Better Life

From One Man to Another, Ron King

Ron King’s life has been a fascinating and winding road. Currently serving as Senior Vice President of Fashion, Multicultural and Shelter for Time Inc., Ron oversees publishing for magazines like InStyle, People en Español, Essence and others.

You come across as a very confident leader. I recently watched you speak in front of a group of executives at Time Inc., laying out a vision and strategy for the future. Was there ever a point where you didn’t feel as confident professionally?

It’s funny—I refuse to speak to any group of people from a script. I always tell the truth; I never say something that I don’t truly believe, and I speak from the heart. I spend quite a bit of quiet time thinking about what I say and just hope it comes across succinctly as a genuine, sincere message. That mentality, guiding my intent, allows me to deliver messaging confidently.

Can you tell me about a specific learning moment, professionally or personally, that changed your perspective on something important to you?

I’ve had a few great mentors over the years, and life has a unique way of teaching you lessons along the way. I live my life, both personally and professionally, guided by a few key themes…

Regret: It’s my biggest fear and my biggest motivator. And I’m very disciplined in avoiding regret. As a motivator, I don’t want to look back when this is all over and regret that I didn’t just insert action here . So, I embrace change, take lots of risks and spend a good amount of time out of my comfort zone. The result has been a very full and fun life…and some good nights of sleep.

Common Sense: I worry common sense is lacking in today’s fast-paced world. We are all so busy—doing more, doing it faster and on more devices than ever before. I feel that it’s important to put the phone down, back away from the spreadsheet, clear your head and ask yourself if your decisions and strategies make sense.

Hard Work: I often quote, or misquote, Will Smith. “I am rarely the smartest person in the room, but nobody will outwork me.” 

What personal advice would you give 18-year-old Ron King?

Everything in life has a beginning, a middle and end. Please try to remember that the life that happens while you are making plans, is actually life itself. Stay focused on what you want, but enjoy the journey—that’s where the fun is. Try to balance your ambition and fun.

Professional advice?

Work hard, stay in the moment and do the best you can each day. Focus less on where you want to be in the future and more on being the best possible friend, companion, businessman you can be today. You can sell yourself short by setting too many goals. Being the best that you can be, one day at a time, will very likely take you to a place beyond your wildest dreams.