Media maven Bonnie Fuller has a thriving family and career. How she did it.
Publishing dynamo Bonnie Fuller is an unqualified success. She is the executive vice president and chief editorial director of American Media, publisher of such popular titles as Star, Shape, Men's Fitness, Natural Health, and Fit Pregnancy, as well as others. Over the course of her impressive career, she's been editor in chief of a host of women's magazines, including Marie Claire, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Us Weekly. On the home front, she's been happily married for more than two decades, and is the mother of four children, ages 5 to 19. What gives? "We drive ourselves crazy to be perfect," she says. "And we drive ourselves crazy with the notion that we have to be perfect—that we have to be a Martha Stewart homemaker, a Dr. Spock parent, and the most perfect employee, all at the same time."
Fuller asserts that if women want it all, they should have it, and forgo the desire for neat edges. "If you want to have a career, if you want to have a home, if you want to have a kid—you can't put it all off, because there are only so many decades that you are going to live," she says. "As far as we know, this is our only chance, so you might as well take a bite out of all those areas and you'll have the most satisfying, richest life you can have."
So what does abandoning perfection mean, in practical terms? "You may have to have your skirt pinned up because you didn't have time to take it to the tailor, and you may have to live with lots of dust bunnies under your bed. But so what?" Fuller laughs.
One of the practical perks of staying in the game, she continues, is that you'll eventually earn the ability to craft solutions that work for you as conflicts or family needs arise.
Although she's always worked at full tilt, she's managed to negotiate arrangements that were mutually beneficial for her and the companies she has worked for. For example, while she didn't always take full maternity leave and returned to work in a matter of weeks, she opted to bring her newborn and a caretaker to the office. Whether or not you find this particular setup appealing, the point is to find out what does work for you, and then go for it.
Fuller also explains that having a cooperative partner is essential if you elect to dance the work/life quick-step. She has a supportive and loving husband whose schedule has a little more give than hers does. (He owns his own architecture firm.)
"Over the years, we've worked really hard to divvy up the responsibilities," she says. The bottom line? "If you've got energy and drive and ideas, it is really wonderful to see your ideas realized," she says. "It gives you an incredible sense of self-satisfaction and self-esteem."
Keys for Success: Aim high and identify the life you want—number of kids, job titles, salary—and develop a plan for achieving it. Recognize that life will be juicy but chaotic, and you won't feel successful in all arenas at all times