Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders

Jon Garbo’s BIO

Jon Garbo

Jon Garbo founded his namesake advisory firm after more than a decade in New York serving as communications counsel for a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, an international public relations firm, a major U.S. cancer research organization, and as a daily health news writer and magazine journalist.

At Forest Laboratories, Inc., Jon was responsible for building and managing the company’s corporate communications department and integrating capabilities across key departments and functions. He provided strategic counsel for corporate- and brand-related public relations activities and led the development of corporate and subsidiary digital initiatives.

Prior, as a vice president in Fleishman-Hillard’s healthcare practice, Jon served as client relationship manager for global healthcare and nutrition companies. He led communications programs for products across a variety of therapeutic categories and drove global internal communications campaigns to educate and inform employee audiences about company milestones. Jon’s contributions to state and local governments’ anti-tobacco campaigns helped secure prestigious Silver Anvil and PR Week industry awards.

Jon’s work in the not-for-profit field – specifically for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where he directed the organization’s national public relations efforts – was deeply satisfying. He promoted research and patient service initiatives and major fundraising activities, and served as primary media liaison.

Prior, Jon was a journalist, covering a daily health news beat focused on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. During this time, he contributed health and entertainment feature stories to national and regional magazine publications.

Before his New York-based career, Jon worked in talent acquisition and television production in Los Angeles, California.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Boston University.


1. What prompted you to start your media management firm, Jon Garbo & Company?

Jon: In a recent blog post, I wrote that what drives an entrepreneur is a spark for creating something uniquely excellent, the satisfaction of pursuing this vision and turning it into something real. I thought I deserved the chance to go out and do this for myself.

For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

There really is no typical day. My work day starts around 8:30 AM and truly completes somewhere around 11:30 PM. Throughout that time, I am managing clients’ social media platforms, writing marketing plans and promotional copy, counseling entrepreneurs about how to grow their businesses, preparing companies for earnings calls, pitching media, drafting executive communications, and prospecting for new business. I tend to get a second wind at night, so in the evening I find that I can refocus and get a lot of good work done.

What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?

I invested in Apple products when I opened the business and I am in the process of moving everything over to Apple because it offers a platform that is great for a business like mine. I can edit a client’s videos or touch up photos as easily as writing materials, emailing and Skyping. One app that I do like and recommend is Tweetcaster by Handmark. It allows you to put multiple Twitter accounts onto one platform making them easier to manage.


2. What are your tricks for time management?

Jon: What I’ll tell you may seem counterintuitive. The best “trick” to time management is to lose yourself in the work. When you do that, you do great work on the first pass. What I’ve developed over my career is a good sense for time, and I use this to map out a framework in my mind for how much or how little time I have to do something. And then I jump right in.


3. Best advice received when you started your career?

Jon: My self-made Uncle who rose to partner at a Wall Street firm told me many years ago: “There are a lot of smart guys out there, but if you want to be successful, what you really need is drive.” And he was right. Being smart is not enough.


4. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?

Jon: I believe that in good economic times or bad, the one thing to remain focused on is delivering consistent, high-quality work to clients and meeting and exceeding their expectations. Awareness may bring clients to the door, but it is not enough to keep them. If I do a great job for clients, they will be my best advocates. I do a small amount of awareness building for myself through social media, but ultimately it’s not about me – it’s about the clients.


5. What’s been your proudest achievement as such an immensely accomplished Entrepreneur?

Jon: Thanks for the compliment but I’m not sure I feel comfortable calling myself “immensely accomplished”. In fact, I don’t think I ever want to be such a thing, in the sense that I want to always feel like I can wake up tomorrow and have something even bigger to achieve.


6. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Jon: Because life is transient, you have to be flexible and accepting, as an entrepreneur and as a person. Accepting life, appreciating the people and world around you, recognizing your blessings, patting yourself on the back now and then and remembering how lucky you are compared to many others in the world all help you keep your balance.


7. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

Jon: Great question. I would recommend George S. Clason’s [amazon_link id=”0451205367″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Richest Man in Babylon[/amazon_link], which will teach you how to save your money; Saul Bellow’s [amazon_link id=”0140189424″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Henderson the Rain King[/amazon_link], which will motivate you to put down your PDA and appreciate the wonder of life around you; and J.D. Salinger’s [amazon_link id=”0316769029″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Franny and Zooey[/amazon_link], which will help you realize that your obligation to yourself, and your greatest contribution to the world, is to do your best, every time, and on your own terms.


8. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Jon: I think if someone has an exceptional month and feels the need to go out and spend money, he or she has a problem. It goes back to the question of balance and satisfaction with one’s life. I tend to think – hope – that entrepreneurs are a fairly self-satisfied group because they are striving to achieve in their own self-directed ways. When I have exceptional months, I save – for myself and for reinvestment in the business.


9. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Jon: G.M.H.C., the oldest AIDS service organization in the U.S., led by Dr. Marjorie Hill, has always been an organization I’ve greatly admired: strong, bold, brave, dignified, results-oriented. I would say my most rewarding charitable involvements have been on behalf of this group. I also found my work as director of national public relations for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to be deeply satisfying.


10. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Jon: The most influential people have always been the people senior to me from whom I’ve learned what and what not to do.


11. What’s your advice to someone interested in entrepreneurship?

Jon: Don’t do it if your heart isn’t into it. And you know if it is or not. I say this because being an entrepreneur is a hard path. But, if your interest is sincere, and you think there’s a good chance your heart is into it, then overcome your fear and try it!


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