Ken Jacobs ’79 discusses leadership in new video series

Ken Jacobs ’79 has been writing the “Taking the Lead” column for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) “Strategies & Tactics” newspaper since 2015, when last year he decided it was time to take the branding and the idea to video.

“We’ve been speaking to respected senior PR executives about leadership,” says Jacobs. “The dialogue is all about leading people, having teams and peers and stakeholders that want to follow you. It seemed like a very natural progression to offer it on the website and YouTube channel. I like to think it makes for a richer experience for people who want to learn.”

With PRSA’s permission, Jacobs brought the video series to his company website, Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, and began producing independently.

“[The series is] for communications executives, whether they’re agency owners or CEOs, senior executives or corporate communications officers or CMOs who want to achieve their organizational career and personal goals by becoming more effective, inspired and inspiring leaders”

Jacobs (right) with Joe Cohen ’99 (top) and Jim Weiss ’87

Part of moving the series to video was lining up a roster of great leaders he could interview, which turned out to be an embarrassment of riches, Jacobs says. So far, he’s talked about finding passion, purpose and joy with Patrice Tanaka, “Chief Joy Officer” at Joyful Planet; about leading during times of uncertainty with Grace Leong, CEO and partner at Hunter; and about multicultural marketing with Alexis Davis-Smith, CEO of PRecise Communications.

Through his Newhouse association, Jacobs says he’s connected with some of the most brilliant minds in leadership, and so he didn’t hesitate to reach out to Joe Cohen ’99, chief marketing and communications officer at AXIS Capital, and Jim Weiss ’87, chairman, CEO and founder of Real Chemistry, both of whom he had interviewed previously for the column.

“I invite them because they’re respected as leaders,” Jacobs says, “but as leaders of leaders, and leaders-in-training.”

In the future, Jacobs is looking to expand the series by including more live-streaming content and panels. His advice for early-career practitioners is to find the leaders in their company and learn by observing.

“Who, instead of telling someone what to do, asks empowering questions and really listens? Who consistently communicates with respect, no matter whom they’re speaking with? Who is effective at giving constructive feedback?,” Jacobs asks. “You can observe that on your first day of work and become a lifetime leadership learner. So as you’re learning the newest tools in data and social media and analytics, make sure you’re also constantly learning how to lead people.”