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Survive to Thrive Paperback – November 6, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The man who pioneered the holding-company concept, Philip H. Geier Jr., grew up in Cleveland during the Great Depression. The oldest of six boys, he earned the nickname "Deals" as a youth because of his business acumen. He got his first taste of adland while dating Joan Bennett (who would go on to marry Ted Kennedy), whose father was in the business. Mr. Geier started at McCann-Erickson in 1958 and in 2000 retired as chairman-CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos. after a 20-year run in that post. A onetime chairman of the Ad Council, he currently serves as chairman of the Geier Group, a New York-based marketing communications and venture-capital firm. Now 74, he began working on his first book, "Survive to Thrive: Sustaining Yourself, Your Brand, and Your Business from Recession to Recovery," last spring. The 250-page tome is written in the form of a time line, interspersed with business lessons learned working with blue-chip Interpublic clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and L'Oréal. At one point he talks about a bomb scare in the middle of a pitch for Martini & Rossi, and offers surprisingly kind words in the book for his former rivals, the heads of Omnicom Group and WPP, John Wren and Martin Sorrell. The book delves into why Interpublic pursued certain acquisitions and, in his words, "why some worked, why others failed." He talks about how he grew Interpublic to what was at one time the largest ad-holding company in the world, but also addresses its business troubles, including a period of accounting woes, and he admits to a disastrous move under his watch that saw Interpublic getting into Formula One racing. Mr. Geier gets personal too, talking about courting his wife of nearly 50 years, Faith, and how a liberal Democrat was the source of a heart transplant in 2006 that saved his life. (Mr. Geier is a lifelong Republican.) Photos of Mr. Geier show him with the likes of Princess Diana, Jack Nicholson and Rupert Murdoch. --Advertising Age

Before there was the hit TV show Mad Men, before Coca Cola was the real thing, before branding became a marketing buzzword, there was Phil Deals Geier. The story of how this visionary, who created the modern advertising holding company and brought The Interpublic Group from $500 million to $5.6 billion in revenues, is shared for the first time in SURVIVE TO THRIVE: Sustaining Yourself, Your Brand, and Your Business from Recession to Recovery. In addition to sound business wisdom, SURVIVE TO THRIVE reveals an insider s take on the glamorous real world of 1960s and 70s advertising and features a veritable who s who of mid-20th century luminaries. Part business bible, part advertising history and part personal memoir, Geier tells all and doesn t flinch as he recounts his career, pointing out mistakes as well as triumphs and sharing the takeaway lessons that led to his success and that of many others on both the agency and client side. As the man who created the blueprint of the global network, Geier was named Chairman and CEO of Interpublic, the parent company of his original firm of McCann-Erickson, by the time he was 45. During his 20 years with the company, Interpublic stock experienced a compound growth of 22 percent. Geier s saga of the advertising industry s evolution to meet the challenges of modern globalization provides some deep insight into dealing with change, revealing how his relentless focus on the client s concerns changed the model of the effective account person. To succeed in business, he writes, you need to be able to use your own personal strengths in a wide variety of situations. You need to be able to listen as well as to make yourself heard. You need to earn people s trust. You need to be able to make the right impression on people in a way that is always true to yourself. At the core, Geier says success is all about people. Reviews: "From recessions to corporate calamities to actual heart-stopping moments, there s no kind of crisis Phil Geier hasn t lived through. He offers a 5-star meal made up of powerful business messages, rules of leadership, personal stories, the value of family, friends, as well as giving back." -- Bob Wright former Vice Chairman, GE and Chairman of NBC Universal "As the CEO who built Interpublic into a global advertising powerhouse, Phil Geier always was a great competitor. I was very happy when he retired." -- John Wren President and CEO, Omnicom Group Inc. "As someone who has been deeply involved in media and advertising for half a century, take it from me: Phil Geier has nailed it! He explains how to build long-term success by combining smart ideas and disciplined execution with a relentless client-centric focus." -- Frank A. Bennack, Jr. Vice Chairman and CEO of the Hearst Corporation "Phil Geier s SURVIVE TO THRIVE will help you make smart business decisions in today s recovering global economy and compete successfully in a fully integrated and highly competitive world." -- Glenn Hubbard Dean, Columbia Business School "Phil Geier is the real thing. And he's finally revealing his secret formula. This book explains how he grew Interpublic into the world's number one advertising company by building relationships as well as brands, and by always putting clients first." -- Don Keough Chairman of Allen & Company and former President of The Coca-Cola Company --The Book Giveaway --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, Geier and his Interpublic colleagues worked with clients ranging from Coca-Cola and Exxon to GM, L'Oreal and Nestle through a fast-changing world. In his 20 years as CEO, Geier grew Interpublic from revenues of $500 million and 8,000 employees to a truly global enterprise with 650 offices in 127 countries, revenues of $5.6 billion and 50,000 employees, making Interpublic the world's #1 agency holding company for many years. He is currently Chairman of The Geier Group, a New York-based marketing communications and venture capital firm that works with Lazard, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Geier serves as director on the boards of five non-profit and charitable organizations including Save the Children, Autism Speaks and Memorial Sloan Kettering. He also served as a Chairman of the Ad Council and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2004.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (November 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439241295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439241295
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,880,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip H. Geier, Jr., an advertising professional, became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. in 1980. He retired from this position at the end of December 2000.
