When Rene Syler first graced the cover of Inside Chappaqua magazine in May 2007 she was embarking on a new chapter in her life. She had just lost her job at CBS’s The Early Show and published her book Good Enough Mother, a humorous look at modern motherhood. Syler was on course to reinvent herself and did just that via the internet. Fast forward to May 2013 and Syler, who celebrated her 50th birthday in February, has given new meaning to the saying, “there is beauty in imperfection.” Her career proves that great new beginnings are possible at any stage of life. “I’m almost another person,” says Syler about the changes in her life since 2007. She has shown that dreams you may never have imagined can come true. A social-media dynamo as well, these days Syler is busier than ever.
Since she was fired from CBS in 2006, Syler has been through difficult times. “It was like a tornado ripped through my life. I lost a job, lost my breasts ( a preventive measure) and lost my hair. All that loss shaped me to find myself and who I am.” Syler says she was down to the studs, but her foundation was the same: “I had to be true to myself.” Syler’s website, www.goodenoughmother.com, like Syler herself, has grown and transformed in the past six years. Serving up tips on parenting, home and family life, health and fitness, the site has migrated to Social Media: Facebook and Twitter where Syler’s audience has increased and her fans span the world. Good Enough Mother’s mission is to improve lives through the shared parenting experience. Spreading her message of ‘perfect imperfection,” she speaks from her authentic voice. “When people come to Good Enough Mother, they are comforted by learning that they are not alone,” says Syler, whose goal is to uplift and empower her followers which include a significant number of men too.
Syler says a big part of her story is the amazing shift in how business operates today. “I built an empire using a MAC. I went from a blog to having two paid staffers. One started as an intern and became a freelancer. The other, her assistant and producer Ella Rucker, saw Syler on television and asked her to become her mentor. Syler told her she was too busy and Rucker asked if she could help her. She told Syler she didn’t need to pay her and that she wanted to write. They have been working together for more than a year, and Rucker has made amazing strides. “Since I am on the road two weeks out of each month, Ella Rucker and I have a virtual office using skype and all the tools of modern business.” Syler loves the fact that Rucker took a chance on Syler and that Syler took a chance on Rucker.
“People ask me, ‘How many hours are you online? How long do you write? Aren’t you ever off?’” says Syler. Her response is that she is always connected. “I write all the time, when I’m not on my laptop, I’m writing in my head.” She asks them: “When was the last time you saw anyone build an empire putting in three hours a day, five days a week? Make an effort or make excuses.”
In her posts online, Syler has written about her family life from time to time, so her daughter Casey, 16, and son Cole, 14, have become part of her Good Enough Mother brand. “Like most kids they are tech savvy so it’s a part of life,” says Syler. Now that they are older she is more careful about what she writes about them. But they enjoy the perks of her new business, including her affiliation with Disney, Nike and Quaker Oats. “Sometimes I take them with me and that part they like very much.
Syler has made guest appearances on such programs as The Nate Berkus Show, The Wendy Williams Show, The Doctors, and has taken over for Joy Behar as her guest host on her CNN primetime show.
Syler makes many public appearances and was a headliner at Disney’s 2011 Social Media Moms’s Conference. “One of the fun things is to go to Blogging conferences and meet up with the people I’ve connected with online,” says Syler.
Host on “Sweet Retreats”
Her current hosting gig on Live Well Network’s Sweet Retreats came about on a circuitous route. Peggy Allen, an executive at that network saw an article about Syler a year ago in More magazine and contacted her about another project she had in mind for Syler. Sweet Retreats, on Sunday evenings at 7:30PM, highlights a new trend in which people on vacation rent apartments or houses instead of going to a hotel. On the show, Syler takes a group or family to various locations where they examine three possibilities and get to choose one.
Syler says the best decision she has made in her life was to marry the right person. Syler and her husband James “Buff” Parham, an Independent Media Consultant, have been married for 19 years. “Buff and I have built a life together. He’s steady Eddy and I’m emotional. I couldn’t do what I do without him.”
“I’m a multi-media brand,” says Syler who has come a long way in the past six years. Syler says the most gratifying aspect of her work is to have the opportunity to have an intimate dialogue with the people who follow her. “It’s talking back and forth,” says Syler. “If I hadn’t left network news I could never have done this.” Syler is happy for the relief she offers women today. “Women put too much pressure on themselves and live life on other people’s benchmarks.” Doing it her way, Rene Syler is, by her own example, so much more than a Good Enough Mother in 2013.
Ronni Diamondstein, owner of Maggie Mae Pup Reporter is a Chappaqua based freelance writer, PR consultant, award-winning photographer and a School Library Media Specialist and teacher who has worked in the US and abroad.