Issue 6

July 2018

A letter from the editor, Lesley Jane Seymour

Midlife Is Not For Sissies

There. I said it. And it’s a fact.

Midlife is when you feel the hot breath of mortality caress the hairs on the back of your neck. When you silently get out your mental ruler and start plotting the distance between your age and the ages of the people in the news and in the obituaries. Let’s see, Carrie Fisher dies at age 60 of a heart attack on a plane. Yes, she is exactly my age. Oh, no. These things can happen to people my age! And people even said I looked like her! Yikes! I guess I AM old. But also, she was a heavy drug user for many years. We know she fought manic depression. So what does that mean? Un-yikes, I guess? Maybe I’m not that old after all? Margot Kidder who also died this year was 69. Geeze. I thought she was waaaay younger. So maybe that can’t happen to me. So I’m ok, I guess….????

(Full disclosure: I got so freaked out about all this sudden vulnerability that my breast surgeon actually banned me from doing my own breast exam because I was finding too many suspicious things that were simply fine!)

And then, of course, there are the people who are not famous. Who are close to us. Who have struggled, are struggling, or have passed away from all kinds of untimely issues.

And then this month we had the death of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain by their own hands. And through these events, we’ve come to learn some grim statistics: The Centers for Disease Control found the rate at which women aged 45-64 committed suicide in 2016 had increased 63% from 1999 and a 2014 report from the CDC stated that women 40-59 have the highest rate of depression. (CoveyClub jumped in and interviewed Dr. Cecilia Dintino, clinical psychologist, psychology professor at Columbia University, and co-creator of Twisting the Plot, a therapy workshop for women over 50 in a must-read piece called “Depression and Suicide Among Women at Midlife.”)

Before I have to sign this as a post from Debbie Downer, I simply want to acknowledge that the primary reason I created Covey is so we could have these serious discussions. I became a magazine editor because I grew up in the 60s as a child of divorce, feeling isolated and alone in an American suburb where I was told I couldn’t play with the kids next door because of what my family was going through. It was Seventeen magazine that made me feel like I wasn’t alone with these issues and gave me not only a route to escape my day-to-day family dysfunction, but also gave me real information for how to handle my life.

My mission since then has been to help women around the world break out of their isolation, share their voices, come together and find solutions. The mission of Covey is the same, except we really, really need each other now more than ever, as our identities undergo yet another transformation. I dare you not to choke up at Alina Tugend’s essay, “Of Love, Loss, and Basketball” about her children leaving the nest. But don’t pull out the Kleenex just yet, we’ve also got some fabulous advice (check out Dr. Olivo’s, “Is Your Mindset Sabotaging Your Success?”) and laughs (scroll down to Erica Baird and Karen Wagner’s piece on adjusting to retirement).

Age forces us to find new ways of being in this world. It’s a painful adjustment, but it’s also an opportunity to show future generations of women how it’s done. We’ve always been trailblazers, after all. Continue to make every day count. Do the things that matter to you. Connect to the people you care about. Make the phone call. Drop off the cake. Take the class you’re curious about. Launch the business you’ve been dreaming about. Have the breast reduction. Let your hair go grey. Do whatever your heart desires. You are #notdeadyet, so keep living. Covey will be here every step of the way.




Transition Man

He could help when her husband could not. Would it be worth it?

By Nancy Brier

Woman getting her hair done
Illustration by James Orchard-Hays

I met my transition man today.

Friends tell me it won’t last, but for now he’s exactly what I need.

Unlike my husband, he’s tall and dark and uber-Christian. All day long, he has conversations with God, alternately mumbling or laughing out loud at jokes only he and God are privy to.

My husband found him on the Internet, encouraged me to contact him. I wasn’t going to, but my husband kept urging me on.

“Just call him,” he said. “You might actually like the guy.”

Finally, I picked up the phone. Jon answered, and he sounded nice. After a few conversations and major hesitation on my part, I booked a trip.

“Who goes to Minneapolis in January?” my friends chided. “Especially when you live in California?” I shrugged and found long underwear, a thick hat and my only winter coat.

When I pulled my gray wheelie bag down from the top shelf of our closet, photos of our little girl spilled all over the floor. What am I doing? I thought to myself.

Then I headed to the bank, got a stack of $100 bills, and tucked them carefully into the inside zipper compartment of my handbag. I didn’t want a paper trail coming in later to remind me of my folly, my vanity even, if things went wrong, if I regretted this crazy decision.

I boarded the flight and planned to meet Jon the next day.

It was negative six degrees in Minneapolis and piles of snow and dirty ice were mounded up along the sidewalks. I pulled out my phone and typed in Jon’s address. After twenty years of marriage, it felt odd to wander this unfamiliar city alone, searching for Jon while I tried to ignore the icy air on my face.

When I pulled open a glass door, the surge of warmth shocked my frozen cheeks, and I felt my anticipation surge. Christian rock blared from an unseen source. In the empty shop, I sank into a black leather chair, staring at myself in the mirror. It was cozy, with neat rows of product making pleasing symmetrical designs along the walls.

Jon, charming and handsome, draped a plastic cape around my shoulders, tucked a towel around my neck, and rolled his table near my chair, wheels making a creaking sound on the linoleum. Tentatively, I took off my wool hat.

He rubbed his palm over my head, my baby-soft new hair fuzzy, only an inch long. “We can do it,” Jon smiled. “It’s long enough.”

Someone else’s hair lay on the table along with a hot glue gun, pliers, and strips of white paper. Jon grabbed a few strands of hair, dabbed one end in hot glue, rubbed it in paper and then attached the bundle to a wisp of my own hair.

“The glue is made from tree sap,” he explained, as if that fact was the most natural thing in the world.

I felt detached, as if I were watching a scene from a National Geographic documentary about a situation that is odd and could never happen to me.

Then I remembered that it is me. That this expensive, surreal experience is my life.

Methodically, Jon went about his work. Strands of hair, dot of glue, attach to head. Repeat. I watched the transition, my chemo head disappearing under a canopy of blond. Nodules of glue butted against my scalp, each one attached to wavy prosthetic hair, each one hardening into a rock the size of a pea.

Across the room, I spotted photos of another woman who had undergone the same process, before and after shots. The first showed a nearly bald head. The second showed the same face with long, luxurious hair. They hardly looked like the same person.

“She was my first chemo girl,” Jon told me. “Now you girls come from all over the world. Earlier this week, a lady came from Peru.”

My guilty feelings for having indulged in this extravagance started to abate, and I settled in to watch the process unfold.

Seven hours later, I saw a new me. It wasn’t chemo me. It wasn’t cancer me. It was just… me.

Jon guided me to another chair and the heavy, exotic scent of Moroccan oil filled the air as water caressed my head, my first shampoo in months. Breathing in, I felt like a woman, a normal woman at a hair salon. He combed out my hair, 22 inches of femininity.

When I looked in the mirror, my cancer was gone.

Jon, my transition man, hugged me goodbye.

Flushed with satisfaction, giddy in fact, I picked up my coat, my scarf, and my mittens. But I threw my hat away.

  1. Michele Cone

    Beautiful. The author was so brave to share her vulnerability, and because if that I’m sure others, like me, will keep her in our prayers. Thank you God for people like Jon, reminding us there are light workers among us.

  2. Karen Levy

    Having recently lost my mother to cancer, this story literally had me crying, but in a good way. I felt like I was looking in the mirror during her transformation and was elated at the end imagining the cold wind in her hair. Thank you for sharing such an intimate experience.

  3. Liz Merrill

    The story showed that we can never give up..Life is precious .. There is Hope for everything!!

