Mentoring is something that’s become a bit of a passion for Fox News’ Dana Perino over the years. After her time serving as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush, Perino found herself constantly getting requests for guidance and career counseling. She included some of that in her first book, And the Good News Is…, and was completely overwhelmed with the response.
“That book came out in 2015, and I still hear about that chapter,” Perino said in an interview recently with The Daily Citizen. “And I would be asked by young women, ‘When are you going to write another?’ They were hungry for more, and their parents were hungry for more, or their loved ones wanted more for them. And over time I realized, I have more to say about how you could improve your day-to-day work life and then how to take it to the next level of becoming a manager and a leader. And while at the same time trying to find a way to give my advice for young women to reduce the amount of anxiety and worry.”
That resulted in her new book, Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman), which is filled with incredibly helpful life and career advice, all delivered with a sense of humor.
“I could spend all day long doing mentoring,” Perino shared. “And so that was my hope. All my life advice would be here, and I’m thrilled with the reception so far.”
By any measure, the book is already a success as it sold out in just four days and is in the process of being reprinted, showing the hunger for this type of solid advice for young women across the country about how to navigate life, career and family.
Perino knows of one young woman at Fox News who has read the book twice in just two weeks and stayed late one day just to organize her cubicle, part of the 5-minute pick-up recommended in the book in order to keep the work area tidy.
“I’ve noticed in this last month here she’s kept it up. And so, there was like sort of practical advice that came through,” Perino said.
Trey Gowdy, another Fox News personality and a former congressman, shared about how Perino mentored two of his former communications directors.
“I feel like I didn’t do that much but he never forgot what I did. And he said that he got a lot out of the book too. For example, he says he will stop using exclamation points in his email.”
Another suggestion for young women is to stop wearing Ugg’s at work, which I’m definitely still guilty of on cold days.
Perino said, “At the end of my interview on ‘The Today Show,’ Savannah Guthrie said, ‘I’ll never forget that you were one of the only people that reached out to me when I started working on the White House beat for NBC, and that you wanted to know about me and who I was.’ And I realized, oh my gosh, I’m watching in real time as the advice in my book that I give is coming back to me as well, because that’s been really great.”
Throughout the book, Perino’s kindness and generosity is constantly demonstrated as she encourages readers to send kind notes to colleagues or to lift up others when given a chance, especially if they’re having a difficult time. At one point in Everything Will Be Okay, when explaining who she is and why she is writing this book, Dana simply said, “Because I care about you.” The statement may be simple, but profound in this time of COVID.
“The book ended up coming out on the one-year anniversary of what was supposed to be a two-week lockdown to stop the spread,” she said. “And there have been some drastic changes and possibly permanent changes to the way we work. Many young people, especially the ones that have just graduated, they had all these hopes and dreams, and they’ve been completely dashed. They’re having to reorient their entire thinking.
“For those who are already in the workforce, they’ve gone from this idea of work from home for a while on Zoom to the fact that they have now realized that they will be living at work because work is going to be in their homes. This whole year has been very interesting in terms of the isolation, and I don’t think that we can underestimate the mental health consequences of being alone.”
Perino leans on her faith in challenging moments, from making decisions about whether to pursue a job in Washington D.C. or to serve the nation as a Press Secretary. Though she didn’t include a chapter dedicated to faith in the book, Fox News recently published an extra chapter about faith that will likely be included in the paperback edition.
“I’m grateful for my parents for instilling the religion in me early on because I had something to go to when I felt like I couldn’t say anything out loud,” Perino explained. “I had something to hold on to, right? Someone to rely on. Even if you couldn’t see that person or that entity.
“And then I find my faith helpful, especially when I’m needing to make a big decision. So, for example when I decided to move to England to be with (my husband) Peter and praying about that and falling asleep and deciding that it was the right thing to do, or when I decided to not stay in the television field and to try to move into politics and move to Washington DC, that was a big leap of faith. Because I thought I’d never work in television, if I did that. And obviously that’s not true.
“Even at the White House every day when I would walk in, I had a tradition with myself, where I would say a silent prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to serve the people of the United States. And I would ask for strength to be able to give my all. There were stressful times, but I also think that working for a president that was very open about his faith helps me be more comfortable talking about it as well.”
When it comes to her relationship with George W. Bush, Perino lights up. In the book she mentions that when Bush was first elected, she was interested in serving in his administration, which she ended up doing beginning in the Department of Justice in 2001. She later became the first woman to serve as the White House Press Secretary for a Republican administration from 2007 to 2009.
Photo with Dana, my mom and me outside Fox News’ filming location for The Five in 2015.
When it comes to the best piece of advice that Bush gave her, that happened after he left office and Perino had joined a public relations agency while also working with him on his book tour. Dana wasn’t happy in the new role and Bush picked up on that right away.
She recalls, “I confessed to him that I really didn’t like working at that PR firm but that I felt stuck, and he said, ‘Well, why don’t you start your own business?’ I had all these reasons why it would be just so hard for me to do my own business and he said, ‘I’m not persuaded by that, because you need to ask yourself, What’s the worst thing that could happen?’”
For Perino, it was just the thought of failure and then going to work at another PR firm.
“If that’s the worst thing, so why not give it a shot?” Bush told her.
“So, I’ve used that with other people when they come to see me that if you ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that could happen?’ In the book I repeatedly say that if you’re born in America you already won life’s great lottery, because you are free. And if you are an educated person, and a woman in today’s corporate America, then the only thing you really have to decide is how hard you want to work, because you can take risks here and be confident that if it fails, that’s okay. We need to have people willing to take risks in order for our economy to continue to thrive and for them to be fulfilled as well.”
Perino took his advice and did start her own successful public relations firm, but eventually gave that up when her work on Fox News started to pick up and she joined the highly successful weekly program The Five, which is celebrating its 10th season this year.
“It’s the longest I’ve ever held a job consistently without moving on, or being promoted or changing cities,” she said. “I’m thrilled that we have this opportunity to celebrate 10 years together. We have a great show, a wonderful audience, and such support in the building at Fox News. Other networks have tried to copy our idea, but they don’t ever succeed, and I think there’s just like a little bit of a secret sauce that nobody can quite figure out, but we have been able to consistently do a great program, every weekday for 10 years.”
Perino also started co-hosting America’s Newsroom this year with Bill Hemmer, which she says she absolutely loves, after closing her show The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.
Though not everyone is fit for showbiz or the fast-paced world of a newsroom, the advice Perino provides in Everything Will Be Okay is something that every young woman and mid-career professional can use as she navigates the complexities surrounding her life, job and family. It’s something I wish I had when I first entered the workforce.
“This is my hope for everyone. I don’t think there’s been a modern how-to mentoring guide that considered the whole person, rather than just work-related aspect that has come out in many, many years. I hope that it really lands and helps people.”
Photo from Amazon