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Daily Inspiration: Meet Helen Mitternight

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helen Mitternight.

Hi Helen, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started as a reporter for the Associated Press before going over to the “dark side” in public relations. I didn’t go all the way dark, though, since I headed up pr for some pretty do-good organizations, including the Humane Society of the US and the American Diabetes Association.

When my mom died, I had my “carpe diem” moment and moved from DC to Charleston with my husband to retire and spend my life writing.

I do write — about food, health, and lifestyle, as well as fiction — but turns out I’m not great at retirement and have started two podcasts, Hidden F&B, celebrating the hidden heroes of food and beverage, and Keep it Juicy!, a lifestyle podcast for over-40s. Oh, and I became president of the local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international philanthropic organization.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Besides the endless and dispiriting slog to get an agent and publisher for my mystery novel, my two biggest challenges are time and engagement. Time, because I tend to say YES more than NO and, if left to my own devices, I would fill every spare second.

My husband is always reminding me, “You’re supposed to be retired, remember?” Engagement is a challenge because I spent so much of my career writing stories about others or promoting others. For years, I never gave to a political campaign because I might have to write about a candidate, for example.

Telling myself that it’s okay to BE the story and not just be an objective observer WRITING the story takes me way out of my comfort zone and, honestly, it’s a work in progress.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Freelance writer, podcast host, producer, and novelist.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Don’t underestimate how much time the essential not-fun tasks. The time to pitch or market yourself, the time to write up invoices, the time to hunt people down to actually PAY those invoices… all take more hours than you think. Don’t underestimate how much money the non-fun tasks, either.

Not just money for marketing, but money to set aside for benefits, for retirement, for taxes. Also, set firm boundaries about when you will or will not respond to clients and stick to those boundaries, otherwise, your business will eat you alive.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ferris Kaplan Hidden F&B poster

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