  4. Becky Madison

    I can’t imagine the combination of emotions the author was feeling–fear, anxiety, shame–and yet hope reigned. The gift Jon gave her was only matched by that of her husband in sending her to him. Beautiful!

  5. Jon Richards

    YOU young lady are a beautiful writer. I remember that day. So much, so much fun and transition from short to normal…Thank you

  6. Jon Richards

    Nancy, what a great story. Congrats on being published. As the old saying goes the squeaky wheel gets all the grease…
    Wonderfully written Nancy. Thank you for sharing…,😎

  7. Cheryl

    Absolutely beautiful Nancy! Jon has touched so many lives and helps woman feel whole again after cancer. I remember crying the day my daughter had her visit with Jon. He turned around the chair and tears of joy rolled down our eyes as we couldn’t believe the transformation. In the mirror I saw my beautiful girl was not going to let cancer define her! He is an amazing sole!

  8. Nicole Gate

    Thanks for sharing! This brought tears to my eyes, as I can relate to the exact person you were describing as yourself! Jon does amazing work! I loved my extensions! I went from an anxiety ridden, unsure person walking in those doors and came out feeling free of cancer and confident! I was back to me!!

  9. Susan St Louis

    What a lovely story, full of hope and sunlight for those who are struggling with pain and gray days. Thank you for speaking of such intimate and difficult feelings, and letting others share your joy. Good luck and stay strong!

  10. Ruth Setlin

    What a beautiful story!! It brought tears to my eyes,It is written so well and the happy emotion shows thru as you regain the person You were before!And happy life starts over .Also your husband gets a award for not being selfish loving you and bringing the girl he married to her happy self Thankyou for sharing. How long does the new hair last? Im going Bald on top I would fly to cold minnesota for a fix..

  11. Corrine Sussman

    I know and respect Nancy, her writing and her ways. I am a licensed esthetician who has volunteered for cancer organizations and has been member of professional beauty organizations. I will share this story and hope readers will be inspired and enlightened.
    Thank you for publishing Transition Man.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below


Top 5 Mascaras for Women Over 40

As you age, less makeup can have more impact — if you use the right products

By Carmindy Bowyer

woman's eyes
Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

As we age, our lashes thin over time and the texture of the skin around our eyes changes. Crepiness, hot flashes, oily eyelids, and volume loss can make wearing mascara a real challenge if you don’t know what type to use.

The biggest issues most women face when wearing mascara as they mature include smudging, smearing, flakiness, and sparseness of lashes. Having the right mascara will keep your lashes looking beautiful and lush forever. (Lashes are, after all, one of our best accessories — no matter what our age.)

Even if your eyesight is good I always suggest using a magnifying mirror when applying mascara to ensure precise application. As for colors, if you’re looking for intensity, black is the best hue for all eye colors. Even if it’s the only product you apply in the morning, it will have a real impact.

The following problem-solving mascaras are my top 5 favs for women 40+:

Prevents smudging

If you battle mascara smearing, smudging, or you get those pesky black dots due to heavy lids hitting your mascara, then DHC Perfect Pro Double Protection Mascara is your best bet. This Japanese tube technology formula is water resistant and coats each lash in polymer tubes that seal and won’t budge or smudge all day. It almost acts like a waterproof mascara, but you won’t need heavy makeup remover to get it off — just wash your face with warm water and the tubes release and slip right off.       

Thickens & elongates

Women who are dealing with volume loss can benefit greatly from choosing a formula like Revitalash Volumizing Mascara. This mascara will lengthen and thicken upon application while also stimulating lash health and growth with ingredients like biotin and panthenol.    

Widens the eye

If your hands shake or your eyes are very small, a large mascara wand is not your friend. It’s a smudge disaster. You’re better off using the smallest brush possible to sweep on mascara with ease. Try NYX The Skinny Mascara to perfectly coat each and every lash without getting a mark on the surrounding skin.

Adds fullness

For the glamour gals over 40+ that love going for a full-on false lash look without the flake factor, I suggest trying Dior DiorShow Mascara. This cult classic contains microfibers that reproduce the effect of lash extensions, yet contains conditioners that keep the formula from drying and flaking.


For you active gals who are swimming, sweating, or working outside, a waterproof formula is the way to go. Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof formula is a long-time winner because the smaller brush allows for easy application and the formula truly doesn’t migrate. Just remember to use an oil-based makeup remover and be gentle when taking it off so you don’t break or damage your delicate lashes.


  1. Grace Horton

    I began using Lancôme products last year and finally found the right stuff for my skin. I’m a very youthful 65 yr old, hip but not trendy, haha. My favorite mascara in my entire life is Grandiose waterproof. Easy to apply and fluff out my lashes due to their special shaped wand. Stays on all day and doesn’t aggravate contact lenses. You must use eye makeup remover to take it off. Pricey, but Worth it to me. Thank you for your tips!

  2. Shannon

    I have an upper eye crease that smears and or completely wipes out eyeliner. I need an eyeliner that stays all day. Any product out there that can handle this? Im close to getting permanent eyeliner but would rather bypass that if possible. Thanks for you help. Shan.

  3. Stacey Abrahams

    I have found that Thrive Causemetics mascara works great for me as well. Thanks so much for sharing.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

Getting Away from It All

Try To Remember You’re a Guest

When you're a persnickety houseguest, how do you redeem yourself? Start with eggs and apples.

By Serena Bass

Photo by David Loftus

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the last month as a guest in the homes of family and friends.

I love that Benjamin Franklin took the bull by the horns and famously said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Three days, hah!! Three days for both guests and hosts is a piece of cake. A week or more is where the little hints from the host, and (now that they suddenly feel just like part of the family), the guests themselves, begin to trickle in deadly fashion from our brains to our mouths. And if not verbalized, the terror that one’s thoughts might suddenly appear in a bubble over one’s head is always present.

Being used to living blissfully, selfishly, and obsessive-compulsively alone, even making a cup of coffee, or taking a bath before going to bed in someone else’s house can be a minefield. Who would know that the hot water tank is the size of a teacup and everyone else is left to brush their teeth and splash their faces in the cold? The person who didn’t ask is who.

And the difficulties with other people’s kitchen machines — dishwasher, microwave, coffeemaker, and sometimes even the oven — can prompt irritated cracks, after five minutes of fiddling, like, “…since I’m not Stephen Hawking…”

Once, I stayed by myself in my friend John Barrett’s (the best hair cutter in the world) house in the Hamptons. He was away in the south of France, and honestly, I’m not stupid, but could I work the coffee machine? No, I could not. So after two days of walking into the village for a cup of coffee, I resorted to calling him in Cannes. “Darling, just press the on button,” he said condescendingly. Trust me, even with a flashlight and my fullest attention it was all black-on-black German minimalism and not obvious at all.

But let’s get back to a kinder mindset.

What is the absolute best present to arrive with for a weekend? I asked around and interestingly found that young people don’t even think about bringing little gifts. At least the many I asked didn’t. Maybe it is because they are so easygoing, can sleep anywhere, and don’t have to distract from their needy behavior with a tin of caviar or a bottle of Sauternes. Or in my case, both.

Candles were mentioned as a good idea and the red currant one from Votivo is so mouthwatering, who wouldn’t adore it? People who loathe scented candles perhaps.

A very dear friend brought me a bottle of Colatura, a salted anchovy sauce from Cetara, bought on a recent trip to Italy. He couldn’t know that of all the normal things one might eat (i.e. not grasshoppers), this would be my stone dead last. A real tongue wiper. So maybe you should steer clear of something so edgy and sophisticated unless you are privy to your host’s neuroses.

