NotSalmon’s Story

Curious about how Masters in Life and this NotSalmon site came to be? Wondering why it’s called NotSalmon? Below is the professional journey of our founder Karen Salmansohn – how she grew from an ad exec with zero book publishing experience – to an author with a big celebrity following (Jon Stewart, Marisa Tomei, Madonna, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Goldie Hawn, Eminem, Joan Rivers, and then some) – plus many ardent fans in the media (The Today Show, The View, CNN, NY Times, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, BusinessWeek, USA Today and US magazine, for starters).

photo shoot karen 2013Hi, I’m Karen Salmansohn – and I call my site “notsalmon” because everyone’s always mispronouncing my last name as Salmon – saying SALMON-sohn – instead of SALMAN-sohn. So I’m always saying NOT-SALMON. I figured it was easier for people to find me on the internet if my site were simply called NOT-SALMON.

(Psssttt… My awesome NotSalmon fish logo is illustrated by the talented Marieke Middendorp, who is founder of Studiopie!)

I started my career in advertising – and got awarded my first CLIO only 6 months in the business for an ad I created for Kodak.  I then quickly went on to become a Senior VP award winning ad writer/creative director (at age 27) – working for places like J. Walter Thompson, McCann Erickson, Young + Rubicam, Averett, Free + Ginsberg, MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Lifetime, E!, CNBC, NBC, Oxygen, Lee Hunt Associates, L’Oreal, Revlon, Avon, Blue Q,  Faith Popcorn, etc…

One of my goofier claims to fame: I was the one who came up with the name “Croissan’wich.”  It was chosen in a huge agency competition to become the official name of Burger King’s then brand-new breakfast sandwich.

I was particularly known for my top creative work for the big beauty companies including L’Oreal, Revlon and Avon. I wrote everything from ad campaigns to naming the fun names for their products. (For example, Pleasantly Plum and Well Red were 2 of my suggested lipstick names!)

I also specialized in writing tune-in spots (and won awards) for the top TV networks including: MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, E!, Showtime, TNT, CNBC, NBC, Lifetime, Oxygen, Comedy Central, WE – and then some. My creative concept of “MTV Goes Stopless” was so successful, it got written up in Variety! I became so well known as a creative force and outside-of-the-box thinker, that I was brought in by the amazing Faith Popcorn to work in her Think Tank. (Note: I offer some of my insider branding tools in my BRAND HONEY consulting program.)

quote planet successful healer DAVID ORRAlthough I was doing super well in advertising, I kept threatening to quit because I wanted to use my writing and design skills to write and design books with inspirational messages.

My parents kept talking me out of quitting, saying things like, “How can you quit when you’re doing so well?”

I explained that if I were doing lousy, I’d probably stay – just to prove something to myself – or out of fear. But I figured if I could do so well at something I wasn’t hugely passionate about, then I might do even better at something I enthusiastically wanted to do.

In my late 20’s I finally quit my Senior VP Creative Director job in advertising to become a full-time writer.

I joke that I had “Mr. Magoo Syndrome.” You know how when that little guy went to cross the street, he didn’t notice all the cars honking at him? He just focused on “must get to other side of street.” When I left advertising, I didn’t focus on obstacles or fears. I just focused on, “must get my books published.”

My first published book was a novel called “50% OFF” – which I sold to St. Martin’s Press.

Soon after, my novel was optioned to be a movie starring Marisa Tomei. I wrote the screenplay – but it was never greenlit. Although Miramax then went on to give me a TV Development Deal.

I also wrote and sold a variety of funny sitcom and movie ideas. My scripts were bought by major entertainment companies like: Fox, NBC, Nickelodeon, MTV, Brillstein Gray and Bedford Falls.

POSTER cool girl step forwardI’ve also written business books for women – on how to pursue and snag your passions. One of these books was called “How To Succeed In Business Without A Penis” – where I explain how a woman doesn’t need a penis to succeed. Just balls. I credit a lot of my business success to being courageous in my creative ideas and strategies for marketing. This business book has been loved by many powerful women. For example, Arianna Huffington quotes from my business book in her books. And Madonna told me she loved my business book – even grabbing me by my arm when I told her I’d authored it and saying, “God bless you.” Meaning? I’ve been blessed by Madonna! (Yes, that’s meant to be a joke.)

Speaking of joking… I use a lot of humor in my books. The comedian Jon Stewart has read and loved my books – and even gave me an official blurb saying he appreciated my sense of humor.


Karen Salmansohn has the wit and sass of a stand up comic.

Jon Stewart Comedian, Former Host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show

This makes me one of the few (and most likely ONLY!) inspirational authors with Jon-Stewart-approved humor!

I feel that humor is a powerful enlightening agent – enabling people to let go and see challenges in a new light. I have even shared a range of research studies all about how laughter and fun are high performance fuels in a TEDx talk I gave.

Since leaving the advertising world, I’ve become a best selling author and award winning designer – with over 1 million books sold – and over 1 million fans on Facebook – known for writing and designing “self-help for people who would never be caught dead doing self-help.” Or “self-help books you can give to a friend and not get slapped… because they look kind of cool.”

I not only write, but creative direct my books, from beginning to end.

