One magazine editor "is universally regarded as terrifying, both by those who have worked for her and those who haven't." Another, "pretty much universally regarded as a world-class slave driver." Is Real Simple editor-in-chief Kristin van Ogtrop baiting us?
Van Ogtrop has a book coming out about being a working mother. So drumming up publicity for it is added incentive to drop insanely transparent hints about ex-bosses in a Huffington Post entry on the topic.
Let's start with blind item number one. This is what van Ogtrop says:
For a number of years in my 20s and early 30s I worked for a woman who is universally regarded as terrifying, both by those who have worked for her and those who haven't. One day I was in her office when she was on the phone with her teenage daughter. The daughter apparently didn't like what Mom had to say because she hung up on her. The teenage daughter, hanging up on the Most Terrifying Person in the World! It was a thrilling moment for me, on so many levels. Not to mention a significant signal that my terrifying boss was a Bad Mother; if she didn't work so hard and were not generally such a difficult person, she would have a better relationship with her daughter, who would never, ever hang up on her.
In case you're wondering, years later, van Ogtrop had her own teenager, who would go on to hang up on her. ("But we have a great relationship! And I am not a bad mother.") But let's get back to the universally terrifying woman. I guess you're allowed to call out Anna Wintour when two movies have already been made about her ice-queen persona (offset by her motherhood). And I guess van Ogtrop, seven years into dominating women's service over at Real Simple, doesn't really have to give a shit about Vogue any more.
For a few years in my 30s I worked for a woman who is pretty much universally regarded as a world-class slave driver. One night I was sitting behind her in a darkened room in Texas, watching a focus group. As I looked on in amazement, some underling handed her a faxed stack of papers, which happened to be her daughter's homework. Still half-listening to the focus group participants talk about our magazine, she began methodically going through the faxed sheets, correcting her daughter's work. Oh, how sad, I thought. If she didn't work so hard and spent more time at home, she would not have to help her daughter with homework, by fax, from halfway across the country.
And van Ogtrop, of course, meets a similar fate. Once again, although publicly telling tales about your ex-boss is "pretty much universally regarded" as bad form, it's probably fine when said ex-boss, Bonnie Fuller, wrote a book with a similar message — "don't expect to be perfect and don't feel guilt." And anyway, the world has changed since van Ogtrop worked for Fuller at Glamour. Not only is Fuller herself blogging these days, but she's reinvented herself as everyone's BFF. So all's fair!