Trish Regan's Advice On How To Reconcile Ambition And Family
The young American women of today have a dilemma. No, not the kind our great-grandmothers faced. In 2019, the world is our oyster, and our futures are determined by our decisions. Ours is the dilemma of choice. Some of us have lofty ambitions. Some of us would love nothing more than to be a wife and mother. And then there are those of us who wonder, is it possible to have both?
Trish Regan/Courtesy of FOX Business Network
Success is so individual. It means different things to different people. For Trish Regan, it’s being happy. “I don’t need any of this to consider myself a success,” she says, as we sit in the high-rise News Corp cafe overlooking Manhattan. “I have a husband who’s the love of my life, and I have my kids.” So seemingly simple, “being happy.” Yet for many, so elusive. I guess that’s why they say success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.
Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.
Who Is Trish Regan?
And more importantly, why do you care? Because whichever path is in your sights (professional, homemaker, or some combo), one thing’s for sure – success leaves clues. She is the host of Trish Regan Primetime on FOX Business Network. And aside from being an Emmy-nominated television host who writes her own show (where she’s the only woman to hold the 8PM/ET primetime slot), Trish is a happily married wife and a mother to three beautiful children.
If you’re thinking, “Holy Girl-Power. She sounds amazing. Meanwhile, I’m over here eating my bowl of ramen trying to decide what to do with my life,” you're not the only one.
In fact, Trish never planned on being where she is today. She studied classical singing at the New England Conservatory in Boston and planned to be a professional opera singer. What’s even crazier is that the day she got the “dream call” from a prestigious opera house in Europe was the day she changed course completely, transferring to Columbia University to study history and finance. Eventually, she went on to work at Goldman Sachs.
Now I’ll be honest – as a young Millennial, I don’t really watch the mainstream news. Usually, it’s one story being echoed all day through different mouths, often with a strong and united bias handed down from on high. But Trish is different. While other hosts ramble on about the “hot” story of the day, Trish finds the stories people aren’t talking about, the ones that carry great economic and geopolitical significance.
Trish Regan/Courtesy of FOX Business Network
What Makes Her So Unique?
It’s 7:59 PM in the studio, and I’m sitting across the stage to the side of the cameras. Trish is seated, poised and relaxed under the lights in a gorgeous red jumpsuit and heels. She’s making last-minute changes to her opening monologue on the tumultuous events in Venezuela, where its citizens, ravaged by hunger, struggle to overthrow a socialist dictator who is murdering his own people in the streets. Tomorrow is the interview, and there’s one question on my mind – what makes her so unique? Over the next hour, I got my answer. The next day, we met for drinks. She looked fabulous.
News Corp Cafe, Manhattan, NY
Q: Why do you think your show has such high ratings in the most coveted primetime spot?
Trish: I approach stories differently, and I think I have a unique intensity, along with a genuine authenticity that I hope resonates. I hope the viewer comes away knowing me instead of a one-dimensional person they see on a screen.
Q: What’s a typical day in your life?
Trish: I get up really early to help get my kids out the door. I joke that we no longer have family dinner because I’m on television at the time, so we have family breakfast! By 11:00am, I kind of have an idea of what I want the show to be about that night. Usually by 4/4:30pm, I’m writing, and the show’s written by 7pm. I’m in hair and makeup until 7:45pm, then I’m on the show at 8pm. After that, I go home, and James always waits up for me. Then we chat and go to bed.
Q: Take me back to the beginning. How did you get your first job in media?
Trish: I actually did an internship at NBC News while I was at Columbia, and I sent a little tape off. I sent it out to a local station in New Hampshire. They hired me for actually no money, which was hard because I had to leave Goldman Sachs. But I thought, “I know finance and TV,” and Bloomberg was just looking to hire some TV reporters. So I randomly sent in a tape and called them up – they hired me on the spot. I had to call my boss at Goldman Sachs...and got an earful. He didn’t talk to me for years. But, in 2012, I got this email from him out of the blue. “You know what?” It said, “You were right. I was wrong.” We’re still friends to this day.
