Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Conventional Wisdom on Creating a New You

FORMER First Lady Laura Bush shares interesting anecdotes about life after the White House. For one, when she and her husband returned to the ranch, there was no one to handle the bags – well there was the Secret Service, but there wasn’t a retinue of fetchers and carriers.

BET founding partner Sheila C. Johnson once again discovers the importance of creating “a culture of commitment, a culture of not only doing things right, but of doing the right thing” as the president and managing partner of the once lowly WNBA Washington Mystics.
Mika Brzezinski and former First Lady Laura Bush at the More Magazine Reinvention Convention. Photo courtesy of More Magazine.

WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control and founding chair of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Nancy Goodman Brinker, quoting her father: “Always do the hardest job because no one else wants it and there will be less competition for it.”

Delia Ephron “can’t think and wear heels at the same time.” While her sibling and collaborator, Nora Ephron muses that it’s easier to shop for a bathing suit than a purse.

All day yesterday at the More Magazine Third Annual Reinvention Convention at Pier 60 the stories kept coming from women (and a lone male) who have had to switch gears in life/career and survived to tell the tale with wit, poignancy and true grit. Could there be a better time for such a summit – in an economy where many, regardless of whether they are part of More’s 40 and older demographic, have had to begin a new chapter – in other words reinvent themselves.

Like just about everything in life worth pursuing, reinvention is tough business. And some of the essentials, judging by some of the convention sponsors and exhibitors, are a new wardrobe (Talbots), makeup (Giorgio Armani Cosmetics), self-help/inspirational books (Barnes & Noble), over-the-counter drugs/sundry items (Drugstore.com) and financial perspective (Wells Fargo.)

Reinvention is an issue close to the heart of Yours Truly, seeing that I am currently under reconstruction. Imagine my glee at some of the panel discussions, the counter-programming notwithstanding: “Taking a Chance on Change,” “Reinventing Your Body: The 10 Steps Every Woman Needs to Know,” “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper Even in Tough Times,” “How Social Media Can Help You Get Ahead,” “Sex and a Healthier You.”

A “reinvention board.” There’s general agreement among the minds discussing “Taking a Chance on Change” that everyone needs this advisory committee of family, friends, colleagues, mentors. “A reinvention board member can see you in a way you can’t,” said Dawn Lepore, who is five years into her makeover as the CEO and board chairman of Drugstore.com, which was hemorrhaging money in 2004 but turned a modest profit in a distressed fourth quarter 2008 market.

Lepore and the others cite a few things that go without saying such as identifying a niche and having self-confidence, which serves us well when we encounter the inevitable naysayers. Said moderator Pamela Mitchell, who’s reinvented herself a few times, more recently as a wife and founder/CEO of The Reinvention Institute: “If you get only one thing out of the panel, remember to take it one step at time” because reinvention is a mother.

To that end, do bring attention to yourself on the Internet using a social media tool, like a Website or blog. By the way, if you don’t like what you read about yourself on Google, don’t sue or get mad – get ahead. Create your own profile on say, LinkedIn, and Google will gladly display it prominently. “It’s a way to get your story out above the story that other people are writing about you,” says Julia Angwin, a Wall Street Journal technology editor and author of “Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America.” Join Twitter and Facebook, too, she advises.

Incidentally, those who want to maximize employment or business opportunities must use discretion/sound judgment/ common sense about what they post on a Facebook, because Big Brother and Big Business are watching, warns Lauren M. Doliva, a senior executive at the headhunting concern, Heidrick & Struggles. “More and more people are beginning to look on those Web sites. And there are people who they’ve offered a job to and they have rescinded jobs” based on what they have seen/read on profiles.

Words to the wise: if you want a gig as a financial planner or if you’re looking for investors/partners for your solar energy startup, bikini photos or photos of you tossing back Tequila shots on your Facebook page just won’t do. Take them down. Now!

Get more reinvention tips at http://www.more.com/reinvent_yourself


  1. Nice work. You must have really enjoyed this one (as it appears you tend to do on most of your self-initiated assignments).

    Belated kudos on the Van Pebbles-related blog, as well.

    Keep stepping to your own pace Thoreau. We'll keep trying to catch up.


  2. Hi V, I would have loved to have been there! Thanks for sharing this (and for directing me to your blog).



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