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Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,333 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
Cathie Black is the wise, funny mentor that every woman dreams of having. She was a pioneer in advertising sales at a time when women didn’t sell; served as president and publisher of the fledgling USA Today; and, in her current position as the president of Hearst Magazines, persuaded Oprah to launch a magazine. In 2006 she was named one of Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Wome ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mar 10, 2008 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: somebody obsessed with Hearst, Gannett, or USA Today
Despite this book's subtitle stating that it is a "Guide," I felt this book was more of a memoir than a how-to. It has components of both, and succeeds as neither.

Some of Black's anecdotes about her rise to the top were memorable -- most notably the one in which she very publicly gives one of her superiors a giant tomato from her garden, in order to make an impression on him.

But Black doesn't succeed in turning the anecdote into a lesson. It's just a story about a stunt she pulled to publicize
Elizabeth  Vasquez
Mar 19, 2008 Elizabeth Vasquez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Oprah & Becky Bench
Gift from Becky Bench. My favorite quick tips for the key to success- Drive, Power, and Passion
1. Remember to learn from teachable moments
2. Make sure your job responsibilities are clearly define
3. Demonstrate drive by communicating with passion and taking actions to be prepared
4. Show your peers, boss, clients, and competitors you are the most prepared
5. Create a reputation for making the extra effort is a great way to get noticed
6. Be sure of yourself to engage people in a bold and unusual wa
asma Qadah
Mar 12, 2009 asma Qadah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
كاثي الرائعة تهتم بشريحة الموظفين، كيف تنتج أفضل في عملك، كيف تؤدي عملك بالشكل الصحيح، كيف تظهر بالمظهر الحسن في عملك.. رائع جداً للمتخرجين الحديثين و الموظفين القدامى..
Dec 18, 2007 MacDuff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cathie Black is very well-known in the publishing world, as she's the president of Hearst Magazines. She's a bad-ass. Really, she is. This book was aimed at all women in business - sort of a call to arms to get yourself together, get your co-workers (especially other women) working together, and deal with men. She is very honest about the fact that she's often seen as being bossy, but she emphasizes that she's learned from her many mistakes, and wants the best for her companies all the time. She ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Devon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading Cathie Black's "Basic Black." I bought this book the day after I accepted an offer for my first professional job after college and it couldn't have prepared me more for the workplace, being a woman in the workplace, learning how to be a leader, and much, much more.

Some people may find this book to be too much about the media bizz, but her anecdotes and stories really do cross many professional careers and can be applicable to almost anyone, especially women. I wouldn't recommend
This lady is a hypocrite. The advice makes sense if you want to move up in the corporate world, but it also reminded me of why I hate Corporate America.

I looked her up and saw that she had just resigned from an appointed position as the head of education in NYC. Funny, but she has a whole section about not pretending to work in fields that one knows nothing about. She specifically said she was offered lots of positions in fields that had nothing to do with media but declined them because it was
Mar 28, 2016 Kitty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It starts slow, but stick with gets better!

I ended up really loving this book because although she didn't start with extremely catchy bells and whistles, the content here is great. The stories tend to get you thinking "wait...what was your point" but it comes around. She is putting her experiences and life suggestions in context, not only to build rapport but to help you remember WHY she is saying what she is.

Whether you're a CEO or starting out in the business world...I would really s
Amanda Konnik
Mildly pretentious, this is not your "out-of-school" guide to success, but it does have a few #magicmoments worth sharing:

"...none of this would have mattered if we hadn't begun seizing our moment weeks before the actual moment came."

"Yes, you want to follow your dreams, but sometimes the path to your dreams involves a carefully thought-out detour."

"...instead of agreeing to define myself according to my limitations, I chose to value myself according to my aspirations."
Although I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure I would recommend it, at least not over several other career advice books. The book is "basic" in that much of the advice is the same that I'd heard elsewhere, but on the other hand Cathie Black seems to be speaking primarily to 1) women who 2) work in business and 3) want to climb the corporate ladder as she did, as so her stories and the advice she draws from them are heavily colored by that perspective.

What I liked about the book was the stories, mor
Not so much a how to book, but a self reflection on the subtleties of the work place. Cathie Black is President and CEO of Hearst Magazines, which include Oprah, Cosmo, Cosmo Girl, and a ton of others. She talks about her work life throughout the years… from graduating college and expectations in the work place to her life now and how she got there.