If they have a garden, a plant is good but be prepared to plant it yourself, as it may very well just sit there out of sight, out of mind, and out of the earth, till it dies. This is experience talking. I think a homemade jam or chutney is a good idea or a hunk of the best possible Parmesan. Something useful that will last for a bit, unlike something that has to be cooked within hours, like a pound of scallops.

Speaking of scallops…not something I would bring, as I am anti-shellfish altogether and that includes scallops. As a guest, it isn’t rude but in fact thoughtful and politically correct to let your host know if there is something you don’t eat. I live in fear of the clambake or the much un-anticipated “SURPRISE! It’s our Annual Lobster Dinner.” Prime specimens have been flown in, with a fair amount of pomp, from Prince Edward Island. How do you say, “Could I have an egg?” It would never occur to me that a visiting friend wouldn’t like a chocolate tart, so I can well understand the confusion, tinged with annoyance, tinged with who invited her anyway?

My biggest and best weekend tip is to find yourself a little basket or tray and keep all your vitals in it. Then you won’t have to bother anyone with the panicked search for your car keys, mobile phone, Blistex, and glasses. It just takes all that anxiety out of your life. Consolidate your stuff and watch out for your muddy, and carbon, footprints by taking off your shoes and turning off the lights.

The most important thing in my weekend suitcase is a very good book. I am used to giving up on sleep and if I can get down the creaky stairs, not wake up the barky dog, and negotiate with the kettle for a cup of tea at 2:23 a.m., then a good book is my best friend till the morning light. I will cheerfully lie on being asked how I slept, and crow, “Woke up in the fireplace!” which is British for “slept like a log.” And now I ask, how is it that some people can sleep on anything, in any kind of environment? Over the years, I have discovered my preferred way of spending the night is in a room approximating an isolation tank with these qualities:

1. No light, especially a dazzling street light or blinding full moon shining on my head because of the lack of curtains, or worse, a skylight.

2. No noise, especially a ticking clock, dripping tap, or the water heater/air conditioner humming directly under my pillow.

3. And…well, here the tank thing goes south because fresh air is on my list too. So let’s add a window that actually opens (unlike lots of Floridian homes).

4. Oh, and the mattress — I pray for a pillow top in my tank — not for nothing have people made hints about the princess and the pea. But truly I think I manage to keep all these things to myself, which is why I worry about the thought bubbles.

5. And I apologize for all of the above, but people keep asking me back due to when I cook brunch.

Brunch is my ace in the hole. I am up anyway so I can start prepping and creeping around on tiptoes while I still have the kitchen to myself. Since I know I’ll be making brunch, I often bring useful things, like Valrhona chocolate to stuff in the French toast and Maldon Salt to scatter on top with the sautéed apples, mmm… I have mint all over the place in my garden at home so will bring some wrapped in aluminum foil to keep it fresh as…a daisy? Many times, even people with big gardens only have a little pot of mint. They don’t want to plant it out, as otherwise it gets — as mentioned — all over the place. But with the rest of spring and the whole of summer coming up, mine will be kept at bay one big bunch at a time. The mint comes with a couple of jalapeños and a pound of tiny potatoes since the second brunch spectacular is a new potato, jalapeño, and mint frittata.

My very best friend, Linda (who with her husband Brian is my main long-suffering host), has a pretty little hen house and six productive Red Rocket hens so, still-warm eggs can be accessed just across the lawn.

I like these two brunch items since the frittata can be made and held in a very low oven and the French toast can be all assembled and then fried at the last minute. The smell of apples sautéing in butter really can’t be beat and goes a long way to smoothing over a troublesome guest like me.

In the end, being a guest is encapsulated by an anonymous writer who said: Good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices (like having a shallow bath), and minor inconveniences (like not sleeping through the night).

I am in chic company, as I was thrilled to read Karl Lagerfeld’s comment, “I don’t recommend myself as a guest.” One can only imagine.

New potato, jalapeno, and mint frittata by Serena Bass

Serves 6
• 10 extra-large eggs
• 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter
• 1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
• 1/2 pound small new potatoes (red or white), sliced very thinly
• 1/4 to 1 seeded jalapeno (depending on your taste and the spiciness of the jalapeno)
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves, plus extra for a final scatter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 teaspoon of salt and the freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a 9-inch sauté pan over medium heat; add the onions and sauté for three minutes. Add the potatoes and the remaining teaspoon of salt and cook, turning occasionally, for ten minutes and then add the jalapeno and cook for another five minutes, or until the potatoes are fully cooked through.

4. Pour the eggs into the pan, scatter on the mint, then shake the pan so the egg settles under the potatoes. Using a heatproof spatula, start pulling the edges of the frittata to the middle and keep tipping the pan to distribute the egg.

5. Cook for four minutes, shake the pan a couple of times to level the eggs, then place the pan in the preheated oven for about six minutes or until the eggs are just delicately set. (Don’t forget to wrap the handle of the pan with a towel when it comes out of the oven.)

6. Let the frittata compose itself for five minutes then slide it onto a warm plate with the help of a spatula and finish with a scattering of salt, another few grinds of black pepper, and just before serving (or it’ll turn black), some more chopped mint.


Serves 4

Eliminating the sugar in the egg wash and using plain white bread as opposed to panettone or challah, which both contain sugar, allows for the inclusion of semi-sweet chocolate without the whole thing becoming deathly sweet. A loaf with a fairly even crumb is best, so the chocolate doesn’t run out through any holes when it melts.

• 2 extra-large eggs
• 1/4 cup half-and-half
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Four 1-inch thick slices of day-old white bread, crusts removed
• 4 tablespoons chopped chocolate or Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate Morsels
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 12 wedges each
• 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• Pinch of Maldon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla. Pour the egg wash into a shallow dish that can hold the 4 slices of bread laid flat.

3. Using a very sharp straight-bladed knife, carefully cut a horizontal pocket in each bread slice, big enough for the chocolate to spread out a bit, and not sit in a big lump. Fill each bread pocket with 1 tablespoon of chocolate and lay the bread slices in the egg wash. Let them soak for a minute, then turn them over and soak the other side. Leave the bread slices in the egg wash while you sauté the apples.

4. Heat a wide pan on medium-high, add the butter and when it has melted add the apples, then sauté until they are translucent and caramelized — approximately 5 minutes. Transfer the pan of apples to the oven while you make the French toast.

5. Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan and slip in as many bread slices as will fit comfortably. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side to a crisp golden brown, adding more oil if needed. To serve, cut the slices diagonally and set one half on the other so the melted chocolate can be seen. Tip the apples on top and scatter on a few flakes of salt.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

Mind Health

Is Your Mindset Sabotaging Your Success?

Opening your mind to both challenge and failure can lead to more wins

By Erin Olivo, Ph.D.

Woman with beard and barbell
Photo by Julien McRoberts

Imagine this scenario:

Your boss gives you a difficult assignment that is outside the scope of anything you’ve done before. Your first thought is:

A: Crap! This is going to be hard and I’m not sure I have what it takes to get it done. What if I fail?
B: Oh boy, I have to prove myself. I have to knock this out of the park so she can see how talented I am!
C: This is going to be a challenge, but I’m definitely going to learn a lot from it.

