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Writers@Work: An Interview with





I’m delighted to welcome fellow Minnesotan Gretchen Carlson to the blog to talk about her new book.

9780525427452_large_Getting_Real. Gretchen CarlsonFirst, here are the details about the book. In Getting Real (Viking), celebrity news anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson opens up the conversation of what it means to be an ambitious career woman in America today. From her childhood in Anoka, Minnesota, where her family’s life revolved around the Lutheran church that her grandfather led as minister, and where her bright future as a violin prodigy both thrilled and burdened her, to college at Stanford, her win as Miss America in 1989, and her first in-the-trenches years as a cub reporter on local television stations in Richmond, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dallas, Gretchen Carlson’s rise to anchor of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson is a story of dedication and perseverance.

Here’s what Gretchen Carlson had to say about her new book and more:

Q: Why did you decide to write GETTING REAL?

A: When people watch me on TV they see part of my life. I wanted to let them know the real me behind the scenes. The child who was a concert violinist from the age of six. The young woman who took on the challenge to compete in the Miss America pageant. The television journalist for twenty-five years. The mother of two who, just like most women, struggles to balance work and family. The battles I’ve fought. How I’ve come back from failure and disappointment. Thanks to my upbringing, I always believed in myself and worked as hard as I could to get where I wanted to be. Nothing was ever handed to me. My hope is that when people read my story, it will inspire them to reach for their goals and not give up. The real story is this: if I can do it, you can too.

Q: It’s been said that women don’t help one another out in the workplace. Has that been your experience? Why do you feel it is important for women to support each other professionally?

A: No—just the opposite. I was fortunate to have two strong female role models in the early years of my career. One gave me the chance to be a political reporter when I was inexperienced, and for me it was sink or swim. The second gave me the opportunity to be part of the first two-female anchor team in prime time television and, when it ultimately failed and I got fired, she ended up giving me a second chance in a whole new city. I believe strongly in being a mentor myself, and I seek out young women and interns and try to help them. Women mentors were important to me, and I want to do that for others. I’m thrilled when I am able to give someone an early boost in her career.

Q: Have there been any moments in your career in which you felt like you had failed? How did you overcome this? 

A: It’s the time I got fired from my television anchor job in Cleveland. A week after returning from my honeymoon, the general manager told me they were going in a different direction but that I’d be okay because I was now married. I was humiliated and depressed. I never talked about my firing until recently. One of life’s most important lessons is truly appreciating success through failure. I teach my kids that no one wins every time, and it’s the lessons you take from failure that will shape your success.

Q: In Getting Real, you also describe getting “mean tweets.” What is your reaction to the constant criticism you receive on social media?

A: Sometimes the comments over the top—really ugly. Many of them are critical of my looks, like the one that criticized my “thunder thighs.” I get that a lot. Some of the tweets are too vulgar to repeat. At my age I can handle people writing junk about me on social media, but I sometimes air “mean tweets” on my show to highlight how destructive this meanness and bullying is to young people. I know how devastating it is for a young person to be the victim of such ugliness. I shine a light on it because if people feel comfortable saying it to me, then they must feel doubly comfortable saying it to one of their friends. I can only imagine how it affects kids who are so vulnerable.

Q: You believe that people should continue to challenge themselves with new goals, no matter how old they are. So, what’s next for you?

A: The future is wide open. I may actually go back and get that law degree someday. Maybe I’ll be in the pulpit. Who knows? I might even pursue a career in politics. If I do, I will have had great practice dealing with the avalanche of daily criticism from working at Fox News and being a former Miss America. I’m ready for anything!

Q: What books are you reading right now?

Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer and The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

Q: And what books inspired your memoir?

One Call Away by Brenda Warner and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.



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3 Responses

  1. Kathy Czarniak

    Great interview Rochelle! Glad to hear that Gretchen had a good experience finding other women mentors, I find some woman are threatened by other people’s success which is unfortunate!

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