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Friday, January 7, 2011

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Lucy Danziger, Editor-in-Chief of SELF and Author of The Nine Rooms of Happiness

Lucy Danziger
Photo credit: Robert Erdmann

This Mover and Shaker interview is sponsored by Star Vodka, the only vodka that Peachy Deegan drinks! Read all about The Peachy Deegan since Star Vodka is the main ingredient: and Star Vodka is on Shop with Peachy:

Lucy Danziger is Editor-in-Chief of SELF magazine, the leading well-being magazine that reaches 6 million readers a month, and co-author of the new book, The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose and Getting Over Life's Little Imperfections, co-authored with Catherine Birndorf, MD. Published by Voice, this book was highly recommended by Whom You Know:
and our Read This panel is revisiting it now.

In the past nine years as editor of SELF, Danziger has grown the print and website into a trusted voice in the wellbeing and healthy lifestyle category, won a National Magazine Award for Personal Service for the coverage of breast cancer awareness and activism, and shown that it is possible for a magazine to grow new audiences through a vital online presence. Her three regular blogs appear at and Yahoo Health, as well as at, where she writes, "Happiness is the New Flat Abs." The Nine Rooms of Happiness hit The New York Times bestseller list for miscellaneous and how-to hardcover books the first week it was published, in March of 2010. Danziger and Dr. Birndorf, who founded the Women’s Mental Health Center at Payne Whitney in New York, appear regularly on The Today Show and other national television outlets as healthy lifestyle and women's happiness experts.

Danziger is an active triathlete and enjoys swimming, running and biking to escape her computer and the three smart phones that keep her engaged, plugged in and busy the rest of the time. She lives in New York City with her husband James, a photography/fine art dealer and two teenaged children, Julian and Josie.  We are so pleased to present Lucy as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Lucy Danziger for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What do you think is the key to being happy in life?
Lucy Danziger: Appreciating what you’ve got. Not wanting what others have (they probably look at you and think: she has it all!)

What in Manhattan should make people the happiest?
What SHOULD make us the happiest is each other—being in a city as diverse, vibrant and full of creative and driven people as NYC, all moving toward their goals.

What makes one a successful Editor-In-Chief? 
A little bit of singular focus, on your vision, and a little bit of ADD, since you do about 45 things in a day, all different. It’s a perfect job for someone who doesn’t like any day to feel like the last. You also have to love interacting online and every other platform with your readers, which I do.

What makes one a happy Editor-In-Chief? 
Putting out a magazine that women tell you, time and again, has helped them live their best lives, achieve their personal goals, even save their lives with the urgent health information. When I meet someone who says our magazine literally saved them or helped them lose weight of get their life together, that makes me happy.

What are your three smart phones and what do you like about each? 
Truth: I’ve downsized to two. I needed a treo before but now I have my work email on my I-Phone and I love using it for apps, email, tweeting and going online. I have a blackberry for phone calls, my personal email, texting and bbm-ing my daughter and best friend. It’s smaller and I love just being able to carry it when I run or bike. But now I also have an iPad. I’m basically over-teched-out.

We met you at The Monkey Bar-have you tried The Graydon Carter or better yet, The Peachy Deegan? (drinks)
Well the Peachy D. of course. Love peach.
[Peachy: Lucy, then please send us a picture of you drinking it so we can publish you again in I Drank The Peachy Deegan we love writing about you!]

What do you like to order at The Monkey Bar?  
Beet Salad, for the anti-oxidants, the bacon lobster roll, because it reminds me of being a girl on Martha’s Vineyard.  I’m also a chocolate chip cookie fan, so the cookie plate works for me.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My dad. He is Mister Integrity and also has the highest of standards. I also love triathlon training with other women who push me to be my best, and I get inspired by the gutsy way women will challenge themselves and work to achieve their goals. I like to think I do that, on my best days.

