Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Interview: Inspiring Mom Kathleen Butler Smith on Going from Prosecutor to Business Owner & Podcaster: How Morphmom Can Change Lives for Women

What exactly is a Morphmom? 

That is the question Kathleen Butler Smith, founder of Morphmom, will answer. To give a hint, it's about a re-invention, a new beginning starting later in life. Or, perhaps, a substantial change in career earlier in life. 

Kathleen, a former prosecutor in one of the busiest counties in New Jersey and possibly the US, now runs the company Morphmom. Morphmom is a website, events where women (and men) can learn about how to change their career paths in life, and also  a popular podcast in NYC, interviewing some of the most prominent women in the New York metropolitan area.

Next Event:

On October 22nd, she is hosting a Morphmom Event in the NYC suburb of Ridgewood NJ. It is a day long event featuring speakers and inspiration. The best part is that attendees have the opportunity to have personal conversations with any of the participants. For info and to register visit: www. Morphmom.com
Q: How did you come up with that name? What does it mean to you?

Kathleen Smith: I liked alliteration and it perfectly captured the idea behind it.
That is, working women who took time off to raise children and were able to transition to their next step.

Q: Tell me your story, You were in a different profession, an attorney. What inspired you to start something different?

Kathleen Smith: I was an Assistant Prosecutor in Hudson County for many years, stopped to raise my three children and was never able to return. I had a very difficult time trying to figure out my next step, and rather than reinvent the wheel- I decided to document women's stories and to connect them with those in similar situations.  I began with a website- http://morphmom.com - where I have over 600 interviews from around the country. After meeting all of these women, I realized there was an incredibly strong need to build this support based community so I began to host cocktail parties around the country to these connect women as well.

Q: Tell me about Morphmom Radio.

Kathleen Smith: It is a live international weekly broadcast that reaches 100,000 listeners in 45 countries. I am the host and we feature both men and women and their inspiring stories of success and change.

Among our notable guests:
Here is a short  sample of some morphmoms from both the website and the radio show:

Arianna Huffington

Kara Ross

Kelly Corrigan

Chrishaunda Lee Perez (Oprah's niece)

Dorinda Medley (Real Housewife of New York)
Nancy Armstrong (MAKERS- producer)
Lucy Danziger
Joan Barnes

Francine LeFrak
Donnica Moore
Pamela Redmond Satran
Ann Shoket
Jude Connally
Jane Sarkin
Movie Producer Suzanne Curry
Movie Director Caytha Jentis
Emmy-award winning Director Sonia Blangiardo

You can find all the interviews on our website or podcasts on Itunes.

Q: Women have a long history of working in this country. First in the fields, then factories, then offices. We are now in a new generation in which women working is the norm, and now women are also wanting more.  So to me this is a new phenomenon, wanting a change especially at an older age. What is giving women the courage to shift - or morph?

Kathleen Smith: 50 is the new 30…we are not ready to retire and our motivation and courage comes from so many women who have already reinvented themselves -“Morphmoms"

Q: Can you tell me some of the most interesting "morphs" you have come across?

I want to briefly mention a few  women from across the country that represent the varied stories and experiences that I try to represent..


Holocaust survivor at the age of 5 - Author at the age of 75

From one of the wealthiest families on Poland, yet when the war started they lost everything and were sent to a ghetto. The 14 year- old daughter of a Catholic family that worked for them snuck Isabelle out of the ghetto in the middle of the night and she spent years  hidden in their attic until reunited with her mother at the end of the war. Her father and most of her family were killed in Aushwitz. Sixty years later she was reunited with Meva- the 14 year old that saved her. She kept her story a secret until the age of 75- when she decided to write a book for her grandchildren. After publishing the book she was also reunited with a cousin she had believed was killed as a child.

Lost her son- Founder of Liam’s Room

Liam passed away at an early age to a terrible disease.   He had an older and twin brother. Following his death Lisa realized that not only had they lost a child but years as a family as well.  Lisa created a non-profit Liam's Room devoted to creating comforting environments for terminally ill kids and their families- a hospital room that resembles more of a bedroom where families spend many long days and nights with real beds, closets, armoires and beautiful bathrooms.

Founder of Mixed Chicks

Wendy was a gym teacher with wild, curly and unruly hair  who created her own home remedy for humidity. Her friends began to ask for the mix and Wendy decided to research and find a way to create, bottle, manufacture and produce this concoction. Wendy is now head of a multi-million dollar hair product company- mixed chicks -now on the shelves at every Target in US and Canada.

Award winning Writer/Director - Six Letter Word

Lisanne’s son struggled terribly with autism and the state of California stopped providing desperately needed services. She fought the state to no avail until she decided to quit her job as a tv writer and document his condition. She brought this “documentary” to the state and immediately was granted services. She could not go back to TV after that experience and wrote/produced directed a film short based loosely on her experience as a mother of a child with autism. Rumor Willis found out about the project and took the leading role.  “The 6 Letter Word" - was invited to film festivals around the world and became 
an award winning short!

Kathleen Butler Smith with Ann Shoket, former Seventeen Magazne editor and Author The Big Life

Super Cleaning Woman

Maria came to the United States from Portugal at 18 with her husband with only a 4th grade education and could not speak English. She decided to start a cleaning service out of desperation to raise her four girl- What moved me most about Maria was the fact that she almost did not do the interview as she felt she was not worthy to share her story. I believe to this day her story is one of the most inspirational stories I was able to document. She was almost embarrassed at the beginning and would not look at the camera but by the end of the interview she had grown 6 inches and was sharing her success and 401 K and the need to pay taxes and always- always make sure your work is respected.

Star of the National Geographic show Life Below Zero

Abandoned by her father and mother and husband she escaped to Alaska at a young age. She enjoyed solitude and landed at a camp on one of the most northern locations in Alaska. She lives alone for most of the year-other than 3 months when campers come to fish and hunt.  She runs the camp, hunts for food and her stories are incredible- including her bear attack where she literally had to crawl away and sew herself back together before going back out to hunt the bear.

Naval Captain
Nancy is the mother of 6 kids- and been deployed numerous times. On one of her last deployments - she realized upon coming home the men who had lost their lives in service were recognized. However the 160 women killed on duty were almost forgotten. She decided to run a mile for each life lost over a week and turned this into a non-profit called the Valor Run which is now held all over the country.
Q: What seems to be common characteristics of women who can be successful across many avenues?

Kathleen Smith: Courage, support and supportive of other women, and not afraid to fail.

Q: What will women learn about at your events? How are they set up?

Kathleen Smith: They will learn how other women have overcome obstacles, garnered support, overcome failure and actual steps they took to get to where they are today.
The events are facilitated panels with a networking lunch.

They will learn how to go after your passion and make it happen. How to bring an idea to fruition. How to become involved with new and different volunteer opportunities - not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. 

Q: Now a personal question. If you were not doing what you are doing now, what else have you dreamed of doing?

Kathleen Smith: Broadway actress- specifically - Annie! ( I made the traveling role when I was young on the national tour but my mother declined as one parent would have had to go—and I had 3 sisters)

Q: The lack of female role models on tv is still lacking, though better than back in the day when there was only Mary Tyler Moore and That Girl!  Can you tell me some of your favorite movies or shows that are inspiring to women or that you think show women 
in a positive light?

Kathleen Smith: Meryl Streep, Katherine Hepburn, Julia-Louis Drefus.
 Tina Fey, Beyonce


Twitter- @morphmom1