Zack O’Malley Greenburg ’07 covers music and finance as a staff writer at Forbes, where he started as an intern in 2005. Along the way he’s profiled the likes of Akon, 50 Cent, and Afrika Bambaataa, as well as a host of non-famous mutual fund managers, CEOs, billionaires, and a convicted murderer (though nobody who could be described as all of the above). Zack’s stories have taken him from Macau’s casinos to the diamond mines of Sierra Leone; he currently writes a column for Forbes called The Beat Report. His first book, a Jay-Z biography titled Empire State of Mind was released by Penguin/Portfolio in March.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”154″ ]
Writing today needs more …
If you could ask President Obama a question, what would it be?
Can you spare an hour (or five) for an interview?
What is your favorite word and why?
“Schlep.” So much more interesting than “bring,” plus it can be used intransitively.
What’s the most difficult piece you’ve ever had to write?
I’m gonna go ahead and say it was my first book, Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office. Writing 200-plus pages about somebody who refuses to meet with you is tough, but when that person actively attempts to prevent people from talking to you, the experience goes from tough to downright difficult. And it forces you to do crazy things like fly to California to chase down a crucial source who won’t return your calls….
Do you have a Facebook account? Why or why not?
Yes. For shameless self-promotion, procrastination, and not having to bother friends to find other friends’ contact info.
How do you take your coffee?
Black, per journalist handbook requirements.
If you could go back to college now what would you do differently?
This may sound super-nerdy, but we’re all Yalies here, right? I wish I could go back and sharpen the thesis of my senior essay — it was a little too broad. I wrote about baseball stadiums and their impact on cities and instead of focusing on three or four ballparks, I should have honed in on one. Could have turned it into a book, I think.
The most embarrassing moment of your career is …
Three years ago I was one of the several dozen writers and editors at Forbes who did not notice that we had misspelled “America” on the cover. Somebody forgot the “i,” and nobody caught it until Gawker did. Oops.
What’s your favorite New Haven establishment?
Yankee Doodle, rest in peace. Very crucial for brunch when I’d sleep through dining hall lunch hours.
Most importantly, why is Yale better than Harvard?
No school Monday.