Meredith Kopit Levien, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of the New York Times, has had quite an inspiring career – but she’s humble about her success. She’s proud of “leading a team of great talents and raising a happy kid,” but she admits that balancing work and parenting isn't easy: “Some days it doesn't look pretty,” she says. Her #1 career tip is not to be fearless, but to “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Fairygodboss of the Week: Meredith Kopit Levien
Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer – The New York Times
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
MKL: I've now spent most of my career working in publishing, at Atlantic Media, then Forbes, and now The Times, with early stints in the digital agency business and as a marketer. I got to where I am now first by being lucky (I have only had great bosses), some by working hard and loving the work, and a lot from getting to work on mission-driven enterprises that inspire devotion and passion in the people who serve them.
Now, I'm especially lucky that I get to work with a great group of leaders on my team -- who every day are teaching me and one another how to guide one of the world's most important brands to sustainable commercial success in a period of rapid transformation.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
MKL: Putting a team together of what I believe is the best talent in the media business, and clearing the path for them to do what they do. Getting to be a mom.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
MKL: Trying to do those two things at the same time -- leading a team of great talents and raising a happy kid. Not sure I've overcome it; some days it doesn't look pretty. Also, pushing hard for change and taking real risks at The Times in how we go about the commercial aspects of what we do, even when the chances are real that they might not work out.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? And why?
MKL: I have too many to list, and for different reasons. My mom, because she is the most confident, self-actualized person I know. Elizabeth Baker Keffer, my first major boss and probably the person I worked for longest, because she took an interest in me and showed me the value of doing that. All of the women on the front lines of media, journalism or commercially, who are modeling it for the rest of us, as bosses or public voices. Wenda Millard. Maureen Dowd. Susan Chira.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
MKL: Spend time with my family. Play soccer badly. Watch a lot of it. Cook. Read. See movies.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
MKL: Michelle Obama.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
MKL: Lip-syncing backup to someone who can sing. I can't.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
MKL: Cinema Paradiso.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
MKL: American Pastoral.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
MKL: Manolo Blahnik shoes. SJP may be long, long past them, but I am not.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
MKL: Feel the fear and do it anyway. I think that's the title of an ’80s self-help book or something like that, but it's also how I function many days. I never did find it in me to be fearless – I just found the capacity to push through it. Also, at a certain point as you move up the food chain in business, it is almost entirely about who you hire and your ability to help them get where they are going in the course of getting done what your company needs done.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
MKL: Because if it didn't exist, or even exist in its standard-bearing form, something would be missing from the world.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.
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