Jill Herzig: ‘Nothing Sustains Me Like My Friendships’

The former editor in chief of Dr. Oz The Good Life on the book that changed her life and dealing with failure.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Jill Herzig: Mumble a “hey baby” at my husband and head downstairs to make a cappuccino. My Illy machine sits right in front of our kitchen window, so I get a dose of sunlight and green trees — just as helpful as the caffeine kick.

TG: What gives you energy?
JH: Movement is key for me. Not just sweaty exercise (I like Pilates, Orange Theory, a run in the park while listening to a podcast), but also hustling to the further subway station, getting up from my desk and relocating with my laptop, walking across the Brooklyn bridge with a friend, errand-running in my neighborhood instead of ordering everything online, anything that gets me up and in motion. By brain works so much better when my body is working a little, too.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
JH: I never bother deleting emails. For me, a “clean” inbox is a total waste of time.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JH: Evening, by Susan Minot. A woman at the end of her life recalls a heartbreaking moment in her 20s, and the fortitude it ultimately gave her. The story is wildly romantic, but my takeaway had less to do with falling in love than standing alone: We are all stronger than we know.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?JH: It sleeps next to me, muted and turned screen down. You must be the boss of your phone, not the other way around.

TG: How do you deal with email?
JH: I check sporadically throughout the day, and try to respond to people within 24 hours (even an I’ll-get-back-to-you is better than keeping someone hanging).

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?JH: I call a friend. Nothing sustains me like my friendships, especially with women I’ve known and adored for decades.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JH: I found myself trapped in a political mess at work, and I was reluctant to go straight to the top to change the situation. Once I located my backbone and spoke out, the issue disappeared, and the burnout went with it.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
JH: Recently, the magazine I edited effectively folded. I couldn’t help but feel I had failed. But then I realized that we went down fighting as one of the bestselling magazines on American newsstands. The advertising climate was just too tough, and we couldn’t survive it. That said, we didn’t fail for lack of trying. In fact, we didn’t fail for lack of succeeding, from a consumer perspective. I’m choosing to focus on that, and use it to guide my next move.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JH: Right now, it’s this from J.R.R. Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.”


Jill Herzig was most recently the editor in chief of Dr. Oz The Good Life, a healthy lifestyle magazine and joint venture from Hearst Magazines and Mehmet Oz, M.D. providing “oh wow!” news for mind, body and soul. Herzig worked closely with Dr. Oz to bring his energy, curiosity and optimism to every page and story in Dr. Oz The Good Life, all with a healthy dose of fun.

Previously, Herzig was editor in chief of REDBOOK magazine since 2010, where she led the title to a successful redesign and re-energized the conversation between the brand and its 8 million readers. Under her leadership, REDBOOK won a Clarion Award in 2014 and a Gold National Health Information Award in 2011, and was nominated for two ASME National Magazine Awards.

Prior to this, Herzig was the executive editor of Glamour from 2003–2010, during which time the magazine won three ASME National Magazine Awards, including Magazine of the Year, and was nominated five times. In addition to managing the editorial content and staff of the magazine, Herzig worked on brand extensions, including the development of books and special issues. She also played a leading role in the planning of the magazine’s signature events.

Herzig was features director of Glamour from 2001 to 2003 and served as special projects director of Self from 1999 to 2001. Before that, she was executive editor of New Woman, senior articles editor of Glamour from 1993 to 1998, and prior to that, a senior editor at M. Herzig began her career at Cosmopolitan, as associate book and fiction editor.

Herzig has made numerous appearances on national television, including The TODAY Show, The Dr. Oz Show, The Talk, and The Doctors.

Herzig lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two daughters.