I Want Your Job: Amy Odell, Editor of Cosmopolitan.com
Welcome to “I Want Your Job,” Elite Daily's new series that inspires females to go after their professional and personal dreams. We've teamed up with the most inspiring Millennial women who've made a name for themselves doing everything from tech design to owning a restaurant to bring you a taste of what being a Boss Lady in every industry really looks like.
These women never gave up on their dreams, never let a man tell them “no” and aren't backing down for anybody. If you want her job, here's how to get it.
Cosmpolitan.com is paving a new road for women.
From sea to shining sea, they're overturning every rock, pebble and boulder along the way, leaving nothing untouched and flipping everything you thought you knew about women's media flat on its face. And they're doing it flawlessly.
You can thank, in large part, the digital publication's fearless editor, Amy Odell, for the burst of energy and the pop of personality that you're hit with every time your browser lands on its homepage.
Cosmopolitan.com straddles a very interesting line: The DNA of the digital arm stems from the best-sex-ever brand we've always known, but the “new” Comsopolitan.com has also shifted, becoming a divisive and fearless women's interest melting pot.
Behind new initiatives like their first-ever Fun Fearless Life event, #CosmoVotes and an emphasis on political coverage that have taken both the Internet and mainstream media by swift surprise, Amy and her team sit victorious.
We first catch up with Amy on the heels of a morning TV segment with Kathie Lee and Hoda and after just a few minutes with her, it's clear that Amy is nothing like the “Devil Wears Prada” boss that we've all come to associate big-time editors as. To be honest, it's much more like “The Savvy, Fun and Excited Woman You Dreaming Of Working Under and Eventually Becoming Wears Prada And Other Chic Brands.”
The more we get to know her, the more smitten we become.
With a reach as large as Cosmopolitan.com's, there's no mistaking that a position like Amy's starts well before the rest of the working world reaches for their first morning cup. “As soon as I wake up,” she tells Elite Daily, “I look at my iPhone to check my email and our traffic – how does it look this morning?
Where did we end up last night?
“Then I field pitches from the writers and editors and usually read the news before I leave my house. I also try to finish up anything I need quiet time for because I usually don't get a whole lot of it at the office.”
We sneak into a brainstorming meeting with Amy and we quickly get that a day at Cosmo’s new digs isn’t exactly filled with whispers. Her team, which Amy credits as the biggest perk of her career (OK, seriously, don’t you want a boss like this?), is excited, enthusiastic and 100 percent engaged. They trust and believe in Amy as much as she does them.
She says, “When I’m at work I feel like I’m hanging out with my best friends all day. I absolutely love that, and it feels incredible to be surrounded by so many brilliant, funny and inspiring women and men every day.” In case you're wondering, that relationship runs down a two-way street.
Everything that happens at Cosmopolitan.com is a true group effort. While Amy gives the clear green light for projects and editorials, her colleagues aren't afraid to speak up.
So it makes sense their Fun Fearless Life event, which takes place November 8-9, focuses on empowering women to aim for professional and personal success that enables them the chance to speak up safely.
“Fun Fearless Life (FFL) is an opportunity for young women to hear advice from people across a range of industries about how they can live their most fulfilling lives. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of Cosmopolitan.com readers around the country, and I hear a lot from them about how scary post-collegiate life can be.”
The solution, she says, was simple. “FFL is here to tell you that setting up your professional life isn’t easy, but you can absolutely do it, and here are the tools you need to get there.” She adds, “So many inspiring women are coming; I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we skip backward to Amy's early days. An interest in feminism and female empowerment during college spawned a career in journalism. Looking back, she notes, “I made some decisions 10 years ago that I wouldn't have made today because I wasn't as strong-willed as I am now, and I feel like it's important for women to stand up for themselves and always demand the very best.” Yep, we'll cheers to that.
“You should never compromise solely because you didn't stand up for yourself. I have always wanted to reach as many women as possible (particularly young women) with this message.” Think it's safe to say that she has our attention.
