How I’m Building a Powerful Legacy in a Man’s World

It’s tough enough to be a woman in the competitive—and still boy’s world—of newspapers and the increasingly important digital world of news. Worse, what about becoming a novelist when you’re well past the age to start such a crazy new chore, and when all logic dictates that it’s just better to stick to what you know, to not take that chance, to stay safe and refrain from possibly making an ass out of yourself?

Screw that.

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I’ve spent most of my adult life ignoring people who thought they could kick my dreams to the curb. But that’s OK. I can take a punch. My choice as a young woman was learn to take a punch and get back up and fight harder, or lay down and let the world pass me by.

Being a powerful woman who wants to leave behind more than a lovely corpse means leaving a legacy of what you’ve done. That takes more than a pink hat; it takes the ability to speak up when you know it’s not the best thing for your career, but that it is the best thing for your life and the world around you. It means never letting the men in your workplace think they can disrespect you or get the better of you. They can’t if you don’t let them. Period.

 

Seek out your own truth. You know it’s there if you have the guts to dig it out. Oh, and don’t take no crap from nobody. Especially men.

 

Leaving a powerful legacy means tackling the real fear of making change not just in the world, but in yourself in order to be impactful, whether that’s within your own family, your work sphere—or the whole world. It means refusing to believe the naysaying hype and hipsters who think they know it all—and know what’s best for you, little girl.

When my daughter was 2 years old, my then-husband announced that he wasn’t interested in being married anymore. Oh. He needed space. My mother said that meant he had a side dish somewhere out there.

That was rough, yes, but my mother only spoke truth. She was usually right, as she was in that case. So she told me to stop crying, to get off my butt, and make a life for myself and my daughter.

Her legacy was powerful indeed: Seek out your own truth. You know it’s there if you have the guts to dig it out. Oh, and don’t take no crap from nobody. Especially men.

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So there I was, a newly single mother of a 2-year-old, living in a blue-collar suburb with as much chance of living my dream of working in a newsroom and writing novels as, well, as they told me I had. That would be—what?—zilch, zero, forget about it sister.

I also was contending with the disgusting myth that is still all pervasive, which is that children of single mothers always turn out bad. Again, screw that.

Without child support—or any financial support—I began by taking a job in public relations in the city. It meant a huge chunk of my salary would be going to childcare and travel, but the bigger picture was that if I didn’t take it, I’d never earn the kind of salary that would lead to a comfortable life for my baby and me. Still, I made sure I’d somehow get home by 6:00 every night. I didn’t date much because I needed to be home for my daughter. I also never badmouthed her father because, heck, I knew that I’d cherish those weekends when he would take her—and I could be a grown-up, and have dates.

Mostly however, I never badmouthed him because it wasn’t fair. What kind of legacy would that be? I wanted my daughter to have a strong and healthy relationship with her dad. It wasn’t about me; it was about her. Women who use their children as pawns end up with unhappy children in unhappy homes.

Eventually, I got a job at a magazine and became an editor at Elle, and then Cosmopolitan. Within a year or two, I managed to talk my way into a newspaper, Newsday, and realized my dream of being a columnist.

I’d come from the more genteel world of PR and women’s magazines, and here I was thrust into the world of sexist men who were street fighters and drunks.

 

Even a war-hardened, hard-drinking, brilliant columnist can be put in his place if you’re a strong woman.

 

I loved it.

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My first big challenge to my place in the newsroom came from a world famous columnist/drunk who hung over me at the copier. Yes, the copier. He said, “Tell me Stasi, why would a woman give you a blow job at night and not use your toothbrush in the morning?”

Instead of running to HR, I simply shoved him off me and said—loudly— “If you smelled your breath, you’d rather give yourself one of those than use your toothbrush, too. Now get lost.”

The whole newsroom erupted in laughter and he never bothered me again. Even a war-hardened, hard-drinking, brilliant columnist can be put in his place if you’re a strong woman.

Oh, and my baby daughter that I told you about? The one who would end up a failure from living with a single mother?

 

I hope my legacy will be as strong as my mother’s: Find your truth and, oh, don’t take no crap from nobody.

 

She became a cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, and was named last year by Inc. magazine as the CEO of the best place to work in America (Arkadium) because of it’s humanity. Forbes calls her the woman who isn’t afraid to stand up to Putin for single-handedly saving and relocating Arkadium’s dozens of Ukrainian employees when Russia invaded.

And me? I’m still taking on the bad guys—in government and everywhere else—and have written my second novel, Book Of Judas, which has been getting raves.

But hey—the more things change, the more they don’t.

When I wrote my first novel, two years ago, The Sixth Station, editors said I shouldn’t have written a book with a 42-year-old female protagonist, because after all, women that age can’t have adventures. No, I swear.

I’m considerably older than that, and to write the book, I traveled through six countries alone, took a road trip with an exorcist priest from the Vatican and climbed a mountain in France twice. For Book of Judas, I climbed down into a 3,000-year-old burial cave in Israel.

I hope my legacy will be as strong as my mother’s: Find your truth and, oh, don’t take no crap from nobody.

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Linda Stasi

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