Mika Brzezinski's Advice to Young Women: Take Wanting to Have a Family as Seriously as Work

September 21, 2018

By Hope King

When President Trump attacked Mika Brzezinski on Twitter last summer, calling her "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and claiming she, at an event earlier in the year, looked like she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift," her first reaction was likely to laugh a little.

After all, "humor, raw honesty, and perspective" are the tools she says she uses when she's under attack.

"I think women need to go with their gut more," the co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" told Cheddar in an interview Thursday. "We craft everything. There’s enough crafting going on and thinking."

By being funny, candid, and grounded, Brzezinski said, "you don’t need to think about that."

Brzezinski's boldness may come from several different sources. She was born in New York City, has been a journalist for about three decades, and her late father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was National Security Advisor to former President Jimmy Carter.

Cheddar sat down with Brzezinski ahead of her talk at SoFi's Get That Raise night in New York. The event was aimed at helping people ask for and get the raise they want in their careers ー the kind of self-championing Brzezinski has supported for years.

In addition to being a news anchor, Brzezinski is also the author of a few best-selling books, including "Knowing Your Value." The 2011 title, to be re-released later this month, tries to make sense of how women see themselves in the workplace (and how women are viewed) through interviews with prominent leaders and via her own personal experiences.

One of those experiences ー getting fired from CBS in 2006 ー led Brzezinski to realize the importance of not sacrificing personal goals for professional ones.

"My huge piece of advice for young women breaking into any industry is if you want to have a family ー don’t forget to do that," she said. "It should be taken as seriously as work."

Forget any inner conflict, she advises. "Own it. Make it happen for yourself."

Brzezinski herself has two daughters. They were still in grade school when she got fired. When she came home to them that day, she said to herself, "Thank God, look at these incredible girls. I'm so lucky and so blessed."

"I didn't think I would work past 40 in a serious way. I underestimated myself," she continued. "At the same time, I didn’t put off the dream of a lifetime which was to be a mother as well ... I was very thankful [that] I hadn’t let work get in the way."

Her daughters are now in their early 20s. Brzezinski is 51.

"[The book] is for women of all generations," Brzezinski said. "But I especially think of my daughters because I want them to work. I want them to feel a sense of identity and to feel productive. I want their environment to be fair [and] safe."

And although she admitted that it's tough to raise young women, she said, "The thing I think I can do is work on the culture and the workplace they will be entering some day very soon."

In 2014, in partnership with NBCUniversal, Brzezinski turned "Know Your Value" into a nationwide platform.

For full interview click here.