The Mother Of Invention

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

My mom never stops. Whatever it is she's doing she's always doing it. Yes, it's partially because she takes on more on any given day than most people take on in a month, but mostly because she's so excited about the task at hand. I think I've always taken that for granted--that people are passionate about what they do, want to effect change in as many ways as possible, and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and growth--all because it comes so naturally to my mother.

Jacqueline Marie Leo (nee Jasous) wasn't expected to run magazines or write books. She was expected to learn how to type and be a secretary. She did learn how to type (which is more than I can say for myself) but failed at making a career of it. Instead she began working at women's magazines and eventually founded "Child" when I was young. She sold it and went on to become the editor-in-chief of "Family Circle," the editorial director of "Good Morning America," the editorial director of "Consumer Reports," editor-in-chief of "Reader's Digest," senior adviser at, and is now the director of digital operations at the Peterson Foundation. Believe it or not, I'm leaving things out. She was also a VP at Meredith for a while in charge of a bunch of stuff I can't even begin to explain, the president of the American Society of Magazines, and so on. The point is not to tell you how impressive this lady is, the point is that she's so impressive because she never stops adapting and learning, and that's the gift she's given me I'm most grateful for in life.

If you meet Jackie Leo at a party, you'll notice she's probably talking about a new scientific find or mathematical trend or tech innovation with wide-eyes and large gesticulations (it's the Lebanese in her). She isn't the mother I have to teach to use Facebook, she's the mother who goes to TED conferences, who had a PDA before me, a laptop before me, a kindle before me. Jackie Leo loves innovation, new ideas--that's the excitement and interest she brought to the magazines she edited and it's the drive that makes her capable of shifting media so easily. My mother sees no war with the Web--she's not upset about bloggers or aggregation like many print veterans I know--because she fundamentally understands that to look down on society and have the hubris to think the way we've always done things is the only way, is why movements and institutions die. She embraces the new and keeps the best of the old and that (along with brains and charm) has made her so successful.

My mother also knows a thing or two about overload. Like many people I love she says "yes" way more often than she says "no" and as a result has a million things going at once. I'm writing this now, and not on Mother's Day, because Jackie Leo's second book comes out on Monday and reading it is a chance to experience some of her joy and excitement but also to see her strategy for coping with change, overload, new ideas, etc. Her answer? The number seven. You can read more about it here and visit her Website here. The idea is that seven is a way to define time and synthesize ideas, something my mom has had to become very good at over the years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.