• Meet Victoria Schmidt, From World War II to 2017

     
    POSTED September 26, 2017
     

    As a 96-year-old, Victoria Schmidt has been working and writing since college, and she doesn’t plan on stopping.

Ninety-six years young—that’s how Victoria Schmidt, an author, speaker, career/life coach and whole host of other titles, describes herself. 

Clearly, she’s a very busy woman.

“Having lived this long, I’m still working very hard and am happy to do it,” she says. “I feel gifted. It’s my gift to give and keep on giving.”

Born on April 21, 1921, Schmidt grew up during the Great Depression, and the world, she says—is so different than it was then. 

Schmidt’s career and life path runs the spectrum. After college, she became a model and then, during the war, held jobs that were primarily for men at that time. She then went onto journalism, serving as a fashion editor for Women’s Day Magazine, and after that opened her own PR firm.

Twenty years after opening the business, a friend encouraged her to run for the New Jersey Assembly. While she lost, she did catch the eye of then Governor Tom Kean, who appointed her director of travel and tourism for New Jersey. This was in 1982. 

“Those times were what I refer to as the golden years,” she says. “Everything was upbeat and positive.”

While holding that position, Schmidt championed the state’s now-famous slogan, “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together.”

“I worked hard and worked with every aspect of tourism and all of the people who were working throughout the state and the communities,” she says. “It was my profession to bring attention to the state and how wonderful we are.”

As seems to be her custom, Schmidt worked in a number of positions after her director role ended in 1990. Recently, she released a book, “Victoria’s 95 Secrets to a Happy, Healthy, Long Life.” A few secrets? Practicing the power of positive thinking, don’t take growing old sitting down and don’t dwell on mistakes you’ve made. 

But will she stop there? Outlook unlikely. 

“I can’t stop working,” she says. “I want to get the message out of the things that I’ve learned. It’s my mission.” 

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.