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Cathie Black: Portrait of Success


basic-black-cover4.jpg“Always take a clean copy of your resume to a job interview.”

“Dress for the next job you aspire to have.”

“Carry yourself as though you know where you’re going.”

Cathie Black’s wit and workplace wisdom leaps from every page of her bestselling book Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life). Cathie’s quotations italicized throughout this blog and many other pithy pieces of advice throughout her book are valuable rules for young workers just starting out on their career ladders, and even more experienced professionals who need reminders about the basic rules of working life.

Cathie’s triumphant return to Trinity last evening was a marvelous occasion to celebrate the great success of this member of the Class of 1966, and her classmates, alumnae friends and several hundred students turned out in force to meet Cathie, snag copies of the book, and listen to her insights gathered from a long and hugely successful career in publishing.

“You can make a big mistake, or a bad mistake, just try to avoid the big bad mistake.”

“Don’t cry at work, ever.”

Cathie’s star has burned brightly in Trinity’s firmament of alumnae success for many years. I first heard of her when she was at Ms. Magazine in its heady early days. We young alumnae were envious of this sister alum who was living the dream of working in New York on the marketing team for this brash new feminist publication. Later, after Cathie became the first woman publisher of New York magazine, in the early 1980’s she returned to Washington as publisher of the fledgling USA Today. I first met her when she was a member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees, and we served on several committees together. I can remember several occasions when we met in her office on the top of the Gannett Building in Rosslyn (those wavy twin towers by the river were once Gannett headquarters), gazing out on all of Washington while we worked on plans for Trinity’s future. Her great loyalty to Trinity, keen insight into our strategic challenges, and no-nonsense approach to solving problems were a tremendous help to Trinity’s board back then, and a great help to me after I became Trinity’s president.

Today, as president of Hearst Magazines, Cathie oversees a vast publishing operation that includes such icons as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and, an acquisition she engineered, O, The Oprah Magazine.

As famous and powerful as Cathie has become — she is routinely on the Fortune and Forbes “most powerful women in business” lists, and so many similar accolades — Cathie has never forgotten her Trinity roots. When I asked her if she could come for the book party last night, she readily agreed in spite of her jam-packed schedule. Even better, she donated the books that the students received last evening, a great gift that meant a lot to our students. Best of all, however, was the fact that she stayed and signed every single book, greeting each student and guest with good cheer and friendly advice.

“The first half of your life is spent chasing success; the second half is spent chasing significance.”

Cathie Black’s success is well earned and widely known. Her significance as a business leader and fine mentor to countless women and men climbing the ladder behind her continues to grow. Trinity is so proud of her achievements, and grateful to Cathie for so generously sharing her portrait of success with the current generation of future business leaders enrolled at Trinity today.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: