Tag Archives: careers

How Jackie Onassis and a Hopeful Author Helped Me Find a New Career

jackie onassis, martha stewart, books, editor, doubleday, viking, careers, reinvention, new career, how to find a new career, Chapter 2, Plan B

Jackie Onassis in her book-editor years

One day when Jackie Onassis was a book editor at Doubleday in the 1970s, her assistant came into her office and said, “Mrs. Onassis, your next appointment is here.”

Jackie slowly looked up and breathily asked, “And what does this one want to write a book about?”

“She wants to educate people about how to host dinner parties, make nice invitations, entertain properly in the home – that kind of thing,” the assistant said.

Jackie didn’t blink. “But doesn’t everyone already know how to do that?” she said, as the assistant brought in … Martha Stewart.

Cute story, right?

Well, it helped change my life a few years ago, when I realized I needed a Plan B, like the folks I blogged about Monday.

I had decided to leave the newspaper industry. It was showing signs of the disaster that soon followed and, somehow, I saw the “iceberg dead ahead” a bit before many of my colleagues and started looking for a life raft (way too much of a scramble to be called Plan B).

But when I began looking for another way to make a living, I was overwhelmed by bizspeak about “skill sets” and “project management” and “holistically synergizing teams and assets” — or whatever.

One night with a friend, I was complaining – whining, maybe – that my skills as a writer, editor and manager were not transferable outside of a newsroom.

“You think just because you can write well that everybody can write well,” he said. “Is that what all you newspaper people think – that you don’t know how to do anything special? Every day, you lead meetings and send out reporters to cover the news, and then you make a hundred business decisions about the product your company sells.”

Martha Stewart, jackie onassis, books, new career, reinvention, chapter 2, plan b, how to jump-start your career

Hey, girl.

That’s when my friend smiled and shook his head and told me the story about Jackie and Martha.

And then I understood. Maybe my skills and experience were, indeed, special. Maybe I could be of use to a different kind of organization.

Armed with this fresh perspective, I continued networking and eventually found a new place to work in corporate communications, where I felt appreciated and was nurtured in my transition into the business world, so different from the frat-house culture of newsrooms.

I tell that story a lot when I hear people with career troubles in any industry. Hang in there. Forget the nonsense you were told. Not everybody knows how to do what you do.

Thanks, Jackie. And Martha.


 

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How 5 Friends Reinvented Themselves, and 6 Resources on How You Can, Too

MY OWN VERSION:  How Jackie Onassis helped me write my own Chapter 2…

Chapter 2, Second Act, Plan B, how to start a new career, re-invention, re-create yourself, re-invent yourself, madonna, fitzgerald

The author of “The Great Gatsby”

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “There are no second acts in American lives.”

But I never believed him.

And now, in the years after the Internet revolution the economic recession, we have proof all around us — so many Americans having to reinvent themselves to keep their careers going, find a new one or just make a living.

This topic of re-creating yourself has been on my mind a lot lately, whether you call it a second act, a Plan B or self-invention. If we all write the story of our lives, then sometimes we have to turn a page, right?

Russ Kendall, a photojournalist of many years, left newspapers 18 months ago to run a pizza restaurant in Washington State. Russ and I worked together in Alaska in the early ‘90s. I left the business seven years ago. Since then, more than 54,000 jobs have been lost in the industry.

Chapter 2, Second Act, Plan B, how to start a new career, re-invention, re-create yourself, re-invent yourself, madonna, fitzgerald, russ kendall, gusto's pizza

Russ Kendall of Gusto Wood Fired Pizza in Bellingham, Wash.

This summer, Russ started a Facebook group for ex-newspaper people, or those who might soon be ex-newspaper people. He calls it What’s Your Plan B and it has 1,300 members. Many have shared their stories of despair and inspiration.

“This group is designed not so much to share the horror stories we all have but more to help each other to move forward with a successful Plan B,” Russ says.

Newspaper guru Jim Romenesko wrote a nice little piece about it here. He shared this: Most of the posts are serious, but I laughed at this one: “Um.. Photojournalism WAS my plan B. Plan A was to own a video rental store.”

Not just journalists

Chapter 2, Second Act, Plan B, how to start a new career, re-invention, re-create yourself, re-invent yourself, madonna, fitzgerald

The mother of reinvention, Madonna, had other ideas. Here’s the poster from her Re-Invention Tour.

Every day on Facebook, I see other former journalists going to law school or getting MBAs. But it’s not just the news business that got the rug pulled out from under it. And some people choose to change their lives for reasons that are more personal than the struggles of an industry alone.

  • I know a doctor who left his practice, went back to school in his 50s to get another advanced degree – and then changed cities and career focus. He’s still a doctor, but in an entirely different field. He wanted to make a big change for the remaining chapters of his career and took empowering, successful steps to do it.
  • He and I were having dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Atlanta recently. The waiter, clearly 40-ish, joked that he was a college sophomore, so we asked him about that. He said he’s going to nursing school so he can help people and have a new, more rewarding career.
  • Another friend used to be a high-flying chef in New York City, back when he was wild and single. Now a happily married dad of three in an Atlanta suburb, he runs a family travel business with his wife. Side jobs cooking and teaching give him an outlet for his passion and skill in the kitchen.
  • And just Friday night, I went to a wedding reception. The couple had asked a friend, an IT professional of 30 years, to prepare his gourmet cupcakes. He’s testing the waters for a new chapter of his own. (I told him he had to do it – the cupcakes were that good.)

Plenty of articles, resources

Chapter 2, Second Act, Plan B, how to start a new career, re-invention, re-create yourself, re-invent yourself, madonna, fitzgerald

From Psychology Today

There are many good articles and online resources for anyone wanting to write their own Act 2. Here are a few:

  • “Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve,” says a Psychology Today article.
  • From The Harvard Business Review: How to Reinvent Yourself After 50.
  • From techcrunch.com: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Reinventing Yourself.
  • “Are you serious about transformation? I’m not talking about polishing yourself, improving yourself, making things a bit better. I’m talking about the reset button—a reinvention that changes the game. That means an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job. If you’re up for that, then right here, right now, you can start. How? Do work that matters.” From a success.com piece headlined Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
  • From More magazine: 10 Things to Know Before You Change Your Life.
  • From Forbes: Five Steps to Reinventing Yourself Professionally.

Share your experiences through the link at the top.


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