How She Got There: Regina Lewis '91, USA Today Contributor and National TV Commentator

Name: Regina Lewis   

Website: about.me/reginalewis

Twitter: @ReginaLewis

LinkedIn: ReginaLewis

Year Graduated: 1991

Major: Economics

Job Title and Description: USA TODAY Contributor, National TV Commentator, & CEO Regina Lewis, LLC.

Favorite Lehigh memory: I loved my co-ed freshman dorm, ski team, and working for a semester in Philly at Fox 29.

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day? 

No, but I try to keep some constants. I am fan of 5 Minute Journal and “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I am a big consumer of content. I have Sirius radio in my car, so I can listen to CNBC in my car when I am running the kids around. It is highly efficient.  If you’re working in communications and media, there’s a real premium value in keeping up with the news.  People expect you to know what’s up and it helps inform your work.  I find it’s easier to keep up with the news, than catch up.  Is time consuming, but time well spent.

What is the best part of your job? 

Essentially it’s my job to learn stuff and then teach it to other people by telling stories and relaying tips in a way that’s topical, intriguing and genuinely useful.  I’m a huge fan of consumer trends and look for them anywhere and everywhere.  The best material often comes from real-life, so I intentionally blur my personal and professional life.  It’s all one big, eclectic mix.  I also really enjoy ghostwriting.  It’s a great, and often more profitable, way to utilize communications skills and help CEOs find their voice.  Talented people at the helm of major corporations have their hands full making deadlines and hitting business metrics, so they’re enormously grateful when someone can help them string together a differentiated narrative that succinctly explains what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

What’s something you’ve learned about the industry that you are in that wish you knew when you were just starting out? 

The beginning is exhilarating; the middle matters and your career success may have more to do with where you work than your own abilities; and the backside is humbling and what really distinguishes professionals.  I wish I had known to deliberately pace myself and play the long game.  I was lucky to work for a prestigious communications firm right out of Lehigh and was immediately exposed to some of the world’s best brands and leaders before ultimately joining AOL and also working with CNN, CBS, HGTV and Warner Books.  So, the beginning was awesome.  The middle was very much determined by being in the right place at the right time.  And, am still making up the rest ….

Do you have any advice for young women looking to get into your industry who are just starting out? 

Work weekends and holidays; that’s when high-profile opportunities open up and you have your best shot at being ‘discovered.’

What do you look for when considering hiring someone or working with someone? 

Are they a true news or marketing junkie or are they just going through the motions? Over time, genuine intellectual curiosity and passion for the profession prevails.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better? 

It started with my father who used informal, family moments to share business principles. For instance, if we went to the drugstore (Caldor at the time) he’d explain a loss leader.  I never looked at anything on the end-aisle the same way! To this day, I try to use this same approach with my own children, sometimes much to their chagrin.  But, if you’re really looking for marketing inspiration, editorial leads, etc., live your life fully. It’s right there.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable? 

Three Important Things:  

  1. There’s a million ways to make a living. 
  2. You can’t manufacture money. 
  3. Smile.

And Also: Remember, work is voluntary. Act like you want to be there (even when you don’t).  If you manage your personal finances well, it can be really liberating professionally because you’ll have more flexibility to do things you want to do versus take on roles you feel like you need to do. 

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it? 

If you want to stretch professionally, make sure you have a stable personal life.  In the end, who you marry and the family you build, is far more important and will inspire and enable your career.  On the flip side, it can also derail it.  They are not mutually exclusive.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

Ferociously consume content and play the long game.  Also, if you want to work in any marketing field, pay attention to advertising.  Just because you can DVR shows and skip ads, doesn’t mean you should. Advertising is telling and a good indicator of trends, since it’s based on market research.

How did you get into this industry? 

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I wasn’t a great student at the time and when a sorority sister suggested working for course credit, I was all in. We spent a semester in Philadelphia and I ended up interning at the Fox TV affiliate.  And, that was it… I am a huge fan of testing things out and — funny thing — was a stellar student from that point on. I suspect this was not a coincidence. I also did the Macy’s Executive Training Program and had a post-graduation job offer.  But, based on the retail internship, I didn’t want to go into sales.  That’s a helpful thing to know, because it rules out a lot. Think you want to be a Physician's Assistant?  Work at a clinic over the summer.  Nothing will test the strength of your career conviction faster and more accurately.