An Interview with Susan Lisovicz
Mover & Shaker Journalist, Educator, Consultant
by Susan J. Farese,
Susan Lisovicz is a dynamic renowned Journalist (well known for her Business/Financial reporting) and mass communicator with an incredible resume. A 1978 Communications Graduate at William Paterson University in New Jersey, Susan received the President’s Medal in 1999. Ms. Lisovicz is a former Reporter/ Anchor for CNN, CNBC, and during college was a reporter for WOBM-FM.
This Spring, 2015, Susan is a returning Donald W. Reynolds Center visiting professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Ms. Lisovicz formerly taught at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and William Paterson University.
Susan also consults as a Media Coach/Host and her clients have included Brown-Forman, UPS, Aegis Financial and Eco Ed Council. She has interviewed Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Barry Diller and Sumner Redstone. Ms. Lisovicz was the emcee for the UPS Executive Retreat in Palm Beach with keynote speaker Condoleezza Rice.
Per her website (www.susanlisovicz.com) Susan was “live on the air when former President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to the NYSE and was the only reporter to get an on-air comment”. Susan has covered breaking general assignment stories such as September 11th, the death of Pope John Paul II and Hurricane Katrina.
Side note: Susan and I were grammar school classmates in the quaint town of Wallington, New Jersey until my family and I moved “down the shore” the summer before 8th grade. We both share a love for and treasure the Jersey Shore and the art of communications. We have continued to keep in touch throughout the years. I admire Susan’s professionalism, dedicated work ethic and enthusiastic zest for life. Susan Lisovicz is a truly a role model. I am proud to interview Susan Lisovicz, (“the other Susan” on the “other side of the interview table”)!
SJF: Please tell us a bit about your upbringing…
SL: I grew up in a small town in suburban New Jersey. One of four children, a middle child. My father’s nickname was Easy Ed. All of our friends liked my parents. Anybody who came over for dinner was entertained with an endless supply of true and embarrassing stories about each of the children. My mother went right back to work as a nurse in the hospital as soon as we all were in school. She worked weekends and weird hours. In return she was able to get off the entire summer. Thus began my lifelong love affair with the Jersey Shore, where we still have a house where we all congregate. Our big Saturday night dinners at the shore with my brothers, sisters-in-law and me cooking for a dozen or more people is one of my favorite things.
SJF: Yes, I remember that quaint small town, Wallington, N.J., where we were parochial school classmates. We also mutually treasure the Jersey Shore. My Grandparents owned a bungalow a few streets from your former home (which sadly washed away during Hurricane Sandy) at Ortley Beach. We had fun times at Barnacle Bill’s playing pinball back in the day! Where has the time gone? Moving on…How long have you been a journalist/reporter/professor? (Did you always want to be one)?
SL: I have been a journalist since I was 15. My best friend was a year older and editor in chief of the high school newspaper. She suggested I write about a recent rock concert I attended. I gave it a lot of thought, handed in the article and realized this was my life calling.
SJF: Serendipity! Who knew??? What a great way to take that first step. Speaking of steps…What have been your life hurdles? successes?
SL: It is not easy to stay balanced. It is a constant struggle. For much of my life I’ve worked in a high-octane environment. You are working with people who are smarter, better connected, prettier… you name it. It’s a constant reminder to recite the Serenity Prayer.
SJF: One would never know that you have struggled, you make it all seem so easy! So inspiring! Which brings me to: who is “your” inspiration ?
SL: Nelson Mandela, who forgave. Pope John Paul II, for his courage. Paul Newman, for his integrity. Ted Turner, for his commitment to the environment.
SJF: That is an incredible line up. Can you tell us about three significant/pivotal events in your life?
SL: First heartbreak: Love hurts. My sister’s death at 29: There are no guarantees. My first layoff: The glass is half full, not half empty. It’s a time to check out new frontiers and sometimes it’s destiny.
SJF: Do you have any fears?
