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Despite the progress that women have made, breaking into a male-dominated field is still tough going. Getting ahead is tougher. High-profile success stories like Marissa Mayer and Susan Sandberg have reignited discussion about women in the C-Suite. However, there has not been as much talk about women in other places like the newsroom where the majority of the staff remains male.
A study by Media Matters For America found that women make up only 38 percent of women in the newsroom, which has remained essentially the same over the last 14 years and is only four percent higher than it was 30 years ago, according to an article in the Huffington Post. The study also showed that women make up only 34.6 percent of women in leadership positions.
So I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Tamara Holder who is a legal/political analyst and guest host for the FOX News Channel. Known for her liberal attitude and sharp commentary, she adds a bold point of view to the conversation when weighing in on some of the country’s most heated political and legal topics. Holder got her start in television as a frequent guest on several major stations including CNN. She also maintains a successful law practice in Chicago.
Over the course of your career, what was your biggest professional challenge?
My biggest professional challenge is blocking out my fear that I will not be able to accomplish a specific goal. Additionally, it is equally difficult to block out negative comments on Twitter and Facebook, and even from family members. Put another way, my biggest professional challenge is telling myself “I can do this.” Jay-Z says, “Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it.” So true.
There’s a lot of talk today about balancing our professional and personal lives, what was your greatest personal challenge?
Every person has a different standard of “balance.” I do not think there is a single recipe for how to live your life. One baker may use a cup of flour in his chocolate cake but another may use ½ a cup. Both cakes may be delicious.
I probably spend more time focusing on my profession than I do my personal life, but that is by choice. Some of my friends spend more time with family and friends, and less time at work. Are you happy? If so, there is nothing to change. Are you unhappy? If so, what do you need to focus more or less time on?
As you look back, what was your greatest success?
My greatest success was starting my own criminal defense law practice within months out of law school. Some of my own family members doubted I could survive on my own without prior experience. Their doubts added fuel to my fire. It is all about baby steps. Advertising in the phone book, passing out business cards, getting a DUI client or misdemeanor client…next thing I knew, I was representing people charged with serious felonies.
What was your biggest surprise in business?
My biggest surprise was realizing that making money is actually pretty easy. If you can get out of bed in the morning, you can make a dollar. Money is the easy part; it is having motivation to go get it that is hard.
What advice do you have for women trying to break in and then work in a “male dominated” field?
Ignore that kind of noise! Just 10 years ago, only men were the trusted sources in news. Now look at FOX News, the most viewed cable news channel: the women are just as trusted as the men. There are always going to be barriers. You’re too old. You didn’t go to a good enough school. You don’t have the right kind of experience. Blah blah. Ignore the negativity. Break through the stigmas.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Are you saying I’m not young anymore? I give myself the same advice every morning: be present and enjoy right now. We all have regrets about the past. I regret drinking too much beer in college. But it’s in the past!