One of my favorite stories includes her roommate and the difference of being told what to do specifically and knowing yourself what is expected of y
Cassandra Wilder
Recently, I listened to the audiobook version of Basic Black during my work commute. Basic Black shares the story of Cathie Black, who is known as the media's world guru. Cathie Black is the president of Hearst Magazines, and she uses her memoir to emphasize how to be successful in career and life by sharing her lessons. Her humble beginnings, her determination to be successful, and her perseverance inspire me.

I like Basic Black because of Cathie's honesty. She does not paint a picture of her li
Mark Oppenlander
This is a nice little book of career and professional advice from Cathie Black, the President of Hearst Magazines. A self-described middle-class girl from the South Side of Chicago, Black worked her way up through the magazine and publishing industry to now be rated as one of the 50 most powerful female executives in the U.S. In giving career advice, she shares many anecdotes from her own life and work, and these stories are consistently entertaining. The book is written in a breezy style and is ...more
Oct 22, 2009 Manda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for any woman (or any guy, frankly) in her twenties and starting her career. It can also be a useful refresher for those in the middle of their professional lives who may have let themselves slide a bit too much or those changing their career track.

Written in a frank, direct, and conversational style, Black gives practical advice which draws on her own experience and personal anecdotes. She reminds us of harsh realities most career counselors and college professors never prepare you
Guy Gonzalez
Years from now, when she's retired and far enough removed from Hearst to comfortably lift the curtain on an impressive career, Cathie Black has the potential to write a fascinating memoir that will double as an invaluable first-hand perspective on the evolution of the consumer publishing industry from its advertising-driven heyday into the digital age.

Unfortunately, she listened to her agent and "PR guru" -- the two women credited as having convinced her to write Basic Black -- and played her ca
Tina Cipolla
This book was just ok. it is definitely aimed at women just starting out, but I get really seriously annoyed by executives blathering on about women in corporate America and then admitting that they hate the idea of giving their employees the flexibility to work from home. Really? In this day and age I find this appalling. it reminds me of that stupid Marisa Meyer who insists that all Yahoo employees be in the office everyday, but then she installs a nursery in her office. I don't want to boil t ...more
Aug 23, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: under-30 women
Cathie Black is probably someone in real life that I would find intense and perhaps grating, but I found her book surprisingly easy to read, anecdotal-full and punchy, much like the successful magazines that make her company (Hearst magazines) rich. Must be why I liked this book.

I found Black's suggestions on women in the working world helpful, full of humor, and not that lecturing. Generally, I found her inspiring. She gears her book toward a younger generation, who don't have to face as many o
Sep 21, 2011 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Cathie Black is the former president of Hearst Magazines. I can't put this book received a lot of criticism that it's not really a 'guide' as the subtitle states, and more of a memoir, but I feel that I'm learning a lot from her work stories. Plus, she gives a ton of tips on everything from job interviews to dealing with difficult coworkers to how to lead a team. Her tone is warm and approachable, and even though she has had a huge, successful career, she never comes across as a bragga ...more
Jennifer Duke McDonald
Ok, so I didn't really read this book. I listened to it on my iPod. I figured I should do something productive with all that time I spend commuting. Besides I love fiction so much it's hard to get myself to read non-fiction when I do actually have time to sit down and read. Nothing will replace the feeling of cuddling up with a good book that I can hold and read.

I liked this book, especially since it talked about the publishing world. The narrator was not the author, but the narrator has a grea
Nicole Maynard
Maybe this is an older book but I didn't find anything particularly unique or novel here. The "advice" was very basic and I'd heard it all before. I also didn't feel like there was much actionable information. My impression was that the author didn't dip much below the surface. She says it helps to have confidence and her advice is to be confident. Then she basically admits she's always been confident, so she doesn't know what it's like if you're not. What do you do with that? She's clearly a su ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Johann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Johann by: mom
Essential, you are not. Experience to share, a definite gem

About time for a re-read! I read this a few years ago while in university and really found it inspiring despite Cathie Black being in a completely different field. She's an engaging writer with many anecdotes to share. I picked it up not really expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.