Some of my many publishers include: Workman, Chronicle, Rizzoli, Simon and Schuster, Broadway Books, Harmony Books, Tenspeed, Tricycle, Sourcebooks, etc… (Note: I give away some of my insider publishing tools in my UNBLOCK consulting program – to help people unblock writer’s block and publisher’s block)

I’m a columnist on OPRAH, Psychology Today, MSN, CNN, Yahoo, AOL, Mind Body Green, Huffingtonpost, Match, Bettyconfidential, Minyanville, Daily Love, etc.

I’ve been a happiness expert on The Today Show, The View, CNN, Bill Maher’s show, Fox and Friends – and hundreds of morning TV shows across the country.

I’ve been written up in The NY Times, Business Week, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Magazine, Marie Claire, Fast Company, InStyle, Self, ELLE, New Yorker, etc.

I love researching psychology, biology, nutrition and quantum physics – and I include a range of research-backed tools in all my books, programs, articles and keynotes.

Ari SalmansohnI also have a platonic crush on the Greek philosopher Aristotle – and share a lot about his timeless truths on happiness. Indeed I love Aristotle so much that I named my son “Ari” as a wink to his name.

I studied at ISHTA YOGA in NYC to be a yoga and meditation teacher. I also love to include some of the empowering yoga and meditation tools I learned in my work.

My books are sold not only in all major book stores (online and on location) but in gift stores, museum shops, spa shops, airport shops, art supply shops, stationary shops – and then some. This “then some” includes design-loving stores like: West Elm, Z-Galleries, Anthropology, ABC Carpet & Home, Barney’s, Fred Segals, Bendhal’s – and many famous fashion boutiques.

My writing has been praised by some big names like:


Salmansohn reminds us that in life, control is just an illusion and that we are in charge of our own destiny. This funny, profound and heartfelt collection demonstrates that when faced with adversity, we have the power to overcome through gratitude, humor and courage.


If you're not happy with what you're getting, maybe you need a whole new plan. Karen Salmansohn offers you one. Start now!


Karen Salmansohn's writing is bold, playful, insightful with powerful metaphors that provoke and inspire. In The Bounce Back Book, her kinetic images amplify her message and take the book to a new level of literary experience.

Deepak Chopra Author

This book is full of psychological research studies to help you not only recover from the tough times, but also bounce back to an even higher level than your previous bests.


Just picking up this engaging book boosted my spirits. Not only does The Bounce Back Book pack a library's worth of proven insights into one slim volume, it presents that information in a hilarious way, with eye-catching graphics, to drive its wisdom home. For anyone mired in the dumps – or who just wants to live more joyfully! – this is essential reading.


Karen Salmansohn is a creative force of nature. I love her insights and relentless commitment to helping people live happy and successful lives. Her smart sense of humor and unusual metaphors make changing your life not only do-able but, totally fun. I simply adore her!

Marie Forleo Best Selling Author

Salmansohn's got sass and shine! Her work sparks people to wake up, and at the same time, gives the comfort of perennial wisdom – such a divine combo. Sass and shine, in the best package!

Danielle LaPorte Creator of WhiteHotTruth.com

Karen Salmansohn is a big brain in high heels.

Random Quirky Info…

I still love branding and marketing – and regularly work with individuals and businesses – serving as their brand consultant, advertising agency and book birth-er.

I’ve shared man-taming tips with Madonna. I’ve swapped book writing tips with Goldie Hawn, Deepak Chopra and Peter Guber. I’ve enjoyed seeing my work featured by Julian Lennon, Eminem, Giselle, Amy poster les brown dreams fearsPoehler, Jay Leno. I’ve been praised by Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Gretchen Rubin, AJ Jacobs, Marie Forleo, Danielle Laporte, Tim Ferris – and then some.

I’ve been a keynote speaker on design at THE HOW DESIGN CONFERENCE (2 years) and at an AIGA DESIGN CONFERENCE (1 year). Plus, I’m also an in demand keynote speaker on topics like how to increase happiness, creativity, productivity, stick-to-itiveness, and bouncing back from hard times. (Plus, as mentioned above, I’ve also given a TEDx talk on the topic of “Fun Is A High Performance Fuel.”)

My HOW TO BE HAPPY DAMMIT book was URBAN OUTFITTERS #1 Best Selling Book – for 2 years in a row!

My BOUNCE BACK BOOK was one of Target’s best selling books for about 2 years.

My books INSTANT HAPPY and INSTANT HAPPY JOURNAL have been #1 on Amazon.

In 2007 to 2008 I hosted the famed SIRIUS radio show BE HAPPY DAMMIT (M – Fr., 8am -9am, EST) — which merged the best of Oprah with Jon Stewart with NPR.

My Mission…

quote shrink refusePersonally, my goal is for my books to stir things up…wake up sleepy minds heart and spirits…spread positive propaganda throughout the land! But truth be told, I write self-help not only in the hopes of helping others, but each book that I write helps me to find purpose and healing in my personal pain – because my books are full of helpful research studies and healing insights which I also use myself. Some days when I’m bummed about something, I’ll flip through one of my own books, and remind myself “Oh yeah! Page 127! I forgot to keep in mind page 127!”

Since the launch of my first book in 1993, I’ve been giving hundreds of seminars nationally and internationally – and now have 32 books, 5 TV development deals, 2 film deals – and one perfume.

Phew am I exhausted!

Join over 1.5 million loyal fans!

My research-backed happiness tools have been featured on CNN, Oprah, Psychology Today, The Today Show, etc – and will empower you to live a live of love!

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