I ask people questions every day. So turnabout is fair play. Here’s some questions I’ve used to develop profiles and features that I’m going to answer, bit by bit for you.
1. Who is your role model, or your coach and inspiration?
I am blessed with an abundance of people who coach and inspire me, including my dear friends Bertie and Patricia, and many of my former editors.
If I ever go back to editing, I hope I will emulate and approach the smart, energetic, kind collaborative ways of Maryann Haggerty, the former Real Estate editor at the Post. And my current fundraising coach Mary teaches me so much, and is so graceful in her approach that I feel richer every time we talk.
I also could name role models for career change, for innovation and for philanthropy, but I’ll save those for another question or another time.
2. What was your biggest mistake in your career?
I’ve made so many in so many cities that it’s impossible to pick just one. Many of them involve the roads not taken and the opportunities not pursued. One of my big mistake was not starting a web design and development firm in 1996. A friend and I discussed it quite often and even started investigating what it would take. I had already helped to establish one of the first Internet newspapers in the country, the Detroit Journal, and my friend and I figured out how to create a Hillary Clinton Fan Club website (though it didn’t come together easily). We could have been pioneers – women on the web in Ann Arbor and Detroit at a time when most people didn’t even have email addresses. Instead I stuck with newspapers and moved to Long Island. On another day, the answer to this might have involved Indianapolis or not pushing hard enough on my ‘Life after layoffs’ series. Today this is my best answer.
3. In what areas do you really excel? And what makes you afraid or very uncomfortable?
4. Tell me about an important turning point or key moment in your life and how it changed things for you.
My daughter Kate was born Sept. 7, 1988. She changed my view of the world – and of myself. My career went from flying forward at 120 mph to idling in neutral or going at a 45 mile an hour pace. And I was glad to take the side roads and slower advances so I could savor time with her, and then her two brothers, Nathan and Wilson.
Having children made me more child-like and encouraged me to dance, to go to libraries and bring home bags of books, and take trips to apple orchards, zoos and hockey rinks. They opened up avenues that I continue to travel and enjoy.
5. Tell me about your family / early years and how they still resonate today.
My Dad was self-employed so we talked a lot about the economy around the dinner table. Growing up in Metro Detroit in an era where the Big Three automakers were the key economic drivers, I understood the economic cycles and the slow periods pretty clearly by age 10.
My Mom taught me to love books, by taking us to the library regularly, and through her joy of reading. She also helped me see the importance of women’s work when she took an administrator’s job in a hospital emergency room – a lesson that has helped to craft my career and the stories I wrote for decades.
6. Tell me about your one or two proudest achievements, and why they shine so brightly.
7. So how do you define success?
I’m constantly redefining it for myself since I see how my outlook on this has changed based on my life stage, my experiences and more. When I started my career as a journalist, I imagined success would mean landing a major job – probably managing editor of a mid-size or larger newspaper. Yet I changed my mind after watching the barrage of meetings those senior editors must endure.
These days, I feel success when helping young creatives launch careers and in aiding mid-career types reinvent themselves and discover new opportunities.