Lesson: Don’t wait for opportunity. Take action and go with your gut.
Q: What was it like starting out your career in an industry that was heavily dominated by men?
Trish: It’s different today. When I was a young girl my parents bought me this t-shirt that said, “anything boys can do, girls can do better.” They just had daughters. As the mother of daughters and a son, I wouldn’t encourage something like that now since I don’t think it’s a comparison, but it speaks to the day and age in which I was growing up. There were definite biases for my mother’s generation so she wanted me to know, “don’t worry about that, you can blast through anything.” I remember being one of just a handful of women on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs who wasn’t an assistant.
Lesson: Be grateful to the women who paved the way for us, to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who truly struggled.
Q: So many young women have lost perspective. Can you elaborate on how things are different today than they were then?
Trish: It’s changed significantly. My team is predominantly women. And it’s not a bias against men in any way. They’re extraordinarily qualified and would be great. But it’s a diverse workforce that didn’t used to exist. My daughters didn’t know why it was a big deal that Hillary Clinton was running for president, and I think it’s so refreshing because the more we can get away from identity politics, the color of your skin or what gender we are, the better.
The more we can get away from identity politics, the color of your skin or what gender we are, the better.
Sure, I’m the only woman at 8 o’clock primetime, but I don’t think of it that way. The important thing is getting to a point in society where of course you can be a president or CEO as a woman. As women, we do have the same opportunities as men, and my girls know that. I’m proud they do.
Lesson: As women today in the Western world, we have more opportunity than ever before in history. Don’t use your gender as an excuse for why you can’t succeed.
Q: Do you really think men and women have equal opportunity in America today?
Trish: I think the challenge for any woman is that if you want to be a mother and have a successful career, it’s very hard to strike a balance. I think there’s something fundamentally different in women. When my kids are sick, they want their mom. They love their dad, too, but they want their mom. It was a difficult decision to take this job knowing I couldn’t tuck my kids in at night, and I wanted to make sure I could be the best mother I could be while maximizing my career opportunity.
The challenge for any woman is that if you want to be a mother and have a successful career, it’s very hard to strike a balance.
Men automatically take that promotion, but women, we feel the responsibility; I think it’s in our DNA as mothers that we have this connection. It makes it harder, which is why I bring my kids to the office and spend as much time with them as I can. I have so much respect for those that stay at home and take care of their kids because that’s our future. I think we’re breaking the glass ceiling, but now it’s up to women.
Lesson: Equal opportunity doesn't guarantee an easy path. At the end of the day, it gets down to the choices we as women make. The career, industry, hours we work, and even the amount we make ultimately come down to our willingness to sacrifice other elements of life.
Q: When you first got pregnant, did you feel pressure regarding your job?
Trish: I worked up until the day I delivered. The night I was nominated for an Emmy award, I was sitting in the theater thinking, “I’m pretty sure those are labor pains!” I wasn’t going to leave since I was nominated. But I got a much bigger and better prize! I delivered that evening, right after the Emmys.
Lesson: The gift of life is greater than any award. One is an object of recognition, the other is a fountain of love.
Q: How much maternity leave did you take after giving birth?
Trish: That is a sore subject, which I actually wrote about because I regret not taking what I SHOULD’VE. I took 6 weeks with the girls and 3 weeks with my boy. I had a very liberal maternity leave policy and could’ve taken more time. I also have a tremendously supportive husband. He’s the kind of husband for today’s women who, if I never wanted to work again and be a mom, he’d say, “Go for it.” If I loved my job, he’d say, “Go for it.” He encouraged me to take some more time off, but I wanted to go back to work.
I regret not taking what I should’ve.
I say to the women who work with me, this is a moment in time that’s really for you and your baby. It’s an important bonding experience that you both deserve. You should be working in an environment that appreciates you so much. I think I worked in a time where I didn’t see women in my position. But you should feel secure knowing you can take that time and come back right where you left off. The job will always be here, but that time with your newborn won’t.
