Karen Finnochio is just one of those people; the ones you meet and instantly want to tell your life story to, seek their confidence and counsel.
“My kids would see it time after time and ask why people seemed to seek me out,” she admitted.
She assumed that it was her appearance and demeanor, indicating to people that she was someone who could be trusted. As most children do, Karen’s oldest son weighed in on the topic.
“They should know what a tough mother you are,” he declared.
Right then Karen knew what to call the advice column her children had urged her to start.
While the One Tough Muther advice column debuted in smaller magazines, Karen had dreams of one day growing it into a household name through syndication in major magazines and on air appearances. Her goal is to reach women everywhere.
“My purpose, my passion and my vision were always about helping other women to overcome adversity, hardships and fear by openly sharing their own real life lessons,” she shared.
So, why “Muther” instead of “Mother”? Despite raising four children on her own, Karen realized that her passion for helping other women did not extend only to women who have given birth.
“I decided to call it One Tough Muther with a ‘u’ and my mantra became: you don’t have to be a mother to be One Tough Muther…it’s all about U!”
Hoping to move the mission from magazines to radio, Karen brought up her goal at lunch one day with long-time colleague Lisa Orban, who immediately set up a meeting with CBS. The network said they would back the initiative as a podcast.
“Being a survivor of domestic violence, I always wanted to work with an organization to help women get their self-esteem back so they would have the courage to leave,” expressed Lisa. “This is a platform to not only help women who are victims of domestic violence, but all women who may be going through a rough time.”
Lisa, who was the marketing director at a NYC radio station and fortunate enough to work with some household names like Howard Stern, Don Imus and Sean Hannity, still has trouble putting into words what being part of One Tough Muther means to her. She sees the podcast as giving an opportunity to other women to share their stories, receive emotional support and feel empowered so that they can prevent going through what she went through on a personal level.
“You can’t put a price on that,” she revealed, “It gives me my purpose.”
For Tough Muther Gail Ward, the purpose is about strength in numbers; pooling resources in order to make effective and positive change in the world.
Gail and Lisa have been longtime friends and colleagues, but after Lisa introduced Gail to Karen at a lunch following the initial meeting with CBS, it was as if the three had “known each other for years,” Gail said. It’s a dynamic that can’t be denied; listening to the podcast gives a sense of three strong women who are comfortable with themselves as well as with each other.
“I was very excited to get involved,” said Gail. “It’s time to realize that we can use other women’s successes as a role model and inspiration, rather than feeling as if one woman’s success takes something away from us.”
Gail’s hope is that the show will encourage women to share their own stories so that their healing or self-improvement can begin, but what’s impressed her the most has been the guests on the show.
“[They] share with such abandon and honesty,” she admitted, “I learn something every day and have learned so much about myself.”
All three ladies agree that no one woman has all the answers; it’s the opening up and sharing that we offer to each other that empowers and improves us all.