HELIO FRED GARCIA
For more than 35 years Helio Fred Garcia has helped leaders build trust, inspire loyalty, and lead effectively. He is a coach, counselor, teacher, writer, and speaker whose clients include some of the largest and best-known companies and organizations in the world.
He is the author, most recently, of The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis, Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership Press, 2017. He is also the author of The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, FT Press, 2012. That book was one of eight Leadership titles on the United States Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List from 2013 to 2017. It was published in Chinese in 2014 by Pearson Education Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong and Publishing House of Electronics Industry in Beijing.
Fred is president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership. He is based in New York and has worked with clients in dozens of countries on six continents.
Fred has 38 years of experience counseling securities firms, banks, insurance companies, specialized financial and professional service firms, corporations, not-for-profits, and governments. He has particular expertise in crisis, change, and risk management; crisis communication; international security issues; international financial transactions; corporate governance; business ethics; and executive leadership.
Fred has coached more than 400 CEOs of major corporations, plus thousands of other high-profile people in other complex fields, including doctors, scientists, lawyers, financial executives, military officers, and government officials. These executives, on six continents, were in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, energy, heavy manufacturing, biotechnology, computer software, financial services, law firms, advertising agencies, religious denominations, universities, and not-for-profit advocacy groups. In the 1980s he worked at leading public relations firms and served as head of public relations for a global investment bank and for a large public accounting firm. Through the 1990s Fred headed the crisis practice of a leading strategic communication consulting firm.
Fred is a highly sought keynote and motivational speaker. He has keynoted major conferences and events in the United States, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Fred speaks about leadership communication, crisis management, business ethics, journalist/source relationships, and ways to maintain trust in difficult situations.
Fred has been on the New York University faculty since 1988. He is an adjunct professor of management in NYU’s Stern School of Business Executive MBA program, where he teaches crisis management, and where he was named Executive MBA Great Professor. He is an adjunct associate professor of management and communication in NYU’s School of Professional Studies, MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication program, where he has received the Dean’s awards for teaching excellence, for outstanding service, and for 25 years service in teaching. In that program he teaches courses in communication strategy; in communication ethics, law, and regulation; and in crisis communication.
Fred is a Senior Fellow in the Institute of Corporate Communication at Communication University of China in Beijing. For eight years until 2015 Fred served on the leadership faculty of the Center for Security Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland, where he taught an intensive seminar in the Master’s in Advanced Studies in Crisis Management and Security Policy. He has also served on the adjunct faculty of the Starr King School for the Ministry – Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, where for six years he taught a seminar on religious leadership for social change. He is a frequent guest lecturer at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. Defense Information School, the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, the Brookings Institution, and other universities around the world.
In 2011 Fred was designated an International Distinguished Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he gave a series of lectures and workshops on effective crisis response for graduate students and senior government, corporate, and NGO leaders. In 2015 he conducted an extensive teaching and speaking tour of China, teaching in more than a dozen leading universities, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Nankai University, Communication University of China, and Nanjing University, plus delivering keynotes at major corporate events.
Fred is the author most recently of The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis, available in both paperback and as an e-book from Kindle here. He is also the author of The Power of Communication and its two companion videos (Nine Principles of Effective Leadership Communication and The Physicality of Audience Engagement, FT Press, 2012). Fred is co-author (with John Doorley) of Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, third edition 2015; second edition 2011; first edition 2007 by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group; Korean language edition 2016 by Alma Books, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Chinese translation pending, 2017. His two-volume book Crisis Communications was published by AAAA Publications in 1999. Fred is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America, and received the Society’s New York Chapter’s Philip Dorf Award for mentoring.
Fred has an MA in philosophy from Columbia University and two graduate certificates in classical Greek language and literature from the Latin/Greek Institute of the City University of New York Graduate Center. He has a BA with honors in politics and philosophy from New York University, where he was named a University Honors Scholar and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Mount Saint Mary College.
Fred’s philanthropic work is focused on multi-faith and social justice causes. He is an International Trustee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and a member of the board of trustees of the New York-based human rights organization Freedom to Marry. He is immediate past chair and a member of the board of trustees of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation in Washington, DC. Fred is a former board chair and member of the board of trustees of the Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA. For ten years he served on the board of trustees of Disaster Chaplaincy Services in New York, and for three years on the board of trustees of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Fred is a past chair and a former member of the board of directors of the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art and a former trustee of the Purchase College Foundation. He was named Westchester County (NY) Arts Patron of the Year for 2006 by the Westchester Arts Council.
Fred is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Banyan Project, a group of senior journalists, technologists, researchers, strategists and advocates for a stronger democracy. Banyan aims to strengthen democracy through high-quality, web-based journalism that engages the civic energy of less-than-affluent everyday citizens — people who are the bread and butter of American life but are ill-served by mainstream journalism and too often out of the public spotlight.
Marine Corps Gazette, Schulze Memorial Essay: “Communication: The Continuation of Policy by Yet Other Means”
December 2013 | Every year the United States Marine Corps commissions an essay that challenges the Marines to perform better in the future. Past Maj. Gen. Richard C. Schulz Memorial Essayists include Jim Webb, later United States Senator, and Gen. Bernard Trainor, later chief military correspondent for the New York Times. Helio Fred Garcia was invited to be the 2013 Schulze essayist. The essay, adapted from The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, exhorts Marines to see their work as winning hearts and minds as well as battles. It was published in the professional journal of the United States Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Gazette.
