“To me, a brand was Kellogg’s,” she said of her early days. “But I have gotten comfortable with the term.”
Like any media executive worth her six-figure Twitter following, Ms. Leive is proud to share today’s measure of magazine success: 11 million monthly unique visitors to Glamour.com, 15 million followers across social media platforms, a robust “Women of the Year” award ceremony and events business, a video that has garnered 147 million views on Facebook. It’s called “Your Period in 2 Minutes.” “Perhaps you saw it?” she asked.
Ms. Leive’s stomach growled beneath her flouncy Tanya Taylor dress, with its cutout shoulders. She drank water. “I’m leaving the brand in great shape,” she said.
The least vague reason she would offer for her decision to quit now related to her mother, a biochemist who died when Ms. Leive was 19. “Not to get too emo, but my mom died when she was 49 and last year I turned 49,” she said, and here, her voice got wobbly. “I felt like I have been given this gift of so much more life and I wanted to do something with it.”
She wouldn’t comment on what her next gig will be other than to say what it won’t be: “I’m not going to another big media job or to a similar position at another company.” She gave the impression that she has plans. “I adore my kids, but I’m not leaving to spend more time with my kids,” she said.
Ms. Leive and her husband, Howard Bernstein, a film producer, have two children, Lucy, 14, and Ike, 12. They needed some reassurance that their mother leaving her job is a good idea. “When I told this to my son, his main concern was, ‘Oh my God, are you not going to be verified on Instagram anymore?’” she said.
She too was captivated by a certain idea of status when she was younger. While a college student, Ms. Leive was an intern at The Paris Review, working out of its old basement offices. She saw herself studying for a Ph.D. and getting a job that would be, as she put it, “Important with a capital I.”
After graduating from Swarthmore College when she was 21, she allowed herself a one-year frivolity, a job at a fashion magazine.
But then something unexpected happened. She found that she loved being an editorial assistant at Glamour, loved the mix of fashion and politics, civics and silliness. She stayed for 11 years. “The type of things they were writing and editing,” she said of Glamour’s more senior staff,…