PR Legend: Roger Bolton


This post is part of The Plank Center’s Legacies from Legends in PR Series that was begun in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Public Relations Student Society of America in 2007.

BoltonRoger Bolton is the president of Page. Previously, he was CCO at Aetna and led IBM’s global media relations. Prior to his business career, Bolton was assistant secretary of the Treasury for public affairs; assistant U.S. trade representative for public affairs; and special assistant to President Reagan in the White House. Recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement from IPR and the U.S. Treasury Distinguished Service Award.

I could not have planned the career I was blessed to have, because I didn’t know all these things existed. So, I’m not big on long-term career planning. Look, if you do know exactly the career you want to have, more power to you. But if not (or even if so), I recommend that you follow these top 10 tips for success in your career.

  1. Know what you believe and never compromise your values. If they want you to lie, don’t do it. Don’t quit the first time you disagree with your organization, but if you are being asked to compromise your values, it’s time to move on. If you have to, go work for someone you can believe in and support with all your heart.
  2. Find your purpose. You were placed on this Earth to make a difference. What will your contribution be?
  3. Figure out what you do well (and like to do). Usually, those are the same things.
  4. Pursue opportunities that combine 2 and 3 and allow you to be true to 1. The career that lets you use your special talents to make the world a little better is the one that you will find most satisfying.
  5. Focus and work hard on your current job. It may not be perfect, but it’s the one you’ve got. For now. Make the best of it. Give it your all. Learn what you can. Make it just a little better every day.
  6. But keep eyes open for new opportunities and don’t be afraid to change. Use your peripheral vision. Sometimes when you least expect it, something will appear out of nowhere, maybe off to the side. Be curious. Take a look. The right next job for you may be the one you never imagined even existed. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
  7. Have a clue. Learn the business. Understand the culture. Figure out what’s possible. Think critically and strategically. Be prepared to weigh in on the most important issues facing the enterprise.
  8. Have guts. All enterprises suffer from a form of groupthink. You need to think differently. Don’t be afraid to speak up, especially when others may not want to hear what you have to say. You can’t make a difference if you don’t make your voice heard.
  9. Have woo. OK, woo is usually a verb, but I like it as a noun. It means you need to use emotional intelligence (EQ) to know how to speak up, to earn allies, to find a way to be heard even when your message may not support the internal consensus.
  10. Don’t let it be about the money. You deserve to be paid for your contribution and you need to support yourself and your family. But don’t let money rule your career choices. If you can do 1 through 9, the money should come.





Published: April 24, 2019