A career grounded in courage, creativity, and integrity

At 14 I responded to an ad at the local newspaper (The Arlington (MA) Advocate) looking for a part-time typist to write up classified ads. I couldn't type but knew I could learn. I got the job.

At 16 the newspaper editor asked me if I wanted to write a feature story since I'd been doing pretty good writing the obits and weddings. I had insomnia and anxiety for eight months and finally summoned the guts to write the story.

At 22 I told the senior vice president of HR at the AT&T division where I worked that the company policies were ridiculous. Why was I paid $19,00 when I guy I replaced had been making $38,000. My boss "saved" me from Mr. Evil HR and got me a transfer to New York as I was "damaging my reputation."

At 26 I quit my Madison Avenue agency job and the beautiful 40th floor office with the original Jamie Wyeth painting when I found out that the agency partners were paying journalists to write favorable articles about our clients. Ethics trumped status and money.

At 30 I told my boss I wouldn't sign my performance review because his critique of my performance deficits was wrong. I quit two months later and went to another agency. My clients followed. The old agency sued me. They lost and went belly up a few years later.

At 34 I went to work for the biggest high-tech agency in the world as a senior vice president, managing nerds and geeks. I didn't know the difference between a PC or Mac. But I figured it out along with other head splitting techno-trends. 

At 41 I walked out on a job as president of a pioneering digital marketing agency, paying me hundreds of thousands of dollars. I had lost my compassion, joy and sense of possibility. A lost person should not be in a leadership position.

At 41 I became a mother, even though my son was two years-old. For the first two years of his life I didn't have the courage to let go of status and money.

At 46 my thriving strategic consulting firm lost all of our clients within three days of 9/11. I went in for long overdue hip surgery and saw how many nurses, CNAs, patients, doctors and administrators were trapped in bureaucracy and the medical caste system. I also saw how my education, friends in high places, meticulous pedicure and good manners got me special treatment. The injustice enraged me.

At 48 Kevin Clancy, a client and mentor, recommended that I be the keynote speaker to 500 people at an American Marketing Association conference. I told Kevin I had nothing to say. He told me to put it on my calendar and figure out something to say.  The audience mobbed me like a rock star after the talk. I wrote my first book, Beyond Buzz, based on that talk. Oh, what would we do without friends pushing us in firm yet caring ways?

At 50-something I stood up at a Harvard Medical School conference in front of 800 people and told the guru speaker that I thought his role-playing was mean and not instructive. He dissed me publicly. At the coffee break people thanked me for speaking the truth.

At 58 I started the Rebels at Work movement with Carmen Medina, wrote a book, and found passion and love in helping every day people challenge complacency and learn how to get their positive ideas heard.

At 60 I kept hearing people say how hard it was to deal with the barrage of constant change and ridiculous demands at work. I didn't know how to help them, nor did I want to dish out pseudo-puff advice. I earned a certificate in Positive Psychology to understand the science of behavior change and resiliency.

I have learned. I have learned. I keep learning.

My courage is speaking the truth.


Books


"Official" places of learning

  • University of New Hampshire
  • Harvard University
  • Wholebeing Institute: positive psychology

Tribes

My two favorite professional tribes are Rebels at Work, which she co-founded with Carmen Medina to encourage and teach people to create positive change in the workplace, and Change Agents Worldwide, of which she is a charter member.


 

Origin Story:  asking questions, finding good stories

I started interviewing and writing at 14 years-old, working for a suburban Boston newspaper. Here I am meeting the late Senator Ted Kennedy. The newspaper owners/editors were extraordinary mentors, teaching me to how to land an interview, ask good questions, write well and fast, pursue oft-beat story ideas, and keep going despite the inevitable obstacles.

I started interviewing and writing at 14 years-old, working for a suburban Boston newspaper. Here I am meeting the late Senator Ted Kennedy. The newspaper owners/editors were extraordinary mentors, teaching me to how to land an interview, ask good questions, write well and fast, pursue oft-beat story ideas, and keep going despite the inevitable obstacles.


Stomping grounds

I live in Rhode Island, the smallest and perhaps most creative state in the United States.

Why I call Rhode Island home: my backyard.

Why I call Rhode Island home: my backyard.