Behind the career: Nick Ragone

Nick Ragone

Position: The new partner and director of Ketchum’s Washington office. Ketchum is a global public relations firm.

In law school, Nick Ragone said his legal papers read more like narrative history. He soon realized his gift for writing and communicating complex ideas. After a short law stint, he dove into public relations as a financial media specialist in New York. After rising through the ranks and doing television and print commentary, he recently took a position that has brought him inside the Beltway.

You’ve written a few books and you mentioned your gift is writing complex ideas in a way your audience can understand. What are some of your strategies before you sit down to type?

When I’m writing a book, I find I have to write every single day. I will typically get up at 4 a.m. I try to write 500 words. I don’t take a day off because it’s a muscle and it keeps getting better and better. If I’m not writing a book, I try to write as many op-eds as I can, mostly on presidential history. I’ve probably written 15 to 20 op-eds in the last two months. If you stop, you lose what you learned about your writing style. It takes a long time to get it back.

What kind of culture do you want to create in the Washington office?

I’ve been the recipient of a lot of personal mentoring from senior people. It worked for me. I want to take that mentoring managerial style and bring it to the District. I also want to be that invested in our clients.

How will you do that?

It starts with listening. I also want to focus on being present. People take comfort when you work long hours — the first to arrive and the last to leave. I’m a big believer in 24/7 e-mail. If someone sends me an e-mail, I want to get back to them immediately and say, “I’m on it” or “let me think about it.” Also, I never shut my office door.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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