A Custom-Fit Life
December 30, 2009 by Erin Casey
Deborah Norville’s career didn’t follow the path she’d mapped out, but she created something better along the way.
If you know anything about Deborah Norville’s career, you know she has experienced her share of challenges in television and radio. But she’s also enjoyed the thrill of success, receiving numerous honors, including two Emmy Awards, two AWRT Gracie Awards, as well as being named Mother of the Year by the National Mother’s Day Committee. A dedicated mother of three, best-selling author, entrepreneur and award-winning journalist, Norville celebrates her 15th year as an anchor on Inside Edition in 2010.
Her story testifies to the possibility of creating a custom-fit career, even if where you end up isn’t where you originally intended. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Norville worked briefly in the Atlanta and Chicago markets before moving on to a bumpy few years at NBC, a year on ABC Radio, followed by several years at CBS and MSNBC, and then as an anchor for Inside Edition.
She reflects on how significantly the industry has changed since she began her career. Many changes have been positive, such as the acceptance of middle-aged women in media, to the topics networks are willing to cover. “It used be that news was defined as what you needed to know to be an informed citizen,” she says. Before Sept. 11, Norville recalls some reports deemed too unpleasant simply weren’t given airtime. “It wasn’t aired because it wasn’t what people wanted to hear,” she says. The ability to keep her audience informed is something she appreciates about her career at Inside Edition. “We’re running a syndicated news program that keeps people honest, particularly in the consumer arena.”
Changing the Rules
But it’s not only the industry that’s changed. Norville’s career took off. She was busy, anchoring for both CBS and Inside Edition, and loved her work. But she realized the travel and long hours were taking a toll on her family. “I had a couple of wake-up calls while on assignment,” she says, “and I knew my most important assignment is raising my three kids.” She eventually left CBS and began to craft a career that fit her life’s priorities. “You can’t change the rules of the game when the ball is already in play,” she says. When she changed networks, she set new ground rules—limiting travel chief among them.
“It’s all about choices and, hopefully, about building a career where you’re able to be accommodated because your value to the organization is recognized,” she says. That’s not always easy. “I’ve always had to prove myself, but I’ve never been the person elbowing to be the first in line. I feel like I’ve had to work harder to get noticed.” But today her work has paid off. Norville’s career allows her to stretch her journalism skills through a variety of both hard-hitting and human-interest stories, while leaving time for family and other endeavors. She is a best-selling author, active with a number of charities, and in 2009 she partnered with Premier Yarns to create her own line of yarns.
Norville’s life and success are the results of hard work and being honest about who she is and what she wants. For example, she says, “My yarn line came out because I stopped hiding a very vibrant part of myself. Rather than worrying that knitting wasn’t what empowered journalists do, I embraced it…. It was liberating.” And it led to a mutually beneficial opportunity with Premier Yarns.
“What has delighted me is that the more I push my own personal envelope, the more I’m able to accomplish,” Norville says. Many of the choices she’s made—from taking on dangerous assignments to walking away from a secure job—have required taking risks. But her perspective on regret and failure make taking those risks a little easier. “There are only two things that can’t be undone: birth and suicide. Other than that, you get a do-over. It may be painful… you may take a loss, but the worst thing is to ask yourself, ‘What if?’ ”she says. “If you do your research and then go for it, you’ve got a better than 50 percent chance at succeeding.”
Lessons from The Power of Respect
In late 2009, Deborah Norville released her newest book, The Power of Respect. In it, she reveals how small kindnesses and acts of politeness can improve relationships, increase productivity and empower people to be their best.
This engaging book is packed with real-life examples and research that support the need for respect at home, at work and in our children’s schools. The interviews and headline stories Norville shares describe how others have created positive cultures within their organizations, and bullet-point action items provide readers with practical tips for translating those ideas to their own lives.
Here are few tips from The Power of Respect that can help you create a culture of respect at home and in your workplace:
With Your Children
- Spell out—and act out—respect. Be clear with your children about your family’s traditions and values, and show them what those values look like in action.
- Be true to your word—show up when you say you will and keep your promises.
In Your Marriage
- Brag about your partner in front of others and your partner.
- Listen to and respect your partner’s view.
- Recognize others’ contributions and achievements.
- Get their facts straight (including your customers’ names).
Self-respect is a critical component of success. Your sense of self-respect is dictated by how you “look back at” yourself, and is largely determined by your sense of self-worth. Am I reaching my potential? Am I living my life as I should? Am I pleased with the choices I have made and the direction my life is taking? Am I caring for my health? Am I nourishing my intellect? Am I where I want to be on my spiritual journey? These are some of the default checks made when measuring your self-respect. Notice, they all are areas of your life over which you have control.