Reading: #146: Kristin Van Ogtrop (Embracing The Humility Of Starting Something New)

#146: Kristin Van Ogtrop (Embracing The Humility Of Starting Something New)

October 8 2021

“[I was at] my gynecologist’s office,” says Kristin van Ogtrop, author (“Did I say that out loud? Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them” (, literary agent, and former Editor-in-Chief of Real Simple magazine. “My enthusiasm for daily life had diminished. I was having an annual exam and I said,’ I’m depressed or going through perimenopause or need a new job’. She said, ‘Maybe all three.’” Up until that point, van Ogtrop had been a high-flying editor in the magazine publishing world who had worked her way through some of the toniest jobs in the industry–beginning at Premiere, then to Vogue, Travel & Leisure, and then to running Real Simple for 13 years. “The reason I loved [Real Simple] was because it was the first time I’d worked for a magazine where I was the reader,” she says. “The demos were basically me: busy working mother[s]…who had great full lives and needed ways to run [them] smoother.” Since Van Ogtrop grew up with a mother who was a home economics major, she knew how to make a casserole and hem a skirt–valuable skills she imparted to her harried readers. What was not so fun: when Real Simple got caught up in corporate spin-offs and industry-driven down-sizings. “Time Inc. was a public company [and there] was great pressure,” Van Ogtrop says. “[‘For] creative people [like me] in the company…[it] felt like every day you died a little inside.” After she left, Van Ogtrop became a business Goldilocks, trying on various new careers, but struggling to find her path. “One benefit of reinventing in middle age,” she says, “is not to be embarrassed to be the dumbest person in the room. I know I’ve accomplished something…in my last life and in my mid-fifties I don’t care if I look like an idiot.” Tune in to see where she ended up and how she did it.