In our book, one of the main criteria for being a Fairygodboss is using your own successes to lift other women up. That’s what Ann Shoket has forged a career off doing, first as executive editor at CosmoGIRL!, then as editor in chief of Seventeen Magazine from 2007 to 2014, and now as the author of “The Big Life,” her new guide to career and life maximization for millennial women (complete with a corresponding Badass Babes newsletter). Here, Shoket shares with us her #1 best badass-babe tip for the woman carving out her life’s path on her own terms.
FGB: Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
AS: My first job was definitely NOT a dream job. I was an assistant at The American Lawyer Magazine. My big accomplishment, aside from not being fired, was that I learned to be a killer reporter. I loved asking nosy questions. During the day I had this intensely boring job, but at night, I had a sexy side hustle. I launched a cool downtown online magazine. Yeah, yeah, every J-school grad has a website now, right? Well this was 1996 and almost everyone was still on dial up!
Next I landed a job at a teen news magazine, then went to launch CosmoGirl. This was the first time I got excited about that moment in your life when you’re becoming who you’re meant to be. It’s when you are pure potential. Anything is possible.
It was 13 years in the publishing industry before I landed the Big Job: Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine. And I did that job for 7, almost 8 years. I loved it and it was an honor to be at such a legendary magazine.
But, when your dream job is a corporate job, it is susceptible to corporate restructuring. And so when the mag was reorganized 2014 and that job ended, I was OK with it. I had done that job. But that was not the end of my big dream.... or the end of the conversation I'd been having for years with young women about becoming the person you're meant to be.
My book, “The Big Life,” is a continuation of that conversation. The stakes are higher in your 20s and 30s and some women say they feel lost without rules or role models. That's where “The Big Life” steps in to help you craft the life you want, on your own terms.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
AS: I relish every email I get from young women who say “The Big Life” has illuminated a dark corner of her life or offered the kind of sisterhood she needed to feel validated for wanting her life to be different, bigger. That is what keeps me moving forward.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
AS: I was hired to be editor-in-chief of Seventeen by Cathie Black, who was then president of Hearst Magazines. I learned so much by just watching her at work. How she delivered good news, and bad, how she ran a meeting, how she let you know when the meeting was over. We are still in touch and I'm still learning so much from her.
FGB: What do you do when you're not working?
AS: I'm never not working. All Work All The Time, All Life All The Time.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?
AS: My great grandmother — I heard she was a killer business woman.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
AS: “Little Red Corvette.”
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
AS: “The Princess Bride.”
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
AS: “The Big Life.”
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
AS: Real estate (and shoes).
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
AS: Lose the five year plan! I never had a plan to become editor in chief of a legendary magazine. I never had a plan to write a book. I kept my eyes open, paid attention to opportunities, and looked for ways I could tread into new territory and make my mark.
(Source: Ann Shoket)
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.