The Incredible Backstory of Karen L. Finocchio, One Tough Muther
“Everyone has a story, a struggle or a battle so don’t judge unless you can stand up to being judged.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen L. Finocchio, One Tough Muther. Karen quit a very long and successful career in advertising and marketing to concentrate 100% on helping women around the world through One Tough Muther. These are women who have lived through hell or are still there and are looking for any glimmer of strength. They reach women with breast cancer, other cancers, living with domestic violence, being a single mother, taking sexual harassment, life long abuse, low self-esteem and self-worth and so much more. Women looking for a safe haven to ask for help or to share their stories, to be accepted and not be judged. At One Tough Muther they are a judgement free zone and any women can reach out to us for guidance and help. We are women, helping women, by sharing our “REAL” life lessons and showing other women that they too can be strong take charge of their lives too. Karen started One Tough Muther over 5 1/2 years ago as an advice column to help women during one of the most tragic times of her life. She never realized there were millions of women out there also looking for a place to feel safe and share their story. Thousands of letters later, She closed my in-house advertising and marketing agency to concentrate 100% on helping women around the world.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Well, I was born a mother, I have always been a mother, in fact I was a mother long before I knew what being a mother meant. Ever since I can remember I always had responsibilities and those responsibilities involved me over-seeing someone else’s life, taking care of someone or helping in some motherly way making One Tough Muther a life journey.
Directly out of high school. I married a military man and by age 28, I had four children and a toxic marriage. At 30, I decided to leave my extremely unhealthy marriage to become a single mother.
With no education, I took any job I could get, as a waitress, a bartender, a mail delivery person, a bank receptionist, to eventually sell and voice radio commercials.
Denied food stamps and struggling financially to provide for my children, I met an earth angel who told me about a government program for single mothers. The program allowed low-income women to buy a house, with no money down and no interest. So, against all negative opinions, disbelievers, all self-doubt, and fear; I did it, by myself, as a single mother, on my own. We had a home.
While my children grew, I focused on my career. I learned everything I could about advertising and marketing. Within years, I opened my own in-house agency, which allowed me to work with such notables as the WWF/WWE, NASCAR, The Grammys, Sharon and Ozzy Osborn, as well as cast members from The Sopranos and the Jersey Shore show. With the help of many, I learned to write and produce tv commercials which aired nationally on NBC, CBS, FOX and every network in-between. I was the sole person in-charge of a $50million dollar advertising budget for a client that experienced meteoric growth. My love of negotiating, buying and creating integrated advertising schedules and programs fueled my precocious passion for learning more. I spent many years promoting my client’s products with live reads I wrote for Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, The Radio Chick and Scott and Todd and many, many radio shows around the country.
In 2012, on the advice of my children who had repeatedly remarked about how many people asked me for advice, I started the One Tough Muther (#OTM) advice column of good old-fashioned Motherly advice.
Critiqued by a website critic as “Dear Abby on steroids” my column skyrocketed. To date, I’ve been published in magazines, had countless interviews on radio, on podcasts and TV shows and have spoken at many, many events.
However, as my career and column flourished, my personal life plummeted with two failed marriages and a devastating suicide by someone I loved, I was left questioning my own existence and my purpose in this life.
Regardless of my personal struggles, I never missed a letter and OTM grew into a powerful brand with thousands of women around the world wearing a One Tough Muther tee-shirt. By donning an OTM shirt, women were proudly displaying their strength, courage, resilience, and toughness. Many women would post that when they put on their One Tough Muther shirt, they felt a strong, positive power. That power helped them face; domestic violence, abuse, lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, depression, anxiety, disease and even cancer.
I had found my purpose.
In August of 2016, I walked away from what once was my love of creative and the corporate world, to the tune of disbelieving sneers. I placed my well-worn career, into a weathered leather box, set it high up on the closet self and never looked back. I decided it was time at 57 years old to concentrate on building and growing my own legacy, One Tough Muther. I spent the next year doing odd jobs for cash and building my brand. Then in August of this year, The One Tough Muther Podcast hit the market, to a warm welcome of wonderful reviews. Premiering on CBS Radio with co-hosts, Tough Muther Lisa and Tough Muther Gail and powerful guests, who would share their life lessons and inspire women at any stage in life, to believe in themselves and grow.
Our mission is to teach women that the only person that must truly believe in you, is YOU.
As each of our guests share their own unique life lessons and communicates through “REAL” talk, we inspire, encourage, elevate and empower one another. We bring in women warriors to prove to you that, your dreams are within your reach, it’s time to free yourself and live a life you’ll love. Whether you realize it or not, sharing your life lessons, stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, makes YOU One Tough Muther too and we welcome you.
Yitzi:Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on?
Absolutely my podcast which I am positioning and producing to make the transition into a daily radio show as well. Women write me constantly saying, “I want more” and the guest list of fabulous, powerful and beautiful women grows daily. I am thrilled and welcome women who reach out to me, to be a guest on the show and share their “real life lesson.”
Yitzi: Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
I must be honest celebrity status doesn’t awe me however, courage, strength and purpose does. Well, due to the passing of Princess Di, next in line to receive my admiration would be, Madonna Badger of Badger and Winter. Madonna Badger is a light, oozes strength and unstoppable courage with a remarkable passion for truth.
She has faced so much in her personal life, yet refuses to curl up and give up.
In my mind, Madonna Badger’s “Women Not Objects” campaign is just brilliant and took real balls.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
One Tough Muther reaches women in all walks of life and surpasses all economic, social, racial or age barriers by inviting women, to help other women, by sharing their “REAL” life lessons. At One Tough Muther we don’t compete with each other, we help complete each other.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
1. People can only treat you and talk to you the way you allow, so don’t allow disrespect from the start.
2. Not everyone is kind, but you don’t have to let that truth kill your mojo or affect your day.
3. Everyone has a story, a struggle or a battled so don’t judge unless you can stand up to being judged.
4. Life is for living. Take that walk in the fresh falling snow, listen to the soft spring rain, swing in the summer night air, suspend your breath in the crisp fall morning, because that phone call, text message, email or report can wait.
5. The end game is the same for all of us, so in your final moments let your thoughts be of genuine love, family and friends, not of regret.
Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
What a lovely thought, I’d like to have a glass of wine or cup of coffee with Madonna Badger. I greatly admire her strength and courage and feel she would truly understand the power of my purpose with One Tough Muther.