How to Reinvent Yourself

The best thing about social media is that it helps us to reconnect with people from our past. We can catch up with childhood friends, former classmates, colleagues from a job we left behind or even distant family.

That sense of connection inspired “Where Are They Now?” We compiled a long list of noteworthy Pittsburghers from our recent past, whittled that list down and started researching to find out what they are up to today. We decided not to rehash their pasts, instead focusing on what they are doing now. The results are fascinating, informative and motivating.

I reached out to Luke Ravenstahl, who at age 26 became the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh’s history in September 2006 when, as city council president, it fell on him to replace Mayor Bob O’Connor, who died in office.

In our interview, he noted how he has worked to remain out of the public eye and has focused on his career at Peoples Natural Gas. All those details are in the story. But on a personal level, I took away something more from my meeting.

The former mayor lived for a while in a bright spotlight that granted him an amount of fame and also exposed his flaws. When I told people I was going to talk to him for the magazine, it often evoked reactions based solely on his past. That’s the trouble with being famous and stepping away from it; people only remember you for who you were, not who you are.

Luke Ravenstahl is no longer the “boy mayor.” He’s a 40-year-old professional who talks about his son more than his time in office. “The biggest thing that I do from a volunteer perspective is coach my son’s 11-year-old baseball team,” he says.

I wonder how much effort it takes to reinvent yourself when the public has an ingrained image of who you are. Remarkedly, many of the people in our cover feature have reinvented themselves — some more than once. It gives us hope that no matter what we are doing today, we can choose a different path tomorrow.

Another thread that runs through their stories is that so many of them have found ways to continue to give back to their community, even though the recognition of their efforts may have faded.

Isn’t that the hallmark of a Pittsburgher?

Brian Hyslop can be reached at bhyslop@pittsburghmagazine.com.

Categories: Editor