Latinitas Magazine

A Strong Voice For Latina Youth

From the Latinitas archives: Soledad O’Brien’s Secret to Success

posted September 28, 2018 | in College & Career by Vicky Garza

Almost one year ago, Latinitas was invited to attend the Enrichment Conference presented by IBM. The daylong empowerment summit for young women ages 14 to 23 years old, was held on Nov. 11, 2017, and was hosted by the PowHERful Foundation.

The Foundation was started by Latina journalist Soledad O’Brien and her husband, Brad Raymond. We had the opportunity to ask Soledad a few questions during the event, including what advice she would give to young women of color looking to get into media.

That advice still resonates with us today.

Video Transcript: The advice I’d give to young women of color who are looking to get into journalism is the advice I’d give to young women of color who are looking to get into any field, which is: hard work is underrated.

You know, I think there’s a lot of just sitting down and doing the work and figuring out how do you connect that work to the people around you who need to see the work so getting credit for that work. But, you know, often people will tell me, “Well, I need to strategize, I need network, and I need to build my brand,” and I’m like, “No, you actually have to get in there and do the work – do the work, be the best at it, turn around and ask people: Are you happy with my work? What could I do better? How could I help you more?” Those are the people that I hire in my company.

I have a relatively small company. I hire people who have good skills so I tell people: “Listen, if you want to work with me, learn how to shoot, learn how to edit, learn how to write. To learn how to write, you just have to start writing and then you’ve got to take that embarrassing thing that you’ve written and show it to someone who says, “Yeah, it’s not very good,” and then you’ve got to take it back and do it again. The only way to become a writer is just keep doing it and do it. You have to put the work in. There’s no shortcut.

Most of the people that I hire are just hard workers and if I had to pick a reason for my success I would say: I really was able to outwork people. I couldn’t always be smarter than them, I often was not prettier than them or better than them in any way, but I would come in earlier, I would work really hard, I would stay later and I would always try to figure out, “What do I need to do to be better? How can I fix what I’m doing? How can I be better at this?” I would just do the work.

I think that’s like 92-percent of it and then 8-percent of it are all these other skills that you have to learn; the soft skills: how to speak up for yourself, how to navigate, how to get people to help you in terms of internships and mentoring relationships and sponsoring relationships but the bulk of it – none of that will happen if you don’t have a background of great work because someone will say you need to figure out what this young woman needs because she’s great! How do we move her along?

Filmed and edited by Latinitas Staff