“This is not a re­al­ity TV show.”

APRIL RYAN WASH­ING­TON BUREAU CHIEF, AMER­I­CAN UR­BAN RA­DIO NET­WORKS

Fast Company - - Secrets Of The Most Productive People - —As told to J.J. Mc­cor­vey

If I have to do the morn­ing show, I get up two hours prior and study and look at sto­ries to make sure that I know what I’m talk­ing about. I’m on the phone quite a bit. I talk to con­gres­sional lead­ers and call peo­ple in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, for­mu­lat­ing what

I’m go­ing to ask [dur­ing a White House press briefing], and how I’m go­ing to ask it. It’s all about the in­for­ma­tion you ob­tain. The right ques­tions can help put some­thing on the table and change pro­ce­dures and pol­icy. For 17 years I asked ev­ery pres­i­dent about black farm­ers who had been de­nied as­sis­tance from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, and dur­ing the Obama years—com­ing out of a re­ces­sion—they got their set­tle­ment [at least partly], be­cause I kept ask­ing those ques­tions. We’re miss­ing those sto­ries now. In­stead, we’re get­ting Rus­sia, sex, lies, and video­tape. This is not a soap opera. This is not a re­al­ity TV show. This is real life, with real con­se­quences, and peo­ple are count­ing on the press.

I’m a hard worker, and I will do what it takes. My mother was a hard worker. She taught me about be­ing proud of my­self. She’d say, “Don’t ever apol­o­gize for who you are.” My dad just died in Au­gust. He gave me my courage, just in the way he walked. He was a suc­cess­ful busi­ness owner, and he chal­lenged the sys­tem. I picked it up.

Time she gets up

Around 5 a.m.

First thing she does in the morn­ing

“Grab my phone and look at my text mes­sages. Then I make break­fast and wake up my daugh­ters, who are 16 and 10. I take them to school.”

Pro­duc­tiv­ity tools

“I use the Cozi app for my sched­ule. And the CNN and Wash­ing­ton Post apps for news.”

Mantra

“One of my fa­vorite songs is ‘Hate On Me’ by Jill Scott. ‘Hate on me / ’Cause my mind is free / Feel my destiny / So shall it be.’ Yaass!”

What she does while com­mut­ing

“My ve­hi­cle is my mo­bile of­fice. I have a long com­mute—two hours. So I do in­ter­views, I talk to my sources, get the lay of the land.”

Lunch rou­tine

“Every­body’s like, ‘Oh, let’s do lunch.’ I don’t have time to do lunch. I’m sit­ting in the White House, fig­ur­ing out a pod­cast, work­ing on sto­ries. I’m that girl who runs up the street, grabs a bag lunch, and brings it back to eat it.”

What she does with 15 min­utes of free time

“Lie down and watch an old movie.”

Best habit

“I’ve got a great work ethic.”

Worst habit

“I am so dis­or­ga­nized!”

Last thing she does at night

“I thank God, turn on the news, make sure we’re at peace.

There’s so much up­heaval dur­ing the day. I didn’t re­al­ize I was look­ing for peace as much as I’ve been lately.”

Time she goes to bed

“If I’m not go­ing on [with] Don Lemon [she joined CNN as a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst in 2017], I can get to bed about 9 or 10 p.m.”

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