Lesson: In the end, no one will say, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Don’t pass up the fleeting, precious moments that matter most with the ones who matter most.
Q: What advice do you have for young married couples who are struggling with work/love-life balance?
Trish: You don’t want to wake up one day and miss out on an opportunity to share your life with someone in a meaningful way. Your husband or having children. There’s no amount of work that’s going to fill that void. So family is absolutely number one. And I think just having mutual respect for one another. James and I were always quite driven. One time he had a great opportunity to move to California for his job and said, “Wait a minute. Let me check with my wife. She’s a journalist, and we need to make sure she finds a position out there because she’s starting her career.” Being supportive of each other is the most important thing. Keep everything in balance, knowing your relationship really frames the rest of your life. Work hard but just remember, you have to put each other first.
Lesson: Your marriage always comes first. All the money and success in the world won’t bring happiness if losing the one you love most is the price you pay.
Q: What would you say to women who feel they won’t be happy until they reach a certain level of success?
Trish: Look around you. Appreciate what you have, and be careful what you wish for! Learn to love the process.
Lesson: Don’t wait for someday to be happy. Decide to live in a beautiful state today and every day. If all your happiness is placed on the end result, what happens if you achieve it and it doesn’t make you happy?
Q: Do you have a mentor?
Trish: Mindy Grossman (CEO) from Weight Watchers. She used to run HSN, and she’s had a fantastic career. One of the few female Fortune 500 CEOs out there who balances career and family successfully. Both she and her husband had very successful careers and have a wonderful daughter. She’s a great friend.
Lesson: Find a mentor in your desired industry and learn everything you can from them. It can save you years of mistakes and failure.
Q: What advice would you give your kids for the future?
Trish: I would love for my children to be entrepreneurs. There’s an ability to sort of chart your own destiny that way, so I would highly encourage my children to create something for themselves. Here’s some advice for young women: trust your mother because she knows. My mom used to tell me I’d be a great broadcast journalist, but when you’re a teenager, you don’t always want to do what your mom says.
Trust your mother because she knows.
Q: Speaking of mothers, what are your plans for Mother’s Day?
Trish: We have a big Mother’s Day weekend planned! I’m even taking the first Friday off the show in months to squeeze every last second out of it! (Laughs.) My mother and father arrive at our home in Connecticut this Thursday, and my sister, her husband, and their two dogs join us for the weekend as well. We have a family dinner at home planned for Friday night, followed by my twins’ spring school theater performance on Saturday...and brunch on Sunday! It may be a "made up" holiday but, hey, it never hurts to show our moms how much they mean to us. I know I wouldn’t be who I am without my mother being my biggest champion throughout my life.
I wouldn’t be who I am without my mother being my biggest champion throughout my life.
I want my children to know how much I love and respect her — and how much they mean to me. It’s important that they know how confident I am in their abilities — and that, no matter what, they are loved. It’s that unconditional love that really enables children to have the confidence they need to take chances in life. My mother gave me the freedom to try and the freedom to fail. I had that because I knew, no matter what, I was still her daughter, and that she would and will always love me. Instilling that kind of confidence and purpose in life is one of the most important things I can do for my three little ones.
Despite her natural gravitas, there’s an authentic humility in Trish that's irresistible. She doesn’t demand respect, she inspires it. Spend one minute with her staff and you’ll see. Trish isn’t their boss, she’s the woman they aspire to be. What inspires me most is that she's achieved enormous success and personal fulfillment — two very different things — while being candidly honest about the sacrifices that must be made when reconciling ambition and family.
As we shared drinks, it was evident that Trish wasn’t really thinking about herself when addressing my questions. At the heart of her answers, she was conveying to me (and to you) something that school can’t teach us, something our passion and ambition tends to ignore — that no amount of money or moments of fleeting glory can replace the things that matter most. For Trish, that’s the love of her family.
In my eyes, that’s why Trish Regan has it all.