08/14/2012 10:42 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2012

The Day I Met Helen Gurley Brown

Why would the great Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown agree to meet with my husband and daughter and me in her office at the Hearst Building in Manhattan, the one with a view of the Hudson River so spectacular I may never recover?

My best guess? Because I asked.

Funny thing about asking. Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes when you least expect it.

I was struck, but shouldn't have been surprised, by how gracious Helen was. She signed Katie's jeans, drooled over Darrell, and showed us the manual typewriter she still used for correspondence.

She showed us photographs, and told us stories. Then she apologized for not asking more about us. Can you imagine?

Helen was one of the first people to tell me The Career Clinic: Eight Simple Rules for Finding Work You Love was a good idea. Of all the things I learned from her, the advice I think about most often is what she would've told the daughter she never had: "Reach way out for life."

I can't imagine Helen resting in peace. Resting didn't seem to be her style. And I'm probably not the only person who -- when deciding whether to step onto the latest stage -- can almost hear Helen whispering: "Do it."