Author: Caroline Waxler

How NOT to Find a Mentor

I had just gotten off the phone with a friend telling me how her mentor recommended her to a new job that she was thrilled about. Just the same week, another pal described her amazing lunch with her mentor who gave her feedback on her business plan and introduced her to potential investors. Another friend was going to a book party for her world-famous mentor. The idea of a mentor sounded great! How could I get one? These same friends told me varied acquisition stories, from being assigned a mentor during their stints at big corporations to reaching out to industry leaders cold (and then somehow magically transforming the acquaintanceship into a mentor/mentee arrangement). No place where I had worked offered those programs, and, if they did, they weren’t geared for those of us in editorial. And as for the reaching out cold, I just didn’t see how that was going to work. I considered my job history. Maybe I had a mentor and didn’t realize it? Thinking over my early years in the job force, …

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Are Journalists Allowed to Be Fans?

When I was starting out my career in the ’90s working as a business journalist, the rule was always be in the background of (and not part of) the story. The first-person voice-y thing was for the columnists — and if you were doing that and weren’t one, you were clearly a novice reporter in her first weeks on the job. Worse, if you were a fan of a subject’s work or their mission, showing your hand beyond a detached view of why their company might be good for society — or, really, shareholders — was a nonstarter. This went double if you were a person in her ’20s covering complex topics. Note that this was before the ubiquity of blogging and disruption. The old order reigned, and it didn’t exactly revere lack of years of experience and naïve exuberance. In turn, neither did I. #Judgy This worldview of mine took a little time to coalesce. One incident that helped it along happened when I returned from a reporting trip where I was trailing an entrepreneur who …

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I Went All the Way to Switzerland, and All I Got Was Chewed Out by My Boss

Seeing my hairbrush down the hall from my hotel room after a long day of not-so-helpful interviews should have been my first clue that this was not going to be the reporting trip of my dreams. In 1996, I took my first international reporting trip to Switzerland, researching the wealth of Swiss billionaires for my magazine’s annual billionaires list. My portfolio of targets included a family with vast grain holdings, a private bank, oil interests, the family behind Swatch, a cement baron, and the scion of a pharmaceuticals company that made good use of nuns’ urine. I was also asked to report on and write a lifestyle piece on the state of the Swiss watch industry, which was then rebounding from a Timex and Japanese-based assault. Getting to go on an international reporting trip was a coveted boondoggle, not that rare though in the flush 1990s when magazines sold so much advertising that editors begged reporters for more copy to fill the pages. Two fellow reporters famously went to the Far East every year for …

Heels For A Higher Calling

Living in New York, working as a business reporter in the 1990s, and doing freelance lifestyle writing on the side, I got a kick out of all all the PR pitches, launches, and parties. Among them: renting out Ellis Island for a magazine party, Donald Trump’s 50th birthday, and, if memory serves, bringing elephants to midtown to help launch a perfume. So when my best friend Allison, the co-founder of a PR firm, asked me to volunteer to help out on an event where supermodels would be helping Doctors Without Borders, by decluttering their own closets, I couldn’t resist. I agreed to help check in guests and members of the press at the front desk of a high-end garage sale with items pulled from the closets (and storage units) of iconic ‘90s models Shalom Harlow and Kirsty Hume. The items would then be sold for between $10 and $100. It couldn’t have been more of the moment. There was even the requisite article in The NY Post about it by one of the lifestyle and fashion …