If you answered A or B, your mindset may be holding you back from being more successful, both personally and professionally. Mindset has a profound impact on how you live and how happy you feel. Here’s the interesting part: Though your mindset is developed over the course of your life, as a result of experiences you’ve had, it’s actually under your control. You can also influence the mindset of people around you.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck says there are two distinct types of mindset. People with a “fixed mindset” (FM) believe their fundamental qualities, such as intelligence or talent, are static traits that can’t be changed; they believe that potential is determined at birth, and success is an affirmation of inherited abilities. By contrast, people with a “growth mindset” (GM) believe that their fundamental qualities can be cultivated, and that hard work and perseverance will make them good at whatever they decide to focus on. Research has proven that growth mindsets lead to perseverance, motivation, better performance, and ultimately to success. Fixed mindsets, however, lead to less confidence, less curiosity, and a propensity to give up more easily.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “I value hard work and learning, so I definitely have a growth mindset.” But don’t be so sure. I thought the same thing and found out that I was wrong — and I’m a psychologist! Here’s how to determine which mindset you’re in and, if yours is fixed, how to change that.

How do you approach setbacks or failures?
GMs view setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve; FMs feel defined by them. Fixed mindsetters don’t think, “I failed,” they think, “I’m a failure.” Perhaps as a defense against those negative thoughts, FMs have a hard time admitting, and therefore correcting, mistakes. Failures feel like evidence that contradicts their talents, causing them to feel threatened. Have you ever told a white lie about your SAT scores or your college GPA? That is your FM trying to protect you.

How do you evaluate a challenge?

FMs approach new or challenging situations warily; they think, “I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to do this” (see answer A above). GMs approach challenges with openness and curiosity, asking, “Will this allow me to learn something?” In Dweck’s research, she offered four-year-old children the option of completing an easy puzzle they had already mastered or a more difficult puzzle. Mindset predicted behavior: FM children chose the easy puzzle, likely to avoid the risk of being seen as not smart, while the GM children were adventurous, choosing the new puzzle. Dweck’s studies showed mindset has a direct influence on school grades and confidence levels.

How do you feel about your abilities?
GMs believe they can learn anything they want to. They see effort and attitude as more important determinants of outcome than natural ability. By contrast, FMs believe they are either good at something or not good at it. Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’m not good at math,” or “My brain just can’t master a foreign language”? That’s your FM popping up!

How do you handle the success of others?
FMs are more likely to feel threatened by other people’s success. Their mindset promotes fear of scarcity, the sense that there’s limited opportunity for success in the world. GMs find other people’s success inspiring and feel motivated to do more and do better.

What are your motivations?
FMs are motivated by a need to look smart and prove themselves (see answer B above), while GMs are motivated by a love of learning and a desire to broaden their experiences. A fixed mindset promotes a strong focus on outcomes, so FMs are likely to opt out of a challenge rather than risk failure. GMs are more likely to invite new challenges and look for opportunities to stretch themselves. If you answered C to the question above, then you have a GM approach.

If you recognized yourself in one or more of the above examples of FM, don’t be discouraged. The great news is that you are in charge of how you think — and you can actively change your mindset around any particular issue. And mindsets aren’t black and white. You could have a GM generally but have an FM on some particular issue. Or vice versa. If you think there’s too much FM in your mental mix, take the following three steps to becoming more GM:

1. Pay attention to your self-talk, your actions and reactions, and be willing to admit when your mindset seems fixed. I know this can feel like a full-time job, since it’s been estimated that about 65,000 thoughts go through our minds each day. But deciding to deliberately tune in and observe yourself is the key to intercepting the negativity.

2. Push past the negativity. Once you’ve noticed the disparaging, fearful, self-defeating, or jealous voices in your head, ask yourself some questions: How else could I view these events? What else could I try? Why didn’t this approach work? What can I learn? Questions loosen the hold of the fixed mindset and allow the brain to cultivate more flexible thoughts and behaviors.

3. Take a risk. Now that you’ve started to think more flexibly, push yourself to show up in a different way, to play a different role, or try on a new response. Breaking your habit of making choices based on a mindset that is reflexive, defensive, and restrictive will allow your intelligence and talent to lead you to even greater success.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

Say what?

“If I have to produce movies, direct movies, whatever to change the way Hollywood treats older women, I’ll do it. If I have to bend the rules, I will. If I have to break them, I will.”

Naomi Watts


How Much Do You Lie On Social Media?

A CoveyClub survey reveals that women 40+ may be as inauthentic as teens

By Stacey Levenberg Abrahams

Photo by Pan Xiaozhen for Unsplash

We live in a world of inauthenticity. The second we dab on makeup, dye our hair, squeeze into tummy-tightening hosiery or padded bras, we are no longer being our authentic selves.

But I believe social media has given more than just looks-obsessed teenagers an extended opportunity to fake it 24/7. While I have read stories that drove me to tears on social media — of other women’s struggles with hardships such as divorce, financial problems, illness (both physical and mental), death, difficult children (healthy or otherwise) — I have also found that after just a few minutes of scrolling, I can easily find myself feeling bad about myself because there is so much perfection out there. I often end up wondering about an unusual dichotomy: How does a woman with a dying parent post so many flawlessly lit photos of herself? How does a woman struggling through a nasty divorce offer up images of her booming business which was apparently not hit by The Great Recession? How does a family with three teenagers travel so blissfully (and petty-fight-free) on safari? I’ve gotten to the point where I have asked myself out loud, multiple times, “Why does every other mother have brilliant and well-adjusted children while I struggle with my own?”

It dawned on me: If these superwomen make me feel bad about myself, could my posts be doing the same to others? Could I be contributing in some way to this inauthentic history of 21st century women?

I checked in with a 41-year-old friend who told me that her buddies use social media as a therapeutic tool. “Somehow posting seemingly perfect pictures of their kids and families — that is, projecting a certain image of their lives to the outside world — seems to help get them through the day,” she said.

Ok. I get it. It’s social media as therapy, fake perfection as ego-booster.

And faking it is so easy! For $1.99 at the App Store you can pull down an instant wrinkle remover, insta-eye-brightener, instant sunshine-in-the-background-adder. (Ok, just Google “perfection apps” and get the top-10 list if you must.)

While a report from the Telegraph in the UK suggests that 90% of teen girls retouch their photos before posting online, women 40+ appear to be retouching junkies, too. A 2015 study by the Renfrew Center indicates that 68% of adults edit their pictures before sharing on social media. What’s more, nearly 60% of parents with children under 18 edit their pictures before posting them on social networks. Even among respondents ages 55 – 64, more than a third (32%) are editing their self-images. And this past December, The New Yorker featured a story about how in China it is socially unacceptable, even taboo, to post a selfie with messy hair — no matter your age. The Chinese believe you owe it to your fellow countrymen to clean yourself up before that public outing! They’re trying to make the world a more beautiful place one Air Brush photo at a time.

Are Americans headed in the same direction? CoveyClub conducted an anonymous survey about social media habits to find out. We collected answers from 70 women, including three interviews, over the age of 40 during two days of May 2018 and surveyed three Facebook “friends” we’ve never met in person.

From the survey and the interviews, interesting patterns and surprising inconsistencies emerged. Most importantly, there were lots of discrepancies in what people believed to be true of themselves and what they perceived to be the authenticity — or lack of authenticity — of others.

The Authenticity Gap

Ninety-one percent of the women believed that their social media profiles/photos/stories represent them and their lives in an “authentic way.” Eighty-five percent said they never pretend to be richer, smarter, or more successful on social media. Eighty-three percent of Covey respondents said they had never used retouching apps or filters on their photos.

But interestingly enough, 68.2% said they believe that their “friends” do. Which begs the obvious: If the majority of the posters think they are authentic, but the majority of the viewers think they are not, what the heck is going on?

