone that successfully learned from their own company so many years ago?

In a manner of speaking, they had to look back to Amazon’s earlier days and, instead of thinking for the next (literally) big thing—i.e. expanding the company’s megastore presence—the real solution may actually be to think on a smaller scale…dial it back, so to speak. They need to look into developing convenience stores, modest-sized grocery stores and even freestanding liquor stores.

The company also readjusted its pricing schematics for its online sales. Whereas in the past, it maintained its low prices guarantee, it was decided to keep that limited to the brick and mortar stores, while the website would take on the Amazon model, with prices that fluctuate based on the market competition.

It’s a smart move on Wal-Mart’s part to make it a priority to study its competitors in the wake of slowing sales and the need to come up with a solution, and a practice we feel all business professionals should be on top of. If you want to check out The Everything Store and see why it is such a compelling read, you can find a summary of the book here.

Denise Yohn is an independent consultant, speaker and writer who specializes in branding. She advocates that a strong brand does not simply stem from visual identity and brand books but, instead, comes from the company’s entire ethos—from its corporate culture right down to the customer experience they provide. In her most recent bestselling book, What Great Brands Do (Jossey-Bass, 2014), Yohn identifies certain things that ‘great brands’ have in common. Surprisingly, these ‘things’ have less to do with advertising and communications and more to do with how companies run the business and cultivate their brand. We recently sat down with her to learn more.

interview with Denise Lee Yohn author of What Great Brands Do

In What Great Brands Do, you identify seven guiding principles for successful branding. How did you narrow it down to these key components for building a terrific brand?

Well, I started with the brands themselves and really tried to qualify what is a great brand, because I think there’s quite a bit of subjectivity. You may love a brand but I have absolutely no idea what their deal is. So, I tried to be objective by looking at things like profitability, market, consumer esteem and preference. Then, once I kind of came up with this list of, let’s say 100 brands I started looking for the strategies that worked behind them and uncover the central, common and defining principles.

The brand examples that you chose—like Ikea, Starbucks, Google, Chipotle, and even Lululemon—are great demonstration of strong branding at work.

Right. For some of those companies there’s a lot of available information but for others I really wanted to talk to somebody at the company who would help me understand what they were doing. So, in the case of Lululemon, I actually was able to interview the head of marketing and branding to learn from perspective as to what made Lululemon so successful so quickly. It was great to kind of get some behind the scenes looks at several brands like that.

And, what did they attribute their quick success to?

Unfortunately, in the last year or so, they’ve run into some problems. So, it’s a really interesting study. People ask me now, “Do you regret including Lululemon in there?” No, because you can look at how quickly they grew. And I still like their future prospects. But, the two things that their head of brand and marketing pointed to, were, one, that they are very innovative and always looking for what’s fresh, and bringing those ideas to their customers. So there’s this constant drumbeat towards innovation, not only in style and design, but also in fabric and finishes. Then, the other thing she pointed out, and what I ended up talking about in my book, is that they are very clear about who they’re looking for as a customer. They’re not trying to appeal to everyone. Granted, a lot of different kinds of people buy their products, and the brand is committed to serving everyone well, but they’re very much focused on their target customer that wants to live, these are my words, a yoga-inspired or yoga-centered lifestyle and really focusing on what does that woman want? They demonstrate the principle that great brands don’t chase customers.

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It’s bad enough that recent college graduates are having a hard time finding employment, but a new study conducted by Wells Fargo shows that four out of 10 people that fall under the millennials age group—anyone born in the early 1980s through early 2000s—are overburdened by their debt. Half of those in debt spend 50 percent of their paychecks on paying off debts, with 56 percent saying they live paycheck to paycheck.

The three things millennials are struggling to pay off the most? Credit cards, mortgages and student loans. Despite the financial struggle they’re undergoing currently, 72 percent are actually confident that, down the road, they will bounce back and be able to save up enough money to have a comfortable future.

Recently, the student loan law was expanded so that, starting next December, repayments could not exceed 10 percent of a person’s income, which is just a two percent drop from its current cap of 12 percent. Additionally, if loans are not paid off after 20 years, the remaining balance is forgiven.

Even though so many are experiencing this financial onus, the study found that millennials still understand that saving for retirement is crucial; however, only 55 percent of them are actually actively putting funds into such an account.

Are you a millennial struggling financially? Be sure to check out our selection of finance books to help you figure out how to best manage your income.

In Permission Marketing Seth Godin wrote: “The Internet is going to change marketing before it changes almost anything else and old marketing will die in its path.” Fifteen years later, Jeffrey Rohrs in his first book, Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers, takes a new look at the changing nature of consumer relationships with brands through email, mobile, and social channels. He concludes that audiences are critical business assets. He notes that marketers should stop focusing solely on producing content for their numerous communication channels and start thinking about proprietary audience development instead. Jeff is a dynamic keynote speaker who has been featured in many leading marketing conferences around the world. Jeff took a few minutes off his busy schedule to share his thoughts with us.

Jeffrey Rohrs author of book, Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers

Could you briefly explain the theory of proprietary audience development for us?

One of the great outcomes of the internet/ social/ mobile revolution is the ability for companies to go direct to consumers and build direct relationship with them through the myriad of channels that we have at our disposal, from email to Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Pinterest to podcasting, and so forth. Each of these channels allows product and service providers to build direct audiences with their customers. Over the past four years as I have travelled the world researching how companies communicate with their subscribers, fans and followers, I have discovered that there is an awful lot of emphasis on content creation as content marketing has grown in adoption and influence.

However, there is not a companion growth in the professionalization of audience development. You have all these great channels where you can build direct audiences but there’s nobody in the marketing organization with a 360-degree view of all the audiences being built and what their engagement level is.