What are you proudest of and why? 
My kids. They are two amazing, and very different people. I like them as well as love them. That’s hard to do when you have teenagers but I honestly think they were born interesting and I just didn’t mess them up along the way. That’s what I’m proudest of: not ruining my kids.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
Write more books, launch a business, be a philanthropist (with all the proceeds from the books, the business) and give more to charities that promote education, preservation (especially of oceans) and healthy living for kids who need this message most.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
Self won the ASME (National Magazine Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors) for our Breast Cancer Handbook in 2006. I was proud to be chosen among my peers for this and am also proud of the magazine’s track record of being nominated year after year.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
Central Park. It’s magical. I think of it as my back yard. Growing up in NYC my dad shooed us out of the house on even the most bitter cold mornings, all bundled up against the wind and snow, to play outside. He would simply not tolerate us sitting around watching cartoons. If it was 8:30 am, we were out there, playing. I still do that today: start every day with a run, bike or walking my dog in the park. It’s like rebooting before the chaos of the day takes hold. I find it relaxing and soothing and envigorating, all at once.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
I used to love the designer boutiques all up and down Madison, and still love the stroll from 57th up through the 80s, with stops at my favorite places like Michael Kors and the Polo Store. But the truth is nowadays I spend my free time trying to be healthy so I hit stores like Whole Foods, which has the best healthy snacks around.

What is your favorite drink?
The Lift Ticket at the Standard grill. It’s lemony and reminds me of my love of skiing.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
The Standard Grill for dinner and we seem to go there regularly for birthdays and family fun. My kids love it and so does my husband. I recently took my top editors there for a dinner to celebrate a great year at SELF. It’s festive.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Danny Okrent’s Great Fortune: the Epic of Rockefeller Center. My step-mother is his agent and I love being affiliated with great writers and talents. The history of Manhattan is amazing. And my family has lived here for four generations, my great-grandmother had an apartment across from the met, and my entire family is still rooted with in about a mile square area of that spot.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
The Engineer’s Gate at 90th and Fifth. I think of it as the great gateway to the “outdoors” in the middle of Manhattan. That and maybe a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. But it would have to be a fairly healthy one of turkey, lettuce, tomato and avocado on whole wheat with some sprouts on it, and veggies like asparagus or fruit salad on the side.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Doing my first NYC Triathlon. I placed second in my age group and shocked all my friends by telling them I swam in the Hudson. Now it’s less surprising (everyone’s doing triathlons) but back then jaws would drop. And that was the year it was crazy hot and there were stinging jellyfish so I dined out on that story for months afterwards.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
People watch. It’s truly the best place to check out street fashions and all the ways people express themselves.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Going to the James Danziger Gallery, since there are always amazing new photographers and interesting images. Okay, that’s my husband’s gallery, but honestly it’s the greatest place to discover new talent. Music? Lady Gaga, at Radio City, without a doubt. We sat in the fourth row and I thought my daughter was going to die of excitement.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I give back in terms of both writing checks (I wish they were bigger) and supporting local charities from the Fresh Air Fund to Prep for Prep, the Central Park Conservancy (the tree fund) and also the soup kitchen at the basement of Heavenly Rest church, where my kids and I serve every Thanksgiving before going to our own family dinner. It’s both the right thing to do and makes you feel like a citizen of your neighborhood. I wish I had more time, money and ways to give. The truth is we can all do more.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated: the simple act of putting your feet up and watching some mindless TV. It’s restorative. Overrated? The stars of  Jersey Shore. I love junk TV but lets make sure we keep perspective on who is and who isn’t worth a lot of attention. We too readily give authority to people who have done nothing to deserve it.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
Read This is my favorite Whom You Know column--I'm a voracious reader and love to hear about new books from those in the know.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I am terrible at names. If there were a label for it, like dyslexia, I’d have a pretty major case. So if I meet you and know you and forget your name, don’t think I’m rude. Just name-face-recall challenged. Can someone please think of a name for this? So I can say I have it? Thanks.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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