Lady in Black

“What’s better than being in a room full of women?” declared the auburn-haired blue-eyed woman in the front of the room. No, this was not “The Vagina Monologues,” and the woman was not Eve Ensler, nor was it Hugh Hefner. It was First Lady of American Magazines, Cathie Black.

I had met Cathie a few years back at one of the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women in Business Conferences, a list she has been on each on every year since its 1998 debut. This time around the venue was much more intimate, a salon gathering in an apartment overlooking the East River. I have occasionally found such senior women to be aloof and unapproachable, but not Cathie. She was funny, warm and real.

She was there to talk about her book and share war stories about 30 something years in the industry. In Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life), readers are offered candid personal stories, teachable moments, and straight-up advice from a woman who has seen it all. Hired as the advertising manager at Ms. magazine in its early days, Cathie was charged with winning over skeptical advertisers. Her sales team often showed up with promotional materials printed on hot pink paper. It was a heady time. Because a feminist magazine seemed a risky—and controversial—venture, potential advertisers sometimes pushed them straight out the door. As Cathie notes, “Adversity is a great teacher.”

Cathie went on to become publisher of New York in 1979—and the first woman publisher of a weekly consumer magazine. Currently, she heads up Hearst Magazines and manages the financial performance and development of publications from Cosmo to Esquire to O, the Oprah Magazine.

In Basic Black, Cathie asks readers to ponder what “having it all” really means, to them, today. She explores the idea of creating what she calls a “360-degree Life” for oneself, encompassing work, relationships, home life, and family. ….Though the book is a great read for any professional woman it is especially good for those just starting out. Imagine having a career coach like Cathie to tell you how to handle job interviews, which rules to follow and which ones to break, and why you should make your life a “grudge- free zone”.

When, in an effort to defend Hillary Clinton, Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey declared “Bitch is the New Black!”, clearly she had not yet met Cathie. Cathie is the legendary Black – just like your perfect little black dress she had advice for every occasion.

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Catch me on FOX Business News 10 to 12 this AM

Today is my second appearance on FOX BIZ as a market expert and I am waiting anxiously for the email to arrive announcing the topic areas. Having followed the business headlines so religiously since the start of the year it is amazing how much they have changed, despite the fact that none of the problems that were the early focus have gone away. The Media just moves on. The last time I appeared you could not escape the news on the Monoline Insurers, and despite no solutions to their problems, are we hearing about it anymore? Nope. It is not surprising that the election, the price of oil, massive write-downs, surprising earnings reports and global food shortages are now the focus, but I wish someone, somewhere, would keep a list going of what we were talking about yesterday and now today. ( and this could include good as well as bad news) That list would highlight the issue/concern/reason for headline, then map the evolution of the problem/solution, and could even feature the current administration’s ( and candidate’s) responses. The voters last night responded so clearly that the issue for this election is the ECONOMY and the media could do a much better job in keep America informed not only of the issues of the day, but the bigger picture.

If you have limited time on your hands their are two weekly must reads to stay relatively informed – the Economist and Barron’s. I also try to scan the Journal, The NYTimes, and the FT – but given the intensity of the what is going on right now, just reading what catches my eye is quickly becoming a full time job. It is not surprising that many are likely suffering from “Overnewseditis.”