By René Syler
Yesterday was one of those days where my past collided at full force with my future. It started with a call from a broadcast headhunter, peppering me with questions about where I was with my job search.
An hour later I got an email from the Alliance for Women in Media, asking me if I would emcee a panel at their upcoming New York Symposium about how to use social media to market to women. In their letter, they called me a “media executive.” I loved it; you would too if you knew my journey.
You see, I spent my entire adult life in traditional media, working for local stations around the country before being hired by CBS to anchor The Early Show. In December 2006, I was fired from that gig and two weeks later, underwent a preventive mastectomy (I had my own breast disease as well as a mother and father with breast cancer). But there was a bright spot that year; my book, Good Enough Mother, The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting, was published. After a book tour that included a stop on Oprah’s couch, I was hospitalized with a very bad case of asthmatic bronchitis and shortly after I was released, my hair fell out. It would be an understatement to say all of those things combined to make up the lowest point of my life.
When there was no place left to go, with all the “stuff” stripped away, I was left with what I call, the “essence” of René and I was ready for the rebuild. I took stock of what I had, what I wanted to do and how I thought I could get there. I decided I didn’t want to do TV news anymore, instead I wanted to make women and mothers feel better about the job they were doing. But how would I get my message out? I didn’t have money for a high-powered publicist and after I told my agent of 15 years I didn’t want to do TV news anymore, I didn’t have him either.
What this “woman of a certain age” did have was a laptop, smarts and a vision. I knew I had to reinvent myself so I started building my brand and a loyal following using my website www.goodenoughmother.com, writing from my walk-in closet.
Of course, it hasn’t been easy; I’ve been at it for five years now and this will be the first year I’ll make real money. But it’s not even about that. See, while it was flattering to receive the call from the headhunter, I have no desire to ever go back to a place where it can all be taken away in an instant. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve built using commando branding, the support of a few key people, social media and a belief in myself.
Who needs a corner office, a bunch of staff and a big budget? This new media executive is communicating with the world and building a brand, amid the clothes and shoes of my closet. If I can do it, so can you!
René is the author of Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and founder of its subsequent website, www.goodenoughmother.com.