Named editor of Woman’s Day at 50, coupled with the appearance of a symbolic tattoo that same year, Nene proves it’s never too late to start or change something in your life.
At the helm, she would transform the pages of Woman’s Day from knitting patterns and scone recipes into a glutton for salacious scoop.
Tongue-in-cheek Nene says, “I didn’t break rules. That’s not good business. I just made new rules”.
From then on, “it was sex, drugs and rock’n roll. From Elton John’s gay Aussie lover to the Lindy Chamberlain case”.
And who can forget Fergie’s toe-sucking pictures!
Nene outbid rivals for the rights to publish those pictures which she says was worth the $150,000 paid.
Nothing was off-limits, not even the Royals.
The result? Readers rushed to magazine stands like heroine addicts on withdrawal.
“I am not ashamed of anything, any story that I ran”.
She’s also quick to point out Woman’s Day was the first of the mags to provide information on AIDS and breast cancer. Don’t forget, this was in the 80s – there was no internet or Google, and so little was available to the public.
Asked what she would do if she were editor now?
“Slash my wrist”, she quips. And I laugh. She knows what I go through.
Moving from riveting stories of rivalry and industry skirmish, her rise to the top, the fall from grace, to serious introspection, the insights I cherish is one on loyalty, self-belief and resilience.
She says that “it’s important to have the respect of people who work for you. They don’t have to like you. Ensure people around you are loyal. If they make mistakes, tell them what it is and move on.”
The most important lesson I would take away is to learn how to tell an epic story.
Nene will have you fixed on her every word. She is genuine, warm, vivacious, dramatic, honest, raw and full of character.
She refers to herself as the “dragon lady”. Without a doubt, Nene oozes fierce. You don’t want to cross her. You want to be on her good side because you know she’ll make sure you get credit for your work. And she will back you.
If there’s one thing Nene does so well, it’s her ability to let people in. In return, they give her a stage from which she conducts herself with nothing less than the all-consuming love for what she does and the drive to make things happen.
Now, is there a potion for that?