Wall Street Journal Review: Citizen You by Jonathan Tisch

May 10th, 2010

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When you walk into the Loews Regency on Park Avenue to have breakfast with Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, you might tell the hostess the reservation is under Tisch, and she will ask, “Which one? It's a fair question here.”

The Regency, in fact, was started by Mr. Tisch's father, Robert, “about 45 years ago,” he said. “When New York City was going through its financial crisis in the late '70s, my father and people like Lew Rudin came together to try to save the city. Everybody would say, 'Where should we meet for breakfast?' And my father said, 'I live at the Regency Hotel. It's very easy for me to take the elevator downstairs.' That's how the term 'power-breakfast' started.”
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Jonathan Tisch's book 'Citizen You' was released Tuesday.

Monday, Mr. Tisch was having a power breakfast—or rather, watching a reporter have a power breakfast (oatmeal), since Mr. Tisch already ate, as many productive CEOs seem to do, at 6:30 am—to discuss his latest (and third) book, “Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World,” published Tuesday by Crown. A book party will be held in his honor at the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday.

For the record, when Mr. Tisch does eat breakfast at the Regency, he orders a bowl of mixed fruit and multigrain toast. “The days I come here, I will have already worked out, so I try to keep it somewhat healthy,” he explained.

But, back to the book. “I never thought I'd be writing one book, much less three,” said Mr. Tisch, who is also the author of “Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience” and “The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships,” both of which, like “Citizen You,” he wrote with Karl Weber.

The latest title profiles individuals making a difference locally and globally, including Scott Harrison, a party promoter who created a nonprofit to bring clean water to developing nations and Steffi Coplan, who developed a project for budding actors at an urban school. “You have a phenomenon today where people who have tremendous experience and can't find a job are using their experience to make a change and help people,” Mr. Tisch said, adding that this is a book, “for anybody who sees a need in their community that goes beyond just volunteering.'

Mr. Tisch explained how he collaborates with Mr. Weber: “We talk a lot, we email a lot. I come up with ideas, do some of the research, he puts some words on the page, I edit, and then we get a few other people to read it.” Mr. Tisch added that he isn't a “techie,' “but we will be Facebooking and Twittering about the book. My team. My peeps.”

On top of running the day-to-day business of Loews, Mr. Tisch interviews other CEOs for a television program called “Beyond the Boardroom.” Its sixth season will launch on Plum TV over Memorial Day weekend.

“They've all said that they can't do it by themselves,” Mr. Tisch said. “I love one of the lines that Dick Parsons,” the chairman of Citigroup Inc., “offered up in our interview. He said that a good CEO gets the people in the organization to believe in him or her. A great CEO gets them to believe in themselves.”

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