Mindy Grossman, 57-year-old New York native, is best known for her corporate prowess. The Home Shopping Network (HSN) CEO, who has also held key leadership positions at Ralph Lauren and Nike, is listed by Forbes as one of the 25 highest-paid women in the United States. And, like another wildly successful corporate tycoon, late Apple founder Steven Jobs, Grossman was adopted as a baby.
In a recent profile by Real Simple magazine, Grossman shared that her parents faced the challenge of infertility in their marriage and the added pain of being financially unable to adopt. But an extraordinary turn of events changed her parents’ lives forever: Her father’s employer gave Grossman’s parents the money to adopt her. She explains: “My mother got married at 18 and tried for 12 years to have children. She couldn’t. My father worked nights in the produce business. They couldn’t afford to adopt. But the man my father worked for was kind enough to give my parents the money to adopt me. I was three days old.”
This singular act of kindness forever changed the lives of Grossman and her adoptive parents. “From my mother’s perspective,” Grossman shares, “I was a gift to them, and I had to look at life as a gift, too.”
Grossman’s parents raised her in a supportive and loving environment, where she learned that she was free to pursue whatever her dreams were. In 2013, Grossman told CNN: “Early on I was told I could do anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t an issue being a woman or not coming from a wealthy family.” Armored with her parents’ encouragement, Grossman graduated from high school early, pursued her undergraduate degree at George Washington University, and intended to marry young and become an attorney.
But Grossman explained to Real Simple that her plans changed course after she realized she had more creative aspirations: “My last semester, I was engaged to my high school boyfriend, who was going to be a doctor. Then I woke up one day and said, ‘I can’t do this. It’s not where my passion is. I called my folks and said, ‘I’m not getting married. I’m not going to law school. I’m not sure what it is I want—I just know I want something more creative.’”
Grossman pursued her yearning for a creative livelihood by inching into the fashion business. She started at the bottom, and along the way a key player in the industry recognized Grossman’s ability to handle bigger things. Ultimately, Grossman’s path led to HSN, where she has served as CEO since 2008, transforming the waning network into a flourishing enterprise with broad cultural appeal.
Grossman told Real Simple that women tend to “make things such a science project of fear instead of focusing on the possibility and how change can propel you forward.” She encouraged risk-taking, saying that boldness will “take you so much further.” We can’t help but think of the many brave women in our lives who overcame fear in the face of uncertainty by choosing Life for their babies – like Mindy’s mom did for her.