In February 2001, Mr. Geier formed The Geier Group to provide consulting/advisory services in the marketing, communications, and venture capitalism areas.
Additionally, Mr. Geier is a Senior Advisor for Lazard Frères & Co., LLC and serves on the Board of Directors for the following companies: AEA Investors Inc., Fiduciary Trust International, and retired from the ones at Alcon Labs Inc., Mettler-Toledo International Inc., and Foot Locker Inc. Mr. Geier's philanthropic Director/Trustee relationships include Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Save the Children, Autism Speaks, Columbia Business School, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Mr. Geier holds a B.A. in Economics from Colgate University (1957) and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from Columbia University (1958).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many good words of wisdom from a very interesting career spanning the days of glorious air travel with real stewardesses and naturally three martini lunches to the political correctness of the first decade of the new millennium. To me the most interesting aspects are the parallels that I see in the business of law firms to the business of advertising. While some of the economic models are different, the general concepts are the same: "the talent goes up and down the elevator everyday". Probably the worst concept of law firms is the chase for new attorneys--it is hugely costly with very few returns. Law firms need an outsider like Phil Geier to explain that overpaying new talent does not create the energy necessary to sustain a business. They also need insight into marketing that people with Phil Geier's understanding and experience bring to the table.
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Format: Paperback
Phil Geier's book proves how much Interpublic thrived under his leadership. Surviving is something he seems to do well. While Draper in Mad Men is a bit to slick, Geier's enthusiasm and love of the business is on every page. At a time when competency and character is being questioned across all institutions, Geier's ability to build the first advertising superpower across time and across borders is a fascinating read. It is particularly true when the main characters ran Coca-Cola, L'Oreal, General Motors and Nestle. It is a memoir of charm and some wit. Its main lesson is to be constantly aware of your clients shifting needs. Geier charted Interpublic through two of the most challenging decades of the 20th century while sitting at the intersection of culture and commerce. His insights will serve both new and old practitioners equally well.
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This book should be read by everyone at the beginning of a career in business to learn how it's done, again in the middle of a career to see how one is doing and again at the end of a career to see how one stood up against the best. Phil provides anecdotes that taught him lessons along the way and then transforms those lessons into conclusions applicable to virtually any business. This is neither a tell all book nor a "God's Gift to Advertising" autobiography. Rather it is an honest look at an extraordinary career and chronicles the incredible trajectory of Interpublic from broke and broken to # 1 and then finally, after Phil had left, to virtually last place in this dynamic and volatile industry.
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Format: Paperback
Most entertaining and a quick read. We learn that the view from inside the holding company boardroom is really really not the same as the view from inside the often apparently interchangeable ad agencies who do the work. Great examples of how the personal relationship can be critical in doing business even with giants like L'Oreal and Coca Cola. And some really tragic management mistakes laid bare for our enjoyment. Of course the fact that the villain of the piece - Frank Lowe - was my first boss, and a hero of mine - made it all the more fun to read. This is not a textbook, it dishes the inside scoop. Every new account exec should read this and learn.
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