5 Life Lessons from “Unlikely CEO,” Fred Cook of Golin

By: Sarah Kurz, Vice President

On November 4, Fred Cook, CEO of Golin, spoke to Penn State Students as part of the College of Communication’s Career Conversations Speaker Series. Cook’s background has ranged from doorman to one of the most experienced CEO’s in public relations with more than 25 years of experience at Golin.

Below are five life lessons Cook spoke about in his presentation and how they can relate to having a meaningful and impactful career.

Stepping out of your comfort zone prepares you for the big bad world.

Cook was eager to explain how if he had never taken risks he would not be the successful CEO he is today. Never being afraid to ask for something twice has allowed Cook to see to the world whether it be as a cabin boy on a Tokyo bound ship or a peddler of fake Italian leather goods across the globe. Taking chances has given Cook the ability to see things from multiple angles in his career.

You might never work on a ship, but you will always have a captain.

Just because you won’t travel the world as an impromptu cabin boy like Cook doesn’t mean you won’t have a captain of your own. Making an impression on the boss or the people in your office is one of the best ways to make meaningful connections at your workplace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to those who are higher above you. You never know when your captain will need a first mate in the future.

Find the way past “no.”

Cook explained that “no” means nothing as long as you want something bad enough. If you don’t work past hardship, you will never really achieve your dreams. In your career there will be many times when an idea or plan gets shot down, but don’t be afraid to make something new and try again.

Work for tips.

Cook learned much of his customer service skills during his time as a doorman at a five-star hotel in Los Angeles. He created relationships with customers by recalling their names and as a result made a generous amount of money. Cook reminded the audience that customer service is at the heart of every business, and it’s the little things that go the longest way. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile to make an impression that will make your client feel special.

Don’t be afraid to walk your own path.

Cook explained that forging your own way in the world does not mean you won’t be successful. The prescribed path isn’t always the best route to your destination or goal. Be a problem solver, develop an idea, and see the world. According to Cook, life experiences far outweigh work experience when it comes to making an impact in your future career.

PRSSA was proud to work with the College of Communications to feature Fred Cook as a our November general meeting speaker. Interested in working with Golin? Check out the Golin “Unternship,” applications are live today and can be found at http://golin.com/unternship/.

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