Name: Nicole Lapin
Job Title and Description: Financial TV correspondent, former CNN and CNBC anchor,
founder and CEO of Nothing But Gold Productions
College/Major: Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, valedictorian, journalism
and political science
Website: Recessionista.com and Decoding Wall St.
Twitter Handles: @NicoleLapin @GoRecessionista @DecodingWallSt
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Nicole Lapin: I think the better question is: what does my current job not entail? As the head of a
new and successful media start-up, I wear many hats: CEO, writer, editor, even bookkeeper on
occasion. We like to hustle, and it’s “all hands on deck” in these early stages. Every day is
different, but one thing remains the same: working in the dark. We’ll suddenly realize at around
8:00 pm that we’ve been so busy working that we haven’t turned the lights on yet!
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
NL: It was an internship at WNBC. HR had told me that I couldn’t have an internship because I
was too young; I wasn’t a junior or senior in college and that was the rule. But I knew the anchor’s
name so I looked it up in the directory, found his desk, and introduced myself as his summer intern.
He said that if I was crafty enough to get through security, I’d probably be crafty enough to be a
great intern. So he hired me on the spot.
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out
that you know now?
NL: Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
NL: My boss at First Business Network in Chicago. He taught me that every story is a business
story: it has characters, players, and a plotline. He also told me to “walk with kings and carry a
common touch” — whether I was reporting on the locker-room-esque floor of the stock exchange,
interviewing an executive, or talking unemployment on the south side of Chicago. He taught me to
be a chameleon and relate to everyone I met, no matter their title — even if it meant breaking out a
southern drawl from time to time!
HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
NL: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” I’m not sure exactly who said it but I think it’s good for keeping things in perspective.
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
NL: Wearing shoulder pads, fake eyelashes, and teasing my hair sky-high. Just don’t do it. You will look silly.
HC: What is the best part of your job?
NL: Giving a voice to people who don’t have one was always the driving force. It started by giving a voice to the wrongfully accused and the battered mothers through investigative reporting and local news, and then at CNN on a national and international level. Now, it’s helping young people who are part of this “Lost Generation” — who are marginalized and unemployed — to find their own voice and knowledge about business and finance.
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
NL: I don’t look for people who are proven experts in the field already. Journalism is pretty easy to learn, as is business, as long as you have the chutzpah to figure it out. I’m a hustler and expect the same from those around me — less talk, more action!
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
NL: I would tell my fellow twenty-somethings not to wait for anyone to hand you a big fancy opportunity. Get out there and do it. If you want to be on TV, start a video blog. If you want to be an author, don’t wait for the advance to start writing a book. If you want to be a documentary filmmaker, shoot some video and get to editing. It’s much easier to get those big fancy opportunities once you have something to show for doing the legwork and are no longer talking pie-in-the-sky conceptual dreams.