The Real Secrets of Success
Life + Money

The Real Secrets of Success

As anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” and host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated “Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo,” the financial journalist has witnessed and reported on one of the worst economies in modern memory. And she’s discovered how people from Wall Street to Main Street have managed the ups and downs of their careers and their personal lives during these tough times. Through interviews with top business and political leaders, Bartiromo knows the secrets of success and she shares them for the first time in her new book, The 10 Laws of Enduring Success (Crown Business, $26).  

Read our interview with the author:

The Fiscal Times (TFT): Your new book, with its pages of life lessons that bring home qualities worth embracing — courage, vision, integrity — is a departure for you. Normally you cover the business world, the economy and the markets. Tell us why you’ve written a book like this.  

MB:  I wanted to capitalize on the interactions I’ve had with so many successful people over the years. As I looked at their paths to success, I was struck by how much the rest of us could learn. Then I started adding in my own stories, my own path, which I’m not used to talking about. But I'm really happy I did. It became a motivational book, really. Anyone can learn valuable lessons here, especially in this unpredictable economy. 

TFT:  You say that humility is critical to professional success. Why?  

MB:  Everyone I spoke to, including some of the top CEOs, told me that the easiest way to lose success once you have it is hubris. We see so many examples of people who become successful and then think that they’re so great, almost a freak of nature. They think that’s why they’re in the roles they’re in. They don't factor in that they had a little luck in getting there. Let's face it: Luck plays a role in success. So it's important to keep your feet on the ground.  It's important that the people in charge understand that they’re supposed to be keeping things on track for everyone else while they're there. It’s not all about them. It’s about the companies they’re running. Humility and adaptability — those are both such important qualities.
TFT:  Remind us how you got started in your own career.
MB:  I was studying economics at NYU.  I switched my major to journalism on my mother's advice, and I loved it. Right after school I started as an intern at CNN Business News. As an industry it was in its infancy then. I did three business shows, then went on the assignment desk, and eventually to the Lou Dobbs program as a writer and a producer.  And then I began to go on camera at CNBC. That was years ago now — I don’t know where the time goes. 
TFT:  With what you've learned professionally over the years about finance, the markets and investing, have you changed anything in your own financial life? 
MB:  Things like diversification, understanding the fundamental story of an industry — those things are important. But I've always been very mindful of saving money. I learned that from a very young age from my mother; she always had great wisdom. When I was a child and wanted an ice cream cone, I’d say to her, “The ice cream truck is coming down the block. Can I get a cone?” She’d say, “Yes, you can have a cone. But how will you pay for it?” I always saved change in a money jar. So I was taught early on that if you want something, you have to save for it yourself.  I'm proud of that and I'm grateful for that. It taught me the value of saving and investing for the long term. Today, nobody ever really teaches this. That’s why I'm so passionate about teaching kids about money. They need to learn it before they become adults. By the time you’re an adult, you’re too embarrassed to admit that you don't understand it. 

TFT: If you had to name a national issue or two that really concern you, what would they be?
MB:  The rising debt is one. We cannot go on borrowing forever. This is what brought the economy to its knees. We need to make a change in terms of our spending. The average Joe out there recognizes this as a major issue. The numbers being thrown around now are extraordinary. People have figured out that the only way to control the deficit is to slow down on services. The states are going to look for any way to cut down on their spending. And I think people are getting this and that we are reaching a tipping point on this issue. I also very much want to see this country maintain its momentum in a global economy.

Read an excerpt from the book:

From the book, The 10 Laws of Enduring Success, by Maria Bartiromo

A friend was whining about the lousy economy and said wistfully, “I can remember when people could expect to have a job for life.” She resented not being able to stay with her company until she retired.

It was an amazing perspective, and clearly out of touch. It has been a very long time since people could count on having a job for life, much less want to stay in the same place for thirty or forty years. When you plan for your future, you shouldn’t say, “What job am I going to have?” You should say, “What ten jobs am I going to have?”

When you’re worried about your security, it’s very hard to think clearly about how you’ll shift gears when the time comes. But it’s necessary. No matter what your position, consider how you can build and diversify your skill set. Examine your portfolio of knowledge, figure out where the holes are, and fill them in.

When I started at CNN it was a young, scrappy company. Everyone was expected to wear many different hats. My experience there, working behind the camera--as a producer and writer and assignment editor--has allowed me to be the best I can be on camera because I understand the roles and agendas of the people around me.

Having a broad base of experience will allow you more security and greater opportunities. Look around: Where can you get experience in another facet of your business? What skills can you learn that are recession-proof? How would your potential be enhanced if you were to learn and practice one new skill each year?

Open your mind. Don’t limit yourself to the standard markers of professional experience. Our economy has changed and continues to change. It is vital to stretch yourself. Take a look at where the growth is in the coming decade. Former labor secretary Elaine Chao tells me we will need more than 1 million nurses in the coming years. The changing demographics of this country are causing a shortage. We are living longer and needing different things. Health care will be the growing area to watch, and it will attract a new surge of professionals to meet the demand.

Reprinted from the book: The 10 Laws of Enduring Success by Maria Bartiromo. Copyright 2010 by Maria Bartiromo. Published by arrangement with Crown Business, a division of Randomhouse, Inc.

Additional Maria Bartiromo Links

Maria Bartiromo: After the Collapse (The Fiscal Times)
Maria Bartiromo: The Glass Ceiling: Cracked but Not Shattered (The Fiscal Times)
Maria Bartiromo: The Real Secrets of Success (The Fiscal Times)