She did a great job balancing her personal voice with succinct "what this means to your life" summaries, whether it was with case studies, use of bul
Apr 30, 2012 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was really good. I thought she made some good points about work and life ("You can have it all, but you cannot have it all at the same time") and while I'm generally wary about reading books specifically for "women in business" I thought her insights into gender at work were really useful.

I particularly liked the two questions she tells you to ask yourself whenever you receive criticism:
1. Can you trust that this person is acting in good faith and not on some ulterior motive?
2. Does this p
I thought that this book gave good insight for woman about entering and/or advancing in the corporate world. Cathie Black is president of Hearst Magazines and although the book focuses on her experiences in the advertising and publishing world, many of the same principles can be applied to other areas of business. There are some great tips in the book, but I felt that some of her stories were a bit long and didn't really add much to the point she was trying to make. Above all, she is inspiring a ...more
Becca Roth
Feb 28, 2008 Becca Roth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have been out of college for three to five years
Shelves: business
This book was written to be a proxy mentor and coach to 20 somethings gearing up in their professional lives.

The seven tips Cathie shared with the group that she expands further in the book are:

Life is about passion, guts, fun, determination, risk, and most importantly, who you have relationships with.

Don't personalize what is not personal.

Know the rules before you break them.

It's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

Never let them see you sweat.

Practice MBE (management by em
This is a fantastic book for anybody who is in college or breaking into the publishing industry. It is focused towards young women but can be beneficial for anyone who wants tips on leadership and management skills. The book started with great resume, cover letter and interview suggestions and continued with entertaining stories about Cathie Black's experiences at USA Today, Heart Magazines and other positions. This book really motivated me and has gotten me really excited about my next step, ou ...more
Jennifer A.M.
Feb 27, 2008 Jennifer A.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young woman in the workforce
This is one of those "shot in the arm, let's get to it!" kind of books. Cathie Black gives helpful advice and amusing anecdotes that relate to getting ahead and getting what you want it the business world. Unfortunately for me, I work at a not-for-profit, so a lot of her advice did not apply to me. I can't move up in the department because I am the department. Still, her thoughts on dealing with difficult personalities and weird job situations are good to know and it made me think for at least a ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Nalini rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The key word here is "basic." Helpful tips for college (and perhaps high school) grads, and a few insights for a more experienced audience. Great for someone interested in the world of publishing, as almost all the anecdotes and lessons can be applied in that arena; less applicable lessons to finance, medicine, or any other field. I enjoyed most the autobiography of Cathie Black, the fascinating trajectory of her career, the verve that commanded her success, and the window into the world of publ ...more
Dec 09, 2007 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cathie Black's advice is very usable, entertaining and inspiring. The writing isn't the best, but her voice makes up for that. Biggest lessons: No doesn't mean no ... it just means more information is needed. Don't be afraid to take the credit you're due. Don't let the urgent override the important. Good leaders delegate. And if you want something to get done, give it to the busiest person in the room. (Funniest thing: In the "Devil is in the Details" chapter, there's a MASSIVE typo ... I got a ...more
Jun 15, 2013 Bomalabs rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it was me researching her name midway through reading the book (and finding out about her stint on the New York Education Board), or it was my excitement to start the next book, but her message, no matter how frank and straightforward it was written, it just didn't register with me. It was all "Easier Said than Done" messages. I don't know if the anecdotes acted favorably towards the message of her book. At times it sounded like a roll-call of the author's accomplishments than an example o ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Marcella rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Got a chapter in and realized I didn't want to go further. Her advice is almost annoyingly common sense. And her stories all seem to take place after she is successful (but never seem to intimate how she made it from entry level to c-suite). They also seem to brag (e.g. private jets, powerful CEO close-friends, calling the Chairman of Estee Lauder's board at his Parisian Hotel, etc.). I think this book would be interesting to someone in the media industry as they likely resonate. But it just was ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I work in a huge corporation with a ton of Type-A personalities, and I read this book during a job transition (thank goodness I was moving on up!) as sort of a refresher/confirmation on why I'm working at said huge corp. I got so many great tips from Cathie on how to get ahead (or at least stay afloat). I actually wrote lots of her advice on the first few pages of my day-planner so that I can check them out every few months for motivation. I highly recommend this if you are looking for practical ...more
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