Volume 40 Issue 6 (2012) | “BP CEO Tony Hayward faced a crowd of reporters on a Venice, Louisiana dock on May 30, 2010, forty days after the company’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig had exploded, killing eleven, injuring dozens and beginning a gusher that pumped ﬁve million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. … Hayward’s statement had the opposite of its intended effect.”
Marketing Magnified: “Price and Service Aren’t Enough: Marketers Need to Connect With Costumers on Their Own Terms”
August 2012 | “A year ago, Netflix had a sterling reputation and loyal customers. It had become a leader in the home video rental business by leapfrogging rivals such as Blockbuster and offering an easy-to-use service with easy-to-understand pricing. … But on July 12, customers’ in-boxes contained a note from Netflix.”
July 2012 | “Two years ago BP CEO Tony Hayward inadvertently got his wish when, in the thick of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he told the press, ‘I want my life back.’ … It was a massive failure of leadership. And it began with a failure of communication and a failure of discipline.”
29 June 2012 | “Social media has obliterated the distinction between inside and outside, internal communication and external communication, public and private. Now, more than ever, leaders need to be strategic in how they approach their key audiences. Effectively engaging with key audiences is no longer a nice-to-have quality; it’s a must-have.”
13 June 2012 | “Apologies to Yogi Berra, but the Sage of the Yankees could have been describing the current state of corporate communications. So far, ’s crop of missteps is eerily familiar, with boards and chief executive officers apparently following the playbooks of some of the worst-handled crises of recent years.”
SmartBlog on Leadership: “Leadership Communication Isn’t About Saying Things; It’s About Taking Change Seriously”
1 June 2012 | “Tony Hayward, then CEO of BP, told the media in 2010 that he wanted his life back. He got it, but not in the way he intended. His quote was part of an ineffective attempt to show he cared about the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.”
8 May 2012 | “To better appreciate the role of emotion and what it allows an audience to do, we need to take a brief detour into evolutionary biology. The human brain can be understood as three separate brains working in tandem, if not completely integrated with each other.”
29 April 2012 | “Winning hearts and minds is a necessary leadership skill at all levels: personal, interpersonal, group, large group, national, and multi-national. It’s never easy.”
Volume 36 Issue 3 (2008) | Helio Fred Garcia and Anthony Ewing collaborate on a CEO Advisory on mass litigation. Even a company with a strong brand, clear strategy, and respected leadership team may suffer significant reputational harm if it mishandles mass litigation.
Volume 35 Issue 6 (2007) | Helio Fred Garcia and Laurel Hart collaborate on a CEO Advisory on then-budding social media. Executive must be ready for the risks — not just the opportunities — of consumer-generated content.
Summer 2007 | “A challenge facing nearly every organization in a crisis is the circulation of rumors that, unaddressed, can cause significant reputational harm — sometimes even more harm than the crisis. Rumors are particularly challenging because it is hard to figure out where a rumor started, how it is building momentum and where it might end.”
3 December 2006 | “The first two rules of crisis management are: 1) Think clearly; and 2) Take the pain. Think clearly means define the problem to be solved, and understand the consequences of doing nothing, doing something and doing something more.”
Volume 34 Issue 3 (2006) | Helio Fred Garcia reviews Will Your Next Mistake be Fatal?: Avoiding the Chain of Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Organization, by Robert E. Mittelstaedt, Jr.
Volume 34 Issue 1 (2006) | “Effective crisis response is a competitive advantage; ineffective crisis response causes a competitive disadvantage, and can even put an enterprise’s existence in jeopardy.”
March 2003 | “It would be easy to see the problems in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in Istanbul, in Bali, in Israel, in Palestine, in Kenya and Tanzania, as caused by religion; to see religion as the root cause of terrorism, organized violence, and aggression here and abroad. Two years ago, I was asked to get involved with Religions for Peace, an organization that has opened my eyes to an alternative view of the healing power of religion[.]”
Volume 2 Issue 8 (2001) | “Much crisis communication is pattern recognition. One of the key tasks of a crisis manager – wherever he or she may reside within an organization’s operation or among its advisors – is to anticipate what will happen next and to redirect resources so that what happens next is more likely positive.”
Crisisnavigator: “Killing Rumors: A 50-Year Old Mathematical Formula Is Key Tool in Managing Crisis Communications”
Volume 2 Issue 1 (2001) | “Every company and organization, at some time or other, faces a crisis that includes rumors. How one deals with rumors, especially in the critical early phases of a crisis, can determine the outcome of the crisis.”
- Inward Springs: “Why We Need Less Pluribus and More Unum” (Summer 2002)
- Corporate Lawyer: “Killing a Rumor” (December 2000)
- The Law Marketing Portal: “Crisis Communications: A Mathematical Formula for Killing Rumors” (7 August 2000)
- Public Relations Strategist: “Old-School PR: Public Relations’ Roots in the Classical World (Summer 1998)
- PRSA New York: “Acing the Orals” (March 1992)
- PRSA New York: “Stalking the APR: A Game Plan” (February 1992)
- Public Relations Quarterly: “On War and Strategy: Public Relations Lessons from the Gulf” (Summer 1991)
- Public Relations Journal: Review of The Executive’s Guide to Handling a Press Interview, by Dick Martin (August 1991)
- Public Relations Journal: Review of The Journalist and the Murderer (July 1990)
- Public Relations Journal: “Making the Switch from Investment Banking to IR” (August 1989)
- Issues Management Newsletter: “Reaching the Elites by Reaching the Masses” (Fall 1989)
- PR Week: “PR’s License: Telling Truths” (September 1988)
- PR Week: “Why Larry Speakes was Wrong” (April 1988)