Wendy Naugle Holmes

WH.jpg

As executive editor of Glamour magazine, Wendy's responsibilities are wide-ranging. Some days you'll find her walking backwards in heels during a "Today Show" appearance, and on others you'll find her in her office at One World Trade, negotiating exclusive interviews. In her role, Wendy has landed Glamour's first-ever interview with a sitting president in the Oval Office, launched the Tell Somebody campaign against domestic violence and continues to support the editorial team at one of Condé Nast's preeminent women's publications. 

Holmes.jpg
Major in college:  Magazine Journalism with a double major in English

Current profession: Executive editor, Glamour magazine

How did you get into journalism, and what has led up to your current position? Internships, internships, internships. I started with a small research project for Jean LemMon, then editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens. My assignment was to look back through the 70-plus year history of the magazine and show how — even though things had obviously changed immensely — they had always showcased the same core values of home and family. It was a fascinating look through the history of the magazine, and showed me that the best publications have a clear identity even as they evolve. I had another internship at Meredith the following year, then interned in New York through the American Society of Magazine Editors. Six weeks into that summer internship, I knew New York City was where I wanted to be. 

What's the most challenging aspect of working for a women's publication? Every publication is facing huge changes right now — our distribution models are different than just five years ago, how we interact and connect with readers is different, the tools we use are different. But it's exciting too: Now we can decide if a story is best told in video format, or if it should be on our website today, or if we should invest time in great reporting and photography for a more in-depth story to run in print in a month or two. We're all kind of learning on the job, but we have more tools in the toolbox than ever before, and more ways to connect with readers.

What's a typical day on the job like? It often feels like there is no typical day! I'd say over the course of the week, I spend time on pitch meetings and sitting down with various editors developing and shaping stories, and of course editing them on-page. There's also time working with my editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive, looking at how the whole magazine is working together, and how anything we're doing in print is also syncing up with our video and digital strategies. But one day might include walking backwards in heels during an appearance on the "Today Show" (definitely takes a little practice!), a branding meeting with our business team, writing coverlines and planning the next issue. The next day might be negotiating an exclusive first interview with the youngest woman elected to Congress (Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY), or working with our research and legal team on a reported piece that's about to go to press. 

What's your workspace like? We just moved into our new offices at One World Trade, so everyone's getting settled in. My office has a big glass door, so I can look out across the floor out the windows to a beautiful view of the southern tip of Manhattan. If I'm honest, my desk itself is generally a mess.

What's your morning routine? I'm typically an early bird. Most mornings I meet a friend for a run, then get my kids off to school and then commute in to work. Once I hit the office, I try to not check email for the first half hour if I can (I do check it on the train on the way in for anything urgent). Then I can get through some of my big to-dos first thing before the day gets too hectic.

If you could hang out with one celebrity for a day, who would it be and why? Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I know, I know, not your typical "celebrity," but believe me, she's as hard to book as any A-lister. I did get to have coffee with her once, when Glamour honored her as a Woman of the Year and she visited our offices. She's quite contemplative, and listens to everything you say, then talks in a way that blows your mind —expanding your thinking, reminding you of history and having the utmost respect for the other side. We could all learn from that. 

What's your "quick pick-me-up"? I don't drink coffee, so usually around 4 p.m. I'm looking for something sweet.

What's on your nightstand? I just finished Her, by Harriet Lane. My iPad. Runner's World. An issue of The New Yorker that I'm still trying to finish. 

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? I landed Glamour's first-ever interview with a sitting president in the Oval Office. We have a long history of covering politics and profiling candidates and presidents, but walking into the Oval and introducing my boss to President George W. Bush was surreal. But I also keep a file of reader letters and emails about particular stories — the ones where someone says a health story I worked on saved her life, or a reported piece or essay has changed her views on something or led her to reach out to someone. Those stay with you, even though they aren't very public. 

How do you define success? That's so complicated in this Lean In era. I'm still figuring it out — I think for me, a lot of it is being excited to work on whatever I'm working on. To have time with my family. And to have a little time left to just be — that's where a lot of the great ideas, both personal and professional, come from. 

What advice do you have for collegians wanting to pursue a career in journalism or publishing? 
Dive in. Take risks. Work hard. I'd also say don't worry so much about climbing the ladder or getting to the next job that you don't absorb as much as humanly possible from the job you're in — learn from your colleagues, your mentors, from every interview, every edit so your work gets better. It's like compounding interest — you don't even realize what kind of wealth you've built up until you look up after a few years and say, "Darn, I'm pretty good at this."