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Q&A with Amanda Lang

What inspires you?

The idea that we can make a difference – however small – in what people know and think about the world. It’s exhilarating.

What do you love most about working in media?

I love that I get to learn for a living! Every day I get to interview the smartest people in the world on subjects that I find fascinating. It’s a pretty sweet deal!

What was your first job?

I worked at a Dairy Queen in Winnipeg when I was 14. The following year I got a job at Eaton’s, which I kept right through university.

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?

Not to rush through school – you never get that period of life back when learning is a luxury, and your parents are still willing to help you out. I should have studied longer, and more.

What is the best professional lesson you’ve learnt so far?

Never try to make yourself look smart. It makes for terrible interviews, and nobody wins, least of all you, since you don’t learn a thing.

What is your greatest strength?

I’m interested in almost any idea, person or concept. It makes the world endlessly fascinating, and keeps me energized.

What is your leadership brand?

I work hard and expect the people around me to work hard too.

Who are your mentors or role models?

Jack Fleischmann, who gave me my first job in television and great advice along the way, and Peter Mansbridge, who has a sense of the responsibilities of journalism that most in the business don’t.

What is the most defining moment of your career?

The morning of 9/11. I was at the New York Stock Exchange, and I learned a lot about myself that morning, including the fact that I had zero desire to cover the wreckage. War zones are not for me.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?

Moving, as a 28-year-old, to become the Financial Post’s New York Correspondent. I didn’t know a soul in the city, and I’m a pretty shy person – but it paid off in a big way.

When are you most influential?

When I’m very passionate about something.

How do you overcome challenges?

I haven’t had any that couldn’t be overcome either with time and patience or tenacity. Sometimes it’s about pushing harder, but other times it’s about accepting that things aren’t going to work the way you thought.

How do you balance work and life?

Who says I do?! I don’t think anyone does – not balance. Sometimes work wins, sometimes life wins. What I do try to do is prioritize – I care deeply about my family, and make time for them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t sacrifices.

How do you define success?

When a viewer says they enjoy the program and feel like they are being enlightened, I think we’ve hit the mark. Success is reaching people, and making the world make sense.

What’s next?

Lang & O’Leary hits the main network this Fall, and I’m excited about reaching a new, and bigger, audience. Between that and my book, I think I have plenty to chew on!

Amanda Lang is the co-host of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, a daily business program airing on CBC News Network and CBC. She is also CBC’s senior business correspondent, reporting for The National. Amanda’s first book, The Power of Why, was published in October.