By Hailey O’Connor
Shattering Glass Ceilings
Another glass ceiling has been shattered — this time by Erica Lee, the new CEO of Marquis Who’s Who. The flagship print registry has been documenting the lives of influential and distinguished individuals for over 120 years and has had male CEOs for just as long. Lee is now the first woman to lead the company, stepping into her role with an ambitious and modern vision. A Yale graduate with a chock-full resumé -Lee is championing an old legacy into the 21st century.
How Successful People Become Successful
Marquis Who’s Who has published biographical data since 1899. With every passing year, more “Listees” are added to their esteemed reference guide — leaders and achievers from around the world who dominate the top 10% of their respective fields. Warren Buffett has praised Who’s Who in America, recalling the story of the first time he looked up his Columbia professor. After the one search, he dove deep into the publication, addicted with figuring out “how successful people became successful,” a sentiment Lee herself shares. The reference guide clearly imparted a wealth of knowledge to Buffet, as he is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the world. In Columbia’s library, in addition to a myriad of prestigious others, Marquis Who’s Who is a trusted biographical source; the publications have also moved to have an online database as well. However, a digital format is the bare minimum in the age of technology — and Erica Lee has been implanting some big ideas to expand her company’s presence on the internet.
“We are taking Marquis Who’s Who off the 1-dimensional page, and bringing it into the personal branding space,” said Lee. The company now enhances the visibility of its biographical listees with a host of branding products including podcast interviews, personal websites, press releases, and features in the Wall Street Journal, to name a few. The publishing house also has graphic designers, as well as in-house writers, to help shine a light on well-deserved accomplishments. Perhaps one of the greatest assets in the Marquis Who’s Who arsenal is their celebrity interviewer Star Jones — one of the original co-hosts of The View — who pioneers the biographical video interviews of listees.
The Next Step
While Marquis Who’s Who has evolved beyond the original ink and paper, the application process for listees changed at all. Some traditions withstand the test of time, and “our application process has been the same since the company’s inception in 1898,” explained Lee — and toeing the line between tradition and relevancy is not something Lee is concerned about. With the pandemic motivating an entirely virtual pivot, delving into the personal branding space was a natural next step for Marquis Who’s Who.
“I love this place so much because the work is always a challenge, and there are endless possibilities. I turn on the news: I can’t help but think: Oh, that person is new and exciting. They should be a listee,” confessed Lee. “Who’s Who is a collection of amazing, interesting people who drive every industry in the world.” Erica Lee is one to talk; she is driving Marquis Who’s Who, a century-old establishment, to formats so dynamic that soon enough, we, too, will be addicted to learning “how successful people become successful.” marquiswhoswho.com