• Cover Story

Maria Bartiromo Offers a Compass to Navigate Tough Times

MARCH 2012: MARIA BARTIROMO HELPS US FIND THE SECRET TO SUCCESS

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher and Founder
Be Inkandescent magazine

When it comes to the challenge of finding success, financial reporter Maria Bartiromo admits she had two things going against her.

“I was a reporter with a camera, and I was a woman,” she shares, noting she persevered through the early days reporting live from the testosterone-fueled boys club on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “Then one day, I was standing by the General Electric post and there were maybe 25 guys within earshot when one of them who was about three times my age said, ‘Run along, little girl, and don’t come here again.’ I had knots in my stomach. I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t talk to me that way’—and I ran along! But I came back! And I kept coming back. And 20 years later, I’m still here.”

Indeed. And so are many other female financial reporters, thanks to Bartiromo’s fearless determination. Not only is she the anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo,” and the host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated “Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo,” she is the author of three books, including the one we are focusing on this month, The 10 Laws of Enduring Success.

“The times have changed. We need a fresh understanding of the meaning of success,” writes Bartiromo in her book.

“During bullish, optimistic periods, people seem to ride an upward wave with ease and confidence,” she insists. “The tangible evidence is right there for all to see—in their jobs, bank accounts, homes, and families, and in the admiration of their peers. But it is a fact of life that success, once earned, is not necessarily there to stay. If ever there was a cautionary tale about the fleeting nature of success, it is the events of recent years.”

Faced with gut-wrenching realities, many people have started to re-evaluate the meaning of success in less superficial and more permanent ways, she explains.

“They’re asking themselves hard questions that have long been ignored about what’s really important to them and where the foundation of their personal achievement lies.”

Her 10 laws are based on her own experience, as well as in-depth interviews with Bill Gates, Goldie Hawn, Jack Welch, and others who epitomize American success.

She talked with them about the intangibles that can’t be measured or counted. This includes the qualities that aren’t reflected in the title on your business card. It’s more about how you remain successful—even when the worst things happen to you.

Bartiromo spoke of success and rebounding from a few tough years when she offered her thoughts on the economy last month at the 2012 Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Conference.

Following are her thoughts on three of the most pressing questions on the minds of the business community.

Question 1: How do you define success in business?

Maria Bartiromo: Success is defined by so many things, and it’s not always monetary. In my book, “10 Laws,” I was able to interview a whole host of people—from business heads and heads of state, to people managing businesses, and chess champions—to find out how individuals define success. And I discovered that’s exactly what success is: How you define it.

To me, success means contentment, happiness, and being comfortable in your own skin. Today, I think we’re seeing a lot of success stories across the world. We’re seeing economies of success like the emerging markets of Brazil and China, growing so much and seeing domestic demand.

We’re seeing success in terms of leadership in business today, and in terms of monetary success and strengths. But at the end of the day, it comes down to how you feel as an individual.

Question 2: Everyone can identify businesses that are successful, but you have had the experience of interviewing the heads of successful businesses personally. Whom in business do you admire?

Maria Bartiromo: I get this question all the time. Who do you think is the best interview you have ever done?

I look at titans of industry, such as Warren Buffett or Jack Welch, or the CEO of Exxon/Mobil, Lee Raymond. All of them are so strong and have an in-depth understanding of the global market because they have operations around the world. They were all great to interview. Sandy Weill, the former CEO of Citigroup, was always a great interview.

Certain character traits are shared by successful people, and one of those is leadership.

Another important trait is humility. That means not taking yourself too seriously, and knowing that everything is fragile and in many cases temporary. Also, integrity. You can be successful and not have integrity, but I don’t think you can define success without it. People want to be around people with integrity, people who are doing the right thing. I think that’s very important.

Hard work is also important. I have spent a lot of time looking at different success stories, and it’s not about who you know. It’s about the hard work you put into something.

Question 3: What is your 2012 economic outlook?

Maria Bartiromo: I think things are getting better. In the U.S., we are seeing some data points that indicate we’ve turned a corner, whether it be on unemployment or the change in the positive-negative (PN) sentiment people have about the economy.

But I think things are very fragile still. Europe is a wild card. I just got back from Davos where I attended the World Economic Forum, and I was able to interview a lot of heads of European banks.

They told me that basically, it’s very much touch-and-go. If Greece defaults on some of its payments, that could create a dislocation in the markets that will undermine the credibility of the bonds in the rest of the Eurozone. That could be very dangerous. Everyone has an eye on Europe.

But for the most part in the U.S., things are a bit better. And the U.S., relatively speaking, is actually looking a lot better than the rest of the world right now.

A global slowdown is actually under way. Places like China, which has been the economic engine for the world for a long time, has slowed from 11 percent growth to 8 percent. Now, 8 percent is still relatively very strong. But when you go from 11 to 8, that has ripple effects.

And right now there’s a debate as to whether or not the strength that we are seeing has been temporary and due to increased spending during the holidays. I am a lot more optimistic than I was last year at this time. And I think that innovation and growth is coming from a lot of sectors like technology and media, so I do believe that things are getting better.

There’s more! Click here to review Maria Baritoromo’s 10 Laws of Success for Entrepreneurs.

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