Let’s Play Make-Believe

Interestingly, women are split on whether or not social media profiles of other women contribute to unrealistic expectations — with 49% saying yes and 51% saying no. About a quarter of participants said that looking at another woman’s social media posts has made her feel insecure or bad about herself at one point or another. One woman said the pressure to be perfect has gotten to her. “I pretended to be … a civilian spouse. I wanted to be included. Being married to a military guy and in the military is a tough life.”

Another explained that it’s just natural to choose the good story over the bad. “It’s not that I set out to appear smarter or more successful, it’s that I only post the parts of my life that show my successes, not my failures. Even something as simple as difficult dogs isn’t something I post about. Instead, I post pictures of my beautiful dogs when they are sitting rather than driving me nuts! (Note: I love my dogs and do not harm them!)” And another admitted social media can make her feel bad about herself. “I’ve never pretended, but I’m guilty of coveting what someone may have, [a place they have] traveled to, [a] business success. The ugly head of self-doubt.” Said another who has pretended to be happier than she is: “Because at times people just simply don’t want to associate with others who are struggling. It makes them uncomfortable.”

Requiem for the Unattractive Selfie

Ninety-one percent of CoveyClub survey participants admitted they hesitate before posting a not-so-attractive photo. While a few bite the bullet and ultimately post the photo in the end, most hold off, explaining that it would make them feel “self-conscious” or “vulnerable.” One woman explained that she didn’t post a particular image because “it didn’t show my best side.” Another bottom-lined it by citing the digital time factor. “I didn’t want an unflattering picture of myself floating in space for all eternity.” My three interviewees, on the other hand, went against the grain. One of the women who is on a weight-loss program admitted she ultimately posted a seemingly unflattering picture “because I wanted to inspire others like me.”

We Share the Hard Stuff

Sixty-seven percent of those who responded to the question about whether they shared the real stories/images about their lives said they had indeed included posts about deaths (18%), mental/physical illness, injury, and addiction (27%), divorce and relationship troubles (5%) and job layoffs or dissatisfaction (3%). Fourteen percent of the respondents reported that they had posted about everything from episodes of loneliness and hardship to bouts of exasperation. Happier life events such as family gatherings and kids make up 22% of our posts. Only 11% of respondents said they do not share anything intimate on social media.

Mean Girls and Bullies Abound

Forty percent of the survey respondents said they have been bullied on social media. Many stated that they have witnessed an increase in politically motivated bullying since the 2016 election and have been bullied themselves because of their political outlook. Others have experienced online bullying from family members or groups with which they were involved. One participant reported that she was actually “shamed by a church group.” Another participant said she was ridiculed with abusive language and called names for “being overly positive” and one simply wrote, “mansplained.” One woman we interviewed admitted to having “a lot of haters,” something she’s faced a lot in her off-line life. “People tell me that they are jealous of me or that they don’t like me… When this happens on social media, I don’t let the digs and inappropriate name-calling get to me… I just delete the comment.” Eighty-six percent of the participants said the impersonal nature of social media, a perceived anonymity, is to blame for online bullying. One participant concluded: “It’s too easy to hide and not be brave enough to talk things out.”

We Look Better to Others Than We Do to Ourselves

When asked for three words that a stranger would use to describe them based on their social media posts, respondents focused on the positives. Approximately 61% used words such as “passion,” “travel,” “funny,” “family,” “love,” “dogs,” while 39% wrote “political,” “private,” “honest,” or “I don’t know what others think of me.” One interviewee, who runs her own company, admitted that “others think I’m egotistical because I post a lot of selfies,” and another, a model, said viewers would probably describe her as “flawless, a bitch and eccentric.” Meanwhile, another interviewee with a special needs child chose “honest, open and brave.” One survey respondent added: “I think they would think everything is perfect. Unfortunately, social media is a moment in time. No moment can reflect the nuances of life 24/7. As adults, we should know this.” And indeed we do; 90% of respondents said they know that social media is not reality.

We Follow “Great People”

Prompted to describe three women they follow regularly, respondents answered with lots of positive adjectives and nouns: “inspiring,” “like-minded,” “thought-provoking,” “health-conscious,” “talented,” “integrity,” “smart,” “leaders,” “informed,” “funny.” As for my interviewees, the business owner enjoys following “women who are intelligent, career-oriented, and creative.” The model agrees. She’s drawn to “women who are business-savvy, have it together, but don’t always have it figured out.” She said she likes to learn from “all types of women.” The mother with a special needs child seeks out moms with kids with Down syndrome, “women facing similar challenges to mine and those being honest with their lives.”

  1. Tara

    Congratulations Stacey. Thank you for sharing this well written and informative piece.
    We can all learn something here.

  2. Annie

    This just inspired me so much! As a 39 Year old mom of 4, i think and feel that i am in this period of my life where i feel 20 but i dont look it but i dont Feel like a 39 Year old either..I dont post pictures mostly because i dont want To be critizise. What if they think i am fat! Old Or whatever…I just dont! Learning To love and be yourself is so much more gratifiying…but as a woman we forget it too often. Thank You Stacey❤

  3. Ellen B

    I come from a LONG line of picky editors of photos. 😉 Choosing ones that you feel are flattering is nothing new. But it’s so interesting to read your article. Thank you Stacey. I like how people can find like-minded groups that share similar experiences on social media. Hopefully that helps more than hurts!

  4. Sonja

    We forget that we are all the same at heart…and soul…no matter what we look like on the outside. People need to focus more on what is most important…our character…besides taking care of our physical in a healthy, natural way.

  5. Tammy Pennington

    Try as I might, I cannot take an attractive selfie. My arms must not be long enough, or I haven’t found the correct angle. So I won’t be posting selfies on FaceBook. My FB page is one place where I get to choose what goes out to my friends, and having an awful pic on there just isn’t on my list. But I haven’t tried to photoshop or edit. I’ll keep the pics to images of my dogs, the sunset, or my travel spots until I figure out the selfie dilemma. Is it authentic? I don’t manufacture my photos, or purposefully travel to places or events just for the photo ops, so I think it gives an authentic, albeit slightly filtered, “picture” of my life.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below


Of Love, Loss and Basketball

She was fine with the empty nest. Until a storm moved in.

By Alina Tugend

Photo by Mitch Geiser for unsplash

Every life transition during the childhood years, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, is both celebrated and mourned. Pre-school — the baby is growing up! Kindergarten — she’s in real school now! And so it goes from elementary to middle to high school, tremors leading up to the real earthquake—college. In affluent communities like ours, where most teenagers are expected — and do — slip seamlessly from high school to higher education, the joy of a son or daughter getting accepted to a university is almost overshadowed by the sorrow so many parents seem to feel about the end of an era.

To my surprise, however, the most difficult transition, at least for me, came after my older son graduated from college and joined the working world. He lived about four hours away while he was in school and lives about four hours away now. We still talk every Sunday night, as we did while he was a student, and text sometimes in between. So, it shouldn’t feel like much has changed.

But it has. College had big breaks. The summers, when he lived at home and interned in Manhattan. Thanksgiving. The slightly-too-long six weeks over the winter holidays. Spring break. Sure, he spent some with friends and trotted off to Berlin for a semester. (OK, we visited him there.)

Now he has only two weeks’ vacation for the entire year.

Before, there was always the sense that he was temporarily elsewhere and our house was his permanent home. Because it was.

Oh, he still might come back to New York and live with us for a bit. I was a boomerang child before the term existed, returning home several times in my 20s when I moved from one coast to the other. But that was different. Once I graduated from college, I resented being under my parents’ roof and was all about finding a job and getting out. It was not a good time for me or my parents; I’m sure I was charming to be around, as only a surly 20-something can be.

