Media Pro Tina Brown Shares Her Bravest Moment, Greatest Risk and Overcoming Self-Doubt
Editor’s note: Builders Series features no-holds-barred in-depth interviews with female leaders in different industries to give you insight into what successful women have done to push through feeling stuck, frustrated and uncreative in order to build incredible brands and businesses.
Tina Brown may be most recently known as the founder and leader of the Women in the World Summit, which brings together inspirational leaders and activists, but she has been building for much longer than that. She has built an award-winning career as a journalist, editor and author. She is also the CEO of Tina Brown Live Media.
Since its launch in 2010, the Summit has been a must-attend experience for me. Curated by Brown, the Summit offers inspiration and solutions to building a better life for women and girls. There’s nothing more invigorating than sitting in a room full of lady bosses and hearing from women who are living their passion every day.
Prior to launching Tina Brown Live Media, which holds smaller salon-style events around the globe, and running the Women in the World Summit, Brown launched and edited the news site The Daily Beast. She has also been the editor-in-chief of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Talk and Newsweek.
It was a pleasure to sit down with her to discuss how she built her media career and brand and what she is planning next.
Griffith: What have you built and what inspired you to build it?
Brown: Three magazines and a live journalism company. Women in the World was inspired by a desire to hear from voices who don't have a platform as big as they deserve.
Were you born a builder or did you have to learn to be one?
I am a born builder and often get bored when the job is done, and I feel I am becoming a steward.
Who was the first woman you looked up to and why did you want to be like her?
My mother. I wanted her confidence, magnetism and ability to make everyone in the room laugh with her stories.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
Leaving Vanity Fair when it was super successful to edit The New Yorker when it needed a revival. Another risk was leaving The Daily Beast to launch Women in the World in my late 50s.
When have you broken down, personally or professionally? How did you break through?
It was tough for me when Talk magazine closed after 9/11. I felt many talented people had followed me to the promised land and then I couldn't bring it home. I broke through by returning to my roots as a writer with The Diana Chronicles, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
What makes you doubt yourself, and how do you manage it?
Doubt is my way of life. Courage is overcoming it.
How do you know when to leave someone or something?
When the light goes out of my eyes when I talk about them or it, when I feel my vitality sapping at the prospect of seeing them or doing something.Related: Recruiting and Retaining Female Tech Talent Is a Challenge -- Here's How We Did It
When was your bravest moment? How do you practice being brave?
Bravest editorial moment was putting pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair when everyone in the circulation department said it would both cause outrage and bomb.
Knowing what you know now, was it worth it?
What can you see yourself building next?
Expanding Women in the World into a multi-platform force in books, news and documentary.
What do you value most in others?
What do you value most in yourself?
What holds you back?
One thing you’re afraid of?
Asking for money.
What is your biggest vice?
One thing you’d change about yourself?
Lack of patience.
What keeps you sane?
Something you wish you would have kept doing?
Writing more consistently.
Something you wish you would have stopped sooner?
Sugar in my tea.
What keeps you going and building?
What a friend just called my "deranged vitality." I have always lived life to the overcrowded fullest.