I heard that Ed Koch had died early this morning as I was getting ready for work. Listening to the reporter talking about the charismatic former mayor of New York, it took me back to spring of 2007 when I was the publicist for Mayor Koch’s new book Buzz: How to Create It and Win with It. In Buzz, he shared the secrets of his success on how to become a master of self-marketing. With his legendary candor and in-your-face style, he revealed how anyone could learn to make a memorable entrance, attract attention, and get others to take notice and listen. And who better than Mayor Koch to write this kind of book?
Born and raised in New York, I was thrilled to work with this legendary man who was mayor for three terms at a time when New York was a gritty, crime-ridden city, close to bankruptcy. But you don’t have to be a New Yorker to know who he was and know his trademark phrase “How’m I Doing?”
I enjoyed spending time with Hizzoner, accompanying him to his many media interviews, book signings, and to BookExpo America (the largest annual book trade convention in the US). He was funny, always ready with an amusing quip, and had strong opinions on most things – local and national politics, international news, and of course the movies.
One of my favorite memories of my time with Mayor Koch was how many people – cops, taxi drivers, street vendors, businesspeople, and even tourists – would stop him on the streets to shake his hands, to say how much they admired him, and to wish him well. The Mayor was always gracious, thanking them for their kind words and flashing a big smile.
Barry Richardson, Senior Development Editor
When Mayor Koch spoke at our Sales Conference, he told a very amusing story. As everybody knows, he used to ask people on the street, “How’m I doing?” when they would wave or say hello. Once in a while, someone would make a negative remark and, being mayor; he would just wave and keep walking. The first day he was out of office, he had to walk to the grocery store. (He never shopped for himself when he was mayor.) A guy on a bicycle, whom Koch described as being “scruffy and unshaven,” shouted at him, “You were the worst mayor ever!” To which the former mayor replied, “F**k You!” He said it felt great!
Ellen Kadin, Executive Editor
I was personally introduced to Mayor Koch’s sense of humor in 2006 when he attended our sales conference to talk about his then-new book, Buzz, for which I was his editor. As I stood with him in the back of the room awaiting his introduction, Mayor Koch asked if I could button his collar buttons. No problem, I thought. Well, that is, until my hand touched his collar. Whoever had ironed this shirt clearly believed in starch. I can understand wanting shirts crisp–but this one was apparently bathed in plaster of Paris.
As I struggled with the fossilized collar, mustering all my strength toward forcing the recalcitrant buttons through, I imagined the next day’s headlines. “Editor Asphyxiates beloved Mayor.” (Well, that would have secured me a reputation as an editor not to be messed with….).
After what seemed an eternity I finally shoved the buttons through. And Mayor Koch’s response was: “Good hands!”
Mayor Koch, New York just isn’t the same without you.