Making Strategic Career Moves With Stephanie Ruhle
October 28, 2021
Stephanie Ruhle, MSNBC Anchor and NBC News Senior Business Correspondent
Stephanie Ruhle anchors MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle Reports on weekdays and appears across all NBC News and MSNBC platforms as NBC News’ Senior Business Correspondent. A Wall Street veteran, Ruhle is known for bringing her business acumen and hard-hitting style to high profile interviews in her original reporting, and bringing humanity to her news coverage, covering the migrant crisis at the border in McAllen, TX and a daily “Good News Ruhles” segment.

​Ruhle is also the host of the Modern Ruhles podcast. The show covers zeitgeist topics with the goal of understanding and respecting ideas that conflict with our own. Previously, Ruhle served as anchor and managing editor for Bloomberg Television and editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. ​

You were an investment banker before transitioning into journalism. What sparked the move?

I'd been interested in media my whole life but I sort of stumbled into investment banking. I studied abroad for two of my four years in college, in Kenya, Guatemala and Italy, and wanted to work internationally again. That's how I fell into banking. A couple of years into the industry, I almost left to go to journalism school but a mentor of mine urged me not to leave suggesting I "make as much money as I can right now." It was really, really good advice. It's much easier to make a giant transition in your career when you know you've got your rent covered. It's about risk management. We all want to take chances in our lives. The best way to do that is to isolate your goal and remove as many other risks as you can. When the time came for me to make that massive leap at 36 years old, to a career that I knew nothing about - television, I'd given myself a financial cushion. So if it didn't work out, my kids would be okay, everything would be fine. Building that foundation and that cushion for myself were really important.

How did you get your first role as an anchor?

I credit a woman named Tiffany Dufu. She was the president of the White House Project, a nonprofit focused on getting women ahead in business and government. We were at a gathering and she reminded us that everyone in the room was pretty senior and we had to take advantage saying: "you each need to share what you want to do next and someone else here has to help get you there."

When it was my turn to speak, I was scared and very embarrassed because we're all afraid to put ourselves out there and share our light. We're afraid that if we do, someone's going to blow it out and ask who we think we are. But you never make shots you don't take, so I spoke up and shared my dream of working in media. A woman at the table called Melinda Wolf, who ran human resources for Bloomberg told me that listening to me speak convinced her I'd be incredible on TV and asked if she could be the person to help me. Two days later, she introduced me to Andy Lack, the president of Bloomberg Media.

I fully believe our financial health is part of our overall health and wellness. And we should have a better understanding.

Sounds like you accessed some great supporters. How do you think young people should approach mentorship?

I believe that we misrepresent what we call a mentor or sponsor, especially when we encourage all young women to get one. At the end of the day, even when we agree to mentor, the probability that it will end up being some significant career-changing relationship is very, very low. The most important aspect of mentorship is the relationship. The relationship isn't charity. It isn't someone choosing you out of the blue to pull you up. It is a two-way thing. When I look at people who have mentored me in my career or who I have mentored, we've always been indirectly connected. It's people I have been tangentially related to at work who either saw something in me or I saw something in them.

The probability of a cold email leading to a meaningful relationship is slim. And it's not that we don't care about those reaching out. It's just that everybody's time is valuable. So I think it's vital to have a hook and you do that by coming to the table with an idea or a solution - by providing value.

What was the inspiration behind your podcast Modern Rules?

My goal in every single thing I make is to help people get better and smarter. We always talk about how divided the country is. I don't think we are. I think everybody is trying to take care of themselves and their family. Everybody deserves to be financially secure, socially free and physically safe. And if we can help people secure that triangle by giving them the foundation they need to succeed, we should do it.

I have a bigger platform because I'm on TV. But with the explosion of social media, every individual has a more prominent voice than we've ever had. We are leaders and influencers who can set an example through smart, kind, good work.

I think there's a difference between having a point of view and a deep opinion, I have many points of view, but I'm open to changing them. The idea behind Modern Ruhles is that the world is changing and if we can talk to people we respect, who are experts about changing rules and getting smarter, then we can also get better. There were moments in my podcast that, for me, were really profound. You ask something that might seem racially insensitive, gender insensitive - take your pick but if the person respects you and knows you're coming from a good place, and you want to get better and smarter, then the chances are they'll be open to educating you. The problem comes when we ask questions or say things without doing our homework. Or worse, when we're afraid to touch these topics, so we don't talk about them at all. That's not advancing us either.

Why do you feel so strongly about women and our relationship with money?

One thing that's always infuriated me is hearing people say, especially women, "Oh, I'm not a finance person. I'm not a money person. I'm not a math person." Why not? Why aren't you? I know you care about money. I know you want to make more money. I know you're pissed when you don't get paid enough money. We're not using the correct language. We're not creating an inclusive enough culture where more people understand money.

It's crazy. We're willing to share totally embarrassing things with our girlfriends, yet we're too ashamed to talk about money. And money is the biggest stressor in American life. I fully believe our financial health is part of our overall health and wellness and we should have a better understanding. I've had the opportunity to learn and I want to teach them to more people. I want to make seemingly complicated subjects easier to digest. That desire sparked my move from Bloomberg to NBC five years ago.

The best way to ask potentially loaded questions is not off the cuff and not relying on silly anecdotal stereotypes. It's with genuine respect and curiosity.

How do you feel about going back into the office?

It's such a privilege to get to work from home but the problem is there are just no lines between work life and home life. You're just in a constant scramble of always working and then being accessible to your kids. Over the last year, it was extraordinary to see that we could function from home and not go out of business. We could get the cameras rolling and talk to sources and report stories. But as far as optimizing productivity, thriving and flourishing, I definitely wasn't.

From a personal perspective, I don't want to go back to the office. We save an enormous amount of time and money being at home, plus the convenience is just so great but I have to have hard conversations with myself about being productive. Yeah, I get the job done from home, but am I rocking the job? I think not. So I am back in the office.

Was there a point in your career when you felt like you'd truly made it?

No, I've never felt like I've made it. First of all, I think that's like a devil's proposition. Goal-oriented people never feel that way. When we reach a goal, we're like, let me go higher. Secondly, I've been trying to get off of that diamond-encrusted gerbil wheel of unhappiness.

My goal is to try to have good days. And luckily I have a lot of really good ones. I'm so blessed to have the life that I have and the opportunities that I do, and I think one of the reasons I have a lot of blessings in my life is because I try to pay it forward. And I try to create a positive environment around me. So when I feel like I've made it, honestly, it's when I'm at my house and my children are having dinner with me. Or when my husband, sister, parents, friends, coworkers - the people I love are with me, celebrating, eating, drinking and being their best selves.

So for me, making it is using my resources to help someone else. It's having a great big dinner table with interesting, wonderful people. And an open seat for whoever I'm going to meet next.

But have I made it in my career? Girl, we're all just trying to get through the day.

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