By J.D. Booth
Oct. 17, 2013
While “judging a book by its cover” may be a dangerous thing, a glance at John Bailey’s “The Power of Ownership” does offer a few clues as to what this veteran Michigan public relations professional hopes to bring to his readers.
For starters, it’s a series of lessons learned: “How to build a career and a business”
But mostly, Bailey tells a great story-how he built a career and a business while overcoming many challenges and obstacles: direct words from what could also be described as a memoir of sorts.
And while “Power” may not be a definitive history of public relations during a career that Bailey admits “had no plan,” there is something of a non-stop history lesson within its pages.
Beginning right after his graduation from Redford High School, Bailey seems to have tapped into a natural curiosity, taking courses (but not graduating) from Wayne State University while working, first at the now-defunct Burroughs Corp., where he had his first writing job-putting together a company newsletter.
From there, he took on a similar role at Chrysler, although within a couple of years Bailey experienced his first “downsizing” as part of an economic downturn.
Even as he recalls what would be the first of four such out of work experiences, Bailey offers “lessons learned” in his book.
“Each time, I bounced back and was better off than before,” he writes. “You can too.”
Building and learning
Those who know John Bailey may recall his eventual ownership of an eponymous public relations agency or perhaps they worked with him in one or more of his career milestones.
But as “Power” reveals, it wasn’t necessarily a straight line (or even a smooth one) that brought Bailey to that point. Still, it’s a read that demonstrates how building key relationships and learning from the results gained from those relationships can add value to a career and to those around you.
In Bailey’s case, sticking to a set of principles that he generously admits came at least in part from reading a number of books-among them Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Successful People.”
Yet Bailey brings unique insight into a profession that he quickly came to embrace, even after an initial stumble when he worked as director of PR for a real estate company. “One of my mistakes was leaving a good job . . . for one I did not understand for a little more money, a nice title and a shorter drive to work,” he recalls in “Power.”
Once his career was back on track, it was a ride Bailey says took him far.
Indeed, the 14 years he spent at what is now Franco Public Relations Group (then Anthony M. Franco) may have been the most defining in his career, notably through his role as part of a team managing the Stroh’s Brewery account.
When Bailey left Franco (in 1989), it wasn’t to start his own business, but at least his taking a senior position with Casey Communications (now Weber Shandwick-Detroit) was a stepping stone to doing so, leading to the formation of John Bailey & Associates in 1996.
It may have been more of a confidence issue, he confides.
“I did not think I was ready for a business ownership, but I was taking ownership of my career,” he writes.