In 2012, Seymour was named Executive Director of Meredith’s Beauty Center of Excellence; in 2009 she was named number four on the 2009 Most Powerful Fashion Editors List by Forbes magazine. Before taking over More, Seymour served as the Editor-in-Chief for Marie Claire magazine, Redbook magazine, and teen book YM. She was Beauty Director of Glamour, and senior editor at Vogue. She is the author of two books: On the Edge, 100 Years of Vogue and I Wish My Parents Understood. In 2013 she was named Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for Duke Magazine and a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices.
Many of our readers knew you when you were at MORE, what have you been up to since then?
I’ve been reinventing myself.
Once More closed in 2016, I was devastated. I hadn’t finished my masters in sustainability management yet so I couldn’t segue into the beauty business. I was deluged by angry MORE readers who wanted me to do something else for them. 627 people took a 54 questions survey to the end and I created CoveyClub, an online/offline space for women who are in transition. We say “CoveyClub holds a space for you while you figure out what is next.” We teach, we connect, we support. We also have a giant Wellbeing Bash which you’re all invited to in New Orleans November 10-13 that is bonding, connecting, eating, drinking and finding new friends and business partners. Come join us!
How have you grown your career since leaving?
I was a corporate cog my whole life. Being an entrepreneur is wonderful. I no longer have to sit in an office on days where no one needs me. I love working from home and only working with nice people.
I worked with the mean girls my whole life. That is not who I am. This is.
You took a big move to New Orleans from NYC. What has that experience been like and what advice can you offer others contemplating a similar move?
Because I had to be in NYC for publishing and my husband had to be there for finance, we had to live in NY. We were in the city until my son was four and then moved out when we had our daughter. We were in the suburbs of New York for 24 years. Once the kids were grown and gone, I felt isolated and lonely. I also hate the cold weather.
My husband and I decided to shake things up and try a new place. We’d been coming to NOLA for 30 years as tourists. We had criteria that had to be fulfilled: great culture (check), not conservative (check), great food (check), university town so we can teach or take classes (check), international airport (check), a place where adult children are dying to come (triple check). We also love the music, and the architecture. It is a fascinating city where you can get very involved. Unlike NY, it’s so small you can get involved with the government easily. And the cost of living is so much lower than NY, that we were shocked when we took the cat to the vet for $125 instead of $400. We kept saying, “Where’s the rest of the bill?”
I highly recommend a change of place to shake it up at midlife. Otherwise you get too boring and bored.
Can you tell us more about what Covey Club stands for and what your community is looking for at this point in their life?
Covey means a small group of birds. I wanted a small, intimate club where women could get to know each other intimately. These are highly accomplished executive women who also want to give back, who want to help others and learn from others. It’s a unique group. We have the most amazing experts come speak/teach twice a week–about everything from how to get on a board to how to get a book published or how to deal with menopause or stress or older kids. We have smaller groups called PODs which meet for 12 weeks at at time to work on things like career reinvention, entrepreneurship, dealing with elderly parents. We also do classes on everything you need for reinventing yourself–from creating a personal brand to dressing for a video interview. These are all taught by leading experts around the world. I hand pick them and my standards are very high. We do masterminds and coaching groups. Check us out at www.coveyclub.com.
I also have a podcast called “Reinvent Yourself with Lesley Jane Seymour” for which I’ve already interviewed over 175 women who’ve done it. It’s free and can be found at any podcast host you use. I get amazing women to reveal their reinvention stories and tips to do it yourself.
I know you got a degree from Columbia later in life. Why and how has that impacted your work?
I haven’t used my sustainability masters yet. But being back at school at 62 made a huge difference in launching Covey. I learned so much about tech and how to do research that I use every day as an entrepreneur.
When you are looking ahead at your career, what are you most interested in now? And, is career still as important to you?
I never understood how high-powered women would suddenly reach a date for a birthday and just walk away from all their participation in the workforce. Why would you do that? Makes no sense. And when you read about how retirement was created, it was fabricated during the depression to get more people working. Have fewer people working fewer hours and spread the dollars around.
I would be miserable sitting at home with nothing to do each week. I love continuing to help and inspire women and give them a voice on the world. I see problems I can fix: I have to be involved. It makes me feel good about myself.
I do love being an entrepreneur now. I wish I had started this path earlier. I would have been happier than in some of my difficult corporate stints.
What should we be watching and paying attention to this week, this month, this coming year?
Women’s lives/health/ futures are hanging in the balance. Everything I worked for as an Editor-in-Chief of 4 national magazines (YM, Redbook, Marie Claire, More) was to pave a way for women to be equal players in power and in the economy. There’s a huge segment of America that doesn’t like how women have advanced. And yet, we must advance in order to be productive citizens who can care for themselves.
I still don’t get why government groups would want women–who live longer than men, who are more likely than men to take care of the elderly and adult children, who make corporate profits rise–to be second class citizens. Must be a threat to some groups. Of men.
What women are on your radar?
I’m totally impressed with Gen Z. They don’t take any of this patriarchal crap like my generation did. When Andrew Cuomo was getting attacked for sexually harassing young women on his staff, he said, “I didn’t know the line had moved.” I said to myself: “The line never moved buddy. My generation of women who needed to work had to put up with all your crap just to stay employed. Our daughters are empowered and are having none of it. You’re just seeing the line enforced by them. Finally.”
What are you currently obsessed with OR one thing you highly recommend?
I do think it’s our obligation to start moving towards greener everything. I love all the new things to try–from bamboo toilet tissue to electric cars and washing detergent sheets. I think the tide is finally turning on all of this stuff. If each of us makes ourselves and our households just 50% greener this year, it will have a huge payoff.
Which work tools/courses/apps have made your life easier?
I love BE REAL app. It’s so interesting because it forces you to shoot a photo of yourself and what you’re up to in real time and share without any filters. I look wretched in every one. But it’s breaking down this barrier of perfection that is required on social media. It’s very subversive.
I love my Active Campaign system. I hated Mail Chimp. AC actually has figured out that most clients need to be trained on their apps to use more of the technology and they reach out each month. So wise. But it makes me cranky at those who take your money and teach you nothing. There’s a lot to be said for customer education today. You will keep more and please more by providing education.