Today, I spoke to Heather Cabot, who is the Founder & Publisher of The Well Mom, and the Web Life Editor for Yahoo!. In this interview, Heather explains how she came up with her brand, how she transitioned from a job at ABC News to being a mom, the communication skills that she gained at ABC to establish her new career, and more.
How did you come up with the idea for The Well Mom? Do you consider it your personal brand?
I came up with the name and the concept for The Well Mom after an inspiring lunch with a longtime friend and successful entrepreneur (Grace Niwa of Niwa PR and New Asian Cuisine) about 3 years ago. I was telling her that it had been a year since leaving my network job and despite some freelancing, I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do next professionally. I had been interested in wellness and motherhood and was even thinking about getting certified as a fitness trainer to build a business around moms when Grace asked me why I wouldn’t want to write about it instead? She encouraged me to investigate the mom space and consider doing a newsletter and maybe a book. On the way home, I started thinking about the monthly “well baby” visits to the pediatrician and the fact that despite all the changes I had been through, once I was discharged by my own doctor 6 weeks after giving birth, that was pretty much it until my next check up. (This is the norm for most new mothers and one of the reasons it is so important for family members to be familiar with the signs of PPD.)
Thankfully, I did not suffer from postpartum depression. But I definitely struggled with my identity shift to motherhood and the transformation of my life (body, schedule, career, friendships, etc) and I had been craving some “well mom” support and follow up – especially during that first year of motherhood. That’s how it happened. I do consider it my personal brand and personal mission. I also represent Yahoo as a digital trends and lifestyle expert and there is great synergy in that I often get to research and discuss topics which focus on ways to use technology to streamline, simplify and enhance our lives.
Was it hard to go from your ABC News anchor job to being a mom? What do you miss?
I had a very unusual transition because my husband took a new job in Los Angeles right after the twins were born. We moved from NYC when they were 11 weeks old. So I had new parenthood, a new city and a new identity to contend with all at the same time. It was very hard. I think I really missed covering the news most during the presidential campaign. It was the first time in more than 15 years that I was watching a major election season unfold from the sidelines. On the other hand, it was wonderful to know that I would be home to vote (and bring my kids to the polls!) and that I could actually watch all the coverage I wanted and read everything as a citizen. Along the way, I was lucky to meet some fellow ex-TV newswomen turned full-time moms who totally related to what I was going through. That was helpful. My husband was and continues to be a constant support.
After having twins, how did you change your career to adopt to your new situation?
I looked for opportunities that would enable me to use my reporting and writing skills without having to be on call 24/7. Once I let go of the idea that I had to return to a network correspondent slot or local news anchor job, etc., the world opened up for me. I started building my site, learning about web navigation, SEO, intellectual property and privacy law and suddenly, I was invited to represent Yahoo. Shortly after, I was approached to write a weekly blog for The Huffington Post. The new career just kind of came together and it continues to evolve. And by the way, I have met the most inspiring and amazing people since launching The Well Mom. The people I have met have been the BEST part!!!
What does it mean to be a “well mom”?
“A “well mom” is someone who knows that to be the best caregiver you can be, you’ve got to care for yourself.”
Whether it’s scheduling in exercise every day or packing yourself a sandwich because you know you won’t have time to eat or making time to see a friend for a walk or coffee, or saying to your partner, “Can you please watch the kids for a half hour while I run out to do X for myself,” a “well mom” makes herself a priority. I will admit, I am just as guilty as the next mom of not doing this enough. I really launched The Well Mom as a pep talk for myself just as much as everyone else. It is HARD to remember yourself when you are juggling everyone else’s needs. Some weeks I do better than others. As I write this, I am recovering from a bout of strep throat.
What communications skills did you master as an anchor that have helped you in your new career?
I think the best advice I ever got about on-air presentation was from a voice coach I worked with while I was at ABC. Her name is Priscilla Shanks. She reminded me that at the end of the day, even if you have the “best” voice, the “right” look, the “most impressive” resume, none of it matters unless you’ve got confidence in yourself. You’ve got to own it and project that to the audience. Looking back, it sounds like advice for the American Idol contestants. But it really is true. Self belief is the key to success — especially in front of the camera. I think raising my children has helped me gain immense confidence in myself and also has helped me let go a little more and have fun. She was right on.
As a communicator, I think it is essential that one is steeped in the subject matter one is talking about. Know your stuff. I don’t memorize talking points or a script when I’m being interviewed. But I do a tremendous amount of research and preparation and get very involved with the editorial process. I approach my work as a spokesperson the same way I did when I was reporting. And if I don’t know the answer to a question, I don’t fake it. I’m honest and say, that was a great question, I’ll have to get back to you — but what else would you like to know?
Heather Cabot is the Founder & Publisher of thewellmom.com, a weekly e-zine that empowers and inspires moms to better care for themselves in mind, body and spirit. She also serves as Web Life Editor for Yahoo!. Cabot has spent more than 15 years as TV reporter and anchor. Prior to founding The Well Mom, Inc., she co-anchored World News Now and World News This Morning, the overnight and early morning network news broadcasts for ABC News. During her tenure at ABC News, Cabot also reported for Good Morning America, World News Tonight, ABC News Radio, abcnews.com and served as a national correspondent for 200+ local ABC affiliate stations around the country and international partners including the BBC and NHK. While at ABC, she covered major national news events including, the hunt and capture of the DC. She’s also a contributor to The Huffington Post.