You may recognize this Fairygodboss of the Week from her decades of journalism in both local and national news. Gretchen Carlson is known as a news anchor, former Miss America, mother of two and, most recently, the author of her newest book —“BE FIERCE.” When not using her own experiences to make the world a better place for women, Carlson mentors young women through her own philanthropic fund. Her advocacy and career journey will inspire you to make a positive impact in your day-to-day life.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Gretchen Carlson
Journalist and Women's Empowerment Advocate
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
GC: I had a mom who told me every day I could be whatever I wanted to be. I knew that would come with a lot of hard work. Initially, I was a very serious concert violinist as a child. But I burned out at 17. My mom got a brochure in the mail about Miss America and saw that 50 percent of the points were based on talent, so when I was studying at Stanford she called me and encouraged me to enter. I decided to give in 100 percent. I was honored to win.
While at Stanford University, I assumed I would go to law school but ended up being interested in TV so I decided to give it a try. I had a successful career in TV — from Richmond to Cincinnati to Cleveland to Dallas in local news, to CBS News in New York as a national correspondent and host of the Saturday Early Show to 11 years at Fox News.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
GC: Speaking up on behalf of millions of women about sexual harassment in the workplace. Teaching my children what courage and bravery look like and starting my Gift of Courage Fund to empower women and girls.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
GC: Above! Jumping off a cliff all by myself on July 6, 2016. I had no idea what lay below. But soon I started hearing from thousands of women who also aired their stories of pain and agony and shame with me. I realized that every woman still has a story. We have a lot of work to do which is why I wrote "BE FIERCE."
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
GC: Take risks! It’s so important to not be perfect and to make mistakes.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
GC: I have 4 full time jobs now — none of which are actually in the traditional workplace. I am a speaker. I am an advocate with my Gift of Courage Fund. I am an advocate on Capitol Hill working to change laws regarding the secrecy of sexual harassment claims and forced arbitration clauses. I am a mom to a 12 and 14-year-old! I plan to go back to work in TV.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
GC: My mom! She told me every day I could be anything I wanted to be. Also, my maternal grandmother who died when I was only 16. She also played the violin and was the person I always went to when I just needed to talk. She "got" me and I missed her desperately when she died too early. She never got to see me become Miss America, watch my career in TV, get married or have children.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
GC: Mother my two kids and my third child — my dog Bella! I love going to movies and eating popcorn! I love chardonnay! I love going home to Minnesota to show my kids how I grew up; a simpler life than NYC! I have a lot of friends and I love to socialize!
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?
GC: Margaret Thatcher — awesome woman who became first Prime Minister of Great Britain. I believe we will see a female president of the U.S. in my lifetime!
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
GC: “I’m A Survivor,” by Destiny’s Child.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
GC: “The Shawshank Redemption” is tops on the list. For humor — “Bridesmaids!”
FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?
GC: Aside from my “BE FIERCE,” Brene Brown inspires me!
FGB: What is your shopping vice?
GC: I actually don't love to shop, but ... I would buy jewelry!
What would you buy if you won the lottery?
GC: I would give most of it away! I believe by giving back, we become whole as people.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.