Last Modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 3:59 PM
Joan Lunden, former cohost of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” will speak on “The 10 Traits of Highly Successful People” in her keynote address at the annual Fall Women’s Conference at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Lunden will speak at the event’s luncheon Thursday, Oct. 18. The one-day conference is arranged by the Women’s Commission of SWLA.
Break-out workshop sessions will be held throughout the day, the first beginning at 9 a.m., and the last will start at 3:05 p.m. Advance registration is available online. Registration the day of the conference opens at 8 a.m.
In a telephone news conference last week, Lunden said she has covered four presidents, kings, queens, Prince Charles, five Olympics and other world events.
“You begin to discover the traits of those people, and what I’ve learned from those experiences will be woven through my speech,” she told members of the local media. “People want to hear those behind-the-scenes stories. It is a complicated and complex world today, and a personal perspective helps to sort it out.”
It was in 1980, she said, when “my agent called and said I had an offer to host ‘GMA.’ The same day I got a call from my gynecologist telling me that I was pregnant, so it was a life-changing day. Everything happened at the same time.”
From the beginning, she made arrangements to handle this new career advancement and her family.
“I had it in my contract that I could have my children at work. I wasn’t out there burning my bra, but I helped bring about great change for women. I had my 1-year-old daughter Janice with me at Princess Diana’s wedding in London. I made provisions for my children backstage when in the studio.
“Seventy-five percent of women with children under the age of 2 are working outside the home,” she said. “We are challenged today in ways that our mothers weren’t — caring for our children, our husbands and maybe our parents, as well as a career.
“Perseverance and a positive attitude. The first thing many of our ‘GMA’ viewers saw in the morning was us, so it was important to project that positive attitude, even though sometimes difficult.
“Today we have to reinvent ourselves; before, people stayed in their original roles the rest of their lives. Dad got a job and stayed there, and Mom stayed home and managed the household.”
Asked how, with all her travel and business activities, she maintains contact with the experiences that ordinary families face every day, she said:
“I live with my kids, and they will tell you when I’m home I’m ‘just mom.’ I travel a lot, all over the place, but when I’m home, I’m a normal mom. My husband says about me, ‘What you see is what you get.’ My children think it’s normal when we go out to eat, for people to come up to me and want to take a picture, hug me or ask for my autograph.
“I don’t stay secluded from my audience,” Lunden said. “Like I’m coming to Lake Charles, and I will meet the people there and hear what they have to say.
“I am in the sandwich generation with seven kids, three from Round 1 and two sets of twins — boy-and-girl and boy-and-girl — from Round 2. I take care of my 93-year-old mom. I travel to her on the West Coast quite often. I am the only one taking care of my mom.
“I said I am going to help others in that situation. On the cable network RLTV I have a show, ‘Taking Care with Joan Lunden’ that deals with exactly the same situation.”
The book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers,” coauthored with Amy Newmark, recently came out. Lunden is the spokesperson for the nation’s leading senior referral service, http://www.aplaceformom.com.
“It’s nonprofit, and it doesn’t cost clients anything,” she said.
There are 46 million caregivers because people are living longer. Caregiver burnout is a real problem, she said. Her husband operates a campground in Naples, Maine, and every year she has summer camps for women.
“It’s not something I just put my name on. I am there with the women, and I find it enchanting. It keeps me connected to what women experience in their lives. I asked for a show of hands, and 70 percent of those attending identify themselves as caregivers” she said.
Lunden has expanded her TV career and speaking around the country to being spokesperson for commercial and nonprofit organizations, writing, overseeing her own lines of products and blogging.
Asked what she feels about the presidential campaign efforts to court the “women’s vote,” she said a much larger bloc are the senior citizens.
“While women’s issues are hotly debated, senior voters are one big public. They will actually go to vote. Younger ones won’t get their tushes out of bed and to the polls,” she said.