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Media mogul Tina Brown defines power and influence

Thursday, July 31, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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"Influence is really about what you do with power,” Tina Brown told the more than 300 industry leaders at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 31, 2014 at Terranea Resort outside Los Angeles.

Considered one of the world’s most influential women, the founder and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media offer her perspectives on leadership during her closing keynote address, "Stepping into Power, Influence and Impact.”

Brown began her career in journalism, which included roles at the helm of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and The Daily Beast, working for the traditional London social journal Tatler. Her talent and spark earned her the opportunity to revamp the magazine’s image, which coincided with Princess Diana’s rising visibility and troubled royal marriage, a topic that pushed Tatler’s popularity.

The experience taught Brown the importance of recognizing an opportunity. "You need to have focus in your career. We need to own it.”
Career ups and downs

In 1984, Brown was named editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Given the task of revitalizing the struggling magazine, she mined the resources already available. "Where is the gold in here?” Brown considered. "There’s got to be something.”

Gold showed itself in the form of photographer Annie Liebovitz and writer Dominick Dunne, contributors to the magazine whose talent Brown chose to highlight, and other staff veterans. When taking on a new leadership role, "find out someone you can reinvent before you make a clean sweep,” she said.

Her success brought another opportunity, when Condé Nast chairman "Si” Newhouse asked her to revitalize The New Yorker. "I found the old guard were enormously supportive — they understood the need to change.They were first-class. Others were hostile.”

Brown pressed on, bringing Richard Avedon’s photography into the famously non-pictorial magazine, hiring and spotlighting writers and cartoonists, garnering awards and great success with the once-struggling institution.

Then, looking for a change, she acted on her desire to be an entrepreneur. "I wanted to create something that was multidimensional.” She created Talk, a magazine and publishing enterprise. The much-criticized venture fell victim to the post-9/11 magazine and advertising recession. "This was my great setback,” Brown said. "When you change, look very carefully at what you’re doing. You have more to lose.”

She found immediate success with the online news site The Daily Beast and cemented her faith in digital media. "There’s something enormously exciting about having something that is so responsive,” she said.

Today, Brown is most interested in giving back. Her celebrated Women in the World Summit brings women leaders, activists and influencers together in support of women and girls across the globe, many of whom live in impoverished and victimized circumstances.

"Many women feel very much alone in their own countries,” Brown said. "They need other women to care about them.”

The work has been rewarding for Brown, who now defines success as "more and more women in power.”

With all her accomplishments, Brown recognizes that tying up her identity with work efforts can be dangerous. "When they don’t work out, you feel like a loser. You have to realize that you have to be able to make it without having that job description on you.”

Still, when it comes to advancing their careers, Brown urged NEW Forum attendees to move forward with passion and focus. "It’s not about failure, but how quickly can you come back. How quickly can you put it behind you? That’s the test of character. Be true to yourself. Don’t look behind you.”

"Many women feel very much alone in their own countries,” Brown said. "They need
other women to care about them.”

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