Polls list her as one of the 10 most influential and admired women in the country. Her books have been translated into 26 languages and her advice column is carried by hundreds of newspapers.
Yet it was aluminum foil that convinced Dr. Joyce Brothers she is a success.
"I was about to reuse a piece of aluminum foil a couple of years back when it dawned on me -- I'm rich and successful," the 50ish psychologist said. "So I threw out the old piece and tore off a brand new sheet of aluminum foil.
"Success is a state of mind," Brothers told more than 400 women at the Shoreham-Americana Hotel Saturday, climaxing a two-day conference on women and success.
Organized by Successful Woman, Inc., a new woman's self-help firm that markets training and educational programs for women, the conference featured a variety of speakers from business, industry, government, academia and volunteer groups.
The conference was the first of five similar events to be held in major cities around the country. Each will be co-sponsored by universities which will provide continuing education credit to participants.
"Success is an individual thing," Brothers told the enthusiastic audience ranging from students to grandmothers. Coming from as far away as Michigan, the participants, most of whom wore conservative suits, were obviously serious about the business of success.
As one woman in her 30s commented, "Most men at conferences spend a great deal of time in the hotel bar, but here the women were attending every seminar." (Which ranged from how to get and use contacts to developing personal style.)
"If you're going to move ahead," said Brothers, "you have to decide what success means to you, is it money, is it time to set and fish, or is it having a child put his arms around you and say 'I love you?'
"If you strive for someone else's idea of success, you may wind up like Freddie Prinze or Marilyn Monroe. The committed suicide at the peak of what society calls success because they found it wasn't for them."
Among pointers offered by Brothers:
"If you are more sensitive to others, it's more likely success will come your way. Be aware of other people's body language -- the flushed face of embarrassment or the clenched fist of anger.
"If you do more than your share, the chances are you'll move up -- particularly if that extra work is for your boss. Write an organizational chart, putting yourself in a favorable position.Your boss might revise it, but chances are you'll stay in that favorable position.
"Learn to flatter -- not false praise -- but pretend you're Barbara Walters doing an interview and look for unique, special things about a person. If you have to criticize, it will be more effective if you can combine it with a compliment."
Brothers also urged women on the way up not to ignore love.
"Cupid's arrow is not made to strike you down, but to build you up. Love can make you more creative and more productive. The miracle of love does the most to lengthen life and make you happy."
A woman's success will not endanger a good marriage, said Brothers, who has been married for 30 years to the same man.
"If a man really loves a woman her success doesn't diminish him," she said. "It adds to his feelings of glory.
"It all depends on the love in the marriage. If it's shakey, it may break up. A wife who makes more money than her husband may be too much pressure for a man who is not secure of himself."
Other successful women also offered advice throughout the two-day conference.
"Clean out the closets of your life," suggested San Francisco entrepreneur Patricia Fripp. "Stop seeing the people who no longer support you, and don't spend your energies complaining. Instead, use that energy to become twice as good."
"Learn to be flexible and laid-back, and get your family to help," said Susan Greene, former director of the Alliance for Volunteerism. "A 13-year-old who can operate a stero can learn to run a washing machine.
"As a compulsive neat-nik it might be tough to realize the laundry isn't folded -- but relax. Just remember priorities and let the dog out."
"Use your genes if you have to," advised Federal Energy Regulatory commissioner Georgiana Sheldon. "Women are more intuitive -- go with it.
"Never laugh at your job, but always laugh at yourself. Walking through the corridors of the Capitol it's a joy to see the rare person smiling and looking happy. Approach your position with competence, confidence and the ability to smile.
"Develop the people around you," said Jean Head Sisco, who was the first woman director of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade. "If you want to advance, prepare someone to take your job."
Women's Bureau director Alexis Herman struck a special chord with the audience when she noted that "economic necessity is the principle driving force of women coming into the work force today.
"Cinderella doesn't live here any more," she said. "Chances are Prince Charming will come riding up on a Honda and need help with the payments."