Life in Amy's [chic] shoes isn't just fun events and round-the-country trips to get to know her reader base. Amy knows what makes a Cosmo girl — someone who “feels empowered and unafraid to be herself and ask for what she wants” – and spends her days innovating and creating an all-inclusive website that delivers just that.
Being on top, though, hasn't come without its fair share of sacrifices and failures. She just recently finished writing her book, “Tales From the Back Row,” and is the first to admit that the long hours spent writing, editing, rewriting and editing again – all while holding down her role at Cosmopolitan.com – sliced into her social life. Now that the writing part is done, she “can't wait to spend more time with her husband, family and friends.”
We talk about failures and Amy offers us a smile and a two-part answer that's so diplomatic yet so true: “As long as you’re learning from your mistakes, they’re anything but failures.” It may not exactly be the antidote to balm all your biggest f*ck-ups, but that doesn't make it any less true. Amy adds, “If you were perfect all the time, you wouldn’t be able to improve.”
Life on the Internet is a wide spectrum of emotions. When traffic is good, it’s good, and when it’s bad, you’ll know. One adjustment we’ve all had to make with putting everything out there so publicly? Hateful commenters — and Amy is no exception.
“The Internet can be a mean place, and you have to let all the hate roll right off your back. Also, you have to have the guts to take big risks and make people around you uncomfortable so you can innovate and push whatever you’re working on forward.”
And she credits being a woman for getting her to where she is. She admits that she's always had a “very girly side” to her – but being that way hasn't ever held her back in her professional career. “I feel like that's only helped me succeed in women's media.” Though it might've worked in her favor, Amy knows that it doesn't always happen like that, especially when you're a woman working in a male-driven industry.
Just recently, Cosmoplitan.com has received tons of backlash on their female-focused election coverage. The #CosmoVotes campaign and the addition of their political section hasn’t been met with a particularly warm reception by traditional media outlets, but the site has also received an outpouring of support for their coverage. Needless to say, the good far outweighs the bad — and Amy agrees. “They often commend the political coverage we’ve been doing, which is amazing,” she says.
She and Executive Editor Lori Fradkin put “a lot of thought into how we cover hard news in a way that our audience will enjoy and respond to, so I love hearing that it's working.” Proof that letting the hate roll of your back really does make a difference.
Amy believes you can cover a runway show with the same journalistic vigor as politics or sports, and over the course of her career, she hasn’t shied away from teaching her superiors just that. “I’ve been lucky to work with incredible editors over the course of my career, but inevitably some of them marginalize content for women because they don’t understand it or take it seriously.”
Her solution? “Beg for work. It’s not going to fall into your lap. You have to be relentless about asking for the job you want and following up with people who can give you opportunities. Nothing will just happen to you — you have to work your ass off for it. And once you get it, you have to work even harder!”
Fast forward to the “tough” part of our interview with Amy and we're dying to hear – aside from who styled her chic-as-eff new bangs – how she feels about the idea of “having it all.” True to Cosmo form, Amy says that the one thing she hears most from readers is that they want to have successful careers. In reality, it's what we all want: to be good at the thing we're being paid to do; to be successful in our life's biggest passion.
For Amy, hearing that the Cosmopolitan.com team has inspired its readers to “ask for what they want – be it a better relationship with their partner or a raise at work” has been the most satisfying moment of her widely successful career.
Before we part, we ask Amy what she thinks every woman in the workplace needs to hear today. Her advice is blunt, honest and everything you'd expect from the editor of Cosmopolitan.com: “Ask for more money than you think you deserve. And if you don’t get it, negotiate for more.
“Never underestimate what you’re worth or what a company will be willing to pay you. If you ask for more than you want and you get it, awesome. If you ask for more than you want and you get a little less, you’ll still be happy.” It sounds brash, but it's advice we take straight to heart.
Aside from sending a party bus to North Carolina State University for the “party of the year” on Election Day – which Amy calls “everything” – we ask her for a peek inside her version of it all. She flashes us a smile and lays it out: “A job you love and friends and family to support you every step of the way.”
Sounds pretty damn picture perfect to us.
More jobs you’ll want to steal: