MARIA BARTIROMO: Life at the Top with Maria Bartiromo
On the heels of her fifth anniversary with the Fox Business Network, Maria Bartiromo is one of the most popular and hardest working financial anchors in the business. As the anchor of the daily morning show, Mornings with Maria, and Maria Bartiromo's Wall Street on the Fox Business Network, and Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News Channel, Maria anchors 16.5 hours of live programming six days a week. This past year, Mornings with Maria has taken over Squawk Box in overall viewership. Since she began her career 25 years ago as the first TV journalist on the floor show of the New York Stock Exchange, she has been a pioneer shaping the landscape of financial news reporting. Not only has Maria interviewed some of the most powerful players in politics, business, and government asking the questions the public wants to know over the span of her career, she has also been in the front lines of the biggest world economic cycles over the last quarter of a century. But what makes her so popular and wildly successful is how she remains true to herself with a sense of humility that resonates so well with her viewers. This month, Resident Magazine had the privilege to speak with the "Money Honey" about her impressive career and the biggest moments that have shaped her life and the world in general.
Of all your interviews, who have you been most impressed by?
I've been on the air for 25 years and have interviewed so many different people, whether its CEOs or heads of state, so it's difficult to narrow it down to just one person, but I would say there are a number of people I've been impressed with who possess certain characteristics. Examples would be Jamie Dimon, who is a straight talker and will tell it the way it is. Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, is so smart in terms of healthcare and wellness, or Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, whom I've always been impressed with because they are incredible pioneers. Also, heads of state such as President Clinton or President Trump, who have their own intuitive nuances that make them incredible leaders. President Obama also had a certain sense of confidence when he spoke about what he wanted and where he was going with things. When you look at the wide group of people I've been able to interview, what stands out to me is incredible leadership yet also humility. Having the kind of statute, strength and power that some of these leaders possess but also remembering where you came from with a sense of humbleness is very impressive to me.
You also wrote the book Secrets to Success. What are the characteristics you see in successful people and what are their secrets?
The book was about the 10 laws of enduring success. When I wrote this book, I was trying to narrow down the answers to this question. What is it that creates leadership, and how do you become a great leader? I think some things I mentioned in that book are things like adaptability. You have to be flexible enough in your life to be able to change and identify areas that are not working and to be able to adapt to different circumstances. You must recognize humility to understand what you don't know and to work harder to overcome that area. Resilience, together with all these things, is really important in terms of leadership. Jack Welch was one of my mentors throughout my career at CNBC, and he taught me so much in terms of knowing what I am good at and what I am not good at and what I need to work on. At the end of the day, we are all just humans, we all make mistakes and we need to recognize that no one person is better than the other. It is so important to have that humility to understand you are not the most important person in the world and there are other things and other people in the world that matter a lot more than you.
What do you feel was your greatest journalistic achievement in your career?
I helped build CNBC, which was very small when I first started, and it is now a global network. I also helped build the Fox business network. I anchored three presidential debates, which I am very proud of, and we had an enormous viewership. The Fox business debate had thirteen million viewers, and the second debate had eleven million viewers. I asked the questions the American people wanted answers for and also presented in a way that was accessible to our viewers while putting the candidates on the spot. While at Fox business, we just beat CNBC, and we have the best guests every morning who are the most informed people in business and politics.
What was the most moving segment you've done?
I reported on the ground from September 11th, and it was incredibly moving and one of the most important days of my life and always will be. It was also my birthday. I was at the stock exchange and my boss called me and told me to go outside. I was on the street corner when the second plane went into the second building. I ran for my life because the building started to collapse and the whole area shook. There was crazy stuff flying out of the buildings, not to mention people. It was the saddest yet the most incredible moving day for me, and I'll never forget the comradery. I was outside on the street covered in ashes, and I ran for cover in the exchange. I stayed there that day until 10 pm. When things quieted down, I went upstairs to talk to Richard Grasso, the chairman of the NYSE, and I said, "What now?" The next time I reported on the exchange was the following Monday, the 17th. The people who rang the bell were the first responders- the firefighters, NYPD, the governor, the mayor, and the senator who were all on the podium. When I interviewed them, I never felt such strength and resilience until that day because we were all in mourning and feeling so hurt, but we also knew we would rise again. We knew we would get through it together, and even though we were beaten down, we would be strong and come back from this. September 17, 2001, was the most inspirational day and one of the most important days of my life and my career.
What were some of the economic cycles you've experienced throughout your career?
I started on the air in 1993, and I have been able to watch the economy cycles over a 30-year period. In 1989, I was a production assistant at CNN Business News. I started as an intern and had a background in economics from NYU. I knew this was a new moment in television when I saw correspondents reporting live on the ground during the Gulf War. At 26, I was watching Bernard Shaw reporting under the bed in Baghdad while bombs were going off, and CNN was the only one reporting live. At that time, all the major networks would wait until 6:30 to report during their evening news. For the first time, I learned how to report on a story as it was actually happening, which brought me incredible intelligence. Many years later, when I became the first person to broadcast on the floor of New York Stock Exchange, I was reporting on a story as it was actually happening. 1993 was the individual investment revolution when individuals thought they could just arm themselves with information and make their own investment decisions, and that stirred a whole new industry. Then we reached the tech boom where people ignored fundamentals with no revenue or earnings, which led to the dot com bust when so many people lost money. After that, there was the crisis in Europe where Europeans were piling on so much debt until things busted, and you saw bankruptcies across Europe. From there, you had this huge housing boom in 2006, betting that housing prices were going to go up without any rationale until they didn't anymore, which led to this incredible bust and the worst financial crisis in the generation. I've covered cycle after cycle of economic changes in the world, and I had a front row seat. It's been an incredible 25 years, and I am so proud of the work I've been able to do.
Have you ever reported on cycles and been completely skeptical?
David Faber and I used to have a segment on CNBC, "Annoying Little Comparisons," of companies that just didn't make sense. We would pick one a day. For instance, one was that pets.com had a larger market valuation than GM. Pets.com doesn't sell anything, and it had no revenue last year while GM revenue was over a hundred million dollars. No one cared; you were on the doorstep of a new revolution and viewers just wanted in because they thought they were going to get rich overnight. Things don't make sense but we believe them anyway. So, it's really important as a viewer to come away from these things and remember the most basic principle of all: when it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Things don't go on forever when they don't make sense.
What are your outlooks for 2019?
I am very positive about where we are right now, and the economy is doing very well. Yes, we are experiencing a little bit of a slowdown, but when you look at the fact that the last jobs number showed 312,000 jobs created, we are talking about several million jobs created just in the last two years. People are feeling better; they've got more money in their pockets. The stock market has been reacting to a whole host of different things, and I think people will continue to react to uncertainties. I have great access to the congress and the administration to get firsthand knowledge about new policies, which I am able to communicate to viewers. I think people understand things have changed and new policies will impact them. The uncertainty of not knowing what might happen with the government shutdown, the tax cut plan or health care keeps people frozen and creates a slowdown. Companies sit on cash, investors sit on their money, and consumers don't go shopping because they are not sure about what's next. Europe is a bit of a mess, and China is experiencing a slowdown. I don't think you want to time the market like a trader. You want to invest for the long-term in something you believe is sound and wise, and you want to invest in growth stories. I think the growth is in the marriage of technology and healthcare. Everyone is living longer as a result of technology and having more knowledge than we had 20 years ago. I remember covering the human genome, and just 20 years ago, we figured out what causes disease, and now we are getting in front of disease and we can change our habits. Now they have mobile stroke units to get to patients in a shorter time and robotic surgeries and cancer screenings. Also, fintech is changing our lives. There are so many areas of growth right now, and that's something I focus on during my shows each day. I am also focused on how new policy impacts American families and what's happening in the world over the long-term.
Policy plays a large part in growth and investments. What are you expecting to hear at Davos this year?
I am looking forward to hearing how trade will affect our relationships in the Eurozone as well as in Asia and about nationalism in the United States and what it has meant to the rest of the world. It's also interesting to see how the new Brazilian president will affect our relationship with them. There is a lot to be gained when you have all those policy makers within one place, and I am like the kid in a candy store because I've got the best interviews right there, and I can really get a sense of how world policy changes will impact the United States. I am hosting the opening panel, which is about growth and where we are today in terms of markets and the economy, with the Minister of China, Chairman of Bridgewater, and the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
You are very into wellness and you work 6 days a week. How do you stay grounded? Where do you like to travel?
My husband and I have a home in the Hamptons, and I go there on weekends and bike along the ocean road. I also do yoga, which definitely helps me rest and rejuvenate. Over Christmas, my husband and I went to Marrakesh, and it was amazing. We spent a night in the Sahara Desert, and I rode a camel. Every December/January, we like to go on hiking trips to set the tone of the year in terms of getting in shape and eating healthy. I loved the souk where I bought so many cool Moroccan textiles and caftans. It was an experience, and I am really glad we did it.
That sounds incredible. What's next on the horizon?
One my greatest assets is that I have great access to the corporate suite in terms of CEOs as well as the congressional suite and the administration to get firsthand information about what's going on. Being able to give this kind of access to our viewers has been a great thing, which is the reason for the show's popularity. We have the highest income viewers of all cable programming, which is pretty extraordinary. My viewers are informed, educated, with money and are engaged. We cover trade, investing and my number one question is, where is the growth?
I've also been really active on social media, on Twitter and I love Instagram. I've always been a photographer and I have always had my camera since I was a kid, which is also a great way to promote the show and also show aspects of my own life.
I am sure the viewers want to see the personal side of you.
I think that they do, and I think that's the good point. My viewers think they know who I am, and I think that's why the show resonates because they feel like we are friends. I am really a girl's girl. I always help my assistants get on the air. When I first started on the New York Stock Exchange, there were a lot of people who didn't want me there, and I had to hold my ground. I think because of that, women relate to me, and that's why we have a big female viewership.
What do you love most about being a native New Yorker?
I grew up in Brooklyn, and I love New York because of its diversity. You can be in the city and be anonymous yet also visit the greatest landmarks on the planet. I am also Italian and my grandfather Carmine Bartiromo came to this country in 1919 during the war. In Italy, he was a bricklayer, and he and his brother built a restaurant in Brooklyn and named it Rex Manor, after a ship that transported people from Italy to America. My first job was in the coat check there, and I watched my entire family work hard to build this business. This is really who I am. I love working hard, and that's all I know. I am very proud of my upbringing, my Italian heritage, and who my parents are today. My mother is still my best friend. My mother, sister, and I are like three amigos, and we speak every day.
What has been the best advice you've received, and what has been the best advice you think you've bestowed on others?
When I talk to people in my industry, young women want to try to follow my footsteps, and I give three pieces of advice.
1. Work hard. There are no shortcuts. It doesn't matter who you know and who you don't know. It's about you and your performance, so work incredibly hard.
You may very well be in the right place at the right time, because it does require a little luck sometimes.
2. Do the right thing. Don't just try to do the right thing. We all know when we are faced with a dilemma what's right and what's wrong. It doesn't matter what industry you are in. The only thing you have is your reputation. That is it; all you have is your name, and you have to protect it and cherish it.
3. Be who you are, and be true to yourself.
In my journey, there have been many people who wanted to be me and do what I do. Sometimes, in this business, there is some jealousy. The mistake they always made when they were trying to be me is not being their own person. You have to love yourself and be who you are, and I think that's so important to excelling. Make sure you know what you are good at, do what you love, and do what you're good at. If you love what you do, you won't mind working hard at it. I love what I do, and after thirty years, I can honestly say I am working the hardest I have ever worked before. Nothing is guaranteed. One of the most important things that people have to recognize is that you have to keep up your end of the bargain. I am grateful for the life that I've had as well as the ability to work hard.
Produced By Hillary Latos
Photographed By UDO SPREITZENBARTH
Photography Assistants | Joey Wang
Wardrobe styling | Adrienne Kalligeros
Hair Artist | Nikki Ray
Shot on location at 135 West 52 St, Apt 37A, NYC courtesy of Douglas Elliman