One of the best ways to draw inspiration is to look at the women who surround you. Each of them brings a special quality that otherwise would go unnoted. To help you learn more about these everyday inspirations, She’s Fit to Lead has created The Fit List — a series of interviews with some of the most successful women of our time.
Today, meet Norah O’Donnell, a co-host of “CBS This Morning.” According to CBS, O’Donnell also divides her time between “60 Minutes” and “CBS Evening News.” She’s had some incredible experiences, interviewing President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Malala Yousafzai and even the Dalai Lama. To learn more about what it’s like to be such a successful journalist, She’s Fit to Lead talked to this Wonder Woman journalist about her career:
Where do you get that early morning energy? What’s your secret?
Coffee is the key most mornings. I usually start with a venti nonfat skim cafe misto from Starbucks. But I always fuel my morning with the same breakfast: Fage Total 0 percent yogurt with flax seed and fresh blueberries. If I feel hungry during the show, I cut up an apple during the break and pair it with some peanut butter.
Do you ever feel nervous before you do an interview or before you go on camera? What do you do to get over that feeling of having butterflies in your stomach?
I was so nervous the first time I was on camera. I felt like my heart was coming out of me. When I went back to watch the tape, I thought, ‘Oh my god, can you see my chest pumping?’ I sounded so nervous on the air, but that goes away over time. The butterflies have certainly dissipated.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
I wake up every day enthusiastic about the news because every day is so different. I’m a true news junkie, and I can’t get through the papers fast enough. But what really makes my job so great is the opportunity to work with my two co-hosts, Charlie Rose and Gayle King. Our mornings together are so much fun, and we like to say that the news is back in the morning!
What is the White House pressroom really like?
The White House pressroom is thrilling. During my years as White House correspondent, it was always a dance of running outside to my live shot, running inside to our tiny CBS News booth, and then running in for a seat before the president would come to the briefing room. I never knew what to expect, but that adrenaline rush is captivating.
What’s your advice for anyone looking to break into the field of news media?
Be persistent. My first job was at “Roll Call” and the thrill of seeing my byline in the paper is something I’ll never forget. In order to get hired, I spent three weeks reporting on a piece about the rise of Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy. The “Roll Call” editor promised to call me back about a job offer and then I never heard from her. After weeks passed, I bombarded the receptionist about setting up a job interview. When I showed up the editor wasn’t there. The editor was home sick. I eventually got ahold of her, and the job. But the moral of the story is that people are busy, but stay on them; if I hadn’t stopped calling the editor I certainly wouldn’t have had that job. And she praised my persistence.
How do you balance between work and family?
I don’t care for the phrase “work-life balance.” Life is never in balance. During the week, I spend more time at work than at home. But on the weekends, I spend almost all my time with my children. Everyone finds what works for them. The best thing to do is find a supportive spouse or partner who will help share in the responsibilities at home.
Your husband is a well-known restaurateur. Who cooks at home?
I always say I’m Chef Geoff’s #1 fan. Geoff definitely does a majority of the cooking, which involves a lot of bacon. But during the week, I’ll do some of the cooking for the kids. We recently did “Taco Tuesday” with fresh salsa and guacamole. They loved it!
How do you think women can empower each other?
I believe there are everyday examples of empowering women. Simply encouraging a fellow colleague to take that next step in leadership at the office, or taking a call from a former intern to give some career advice. Forms of empowerment can be simple. But I have found that giving someone a few minutes of your time can be enough of an encouraging factor.
What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone show they are “Fit to Lead”?
She’s Fit to Lead is a great global platform for women to share their stories. Their stories of inspiration, encouragement, hard work and perseverance. Whether you are a journalist, CEO, scientist, athlete or doctor, your story can help shape the life of someone looking for a similar or different path. We all have a story to share. What’s yours?