What Does it Take to be a CEO?

By: Robert Reif, President

I was recently interviewed by Brad Micklin and Yitzi Weiner for HuffPo., and they asked what five things I wish someone told me before I became CEO.  I was able to come up with a list fairly quickly—many thanks to Brad and Yitzi for giving me a reason to reflect on the many lessons I’ve learned during my career in media! Here’s my top five. Read the full interview below.


5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO

I was 25 years old when I started in media at The New York Times. The media landscape has changed radically since that time, but there is advice that is timeless. Below are the five things I wish someone had told me (or I wish I had listened to) when I was making my start.



Jobs and assignments will come and go throughout your career, but there is one constant - the brand equity that you build for yourself. If you are quick to burn bridges and only consider short-term gain, then that will come back and haunt you. Build a platinum reputation for yourself, so clients will always want to work and partner with you.



Office culture is a breeding ground for negative chatter. Individuals who are unhappy, who are looking to blame someone else, and who don’t want to be there will always find ways to spread their discontent within an office. Don’t get sucked into their adverse downward conversation. You are always best served by keeping a positive attitude and looking for solutions (rather than pointing blame) to promote positive change. Don’t empower the whiners, and don’t get spotted hanging out with them.



It happens to everyone. Somewhere along the way you are not going to reach a key goal, or the economy will tank, or you will get a boss who probably shouldn’t be in management. This too shall pass. Stay focused on your long-term goals, and keep close to the people and relationships that matter the most to you.



It isn’t about the making the biggest salary. Carefully consider all the aspects of a job before you accept a new position. When you are young, there is always a higher paying position at the company around the corner you consider pursuing, but your time and energy isn’t just about the money. Making an extra $5k, $10k or even $25k may not be worth it if you leave a company that appreciates you, respects you and treats you like family for one that makes you into a cog in the machine.



At the beginning of your career it is easy to let competitiveness push you to work long hours and to always be “on” – you may not have a spouse, children or other outside factors competing for your time. However, the winners are those who are able to find true balance between their “on” time and their “down” time. This can look very different for every individual, but the important thing is to make sure you find the right balance for you from the start of your career because that will help you keep the balance throughout your career.

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For the full Huffington Post article click here.