I dreaded my sons’ leaving for college, but for me, it was more fear about how they would adjust. Once it was clear they were fine, I was too.

There were moments of sadness, but unlike many of my friends, I didn’t experience wholesale devastation. Some told me that they cried for days. One talked about her son leaving as if he had died. Many said they couldn’t bear to walk past their child’s bedroom, saddened at the emptiness. I, on the other hand, loved seeing the rooms so clean and tidy.

Feeding into this current feeling of loss is that my younger son, a sophomore at college, will not be home this summer because of a promising research job elsewhere. So, this could be the first summer neither boy is here.

I thought about this while shopping, realizing that there’s no more need to buy those big bottles of shampoo and body soap for their bathroom, because they probably won’t be home long enough to use them up. And that those plays or museum shows I thought would be fun for all of us to go to together — well, the windows to see them as a foursome are getting narrower and narrower.

A few days ago, the basketball hoop that has been in our backyard for almost two decades blew over. It happened once before, when the water that stabilizes it leaked out, but now it seemed like it might have some permanent damage. That hoop had been one of the best investments we ever made as parents. Our sons played with friends and with each other. Neighborhood kids used it even when our boys weren’t around, and when my sons came home on those long college breaks, I watched them playing against each other or just lazily shooting hoops alone to decompress, earbuds firmly in place.

My husband and I stared out the window at the fallen giant and then at each other. “Maybe it’s time to say good-bye?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “The boys love it.”

We looked at each other, knowing that maybe it didn’t make much sense to try to fix it. But still. These things take time.

“Let’s put it back up,” I said.

  1. Lori

    Change is difficult. She should be happy that her child can fly. Mine is severely handicapped and will never speak, hold a job, drive a car, get married or have a child of his own. I will continue to care for him until they place me in my coffin. Ultimately, he will end up in an institution.

  2. Cathleen

    So true and yet so rarely discussed or written about. When one daughter left home to move across country with her boyfriend, I cleaned out her room to make an office space. I left one poster on the wall: an artistic rendering of her name in big, puffy letters she had drawn and colored with markers. I realized it resembled a tombstone above her bed. But that is the way her departure felt — like a death, of an era at least, but mostly the culmination of her childhood and the relationship we shared.

    One thing the article touches on only lightly is regret. And regret becomes desire to revise the past to ensure a different outcome; to impart more life lessons; to nip bad habits before adulthood.

    My youngest is leaving for college in the fall, and that will be the hardest of all, but I am grateful she is close enough to come home on weekends. Coincidentally, most of our pets have died recently with the exception of one, and he’s got a large, debilitating tumor that will end his life soon enough. The sadness of it all is sometimes too much. Yes, I should be grateful my children are functioning adults and capable of supporting themselves. And I am. Still, my husband and I are alone in an empty house with near-empty hearts.

    Thank you for reminding me this is a shared experience.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

Second Acts

From Finance to Fashion: Aysha Saeed

She walked away from Wall Street to chase her creative dream

By Lesley Jane Seymour

Aysha Saeed

“My dream is my passion,” says Aysha Saeed as we settle in to her New York garment-district atelier and chat among mannequins swathed in sexy, black leather, laser-cut dresses, colorful body-hugging shifts, and block-cut blazers; the coffee table is piled high with chunky gold jewelry that might have suited a Raja and that fashion editors would call “statement pieces.” “When I’m 80 or 90 I want no regrets. If I fail, at least I tried.”

Aysha Saeed was born in Pakistan but moved to Secaucus, New Jersey when she was 12. Of her three siblings (two brothers and a sister), she is the sole entrepreneur. “Emigrant families go into secure jobs – in finance,” she says, which is exactly why she grabbed her MBA and started her career on Wall Street working 18-hour days doing deals for Deutsche Telekom and hopping private jets to roadshows with her CEO. “I was so unhappy,” she says, “My heart was not in it so my work was not as good as it could have been.” She changed jobs five times in seven years, and finally found herself unmarried and exhausted.

She wanted out and her female boss (now a customer) was supportive, urging Saeed to give her fashion dream a try and return to banking if it didn’t work out.

But the truth was, Saeed knew nothing about fashion — except her observation that everyone in banking wore the same boring clothes.

Not one for half measures, Saeed dispatched to Milan and opened a design consulting company, sourcing high-end fabrics and embroideries from small purveyors in India and Pakistan. “These ateliers did gorgeous stuff,” she says, “but they needed to make it modern and westernized.” Though she didn’t speak a word of Italian, Saeed cold-called her way into the design studios of top European designers. On the day she brought her samples to Giorgio Armani, she paused to ponder her good luck. “Oh my god,” she said to herself, “I used to save up money to buy those clothes and here I am.”

Other designers invited her to collaborate on “couture-type” pieces while helping her hone her craft. “I didn’t have the patience to go back to design school. I was not making any money but I was getting an education because they were teaching me.” Saeed eventually ventured to Paris, creating pieces for Dior during the John Galliano regime. She says: “I thought, I should be paying you!”

Aysha Saeed, who is a “good observer and learner,” watched the Dior seamstresses top-stitch to change the lay of fabric and began to understand how a bias cut created “liquid dresses that float on your body.”

Five years later she landed her U.S. citizenship and returned to New York to launch her eponymous brand, Aysha. Though she knew how to coax a fabric mill into producing an exceptionally small 20-yard run, she had no idea how to run a fashion business. “I was raised not to take someone’s money if I couldn’t give 100 percent of myself,” she says. “So I assumed everyone was the same. I trusted people; that was my thing.”

Saeed’s mistake, she says, was hiring top-level people for high prices who promised her the moon but failed to deliver. Not feeling secure enough in her own style, she also hired a designer. But the collection didn’t deliver her vision. “I don’t want to go into the money I wasted,” she says with a grimace.

Two years ago she reinvented her collection, moving it out of retail stores (which gave her no visibility into her customers wants and needs) and made her fans the center of her inspiration. Today, the collection of 29 seasonless looks, priced from $199 to $899, is produced in New York and available by appointment only (write

“Getting to see women and understand their needs made me a better designer,” she says. “I have my customers — real women — in my mind now when I design. This one is more pear shaped so the skirt needs to fit another way. Another works in a courthouse but is fashionable so I ask myself what she should wear so she doesn’t have to change in between work and dinner.”

Saeed keeps her design aesthetic down to earth. “I’m not doing runway or [showing clothes to magazine] editors. I want to make it real and genuine. These are commercial items that I can make edgy. I have a studio here with a pattern maker and a seamstress working together. We do feminine but fresh.”

Saeed also understands that her customer, who is between the ages of 30 and 60, professional, well-educated and well-traveled, is not a “stick.” “She is a size eight to 14, but well-proportioned with shoulders and boobs. These are happy women who want to celebrate their curves.” A large portion of them also happen to be lawyers.

“The relationship with my customer is my biggest strength,” she says, noting that she has a high repeat rate. “It’s a very personalized service. People say, ‘I feel like you made this for me.’” Aysha deliberately provides what retail — and especially online retail — lacks: high touch. “She’s not a fashionista but she loves and appreciates fashion,” Saeed says. “When I bring this to her she is grateful. She may not have bought these price points before but sees the benefits of clothes that are tailored, fit well and look great on the body.”

Saeed wanted to self-finance her business (with a bit of help from friends) so she could make her mistakes on “her own dime” but is now ready to ask for big money. “I have such clarity and confidence now,” she says. “Today when I get ten dollars from an investor, I know how to spend it as if it was one hundred.”

