You might recognize her from a brief cameo appearance on ABC’s The Goldbergs earlier this year (in which she plays herself), but Nancy Glass is more than an on-camera host. Across decades in the media business—weathering the seismic changes in how organizations make money and stay relevant—Glass has done it all: She was the first woman to host a nationally syndicated news show, and started her company, Glass Productions, over twenty years ago.
Glass spoke with Lifehacker about her approach to work over the years.
How do you stay motivated in the face of setbacks?
There is no such thing as success without previous failure. When things go wrong, no matter how painful the situation is, it’s an opportunity to figure out how to do things right. When I rowed crew my coach said, “When you screw up a stroke, don’t dwell on it. You have to concentrate on the one ahead.”
The fact is, things will go wrong. You must have the ability to stay focused on what you want to achieve. If you dwell on the bad moment instead of learning from it, your boat will flip. And in my case, I didn’t have a choice. When I started my business, I had kids to support. I had to keep rowing.
What’s been one of the main lessons about work that you’ve learned?
It seems like everyone is juggling right now. We all have too much to do. The only way to get things done in this environment is to compartmentalize. Focus on one project at a time. It isn’t always easy, but if you are thinking about everything you must do at once, you will get overwhelmed. Another thing, if your “to do” list is long, first do the thing you like the least. Then everything else seems a little less daunting.
For anyone looking to take a career plunge on their own—I’m thinking about how you launched your own production company–what’s your main advice?
Don’t give up. When I started my company 20 ago, everyone I talked to (and even those who had only heard about it) said it was a foolish thing to do, and it would never work. It was terrifying, but I didn’t listen to people who underestimated my work ethic, ability to learn and optimism.
I also turned the negatives into positives. We don’t pay NY or LA rents, so we can put the money on the screen. Clients got quality work. As for employees, people like living in Philadelphia; it’s a great place for families.
What are some skills you developed through your career that you think apply beyond work?
Managing people has been a wonderful learning experience. It made me more patient and a better listener. It teaches you that divergent points of view are healthy and should be taken into account. You learn how to help without interfering and how to support independent thought. You also learn that it isn’t just your stars or strugglers who need attention. Everyone deserves to be heard.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
There are a lot of exciting things happening. Our podcast division is growing exponentially. It’s a very fulfilling type of storytelling. We are working on new shows for CNN, A&E, TLC, Discovery and HGTV in addition to our current roster. We just formed a partnership with Marcus Lemonis from The Profit. As a company, we constantly are thinking of ways to challenge ourselves, and in a business where you have a shelf life somewhere between cottage cheese and yogurt, this has been a great run. I can’t wait to see what comes next.