NYWIFT Blog

NYWIFT Member Spotlight: Helene Lerner

By Mara Keen

Helene Lerner is a multi-talented author, CEO, talk show host, producer, influencer, mother, and much more.

Her online brand, Women Working, has amassed over 20 million followers. Helene’s passion is uplifting women by providing them the tools and encouragement to create their own success. Through hosting the HerTimeTV show on social media, one-on-one mentorship, self-help books, and public engagements, she challenges women to chase their dreams, even if they feel uncertain.

NYWIFT Member Helene Lerner

 

Helene is the definition of multi-faceted. She is an author, independent public television host, Emmy Award-winning executive producer, CEO, and Fortune 500 workplace consultant!

When asked how this all came to be, she said she started out in marketing, where she rose to management within The New York Times. Her dream, however, was to “create television that would empower women and girls.” During the 1980’s recession, shortly after the birth of her son, she took a major risk: Helene resigned from the NY Times to pursue her goal. With no television background, she struck a deal with a media school in NYC to assist with their marketing, but only if they agreed to let her take film courses—which she would attend, some with her infant son. Within her first year of television work, she was nominated for a national Emmy Award for one of her shows.

When asked about how and why Helene created Women Working, she said that after being nominated for her first Emmy, she researched sponsors to expand her brand. She found an NYC-based medical center and a national distributor, American Public Television. Realizing the many obstacles that women face in the workplace, Helene decided to do a series of programs called “Women Working: 2000 and Beyond.” After, a few of her sponsors suggested she start a website. From there, WomenWorking2000.com (later changed to just WomenWorking.com) was born.

NYWIFT Member Helene Lerner

 

Women Working has gained over 20 million total followers on social media, which Helene describes as an incredible feeling. Her online brand started with only about 11,000 followers. Helene credits the expansion of the brand to her deep commitment to helping women reach their full potential—that became her “higher calling.” She stated, “I believe the desire to be of service trumps any fear. I can be afraid; when you step out of your comfort zone and enter a larger arena, there is always anxiety. However, when you have deep commitment to making a difference, it carries you through every time.”

Helene stresses that “each one of us, all women, are leaders.” She implores us to look within ourselves, pick the issues that matter most to us, and “step up, when we think we can make a difference!”

Helene is also an author who has written 14 books. Her latest book, Confidence Booster: How to Boost Confidence, Set Boundaries, and Practice Self-Care in the Changing Work World, talks about working in a post-pandemic environment. Though Helene was not formally trained as a writer, she knew she had something relevant to share. At first, after struggling to put together the perfect words to express some of her ideas, she realized that she didn’t need to “make it perfect,” she needed to get the idea out. The topic was too important to languish over word-choice.

“Too often, we listen to negative self-talk, which I call ‘mad mind chatter,’” she said. “Even though we may doubt ourselves, our hearts know that we are supposed to use our talents and gifts for something greater. The impulse to create change is too strong to ignore.” Helene also stresses the importance of finding “support buddies,” who believe in your potential and can help “coach us to win!”

One of Helene’s Emmy-nominated shows, Bold Visions: Women in Science and Technology, focused on the growing number of women in STEM. “STEM careers are terrific options for women, in terms of the ability to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

After being inspired by a group of young Latina women featured in Bold Visions, Helene reached out to People en Español to share their work, which spurred the magazine to make the women their cover story that cycle.

When asked what advice you would give others who are looking to gain a large following for their brands, she mentioned wanting women to understand that anything is possible. Much like her foray into writing, Helene had no social media experience when she began WomenWorking.com. Using her marketing expertise, she investigated what content went viral for similar pages, and translated that information to create a strategy that was authentic to her. She considered what made her unique. She took risks, engaging in trial-and-error, until she and the brand found their stride. Failures, she believes, are opportunities to learn and adjust. Take stock, be honest with yourself about the situation, and move forward with tenacity.

Those seeking further advice are welcome to contact Helene directly at helene@womenworking.com.

In regard to starting a brand, she suggests to find what makes your unique selling point, develop your individual voice, and own it! Appreciate how talented you are; don’t listen to self-doubt, self-effacement, or envy. Helene often asks her team of interns to participate in “share sessions,” where they state what makes them unique, and then acknowledge the skills and talents they see in their peers. Often, she notes, it is easier to recognize the potential of others than the potential within us. By creating a space where young people can express admiration and share their knowledge, she hopes to generate a sense of innate—and well-earned! —confidence. 

Before COVID, Helene started a social media series called HerTime TV. Her next goal is to host a show on the importance of pets to our well-being and the mutuality of care within that relationship. Recent topics of her speaking engagements include, ‘What Makes It Worth It for You?,’ ‘How Do You Boost Confidence and Practice Self-Care in the Hybrid Workplace?,’ ‘Attracting a Sponsor and Building the Relationship,’ ‘Leveraging Your Power with Empathy, Compassion, and Emotional Intelligence,’ and ‘Building Bridges, Genders Supporting Each Other.’

She also continues to mentor others, stating, “I have gotten so much from the interns I work with. Together, we learn how to mentor each other and provide different perspectives.”

 

Learn more and connect with Helene Lerner  and @WomenWorking on the brand’s website WomenWorking.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Threads, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and mailing list.

PUBLISHED BY

Mara Keen

Mara Keen Mara Keen is a composer, music editor, pianist, orchestrator, producer, and piano teacher. You can hear her music featured in Netflix’s Princess Power. In 2019, she earned a B.M. from George Mason University in Classical Composition. In 2022, she earned a M.M. from SUNY Purchase in Studio Composition where she was selected as a SUNY Thayer Fellowship Winner. She is an active member of The Society of Composers and Lyricists, The Alliance for Women Film Composers, and Maestra. In 2023, she was selected to participate in the MUSE/Maestra Music Assistant Experience. That same year, she was asked to be a guest lecturer at SUNY Purchase, interned with the Institute for Composer Diversity, and interned with New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT).

View all posts by Mara Keen

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