Brain Food: If i had to start again

I would do it pretty much how I did it before - it worked out very well, and far better than I ever thought it would. I'm satisfied with the life that I've lived and the people that I've known. To succeed in PR, you must be able to work with other people. You can be a star performer, but you can't get there yourself. From a career standpoint, the most important decision I made was to go to New York as a teenager. I recognised that I was a fairly competent writer in high school, and in those days if you were an aspiring writer, New York was the place to be. As a kid, I dreamt of being editor of the New York Times: I'm really enthralled by journalists.

by Harold Burson, founding chairman of public relations agency Burson-Marsteller. He was CEO from 1953 to 1988
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In fact, I wish I could have taken a couple of years off to work on a daily newspaper. I look back and I'm very pleased with what I've accomplished, although there are a few situations along the way I would have done differently.

For example, Burson-Marsteller started out specialising in business-to-business clients, many selling technical products or services, but we did not keep pace with advances in technology and were late going after clients manufacturing and marketing computers. We missed the opportunity to become the premier high-tech firm - and I take full responsibility for missing the boat. The most difficult and anguished moment in my career was in December 1995, when a small package containing a bomb-like device mailed by the 'unabomber' murdered my colleague Tom Mosser. Now serving a life sentence, the perpetrator wrote in a published 'manifesto' that he targeted Burson-Marsteller because it represented clients that, in his view, had committed violence against woodlands by cutting trees to manufacture paper and other wood products. We still don't know why he chose Tom as his victim, and I realise that I was a more logical target.

The bomber wrote that he murdered Tom in order to make a statement. Why didn't he go after me?

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