On his first day at the Kellogg School of Management, Mark Goldston announced to Don Jacobs, then dean of the school, his goal to become president of a major consumer products company before the age of 40. Goldston certainly had an early enough start—enrolled in the school's fast-track, four-quarter MBA program at the age of 22, he was at least a half-decade younger than most of his classmates.
Youth brought its own problems, but Goldston certainly navigated them well. Many of his classmates had gained several years' work experience and first-hand know-how before they had enrolled. "I had to compete using my intellect and interpersonal skills," says Goldston of how he got by.
Turns out, a key part of that intellect was Goldston's innate sense of how to pinpoint a product's overlooked potential and amplify its appeal, and it was soon clear that this ability fully compensated for any inexperience.
Goldston reached his initial goal with nine years to spare; at the age of 31, he became the youngest president ever of a Fortune 500 consumer products company when he took over the post at Faberge, Inc. He oversaw the cosmetic company's acquisition of major competitor Elizabeth Arden before leaving for Reebok, where he developed and patented the extraordinarily successful Reebok Pump shoe. The marketer moved on to LA Gear, which soon saw its first profit in several dry years, thanks in part to Goldston's own design for lighted sneakers.
After leading his own firm, the Goldston Group, which specialized in repositioning sinking companies, Goldston joined NetZero in 1999 as its CEO and chairperson. He navigated NetZero's merger with Juno Online Services, after which the groups reemerged as United Online, Inc., now one of the most profitable Internet companies in the country.
In his book The Turnaround Prescription: Repositioning Troubled Companies, Goldston shares his blueprint for bringing success to organizations struggling for profits.
He holds positions on the dean's advisory boards at Ohio State University's Fisher School of Business, his undergraduate alma mater, and at the Kellogg School of Management. Northwestern also honored him with the prestigious Schaffner Award in 2005, recognizing his success in marketing and his service to the school. In 2007, the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation named him the Walt Disney Man of the Year, acknowledging him as a community leader.
His wife, NancyJane, is the founder and CEO of UXB Advertising Agency. They live in Beverly Hills and have twin sons, Adam and Ryan.