On a recent episode of MTV’s hit show “Jersey Shore,” Snooki talked about how fellow cast member Sammi was increasingly isolated from the gang. The comment sounded familiar to Cindy W. Morrison, author of “Girlfriends 2.0: Reboot and Upgrade Your Girlfriends NOW” (Yorkshire Publishing).
Snooki’s diagnosis was that Sammi needs girlfriends to help survive the show. “You cannot last a couple days without girlfriends. You need somebody there for you,” Snooki said.
Morrison came to the same conclusion after a string of crises; she lost her high-profile television news anchor job, had a cancer scare and to top things off, her house was struck by lightning in a matter of months.
Through it all, Cindy realized that girls need girlfriends. Her girlfriends are the ones who helped her through that string of misfortunes.
“You need the best girlfriends you can find. That’s what Girlfriends 2.0 is all about: identifying and keeping the best girlfriends in your life and steering clear of those who don’t have your best interests at-heart,” she says.
And while it may not be fair to compare the drama on “Jersey Shore with the real-life struggles Morrison faced, the fact is, girlfriends are the ones who will help see you through both the silly and the serious.
Morrison spoked with TheImproper via phone from her home about the genesis of her book and the message it contains.
TheImproper: You reached a pinnacle in your career when did you receive an Emmy for your work on KTUL-TV in Tulsa. What was the category?
Morrison: My Emmy is a 2006 Heartland Regional Emmy in the category of Investigative Report: Series the “Justice for Kelsey” segment. We spent three months investigating the tragic death of two year old Kelsey Briggs. The state took her away but then gave her back to her mother and step-father. Kelsey died within hours after a case worker was at their home. We investigated her death and what needed to change so this wouldn’t happen to another child. We found answers, challenged lawmakers, and helped change Oklahoma child abuse laws.
IM: After producing such rewarding work as that I can only assume it didn’t feel good when you lost your job; what were your other reactions? What were the reactions from your co-workers?Morrison: Losing the TV job was one of the worst possible things I could have imagined happening at the time. Not only was the money beyond my wildest dreams, but TV news was all I’d known since I graduated college. I’d been an anchor for 20 years and thought I’d be in TV news forever. At the time, my identity was caught up in what I did for a living. I was always on-call at the station, working all kinds of crazy hours no matter what my family needed and when I wasn’t at work, I was recognized as “that TV news lady.” So I never really got away from it.
My contract came due during the midst of layoffs at the station but I refused to believe it might affect me. So when management told me my job would be going away, I was totally blindsided. If I wasn’t a TV anchor, then WHO am I? It sounds so funny to hear myself say that now, but at the time I felt like a loser.
That’s the problem with layoffs; no one wants to talk about them unless it’s in hushed tones. People either think you did something wrong or you must not have tried hard enough. Once I came to terms with the fact that it was something that had nothing to do with me and that ALL of us are better than any job, I realized I had to go public with my layoff. If I talked honestly about it and not only survived but thrived in spite of it, then maybe I could help others do the same. It really became a mission that empowered me.
IM: Describe how you went from that realization to the concept for the book.
You can tell a lot about the true soul of a person when tragedy strikes. That’s why I felt passionate about writing “Girlfriends 2.0”. Part of it was to help and encourage others who might be going through a layoff and the other part was to let people know you MUST surround yourself by great people. Life happens but don’t be victimized twice because you pick the wrong friends and they’re nowhere to be found when you need their strength and support. It’s much easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel when those around you are positive, supportive and know there’s enough success for everyone. We’re so much more powerful together than we ever are as individuals.
IM: Looking back on that whole layoff episode, how do you view it now?
Morrison: The layoff is the best thing that ever happened to me right behind my marriage and my children. Before the summer of 2009, my career was my life. It always came first and I thought that’s who I was and who I’d always be. Now, I don’t define myself by what I do, I love helping and hopefully inspiring others, and as an entrepreneur, I’ve taken the reins and I’m in charge of my life. I couldn’t be happier and I know that my family always comes first.
IM: What are some of the mistakes that people make when they are laid off?
Morrison: After a layoff I think it’s easy to become bitter. Boy, I was there! But my support system helped me go through the grieving process and realize that I am who I am BECAUSE of the 12 years I spent at the Tulsa station. And, I wouldn’t change the fact that it came to an end because of what I’m doing now.