So out of that came this notion that if we’re going to have content marketing and we’re going embrace the fact that, on a certain level, we’re a media company as we produce content for audiences, then we also have to embrace the other responsibility that traditional media companies have internally. Think of it this way: A television network doesn’t just produce TV shows and hope people watch. They produce television shows and then they have an audience development department whose job is to advertise those shows, to engage the audience, and to get them coming back for more, time and time again. We do not currently have that department in our corporate marketing departments and that’s where proprietary audience development comes in. I think we’re going to see the rise of a new kind of professional role within marketing departments—people who look horizontally across all of these different channels, tactics, and devices to make sure that we have got an audience that is growing in in terms of size, engagement and value to our organization in order to create a competitive advantage over those folks that we compete with head to head who don’t have that kind of attention to detail when it comes to audience.

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When you’re given the daunting task of ensuring that all of your company’s employees—spread out in 443 offices in 157 countries—are continually receiving and benefiting from leadership training and personal development, how do take on such a feat?

Not too long ago, Ken Finneran, chief people officer, Americas for Hellman Worldwide Logistics was faced with this very problem. As he noted, “The real challenge is whether we are learning and developing as fast as the world is changing.”

Despite the sheer number of employees, he had to take into consideration the different languages spoken around the world. While the company executives all spoke English, since it’s Hellman’s designated corporate language, the lower level workers didn’t always. Finnernan had to come up with a time-effective solution to help all levels of employees get access to the latest in business development, and he needed to make sure that it was all easily digestible.

Enter: getAbstract. Finnernan turned to getAbstract and made relevant titles in our vast library available to employees of multiple levels, which he said has fulfilled his objective completely. And, while he acknowledges that, since the majority of getAbstract titles are in English, there are still a few hurdles, but the availability of titles in several other languages has been a huge help.

“We talk from the time an individual joins the organization about how their development is primarily up to them with the support of their manager and the organization. With getAbstract, we’re putting a tool in the manager’s hands to help them do just that.”

Andy Stefanovich, author of Look at More: A Proven Approach to Innovation, Growth, and Change (which was an Inc. bestseller and included in AdAge’s “Ten Marketing Books Your Should Have Read” in 2011) is a prominent—and much sought after—thought leader and innovator. Stefanovich, a TEDx speaker and guest lecturer, has been invited to share his ideas with some of the world’s leading corporations and institutions, including Yale University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, NASA, Coca-Cola, and Disney. He is also a frequently invited commentator on CNBC. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Andy to discuss inspiration, innovation and life balance.

Andy Stefanovitch: Look at More

gA: In your book, Look at More, you credit inspiration with being at the root of innovation. What inspires you?

AS: Inspiration and passion inspire me. Inspiration is my inspiration and passion is my passion. These abstract, but critical, elements to anyone’s life can serve as fuel to create, innovate, and lead a great existence.

gA: Please can you explain your 5 Ms and how they feed into innovation?

AS: My five Ms explained in five lines:

Mood: The company’s ethos, i.e. the climate for creative energy within an organization.
Mindset: The individual’s propensity, passion and capability for creating.
Mechanisms: The tools, techniques and technologies used to create.
Measurement: What are we measuring to drive innovation and what might we consider measuring that we are not?
Momentum: Assuring creative energy is not an event or episodic, but instead a part of an ongoing cultural underpinning.

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With mobile technology on the rise, more and more people listen to audio summaries on the go. Whether you are commuting to work by train, car or any other mode of transportation, getAbstract’s mobile solution empowers you to make your commute a meaningful enjoyable experience.

Audio Summary Suggestions: Listen on the Go!

Getabstract has an app for all popular devices including:

BlackBerry iPhone
iPad Android
Amazon Kindle Sony Reader
Nook Windows Phone

If you have not experienced our audio summaries yet, here are a few simple steps that will allow you to browse and stream our audio summaries:

  • Download the getAbstract app.
  • Sign in using your account credentials.
  • Go to settings and select the Audio Only option.
  • Start browsing.
  • Select a title.
  • Click on the audio icon to start streaming.

We have three recommendations that are guaranteed to make your next commute a lot more entertaining:

1. “Überpreneurs” by Peter Andrews and Fiona Wood

Überpreneurs are heroes who work to solve the world’s greatest problems and improve the lives of millions. Among those thought leaders are Mo Ibrahim, Jeff Bezos – Founder of Amazon, Bill Gates – from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, James Oliver (“The Naked Chef”), and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus.

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When you think about the average intern, you typically picture a college student, willing to work (mostly) unpaid in order to get the experience needed when they enter “the real world”. But, as Fox Business reported, with 13 percent of the workforce facing unemployment, is there a benefit to biting the bullet and accepting either a low-paying or completely unpaid opportunity?

There are some perks to interning. If you’re unemployed, sure, you may be doing your best to get back on your feet, but the lapse in employment doesn’t necessarily look good on your resume. An internship, though maybe not as glamorous as your previous paid gig, can provide the experience and networking to help get you back in the game, as long as you’re selective about which one you pursue and accept.

Is your dream job not actively pursuing interns? Don’t let that stop you. Get in touch and propose an internship, or temporary contract work. They may not be ready to offer you a full-time position, but may be willing to explore a short-term gig, which could lead to a permanent job offer down the road (or at least open up other opportunities elsewhere).

Lastly, if the internship doesn’t lead to full-time employment, the experience looks good on your resume. However, the term “internship” can give the implication that you’re inexperienced. So, without lying, you want to be sure to give yourself an accurate title. It helps to market you to prospective employers; just be sure to let them know that the contract work was a part of your strategy to get back into the workforce in a tough economy.