Profiles in Leadership

From time to time, we’ll profile leaders or acts of leadership that we believe exemplify “leadership with a purpose.” Have a suggestion for us? Contact us at

We can probably all agree that business leadership requires qualified risk-taking. Executives and CEOs who don’t even do this are merely survivors—pushing someone else’s creation down the track while others adapt and innovate. But sometimes, the greats recognize that change needs to be even bigger and come faster than most would find comfortable. Fred Cook, former CEO of the PR giant Golin-Harris, is one such leader.

Mr. Cook is not what most would consider the prototypical CEO. He didn’t even enter the public relations field until age 35. Prior to that, he had taken the unconventional career path of working service jobs such as doorman and substitute teacher. However, he quickly learned the art of delivering added value while “working for tips” (as he describes it).

By 2011, Cook had worked his way to the top of one of the world’s great PR firms. Like the executives at all PR firms, Cook recognized that the entire landscape for public relations was changing on a massive scale with the mainstreaming of social media; content marketing; and “backpack journalism.” Unlike most CEOs, Cook moved quickly and on an equally grand scale to adapt—introducing an entirely new business model known as g4. GOLIN was the first PR agency to change their model of being generalists to specialists. Extensive internal interviews led to wide-ranging reassignments throughout the company. Today, as some PR firms still wrestle with the challenges of a disintermediated media, GOLIN remains at the top of its game, viewed as an innovator in a very different world.

Staying current with the changing environment, and with the interests and needs of consumers is necessary for companies to succeed. No longer are consumers just buying a product or service, they are looking for more. Cook says empathy is his greatest trait. Commonwealth USA says, that is a quality of a “true leader.”

Finding ways to share examples of leadership, engage social media about industry basics and service standards, and get everyone talking about what’s happening around them is the goal of our blog. To us, title companies need to be more thoughtful, more innovative, and more conscious of the changes and shifts in consumer demands; to us, this is what leading with purpose is all about.

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