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

The Find

A French Dermatologist’s #1 Secret

The product her doctor is freaking over

By Tish Jett

Seriously, when one’s dermatologist literally sputters with glee when explaining her surprise and satisfaction upon discovering a new product, who wouldn’t run out the door and look for it?

Back story: In my yearly check-up/how-are-things-going appointment with Valerie Gallais we always spend 10 minutes at her desk discussing beauty and her favorite finds. Without fail, I learn about a new product that becomes a can’t-live-without addition to my treatment repertoire.

I am obsessed with the results I’m seeing with her latest recommendation: Dermaceutic Foamer 15 Exfoliating Cleansing Foam. It is truly exceptional. Already, when I see “foam” on a product I’m all-in. This foam is light and airy, not like whipped cream. “Purifying” is the concept, Dr. Gallais told me.

“You will see a huge difference in the texture and brightness of your complexion with regular use,” she promised.

She said to shake and pump a “noisette” (hazelnut) of foam into the palm of my hand and massage over my face for two minutes. Less if a tingling sensation sets in before the deadline.

Then rinse abundantly with tepid water. Pat dry. Look in the mirror. You will be all glow-y with the slightest flush. Gorgeous. Really.

Foamer 15 has a soft peeling effect as a result of its 15 percent glycolic acid. It exfoliates, but you almost don’t realize it because of the texture; there are no little granules in the formula. The glycolic acid not only helps slough off dead cells but also aids in the production of new cells.

If you do cosmetic procedures, Dr. Gallais recommends using Foamer 15 as a base preparation before lasers, peels, injections, Botox, mesotherapy, etc. In other words, Foamer 15 leaves a beautiful canvas.

Dr. Gallais is one of France’s most respected experts in aesthetic practices. She has a roster of French film stars for clients. I’ve seen two of them slinking into her office; both were makeup free and their skin appeared flawless.

It’s possible to order Foamer 15 on, but if you are planning a trip to France or have a friend who is traveling there it’s best to ask them to buy it for you since for the price of one bottle on Amazon you can buy about four or five while on vacation. I discovered Foamer 15 makes a wonderful gift – a gift that keeps on giving. By that I mean I can keep on giving it over and over to my American girlfriends.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

How To

Should You Become An Angel Investor

For many women, investing is the next step in their reinvention. Here’s how to get started

By Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Photo by Connor Wells on Unsplash

Women are becoming an economic powerhouse in the United States. By 2020, they are expected to control two-thirds of the private wealth in the U.S., as an estimated $3.2 trillion will transfer to the next generation, according to a study by RBC Wealth Management.

This is the first generation of women to inherit money in an equal way to men and the first to move into the executive ranks and own their own businesses. “For the first time in recorded history, women own the majority of personal, investable wealth,” says Trish Costello, founder and CEO of Portfolia, an entrepreneurial investing platform designed for women. “Women have the wherewithal to invest.”

Yet, despite our enormous investing power, many women are reluctant to take action, in part, Costello says, because every financial system in place was created in the 1950s and 1960s before the majority of women were in the workforce. “These systems were built without any thought about how women want to invest,” she says. “All they’ve done [with the systems that exist today] is to shrink them and pink them.”

That is the reason why women are joining specialized angel investing groups such as Portfolia, 37 Angels, Golden Seeds LLC, and Plum Alley. These groups collectively evaluate (mostly) female-founded companies that focus on themes that resonate with women investors. Sectors include women’s health, active aging, or consumer tech, and the angels decide whether to make an early-stage investment.

Female investors are woefully under-represented in venture capital groups. According to All Raise, only 9 percent of decision makers at U.S.-based venture capital firms are female. But more and more women are becoming angel investors. While angels are still predominantly male, 22 percent are female, and according to The American Angel, a national study released last November by the Angel Capital Association and Rev1 Ventures, 30 percent of new angels are women.

Reinvent Yourself as an Investor
Angel investing is the ultimate second act for women, says Angela Lee, founder and CEO of 37 Angels, a community of female angel investors. Many women have had successful careers with Fortune 500 companies and have plenty of advice to give new founders, she says. Angel investing allows women to remain actively involved in business in a way that fits their schedule and lifestyle. Angel investors typically invest their own money in a startup company and, in addition to funding, often provide the founder with advice and contacts. While most angels seek to make profit on their investment, they are also motivated by a desire to help a founder start a business they believe in. “I’m having more conversations with women about not just doing traditional investing in the stock market, but looking for alternative ways to invest in things like real estate, franchises, and startups,” Lee says. “I also see more women taking direct ownership over their investments and wanting their dollars to truly have impact.” Angel investing allows for exposure to an alternative asset class.

Unlike traditional investing, angel investing allows women to place bets collaboratively on a product or service they believe in, want to see in the marketplace, and could be overlooked by male investors. “Women are the buyers and influencers, and the early adopters,” Costello says, referring to a Harvard Business School study that finds, in aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined. “If we don’t step up and invest, we’re not using our power, and not getting [the] companies and products we want in[to] the marketplace.”

For instance, Portfolia just launched its sixth fund, the FemTech Fund, which will offer funding to six to ten companies that provide healthcare for women. FemTech is anticipated to be a $50 billion market by 2025, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan. Most venture capital firms avoid women’s health because most VC investors are men and are unaware of women’s health problems, Costello says, which opens the door for female investors. For example, Costello recalls a conversation she had recently with a noted male VC investor about a company named Joylux that offers an at-home solution for the problem of leaky bladders that hits women from childbirth through menopause. They discussed the market size and merits of a potential investment until the male VC finally admitted he couldn’t lay down dollars because he “just wouldn’t be comfortable talking about vaginas every Monday morning at the partner’s meeting.” “I had to laugh out loud,” Costello says. “And I told him, ‘Vaginas are our daily life. We’re going to make a lot of money because we’re not squeamish talking about vaginas.’” In fact, Portfolia ended up investing in Joylux, a company that secured $5 million in its Series A round of financing earlier this year.

Angel investment groups collaboratively decide which companies to invest in based on four aspects: the people (does the team work together well and understand the market), the problem (does the problem they’re solving affect a large segment of the market), their progress (are they pitching an idea or a proof of concept, and do they already have customers) and price (which is the least important aspect of the four), Lee says. Most angel networks will evaluate thousands of companies but only bring the best 50 to investors for their consideration.

You Are Taking a Risk
Not every investment bears profit. It’s best to go into angel investing thinking you will never see a dime of the money you invest, warns Ellen Archer, president of the Trade Publishing Group at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who spent a year as a managing director at Golden Seeds, evaluating, coaching and providing strategic business guidance to early-stage businesses. “There are so many good ideas that end up not working out for a multitude of reasons. It may seem odd to go from book publishing to angel investing but it’s similar to what I do at a publishing house. You have to be a good storyteller but you also have to provide a compelling reason to invest in that book. At the end of the day, nine out of 10 books fail. It’s the same with angel investing.”

While Archer didn’t make a profit on her angel investments, she says she would invest again. “I like the idea of women supporting women,” she says. Her advice is to sit down and decide how much you are comfortable spending, knowing that you might not see that money again.

You Don’t Need to be Rich to be An Angel
Don’t get caught up in the misconception that you need to invest millions, says Peggy Northrop, CEO of Northrop Consulting LLC. Women often think of an investor as a tech guy who founded a company and made a billion dollars, yet angels can make smaller investments, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, particularly during the friends and family fundraising round. Northrop became interested in angel investing after founding her own company, Shebooks, and pitching to various angel groups. “My assumption was that you had to be rich to [be an angel] but that’s not the case.”