SL: Oh, sure. Fear of losing my independence, physically, financially. Fear of not reaching my potential. Fear of getting lazy and tired and worst of all, jaded. But there are a lot of things that I worry about in a larger sense. I worry about a growing lack of civil discourse in this country…I don’t even want to give voice to my worst fears about that. I worry that despite an infinite number of examples about how we abuse our natural resources (air, water, wildlife) that we continue to be lousy stewards of this beautiful planet and I worry about the Middle East. It always seems that when things can’t get any worse…they do.
SJF: What do you usually dream about?
SL: I can’t remember my dreams. Maybe that’s a good thing.
SJF: What is your strongest asset? What do you need to work on??
SL: Everyone comments on my high energy (and I’ve never been known to drink coffee) as well as my enthusiasm and love of adventure. As for what I need to work on: patience, living in the moment, maximizing time efficiency.
SJF: Do you “give back”? if so with which groups?
SL: I am on the board of the Y in my town and I am actively involved in projects, I am a Eucharistic minister at my church, I’ve done volunteer work at a hospital in Bangladesh and a children’s camp in Massachusetts. I am a member of the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy. And I teach.
SJF: What’s up next for you??? Teaching at Cronkite, Consulting etc.
SL: I’m still exploring this new career. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve done lectures in Poland and consulted privately all over the country and Europe.
SJF: Do you miss reporting/anchoring?
SL: I’m still a news junkie. I do get totally entranced when reading some news stories. I will stare at a TV monitor at work on a big story. I think sometimes.. that would be fun. But TV news is an all or nothing game. Energy, focus, stress levels, b.s. It will push you. I did it for a long time. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the news business 100%, But I am doing things differently now. And it feels right.
SL: Well, I know what can go wrong in an interview. I know words can get taken out of context. I know that the focus in the piece can be on something completely different than the interview that it was based on. But there’s something called trust and respect.
SJF: Any regrets in life?
SL: I should be fluent in a second language, should have learned how to eat like a lady.
SJF: Big smile after that last comment! Now, onto a more serious topic: How did 9-11 impact you?
SL: It continues to be a sickening reminder of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Yet the resilience of man is also extraordinary. One of the most memorable weddings I ever attended was that of a friend who remarried several years after losing her first husband in the South Tower.
SJF: Do you have any particular role models? Male/Female, in and out of your profession?
SL: Derek Jeter, for the combination of clean competition and a quiet dignity. Of course I have an endless number of female role models. My mother, who raised four children and worked full time as a hospital nurse. She teaches by example how to live your life. Christiane Amanpour: brilliant and gutsy. Malala Yousafzai: eloquent and fearless. And countless women I am lucky enough to call friends who are strong, compassionate and fun.
SJF: What qualities should the younger generation aspire to have that you think are important in this day and age?
SL: Tune in. Vote. Care. Do better than the generation before you.
SJF: How do you feel about how much tech people are using all the time? Do you think we should connect more in person?
SL: Yes. Smart phones and tablets can actually be very alienating when used to excess. We need to connect in person.
SJF: Funny stories about anchoring?
SL: Oh, there was the earring that fell off mid sentence. Or Richard Simmons trying to hijack my live shot or getting a call close to midnight to anchor the overnight when I was sipping a beer in a hot tub.
SJF: Funny! But you are so resilient, I have faith that you handled all of those well.
SJF: How do you handle loss????
SL: It makes me appreciate life and love that much more. And it makes me recognize that loss is part of life.
SJF: On that note…thank you, my friend, kindred spirit and “extraordinary person”, Susan Lisovicz for sharing your story!
Much more about Susan Lisovicz at her website: www.susanlisovicz.com
Follow Susan Lisovicz on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/susanlisovicz
Photos: Courtesy of Susan Lisovicz
Goodbye Friend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WBRsUuB3_8
Former CNN financial correspondent Susan Lisovicz: http://vimeo.com/10816188
CNN All Access, NYSE Susan Lisovicz Reporting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKG_9Wc8fdE
An especially poignant article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/05/dday.lisovicz/index.html?eref=onion and video with Susan Lisovicz and her late Uncle Lenny, a D-Day Hero: http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2009/06/06/lisovicz.dday.hero.cnn