posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by Rebecca Brooks

Seeds of Inspiration from Women at the Top of Their Game

As we bring in the New Year, I’m excited to share a little inspiration from notable foodies like Ruth Reichl, Dana Cowin, Carla Hall, Padma Lakshimi, Kim Severson, Sara Moulton and….myself!  We candidly discuss how we successfully balance our personal and professional lives…which is no easy feat. 

I was so honored to be featured, along with 49 incredible women in a book by Monica Bhide (www.monicabhide.com) called, "In Conversation with Exceptional Women.” 

The real-life conversations are practical, inspiring, funny and thought-provoking.  In my chapter I share my definition of success, that I grew up car racing, what I would say to my 16 year old self, how to handle difficult work situations, social media, publicity advice and even what you’d find in my fridge. 

Ruth Reichl (www.ruthreichl.com) reveals, “I wish I’d known that there is a huge hunger out there for good writing, and you can start at the top.”  Dorie Greenspan (www.doriegreenspan.com) reminds us to, “Be open to change. Things rarely go according to plans or wishes, and so often the twists and turns that pop up along the way bring something wonderful –be ready to follow them.” Kim Severson (www.kimseverson.com) reveals, “Imagine if the story you have in mind would be something you would want to tell someone else about. If it holds your interest, it will probably interest a reader.”  When asked how she motivates herself, Aarti Sequeira (www.aartipaarti.com) says, “I think about my kid sister in India. And my parents. I feel very responsible for them, especially my sister who never had the chance to go to University.” 

I believe in sharing abundance and so do these amazing women.   To read my chapter see below, and click here to buy the book for $4.99 on Amazon.

in conversation cover

Rebecca Brooks, Brilliant PR Strategist

Rebecca represents some of the biggest food names in the industry. What I really love about her is her practical approach to her work and her motto of loving the people she represents. It shows in her work.

My one word for Rebecca: Magical

Please tell us a little about your background. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in St. James, Long Island, which is in Suffolk County right on the Long Island Sound. My parents were extremely loving and supportive and provided me with the confidence and can-do attitude I have today. Growing up I had several jobs, from babysitting, teaching tennis, and candy striping to working as an assistant in my Dad’s doctor’s office. I ran track, played competitive tennis, and loved being outdoors. I have a sister and one cousin—sis lives in D.C. and cousin lives in San Francisco. I went to Boston University and studied Communications and majored in PR. I loved going to college there—loved the city, loved having such a wide range of friends, and most of all loved that I met my husband, Marc.

You have had stupendous success in your career. For you personally, which success or achievement was the most important and why?

I’m extremely proud that I started The Brooks Group when I was twenty-five and have been able to work with people and brands that are groundbreaking and inspiring. There are so many that make me proud, but two examples are Bare Escentuals and Rachael Ray. We worked with BE for eight years and were integral in building the brand and making mineral makeup “cool.”  We worked with Rachael for four years leading up to her daytime talk show and during that time launched several books, products, her magazine, several shows and more. We secured her “first” in all the biggest press from the New York Times, Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman and People magazine to Good Morning America, Parade, Glamour, Regis & Kelly and of course the biggest of them all … The Oprah Winfrey Show!

Can you tell us about one very difficult work-related situation you faced and how you came out of it?

After working with a client for many years whom I was very close with personally and did an amazing job for professionally, our relationship ended abruptly due to bureaucracy and corporate culture. It was my first taste of the “ugly” side of Hollywood. It took some time, but I learned that sometimes business is not personal and I came out of it stronger, smarter, and more successful than ever.

You have had a very successful career in PR. Who inspired you the most?

There have been many people who have inspired me along the way. The most important person has been my husband. He studied business and also runs his own business. I shared office space with him for my first five years and during that time he taught me everything about running a business and making smart decisions for the short and long term. Along the way, there have also been a few clients who have inspired me. My first client, Denie Schach, was a hairstylist and inventor who created a hairstyling tool called The Hairdini Magic Styling Wand. Everyone told her it wouldn’t work and there was no way she could make money and be a success. She was a kind, giving person, and was so passionate about it and didn’t give up—not only did she make it work, but she made more than $20 million in less than two years. I learned to follow my dreams, not give up, and always be a good, caring person. Fast-forward almost ten years and there are a few other clients who have made an impact and inspired me. Rachael Ray, for her extremely hard work and ability to connect with absolutely everyone she meets; Gary Vaynerchuk, who always reminds me (with his actions) that exuding passion and extremely hard work are king; and Guy Fieri and Buddy Valastro, who are inspiring not only for their incredible talent and success, but for their dedication to their families.

If you look back at your sixteen-year-old self, what advice would you offer yourself?

I would tell myself not to sweat the small stuff.

So, let’s pretend it is 11:00 p.m. and you are in the mood for a midnight snack. What do you reach for?

I rarely ever reach for a midnight snack, but on those rare occasions I can‘t stop myself I love peanut butter chocolate ice cream.

If a new author came to you, and they did not have a big platform behind them, what would be the criteria you would use to take them on?

For me to take them on, they would truly need a point of difference. I would need to be very inspired by their book and their personality —I’d need to feel the passion and personal connection the moment I met them.

How important is TV and social media presence in today’s world for authors and writers?

Today in order to build a brand and even make a little money, it is extremely important. For many it is hard to control the outcome of getting a TV show, but if you dedicate time to social media every day (talking, listening and reacting), you will build a community that will be there for you in the future.

If I opened your fridge, I would find…

Almond milk, tons of fruits and veggies, turkey, a range of cheeses, zatar, natural chunky peanut butter, smoked salmon.

One fact about you that would surprise people?

I grew up going to the race track with my dad and love the thrill of driving fast.

What is your definition of success?

Waking up in the morning with a smile and looking forward to the day ahead.

What publicity advice would you give some who has just had a book released?

In addition to having a great publicist, contact each person personally in your Rolodex to let them know about your book (no mass emails, please) and leave no stone unturned.

Rebecca Brooks is the PR lady to the stars and counts folks like Rachael Ray Guy Fieri, Gary Vaynerchuk, Cat Cora, Samantha Brown, Mally Roncal and many more in her portfolio.