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One Step At A Time

heelsI’m spending the day as both a speaker and an attendee at More magazine’s annual Reinvention Convention, and although we’re just barely past breakfast, I had to jump on the blog and share a little of what I’ve learned from some of the amazing women who are here today. 

The day is all about embracing, planning for and diving into reinvention, whether that means launching your second career, retiring or moving to a new city.  So it’s fitting that Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, is in the role of emcee.  During breakfast, she told our crowd of women of her own reinvention after she was let go from CBS several years ago.   In the time that followed, she went on interview after interview.  She worked the phones, knocked on doors, and begged – her words, not mine – for a new position.  Finally, she was a signature away from taking a job in public relations when she realized that she wasn’t being true to herself.  So what did Mika do?  She got back on the phone, went back to knocking on doors, and landed a freelance gig for MSNBC, reading 30-second news updates between the network’s shows.  It didn’t pay well, it wasn’t her dream job, but it was on track to get her where she wanted to go.

Barbara Corcoran, who lead one of the first sessions of the day, has a similar story.  After selling her real estate company the Corcoran Group for $70 million in 2001, she sank into what can only be described as a depression.  Sure, she had lots of money.  But she’d lost the sense of community that went with going to work each day, she missed her daily calls from the media looking for quotes, she hated not having an answer when people reliably asked, “What are you doing now?”   Bottom line – she was rich, but she’d lost her sense of self.

One day she decided to make a list.  She wrote down every single thing that she liked about being president of the Corcoran Group.  She repeated the process for the twenty-something other jobs she’s held, everything from hot dog vendor to waitress.  And she found that the one thing they had in common, the one thing she loved about them all, was the grand-standing, the attention.  And so she, too, considered a career in public relations, but ultimately decided that she was more suited to TV.

And so – like Mika – she worked the phones.  She knocked on doors.  And she finally landed a job as a political consultant on Fox News.  It wasn’t in her line of expertise – in fact, she says prior to it, she’d only read the New York Times when she was quoted in it – but it was on track to get her where she wanted to go.

Are you – like me – sensing a pattern here? Both of these inspiring women took their reinventions in stages.  They took time to figure out how, exactly, they wanted to reinvent themselves, and once they’d zeroed in on that end goal, they didn’t waver.  Sure, they accepted positions that weren’t ideal – you have to start somewhere – but they did it not because they were settling, but because they had faith that those jobs would get them where they wanted to be.

I don’t need to tell you how Mika and Barbara’s stories turned out, but I will.  Mika is co-host of not only Morning Joe, but also The Joe Scarborough Show on ABC Radio.  Barbara is the real estate contributor on the Today show, as well as the only woman on Shark Tank, a reality show on ABC that lets entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to her and four other possible investors.

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