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What it Was Like to Be a Finalist in the Search to Discover the Next Oprah on Her New Network & How it Inspired Me to Reinvent Myself

December 31, 2010 - Linda Grasso

IMG_8564                        Me, back in July, before heading off to an audition for Your OWN Show

I got People today and, for the first time in months, I actually looked at it.  Typically, I toss it aside thinking who are all these people with weird names like Snooki and why would I be interested in any of the Kardashians? The reason for my sudden interest? The magazine had an article profiling the 10 contestants on Your OWN Show – the upcoming series to pick and groom “the next Oprah.”  My interest in the reality show was more than casual.

It all started back in July. “Hi, Linda, this is Emily from OWN.” I'd answered my cell as I drove along the 405 Freeway.  I immediately thought of thought of my sister, Lisa. Yeah, it was her – being a smart ass.  She’d recently encouraged me to enter the OWN contest by putting my reel up on the network's site. I feigned sincerity, “Hi Emily. Is Oprah with you right now?”  “Excuse me?  I’m calling from the Oprah Winfrey Network.  We really liked your tape and we want to talk to you about possibly becoming a finalist to compete on the show. What???  

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From Controlling Dough to Baking It - A California Native Reinvents Herself

June 29, 2010 - Linda Grasso

Pk-sari bread rackAs Sari Afriat sits in her warm, sunny, aromatic Woodland Hills eatery, The Baker, and gazes at the bustling lunchtime crowd, a faint smile crosses her face.  It’s a smile that seems to say we did this!  Sari has owned the restaurant and full service bakery for five years.  If she’s a little proud, she deserves it. In a bold move, Sari switched gears a few years ago, chucking her big-time corporate job, for one that would give her more satisfaction and family time.

Sari first realized she needed to reinvent herself while on a summer road trip with her partner and son.  “I’d been working as a controller at a post production company for years.  I had all the perks: a great salary, lots of paid vacation and a nice office.  I spent my days meeting with bankers, and preparing finance projections and budgets. For a long time, I loved it.  Then, things started to change.  There was a lot of cost cutting and there were new people running things.  There was also some financial trouble at the firm and that meant more stress for me.  While on vacation I really enjoyed myself. And it just dawned on me that I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

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Forty-something & Following Dreams. The Ledette Gambini Story.

March 06, 2010 - Linda Grasso

              Ledette in her organic, edible garden 

Ledette Gambini is a perfect example of the type of woman I had in mind when I started the SheSez feature Reinvent Yourself. She has had numerous careers and life changes in her 30’s and 40’s and she’s facing yet another challenge in the year 2010.

Here in L.A. many of you might think her name is Leda.  She owned the popular Leda’s Bakery on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks for four years – known for show-stopping presentation, exotic flavors like dulce de leche, and gourmet treats like her Oatmeal Cranberry cookies (which she so kindly shared the recipe for!). 


 Ledette icing cake at Leda's and another creation below   

CIMG0036  But Leda’s closed down over a year ago – in the midst of a thriving business.  The move shocked Ledette’s friends and family and bummed out legions of loyal clients.  We’ll get to that decision in a minute – but first a little back-story on this cool woman.

Ledette went to Vanderbilt for under grad and then got an international MBA with a concentration in marketing and Russian.  She worked in a non-profit Russian hospital for a while and then “felt like I needed to get a real, traditional career. That’s what you did – right?  Went to college and did what was expected even though you weren’t passionate about it.”

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Reinvent Yourself: A Mother of Three Becomes an Artist

February 17, 2010 - Linda Grasso

Iris Bourne in front of her paintings on display at The Lumberyard 

What now?  It's a question so many of us are asking ourselves now.  We dumped our jobs to devote time to our kids and now our kids are dumping us.  Okay, I'm exaggerating here a bit - but if you're like me - your kids are in school and when they're not they no longer want to hang out.  So, where does that leave us? Get a life says the annoying voice in my ear.  But it's not that easy.  It's rare that you can just pick up your career where you left off. The landscape has changed - whether it's new technology, new bosses or, the truth hurts: you've been written off!  You need, in short,  to reinvent yourself.  That's why we've come up with  a new category at SheSez. With Reinvent Yourself we'll showcase women who have successfully done just that. 

Our first profile is Iris Bourne, one of my closest friends. I've never met a woman so comfortable in her own skin.  We bonded about 10 years ago when we happened to be seated next to each other during a particularly boring Oscars.  During a commercial break we slipped out and, giggled our way to a nearby bar and sipped cocktails. Ever since,  whether we're cooking together or comparing "scores" from discount stores - we've felt joined at the hip. She's irresistibly fun - but even more than that - Iris inspires me. 

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