A Jersey Shore writer is determined to give other people hope during life’s setbacks
Gwen Moran has never shied away from a challenge. When she started working at Random House after graduating from Syracuse University, she was promoted to manager in less than two years. She launched her first business at age 26 and, four years later, was named one of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” finalists. Since she became a full-time writer in 2002, she’s written or ghostwritten more than a dozen books and has contributed to many household-name publications. Along with a thriving career, she devotes time and attention to her husband, daughter and wide circle of family and friends.
But when the phone rang on April Fools’ Day in 2011, Moran faced the biggest setback of her life. Her surgeon informed her that she had early stage invasive breast cancer. The next 15 months included a regular schedule of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and gene-targeted therapy. But Moran, a confessed “Type A on extra caffeine” personality, decided early on that she wouldn’t let the treatment slow her down. She kept working, contributing to two books and writing dozens of articles during that time. During treatment, she was the “bald woman in the head scarf” at her daughter’s soccer practices, she says.
“You can throw up your hands and give up or you can keep going and make the best of the hand you have been dealt. My prognosis was excellent. It felt wrong to wallow in the fear and frustration I was feeling. I was one of the lucky ones,” she says.
Moran emerged from the experience with new resolve to make a positive difference in the world. She has long been an advocate for small businesses and freelancers and has been a mentor to many over the course of her career. For more than 17 years, she has been a contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, where she frequently writes about small business owners who give back. In 2012, Moran was named a Top 100 Small Business Influencer at the Small Business Influencer Awards, chosen out of more than 3,000 candidates. In April 2013, she was honored by the Howell Township Education Foundation, her childhood school district’s foundations, with their STAR award for career achievement.
Moran’s mantra has long been “we’re here to help each other,” and she walks her talk. She was open about her cancer experience, and, when she stopped counting, more than 75 women had told her that her story helped inspire them to get their first-time or overdue. She volunteers and does fundraising for Mary’s Place by the Sea, an Ocean Grove, New Jersey nonprofit that helps women undergoing cancer treatments, and the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative, an Atlanta, Georgia-based nonprofit that helps teens who are homeless or aging out of the foster system. But she believes the “quiet work” – the many conversations she has with people who are struggling with illness, business challenges, financial problems, or other personal issues and helping them find their way to the resources that can help them — is her most important way of giving back.
Now, Moran wants to take her message of hope and inspiration to the masses. She was recently contracted by Fast Company magazine to write about leadership, creativity and inspiration on a weekly basis for FastCompany.com. She has also launched Biziversity.com, a web site and blog where she will share “lessons about business, money and life” from both her own experience and advice delivered by trusted experts. Through it, she wants to give people good information and help them figure out how to find the best resolution to their challenges.
“I want to be the person who gives other people hope during the dark times. I want to be the one who lets them know they’re not alone and that there’s a way to get to a better place. It’s a message we all need to hear,” she says.