UPDATE:</strong> Just when we thought Coles couldn't get any more impressive, the news broke yesterday that, in addition to her duties as Cosmopolitan's EIC, she'll also be taking on the role of editorial director at Seventeen as part of Hearst's increasing focus on the female, millennial audience. A smart move, if we do say so ourselves...read more about it here!

Two years ago, when Joanna Coles took over at the helm of Cosmo, the wildly successful, globally dominant women's magazine that revolutionized the way we talk about sex, David Carr at The New York Times wondered if she could keep the numbers up (she has, holding circulation steady at 3.1 million and increasing subscriptions, to boot) and if she could find a way to develop a real web presence for the magazine (she hired a former BuzzFeed editor to run Cosmopolitan.com and more than doubled its traffic to 30 million uniques). Oh, and New York magazine referred to the title as a "disciplined cash cow of factoid-y female empowerment." Which was thinly veiled condescension at best, aimed toward the world's largest women's magazine.

But, in the days since, those aren't the things you think about when you think about Joanna Coles at Cosmopolitan. Because she's more Valentino UK than proven herself. The British reporter-turned-editor has made good on her promises to bring politics to the magazine, win some very big-deal journalism awards (including the title's first-ever ASME), and secure the most interesting exclusives u2014 from a sit-down with Jill Abramson, post-New York Times to an honest account of what life in prison was like from Cecily McMillan. She also dreamed up Cosmo's first live conference, which will take place in NYC and Miami this November. And, none of that "serious" success has come at the cost of the bottom line u2014 the September 2014 issue of the title was its largest ever, in terms of revenue.

So, you can imagine my delight when in the midst of the chaos of Fashion Week, Coles invited me to her office for an afternoon of storytelling (she told, I listened), tough talk (some of her advice makes you hesitate; all of it makes you think), and idea-sharing (everything from the concept of a "serious woman" to the future of the Republican party) u2014 all prominently featuring her badass, clear-eyed British directness.

Up ahead, our very honest conversation u2014 Valentino UK Shop and proof positive that this Superwoman is unlike any other.


In the world of journalism today, "creating buzz" is such a necessary u2014 and unfortunately, sometimes artificial u2014 thing. How do you find and choose the conversation-starting stories that will run in Cosmo that are truly worthwhile?</strong>
nn"In our September issue, there is a interview with Jill Abramson about her being fired. That was a very interesting conversation piece for Cosmo because it raised questions about the issue of womenu2019s and menu2019s management styles. In particular, do male bosses interpret womenu2019s behavior in a management situation different than they interpret menu2019s? We sent Leslie Yazel to talk to Jill at her home about a month after she left the Times. They had a very frank, open, and warm conversation about what could have been a career-ending moment in Jillu2019s life. Of course, that is not what happened, sheu2019s gone on to teach at Harvard. And, that piece sparked a big conversation on social media about something that is real, that women think about.