Rita Silvan, editor-in-chief of Golden Girl Finance talks to Susan Li, FOX Business Network correspondent. Li has interviewed everyone from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH. How did she go from being a student at the University of Toronto to landing one of the best media jobs in New York? (Hint: Her mom had something to do with it.)
GGF: Susan, tell us how your Mom influenced you.
SL: Well, Asian mothers have a reputation as being a bit tough and having very high expectations. They drive you to do the best you can. My Mom was definitely tough, but I know she meant well. For example, on Saturday mornings when my schoolmates were outside playing soccer at 9, I was inside taking Chinese language classes for three hours. Of course, those Chinese language skills ended up helping me later in life when I worked in Beijing as a news correspondent.
GGF: Tell us more about your Mom.
SL: My Mom demonstrated a non-stop work ethic. She was a single mother and she raised four kids on her own. She worked seven days a week for ten hours each day in the garment industry sewing dresses. She slept four hours a night.
GGF: Do you think some people just have more energy than others? Is it genetic?
SL: I don’t think the hard work ethic is genetic. For example, I love to sleep! It’s definitely ‘nurture, not nature’. You have to be driven by a sense of duty or to get to the finish line.
GGF: We often hear the term ‘Tiger Mom’ applied to Asian mothers. What makes a mother, a ‘Tiger Mom’?
SL: Tiger Mom is a cold process. It’s not warm. You’re always pushed to achieve more. Getting a 98% grade on a test is not good enough. Next time get a 100%. I would have loved to have had more hugs and kisses but, as you get older, you realize that they were doing their best and wanting the best for you. I would probably do some of the same things with my children. I would still drive them, but I’d add more encouragement and be more open and loving. I do think that some of the younger generation are perhaps too thin-skinned. I was definitely not coddled and told that I was great.
GGF: How did the job at FOX Business Network come about?
SL: I was at CNBC and Bloomberg before FOX Business Network. I was covering a lot of global markets and business news. FOX Business has grown in viewership over the years, surpassing CNBC—and that was very attractive to me. I also like how FOX Business combines both market and stock news with political news, to see the full economic picture. It was time for me to branch out in terms of my perspective of the markets.
GGF: What’s been your biggest interview so far?
SL: On a personal front it was interviewing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He has a great personality and there is always a lot of interest in what he has to say. My first interview with him was just after he got elected. I also interviewed him in New York in May 2017 at the New York Economic Club during the NAFTA negotiations when markets were reacting to the trade talks. That interview was picked up by other networks.
GGF: How do you handle a really tough interview?
SL: You just have to go with it and stick to your interview strategy. It’s your job to ask the tough questions. Today, the viewing public want to see something genuine even if that happens to be something a bit hostile. That’s also where my Mom’s work ethic comes in: You’ve just got to push through.
GGF: Who have you interviewed who surprised you in some way?
SL: I’d have to say it was Hugo Chávez, [former President of Venezuela]. I interviewed him in Beijing when he was there to negotiate an oil deal with China. He had a reputation that preceded him. But, in person, he was warm and treated you like you were the only person in the room.
GGF: Who’s on your interview wish list today?
SL: In terms of women, I’d say Kate Middleton. She’s in a tough position yet she handles it so gracefully. Oprah would be at the top of my list. I would love, love, love to interview her. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow. I’d like to interview Jean Liu who’s the President of Didi Chuxing. She’s a young entrepreneur who conquered Uber in China and she also successfully battled breast cancer.
GGF: What’s the best/worst piece of career advice you ever got?
SL: When I was starting out at CBC, I asked a senior producer and managing editor for career guidance. His answer was, “Kid you’re never going to make it.” I was devastated. I was a young woman, a recent graduate. Could it be true? That’s where having a Tiger Mom kicked in. It lit a fire under me. And I thought, “I’ll prove you wrong.”
GGF: You meet so many business leaders. Have you ever been offered a great job to work with one of them?
SL: Yes, I’ve been solicited. I really enjoy what I do. I talk to interesting people all day long and help viewers analyze and understand the big topics the day.
GGF: What’s something about you that most people wouldn’t know?
SL: I’m pretty much a tomboy. I played tennis in college and I follow football, basketball. When I was visiting my Mom in Toronto, we went to a Raptors game together. I like fashion and sports.
GGF: How has meeting investment and business leaders influenced your own thinking about investing?
SL: I’m inspired by the people I talk to. For example, I interviewed the CFO of Apple recently and he was describing how they distribute money to build value. I watched an interview with Jeff Bezos who was ahead of his time in terms of how to think about the use of capital. He said that Best Buy with their storefronts may spend $1,000 per square foot compared to Amazon which spends closer to $9 per square foot.
GGF: You’ve got a very demanding job and you’ve got to look great all the time. How do you take care of yourself?
SL: I drink a lot of espresso! I also drink a lot of water because hydration gives you energy. I don’t follow any specific diet, but I do take multi-vitamins.
GGF: If you had a free day to do anything you’d like how would you spend it?
SL: Sleep in, anything past 7:00am counts as a sleep-in because I usually get up around 5:30. I’d drink coffee, really slowly, and read for a few hours.
GGF: Any plans to move back to Canada?
SL: I’ve worked in the U.S. for most of my career. It’s always been my dream to live in New York and I’m having so much fun.