One-on-One with Joan Lunden

The legendary news anchor reflects on the importance of family and passion in business



Joan and her family.

©Annie Watson

Joan Lunden holds the record as the longest-running anchor in morning news, beginning the day with viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America for seventeen years. Since leaving GMA in 1997, she has become her own personal brand, launching several business ventures—from cookware to mattresses—all related to her passion for health and wellness.

We caught up with the enterprising mother of seven (that includes two sets of twins ages nine and eleven) before her appearance as a guest panelist at Moffly Media’s annual Women in Business seminar this month.

On choosing business ventures…

It kind of comes about organically. I say the best projects to be involved with are the projects that make sense for your life. My focus has been very much on health and wellness. Even back when I started at GMA, I would get those stories on home, health, education and parenting. Part of the reason I got those stories was because I was the female anchor—and that’s what they gave me back then—but I loved doing them because they related to my life. I believe the best businesses to start are the ones you think will add value to people’s lives. If it’s just about making money, it’s not going to work.

On being the spokesperson for A Place for Mom, A senior care referral agency…

My mom had lived with my brother Jeff [who had a variety of health problems], and when he died [in 2007] I naturally thought I’d bring her here to live with me, but she was a California girl through and through and didn’t want to leave. I found that everywhere she went was about five years off—by that I mean we kept putting her in places sort of designed for the person she used to be—and when we finally got it right, it was in A Place for Mom [recommended] facility. I came to realize that finding the right fit for your loved ones is a struggle that so many families and caregivers go through; it is really essential to have support and guidance from real experts.  

On founding Camp Reveille, a summer camp for women…

My husband [Jeff Kongisberg] owns summer camps and for as long as I’ve known him, I’ve tried to spend a good part of my summer with him in Maine. Then one summer, all the little boys left at the end of the last session and I said to Jeff, “We have the three best weekends of the summer coming up and look, the place is empty.” And that’s how we started talking about the idea. I love the idea that we provide a place where women can recharge. We’re so often in the role of caregiver that we don’t take the time to do anything for ourselves. I tapped into some of my husband’s best people. We have absolutely great exercise classes, tennis, relays, archery, crafts, campfires at night and an amazing waterfront—all the things you would expect from a camp. We have campers who range in age from twenty-one to eighty; mothers and daughters, lots of sisters and friends who come together for reunions.

On being the first major television anchor to be “publicly” pregnant…

I didn’t have a choice!  I sat behind a very low coffee table with a very large belly, and I was the first woman to do that. But it was always a delicate balancing act. The network said, “Don’t talk about the pregnancy. Don’t talk about the baby.” But when your announcement is covered by everyone and every magazine wants to ask you about it, you don’t have a choice unless you want to alienate everyone. Back then, I kind of made it up as I went along. I came to work on my first day back with a baby in my arms, and I always had them with me, even when I was traveling.

On her new business collaborator…

Right now, my second-oldest daughter [Lindsay Krauss Weinberg] is working for my company. And what’s interesting is I didn’t ask her to work for me. She came and said, “I see what you’re doing, and I want to help you build this brand.” It’s an amazing thing to have your daughter invested in your dreams and hopes.

 

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