Last week, I had the privilege of attending the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) annual Matrix Awards, which honors women who have changed the world through their work in the communications industry. The 2013 ceremony took place at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and was emceed by the legendary entertainer, Joan Rivers. The honorees represented several areas of communications and included: Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan; Mindy Grossman, Chief Executive Officer of HSN, and Bonnie Hammer, Chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group.
As I celebrated the achievements of this year’s Matrix winners along with the event’s 1,000+ guests, two questions ran through my mind:
1) How does Joan Rivers stay so sharp? Truly. The woman turns 80 this year.
2) How do I cull down two hours of inspirational story-telling from Matrix winners into one blog post?
The speeches of every honoree were special; however, I found myself circling back to a remark made by Rivers at the start of the ceremony: “Families come and go; jobs and careers are forever.”
Rivers noted that women starting out in the communications field often ask her advice on balancing a career and family. In her trademark crass, sarcastic fashion, she answered that it was impossible – (ha!) – successful women always put their careers ahead of their families. The statement, which verbatim included many more expletives than permitted on The Thinking Kap, received chuckles from the audience members, but it made me reflect on how fortunate I am to have powerful female role models in my life – women in communications who made it their mission to find a balance between career success and family, and whose efforts have made it possible for me and my peers, the next generation of women in communications, to achieve the same.
The first woman that came to mind was my own mother. A broadcast journalist and PR professional during my childhood, I never felt the stress and fatigue she was surely facing every day. In fact, I couldn’t understand how the mothers without careers filled up their days! After Mom, my mind immediately went to Kaplow’s founder & CEO, Liz Kaplow, who, as President-Elect of NYWICI, was sitting a few seats away from Rivers on the Matrix stage.
Liz established Kaplow more than 20 years ago, in order to have the flexibility to raise her two young daughters, Juliana and Melanie, while maintaining her successful PR career. While it was her own family that solidified her decision to begin a business, the importance of work/life balance – whether that balance is needed to care for an ill parent, to spend time with a significant other or to celebrate the birth of a new baby – is still firmly engrained in Kaplow’s DNA.
It makes me happy to report that if a young woman entering the communications industry today asked me the same question asked of Rivers, my answer would be completely different: Find a company that is led by those that share your values – I, and every Kaplow employee, can tell you they do exist!
Note: I wasn’t able to answer either of the questions I asked myself during the Matrix Awards, but if you “like” the NYWICI Facebook page and watch the show via the page’s LiveStream app, you may be able to!