From Editor to Entrepreneur: Lesley Jane Seymour

lesley jane seymour headshot
lesley jane seymour headshot

Lesley Jane Seymour is the personification of resiliency and versatility. Having first lost her job as editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine in 2006 as a result of cost-cutting, then 10 years later, after losing her post as editor-in- chief of More Magazine upon its closure, Seymour has reinvented herself by going back to school to pursue her original career aspirations and by venturing in her own digital startup company.

“I originally went to school to be a marine biologist and that is why I am finishing up my degree now in sustainability. I waited until my 60s to finish a concept that I always wanted to do.”

After More Magazine shuttered in 2016, Seymour’s original reinvention plan was to apply her sustainability degree to the corporate world.

“My reinventing plan was to go into a corporate situation in sustainability. I thought I would take it from publishing to the beauty business. They need help in the sustainability area.”

Her plans were sidetracked when over 600 loyal More readers reached out to her on social media, literally demanding ‘more.’

“When the magazine closed, all these readers came to me and said, ‘do something else for us. I said, ‘Okay let me try that.’ I have never been an entrepreneur, so I am giving it a try.”

In response, Seymour was able to poll these readers to find the research for her startup idea, CoveyClub, an online/offline networking platform for women 40 years and older who want to continue learning, growing and expanding their world by making new friends and deeper connections. CoveyClub is a combination of Seymour’s passions – education, networking, and reinvention.

“I think education is a wonderful answer when you are stuck on anything – a health issue – or what should I do next? I always turn to education. That is why I call the CoveyClub, ‘where lifelong learners come to connect.’ Education has always been such a big part of everything I do. It sets apart that CoveyClub reader and member.”

Seymour says the CoveyClub is especially beneficial for those who are reassessing the trajectory of their life.

“It’s a wonderful tool for reestablishing and rethinking things. I always tell people if they don’t know what to do, to take a class on something they like. You don’t have to get a degree in it.”

As CoveyClub continues to shape and grow, Seymour shares the transition to entrepreneurial life isn’t easy.

“It is a different approach going from corporate to entrepreneur. I am thrilled to be doing my own thing, but I need to raise money. Being an entrepreneur can be hard. It can be lonely and isolating. You don’t have comraderies. You might just have one or two part time workers.”

To assist her with CoveyClub, Seymour has a group of friends and advisors who give her guidance and suggestions.

“I am bringing people who run businesses in to help me with my business plan. One woman who writes business plans for a living is meeting with me once a week. I have someone else who ran her own business giving me ideas as well. I’m pulling ideas from all my friends because I like a lot of input and because I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.”

The best piece of advice Seymour has been given is, it isn’t so easy to be entrepreneur.

“It is not easy, especially coming out of corporate life. It is a lot tougher than you think. You want to know that, this is a reality and it is hard. A lot of other people are going through the same thing and it’s not so simple to solve.”

As for her own self-improvement skills, Seymour points to online articles, entrepreneurial books, and NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast as helpful resources.

“‘How I Built This’ is very helpful because I get to learn what other people are doing and how they are doing it. I read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries and I read everything I can [about entrepreneurship] online.”

Even though Seymour finds these resources beneficial, she says having the courage to act and produce is key.

“A lot of it is just doing it. You have to stick your neck out there. In the beginning, I was afraid to put it out there because of fear of failure. My friends kept telling me to just put it out there and see what happens. I’ve had my screw ups which I wanted to kick myself about, but they say as an entrepreneur, to fail fast and fail hard. So, you move on and learn from it.”

Even when a mistake is made such as upsetting a valued customer, Seymour says the entrepreneurial world offers more opportunities for growth and scalability.

“Luckily, there are a million other people to sell your idea to. I like the entrepreneurial world because it is big. There are people all over the place who are interested in what you are doing. You just have to find them.”

You can meet Lesley, and learn more about her and her story at the upcoming She Leads 2018: The Second Chapter conference, taking place in NYC on October 26th.  Get your tickets today