Keith Ferrazzi

By Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang
2003 | Case No. OB44 | Length 22 pgs.

Keith Ferrazzi had certainly come a long way. The son of a steelworker and a cleaning lady, he was picked on by other kids for being poor at the private school he attended and at the same time by his poor friends in the neighborhood for trying to act like the rich kids. Ferrazzi’s father had big dreams for his son. By reaching out cold to the CEO of the company he worked for, he was able to get Ferrazzi into an elite elementary school and then a top prep school in Pennsylvania called Kiski, the oldest boys’ boarding school in the United States. After that, Ferrazzi continued to ascend the Ivy League ladder, first as an undergraduate at Yale and then at Harvard Business School (HBS). He was wooed by top consulting firms and ended up on the partner track at Deloitte Consulting where he built the company’s marketing function. He left consulting to become the Chief Marketing Officer of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, eventually leaving the company to become CEO of YaYa Media. Ferrazzi was frequently mentioned in the media. In 1997, he was named by Crain’s Chicago Business, as a member of the “40 Under 40.” In 1999, he was also named one of the “Power 10” by Business Marketing and in 2002 was named among the most creative Americans in Who’s Really Who. Ferrazzi was also a frequent commentator on CNN and CNBC and author of a number of pieces for business publications such as Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review. In 1999, The World Economic Forum named him a “Global Leader of Tomorrow.” Exhibit 1 presents Ferrazzi’s resume. In the summer of 2003, Ferrazzi was at a key crossroads in his life. He had sold YaYa Media to a company called American Vantage. He questioned the opportunities for growth within YaYa and was considering a transition from the company into a new role. Two questions faced Keith. The first was, what should he do? Should he go to work for a large company in a senior management position, ultimately seeking to become the CEO? Should he seek out another CEO position at a smaller, entrepreneurial company? Should he do something entirely different, such as turn his skill at networking and his interest in teaching others how to build relationships into a business? The second question was, what other bases of influence, other than networking and building social relationships, should or could he develop? At a dinner, after being complimented on his networking skills, he asked, “What else should I be doing?” This case has a video supplement, Keith Ferrazzi – People and Relationships, and is part of Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Paths to Power Series. Preview.

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