Keynote Speaker: Fred Cook
Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO
Improvise, a book authored by GolinHarris CEO Fred Cook, is an inspiring story of how he followed an unusual yet fascinating path from young adulthood to the corner office. He combines his lifetime of uncommon experiences with his insights from a successful corporate career, as a means to help others uncover professional skills that exist outside any traditional office.
Following college, Cook was initiated into the business world through a dozen lackluster yet enlightening jobs, including pool hustler, chauffeur for drunks, cabin boy, doorman, and Italian leather salesman. Now he provides counsel to blue-chip companies like Nintendo, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, BP, and Toyota, and has worked personally with Jeff Bezos, Michael Eisner, and Steve Jobs. Filled with colorful anecdotes and hilarious yet poignant moments, Improvise delivers practical tips on how people can change their perspectives, using unique life experiences as means to an end.
Fred Cook has worked at Golin for over 25 years. He started as an account supervisor in our Los Angeles office and moved to Chicago ten years ago to become Golin’s third CEO. Fred credits the company culture for his long tenure with the firm. He spends a lot of time visiting Golin offices around the globe and is constantly impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the team.
Al Golin founded the company based on a few simple Midwestern values — humility, hard work and trust. Fred works to preserve those values because they are critical to the people, the clients and the future of the firm.
In 2012, Golin earned a number of awards, including being voted “Agency of the Year” by four different groups, but Fred is most proud of the fact that 92% of Golin staff believes the company is headed in the right direction.
Golin is proud of all its accomplishments in the past 55 years, but is even more excited about the future. The world is experiencing profound changes in demographics, globalization, multiculturalism and technology which are impacting the way people communicate with each other. To stay ahead of their changes, Golin completely redesigned the agency by adopting a proprietary business model called g4, to deliver deeper insights, bigger ideas and broader engagement to their clients. They replaced the traditional hierarchal agency structure with four communities of specialists, including strategists, creators, connectors and catalysts, who are embedded in every account.
In addition the agency has invested heavily in training and state-of-the-art technology. Golin created the Bridge™, global network of holistic engagement centers to help clients infuse their brands and products into the news and conversation cycles of the hour. A pioneering approach in today’s complex media environment. It is a fascinating time to be in the PR business and the perfect time to be at Golin.