On the go with Golin CEO Fred Cook

Habits and advice from Fred Cook, CEO at Golin and director at USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center

On the go with Golin CEO Fred Cook

Morning ritual
I try to run every morning, no matter where I am. When I travel, I always take my gear with me. Running is the best way to see the sights, whether in Bentonville or Bombay.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office
Because we have an open architecture, I don’t have a real office. But I do have a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. And I have the privilege of sitting next to Al Golin, who comes to work every day.

Favorite smartphone app
MobileDay for work. Waze for driving. American Airlines for flying. Vivino for fun.

What job unconventionally prepared you best for the world?
I’ve been an Italian leather salesman, a cabin boy, a doorman at a five-star hotel, a tour guide, a chauffeur, and a substitute schoolteacher, among other things.

Each one taught me something that helped me prepare for my PR career. That’s what my book, Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO, is all about.

But which one resulted in the best stories?
I started a company in Los Angeles, called Sober Chauffeur, which drove drunk people home in their own cars.

I spent the first night of business promoting this "discreet service for the drinking class," to the bartenders at the swankiest watering holes in Beverly Hills. Over a glass of wine, I would explain the service and give them my glossy new brochures.

As the night wore on, they got more enthusiastic and I got more inebriated, until I was arrested by the Beverly Hills police for drunk driving. They all got a big laugh when they saw my business cards, and I got an embarrassing story.

On a scale of one to 10, how difficult is your commute?
I have the best commute in the world. I run to the office through Lincoln Park and along Lake Michigan. It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

If you ruled the world for a day
Most of the world’s problems I see are going to take a lot longer than a day to solve.

Favorite city to do business in (besides Chicago)
I have always loved the lifestyle and diversity of Los Angeles, and I look forward to spending more time there with my role at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and at Golin’s LA office. 

Thing you’re most looking forward to talking to USC Annenberg students about as director of its strategic communications and PR center?
I’m looking forward to talking to them about improvising. I will encourage them to be less worried, braver, and to experiment with their lives. I want them to bring bold ideas and fresh perspectives to their future careers in our business.

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