You also don’t need to have an MBA or know how to do a financial analysis, Costello says. With early-stage companies, you aren’t reading extensive financials, you are judging the team, the uniqueness of the product and their understanding of the market. In fact, understanding of the market is women’s secret power because men don’t buy enough goods and services to know the market as well as women do. Northrop recommends speaking with some of the startup’s customers as you evaluate teams; ask them how the product is different from other products the customer has used. Decide if the customer’s experience matches what the founder said during her pitch.

Find a Group that Offers Training
You will need to learn the lingo and jargon used by angel investors and founders. “Give yourself a goal to go to an event once a week or [once a] month and hear 10 pitches and try to build that muscle memory,” Lee suggests. Get a feel for the language and then go home and Google everything, she says. You can also use 37 Angels’ online glossary.

If you join an angel group and don’t feel comfortable asking questions, find another group. By definition, anyone — male or female — looking to become an angel investor is at best 50 percent qualified. “None of us know anything about it because it’s on the cutting edge of innovation,” Lee says. But women are less comfortable feeling under qualified.

To help alleviate these concerns, many angel investing programs offer training. For example, 37 Angels offers in-person and online boot camps, the Angel Capital Association offers webinars, and Portfolia hosts meetings to help angels start collaborating and understanding how to evaluate a deal. A company will pitch their idea, and then five lead investors will ask questions, evaluate the company and discuss it while potential angels listen in, Costello says.

“We have tremendous economic power that we use as consumers but we haven’t really used it as investors,” Northrop says. Angel investing gives women the tools to use that power.

Come learn if angel investing should be part of your reinvention at Covey Club’s virtual salon at 8 pm EST July 24th for a conversation with Costello and Lee. Purchase tickets here.

  1. Nancy Dandridge

    I recently joined a large angel investment group that is about 20% female. I was a bit surprised at how welcoming all the members were (regardless of gender) and how at home I felt in spite of my I inexperience in angel investing. Everyone in the group has talents and knowledge that they bring to the discussions. Mine is technology and manufacturing. And everyone has been extremely welcoming of my questions. One thing to note though – is that while you don’t need to invest a lot – you do need to be an accredited investor. So do a little homework to assure you fit that category.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below

Hot flash!

The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, looked at videos of 321 speaker introductions at 124 internal medicine grand rounds from 2012 through 2014 at Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona and Minnesota. The results showed that male introducers used professional titles for female doctors only 49 percent of the time on first reference, but introduced male doctors by their titles 72 percent of the time.

The New (Un)Retirement

The Terror of Having Too Much Time

Getting off the uber-busy track can create a kind of panic in the afternoon

By Erica Baird and Karen Wagner

Photo from Jon Tyson for Unsplaah

Did you retire at the end of the year? Did you enjoy the first few days of delicious freedom and relaxation? But then — did you start feeling weird about having nothing you had to do? Panicked about a feeling that comes after lunch, during a long afternoon, when you find yourself with absolutely no commitments, nothing to do, nothing planned, no obligations? When everyone seems to be busy — except you? When you wonder — what will you do for the five hours until dinner? How can you make the afternoon go faster? And how could you be feeling this way?

Well, join the club. We have all been there, those of us who are new retirees from demanding jobs, those of us who worked for decades in challenging professions and had little time to think about life outside. We have all experienced the feelings you feel now. Don’t worry, you will find your footing soon, and the rest of your life will start to take shape. But you have to work on the early days.

Mornings are easy. There is breakfast to eat, news to digest, bills and other paperwork to take care of, calls to return, errands to run. But the afternoons — that’s when the panic starts to set in. At first, we wondered whether it was just us. We quickly discovered that it was not. Everyone feels it.

Then we started to figure out what to do about it. When we were full-time working women, we reflexively chose the earliest time in the day to do personal things. We had to rethink that whole idea. We no longer had to get all of that done before 8 am. So we scheduled doctor’s appointments, food shopping, hair color — lots of things — for after lunch. Then, we did the same with the new fun stuff we now had time to do.

First, lunch. We had time for leisurely lunches in new places. With wine. We took turns inviting new people to join us. We thought together about people we each knew or could get an introduction to, and invited them to join us. New people led to new ideas, and one thing always led to another. Our calendars got pretty full pretty quickly.

Then, culture. We live in New York; we decided to make the most of it. We went to openings at the Met and the Whitney. We took boat tours around Manhattan. We went to lectures at the new Rizzoli on Broadway. We explored art galleries on the lower east side. We walked in parts of the city that we had never seen and found interesting buildings, restaurants, and shops. We met for a late afternoon coffee or a glass of wine at the One Hotel in Brooklyn or the Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel in midtown. We could go anywhere!

Finally, work. We found that we did need a new structure for purposeful activity, so we created one. We rented an office and we went there to think, to write, to edit, to laugh, and to talk things through. Maybe all day, maybe just the afternoon. Having a place outside of our homes to go when we wanted to figure out our new goals was a key part of dealing with incipient panic.

Once we recalibrated, we began to cherish the joy of downtime and being alone. We remembered how much we had wanted at least a little time to ourselves when we were working, and we loved having it after we retired. But it took a while. We needed to think outside our old box and use all of our creativity to come up with a new one. We are well along that path now, and you will be too after a few months of R&R. So don’t panic. Enjoy yourself and start thinking about what you want to do next.

Adapted from

  1. Suzie Davidowitz

    I am about to retire after a 37 year career at L’Oreal USA. My last day is September 28 and while I go through emotions of relief, happy, sad it’s mostly scared…..scared of what I’m going to do when I get up on October 1 and have no place to go. Reading your article made me feel that my thoughts are not crazy and I am not alone. Thank you for writing this.

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below


Nancy Brier

Nancy Brier

Nancy Brier is an entrepreneur and consultant who lives in California with her husband and daughter. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction about a business, family, travel, life, and surviving cancer. Find the work of this prolific powerhouse at

Alina Tugend

Alina Tugend

Alina Tugend is an award-winning  New York-based journalist who writes frequently for the New York Times and other national publications and is the author of Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong. She can be reached through her website,

Serena Bass

Serena Bass

Serena Bass is a James Beard Award Winning author. She also had a fashion line, celebrity-based catering company, successful NYC bar, gorgeous garden, obedient, lovely dogs and is currently the executive chef at Lido restaurant in Harlem.

Don't Miss

The Covey Catch-up: A Don’t-Miss List


By Lesley Jane Seymour

flying birds
Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

As we kick off a new month, let’s remember the great interviews, blog posts, and conversations that happened in our community in June. It’s our mission at CoveyClub to support women in search of their dreams. If you know of anyone who would benefit from joining our community, please spread the word and share these stories with them. #LearnGetConnect



Walking Away When You Have it All: Pamela Donnelly explains why she turned her back on a successful acting career to help kids get into college. You can read highlights of her CoveyCast talk and listen to the full episode on iTunes or Podbean.


• READ: 

How To Dress Age-Appropriate and Still Look Great: If you weren’t able to join our last Coffee & Conversation, here’s a little recap of our favorite tips. (Unfortunately, we had technical issues and weren’t able to record this video.)


Does Your Voice Undercut Your Authority? Professional voice coach Alicia Dara explains how honing your voice in the office can help pave the way for gender equality.


10 Pre-Divorce Moves Every Woman Should Make: Elise Pettus, founder of UNtied, an online divorce resource for women, maps out what you should do before you even utter the word “divorce.”


Going for More, Again: Am I terrified of failure? Sure. Do I think sometimes that I’m risking my sterling reputation on something that may go bust? Absolutely. But I don’t care. Here’s my story of reinvention.


Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below


Like what you’ve read? Join the Covey flock now!

Join now