"You pri­vate life must be ring-feued

By Tina Brown

Red - - Advice - The Van­ity Fair Di­aries, by Tina Brown (Wei­den­feld & Ni­col­son), is out now

One of the great things about writ­ing a diary is that it gives you a chance to re­flect and un­der­stand what you’ve seen, which also helps you to process it. Writ­ing a diary made me see that, of­ten, I was too im­pul­sive. I said things I now re­gret. In fact, there are a lot of things I re­gret – later on I made a crazy move when I left The New Yorker to do a mag­a­zine part­ner­ship with Harvey We­in­stein. That was a dumb mis­take but he was im­mensely per­sua­sive at the time.

I wish I’d known at 20 that while some ex­pe­ri­ences wouldn’t work out, they would lead to other paths that would hugely en­hance my life. I would never have writ­ten The Diana Chron­i­cles, or founded The Daily Beast or started Women in the World if I had stayed for decades at The New Yorker. To be a suc­cess­ful risk taker, you have to have imag­i­na­tion. You have to look at a dispir­it­ing sit­u­a­tion and think, ‘I can rein­vent this’.

Although in my 20s I had a to­tal lack of con­fi­dence when it came to speak­ing in pub­lic, I got used to it on the book tour for The Diana Chron­i­cles be­cause I had to make so many TV ap­pear­ances. In the end, I just thought, ‘To hell with it, I’m not go­ing to be ner­vous any more.’ And from that mo­ment, I haven’t been.

When it comes to long-term love, I’ve learnt that it’s im­por­tant to en­cour­age each other to pur­sue am­bi­tions. Harry [Evans, Brown’s jour­nal­ist hus­band] is, I think, unique. What hus­band would say, ‘Okay, you can go and live in New York, I’ll fig­ure out what to do, I’ll go home and pack up the house’? He was amaz­ing like that – and I wanted the same for him.

We’re very sup­port­ive of each other’s risks. Some have worked and some haven’t, but how­ever they pan out we al­ways know that we are there for each other. That’s a great gift in a re­la­tion­ship. Not many peo­ple have that kind of se­cure love that will just al­ways be there. We re­cently cel­e­brated Harry’s 90th birth­day; we’ve lived to­gether for 39 years and it’s been noth­ing but a roller­coaster of tremen­dous creative bond­ing, fun, laugh­ter, joy and sup­port.

The key is that it’s im­por­tant to pro­tect the sa­cred times. I al­ways pre­serve week­ends for our fam­ily (I go out on a week­end about four times a year!) and made sure I got home for 6pm to be with my son

(he has Asperger syn­drome and needed me to be there) and, later, my daugh­ter. I lived my life ac­cord­ing to those rules, so I could be there for my fam­ily, be­cause pri­vate life must be ring-fenced.

Some­times, of course, the bal­ance is very dif­fi­cult. Like ev­ery work­ing woman, I’ve al­ways jug­gled and it’s been com­pletely crazy back­stage. I’ve had to im­pro­vise madly when the house of cards col­lapses and one of the kids has an ear in­fec­tion the same day as a killer meet­ing. A lot of us have been there in our lives. You kind of crash on and mud­dle through and keep your pri­or­i­ties. And you have to know where you’re not ne­go­tiable. In my case, that’s giv­ing my fam­ily what they need, and there’s no work as­sign­ment that would make me think differently. At the same time, my fam­ily has had to be flex­i­ble be­cause I am a very driven work­ing mother and that pas­sion dis­tracted me. Even to­day, I don’t have any magic for­mu­las. There is no glib magic bul­let. You make it up as you go along.

To­day, my con­cept of suc­cess is much more full-bod­ied than it was in my 20s. When I started Van­ity Fair,

I didn’t have kids, I had just ar­rived in Amer­ica, it was all about win­ning that race. And now I see that suc­cess is a much more lay­ered ex­pe­ri­ence; it is about how you in­te­grate the other el­e­ments of your life – your kids, your hus­band, your love for your friends and that ex­cite­ment at work. There will be trade-offs, but the real suc­cess is if you can pull off all of those things to­gether. It’s not sim­ply be­ing at the top of the tree. You want to make sure that all of your life goes with you.

A risk worth tak­ing: Van­ity Fair’s iconic 1991 cover

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