Soledad O’Brien is an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, producer, and mother. She has reported on breaking news from around the globe, but says that some of the biggest challenges she has faced, and overcome, were on the homefront. Not many people would view covering the tsunami in Southeast Asia for CNN as a break and a chance to clear their head. “It’s a challenge at times,” said the mother of four. “I think anyone who tells you it isn’t a challenge is just lying to your face.” She discussed some of the challenges she has faced as a mother and a professional with Levo during Office Hours.
O’Brien emphasized the importance of self-worth and confidence in yourself in the face of adversity. Because she has developed a good sense of who she is as a person and a professional, she doesn’t take criticism to heart and doesn’t internalize it. Her advice to her 20-year-old self is to focus on the things that have been very successful in her career and let go of the things that have not been so successful.
According to O’Brien, it is important to tune out the naysayers. “If you sit around and wait for people to approve of what you’re doing, you’ll be waiting a very long time,” she explained. Instead she suggests focusing on building your skill set, making good connections, delivering flawless work, and becoming the person that people turn to and want to work with. “Work hard, put your head down, do your job well, and focus on the job at hand,” she said.
She attributes much of her success to learning how to be flexible while planning ahead and navigating towards her goals. “People think they can plow through with the same strategy,” she said. “It’s never going to work.” She suggests that we instead relax and think in terms of how we can react to the new situations that have come our way. “Approaching life looking for the silver lining [in every situation] is a really important mindset,” she said.
Create your own environment
O’Brien suggested that we all create the ecosystem of an office that we want to be a part of. “Find a job that you love, work with people that you like, do the work that you want to do, and surround yourself with people you want to share with,” she said. Success comes from building relationships with a supportive group of people, not worrying about the drama, and focusing on the work.
She finds inspiration from the ideas of her mentors and other people she connects with, both in person and through Twitter. “I think people can be your mentor even if they don’t know they are,” said O’Brien. Maya Angelou and Katie Couric have both been sources of inspiration for her both in her professional and personal life. For O’Brien, a mentor is someone who she can trust completely, but is also someone who can also identify her strengths and weaknesses.
We are so honored to have featured Soledad O’Brien on Office Hours and are excited to announce that she will be a featured mentor on Levo League. Ask her a question about becoming a journalist, being a mother, and even what riding horses has taught her about life!