Plus, I was too comfortable and scared to leave on my own. Because of the way things happened, I’ve learned more about myself, my talents and life than I would have learned any other way. Also, I wouldn’t change my 20 years in TV news for anything and I haven’t discounted going back, or being a contributor for a network. I’ve learned to say “never say never”. Life is what YOU make it so look for the opportunities and take chances. It makes life exciting and fun!
IM: Going through the ‘Girlfriends Challenges’ it all seems to make perfect sense; something one might not realize it, but it’s right there in front of you.
Morrison: Having been a reporter for so many years, I didn’t want to just write a memoir — who cares? Instead, I wanted to write a book that would make an impact and hopefully change lives. So after outlining the book, I wrote three points that I wanted to cover in each chapter. By the time I wrote the second chapter, I realized those three points needed to be restated so people could have a touchstone. I didn’t want my sense of humor or personal thoughts to get in the way of the real meat of the book. So, the points became challenges at the end of every chapter so women could reflect on their own lives. I’ve had tons of women say they read it and laughed all the way through. Then they re-read it, highlighted and made notes so the Girlfriend Challenges really stuck. That’s the best compliment I could get!!
IM: The book could only have been written due to your experiences … one door closes, another opens.
Morrison: We are who we are because of the good, the bad and ugly. Instead of playing a victim (even if you are one) I believe we should get back up on the horse and keep riding. I have to say, my layoff, cancer scare, major surgery and lightning strike to my home in a little more than a month makes a GREAT book but it was HORRIBLE at the time. It was the first time I couldn’t dust myself off; I didn’t have the will or the energy. That’s why my support system (Girlfriends 2.0) was so important. Even when my faith waivered, theirs did not. They got me back on that horse and pulled me in the right direction until I was ready to take the reins myself.
IM: Reading the book, I kept thinking that a parallel book could be Guyfriends, right?
Morrison: The funny thing is my husband didn’t read the book until it was in print. At first, I was ticked at him! I mean, how can I pour my heart out in a book and you not read it? Besides I tell many tales on him. What if he didn’t appreciate my humor? But he explained it was a chick book and he didn’t want to influence me one way or the other. I still didn’t really understand until he got the first copy and read it from cover-to-cover. He loved it and didn’t draw up divorce papers over anything in it. He immediately suggested I change the title so guys would read it because he said men have so much to learn from women about really great friendships. So, “Dudes 2.0” is something we’ve toyed with.
IM: Talk to us about the web site CindyWMorrison.com
Morrison: I just knew in my heart that “Girlfriends 2.0” would eventually release nationally, but I needed to make money pretty quickly after my layoff. So, I originally self-published “Girlfriends 2.0” and called it the “Prerelease Limited Edition Girlfriends Copy”. I had NO money for PR so I did self promotion through social media. To do that, I basically talked openly and honestly about my layoff, reinvention and writing the book. It must have struck a chord because people began to follow my blog and social media by the thousands. When the prerelease edition came out, I sold more copies in just the first month than most first time authors EVER sell! Sales have never let up!
But the fact is, I’ve learned how to strategically brand myself online and create social media marketing that’s successful. So, besides trying to inspire women to create an amazing support network, I’m showing entrepreneurs to CEOs how to use social media to build a loyal customer base, create a buzz and listen to their customers. I’m also the social media strategist on the national Spark and Hustle tour this year with Tory Johnson, Spark and Hustle founder and Workplace Contributor for Good Morning America.
IM: The book is timed so perfectly; so many, men and women, going through a re-booting experience like this. I’m sure the reaction has been so inspiring.
Morrison: When I get an email from someone who’s read the book or has tears in their eyes after my speech, I know I’m doing what I was destined to do. The layoff word is taboo; people assume you’ve done something wrong or didn’t work hard enough. But the fact is, most layoffs are out of our control and sometimes life happens. The station asked me if I wanted to issue as statement saying “I was leaving the station to pursue other interests.” Well, I didn’t want to leave and at the time I had no other interests. I’m too open and honest to walk around living a lie. It’s just not me. I knew the layoff would be public and I would be wearing a scarlet “L” for all to see.
But I saw an opportunity to talk about something no one else would, even though so many people are hurting, hiding and feeling ashamed. So, I decided to bite the bullet and be authentic. That’s uncomfortable for some who want everything to look perfect even though it’s not. They aren’t my concern because just like I talk about in my book you can’t change some people. So, I’m concentrating on the people who need someone to tell them they CAN not only survive a layoff but thrive in spite of it. Been there, done that, wrote the book.