Woman Around Town: Dana Perino—
Networking by the “Minute”

It’s six p.m. on a spring evening in New York and Dana Perino, political commentator and co-host of the FOX News Program, The Five, enters a law firm conference room packed with a group of young women. The group is there to attend a program she co-founded with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP Partner Dee Martin and Jamie Zuieback, called “Minute Mentoring.” Dressed in a beautiful, sleeveless hot pink dress with nude-colored four-inch heels, the petite former White House press secretary (George W. Bush Administration) opens the program by recalling how she first got the idea for “Minute Mentoring.”

As Dana explains, “Young women crave more advice from professional women about how to find career fulfillment, whether to get an advanced degree, when to know how to move on, how to ask for a raise, and how to achieve the perfect work-life balance.” When Dana left the Bush White House in January 2009, she received requests for coffees or lunches to meet with younger women who wanted guidance. Unfortunately successful career women often have little time to juggle the demands of work and their home life, let alone find time to mentor others in a significant way. Thus was born: Minute Mentoring.

Started in 2009, Minute Mentoring has had over a dozen events and has plans for a new online presence that will expand its reach to young women and mentors across the country. The events simulate speed dating – where Mentors from all different backgrounds and sectors come together to give their three best tips to Mentees, and answer as many of the Mentees’ questions they can in ten minutes. “A recent LinkedIn survey of 1,000 women reported that one out of five women said they had never had a mentor in the workplace. Minute Mentoring aims to bridge that gap,” says Dee Martin.

The event in New York was fun and fast-paced with loads of terrific career tips. The mentoring sessions were followed by a reception where there was ample opportunity for networking – an important factor in anyone’s career growth.

Among the Mentors at the evening’s event were: Susanne Clark, General Counsel and Senior Managing Director of Centerbridge Partners; Tina Constable, Senior Vice President and Publisher at Crown Publishing; Renée Dailey, Partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP; Pamela Fisher, Vice President of Corporate Diversity for News Corporation; Jacqueline Jenkins, Managing Director at AIG Asset Management; Jaclyn Levin, Senior Producer for NBC News’s The Today Show; and, Stacy Russell, Senior Litigation Counsel, Halliburton Law Department.

Here are some of the tips they shared with their mentees:

Tina Constable said that women are particularly shy about asking for a raise but advises, “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve but be aware of the timing.” She went on to advise her mentees to “always be honest to who you are as a person and stick to those values, and treat people with kindness and respect. It will get you what you need at the end of the day.”

Stacy Russell summed up her tips in three words: resolution, reputation, and relationships. Stacy demonstrated resolution early in her career when she had the confidence to counter her lead counsel by offering a different strategic approach that proved instrumental in swaying the jury and winning the case. Her resolution to take a different approach not only won the case but also led to an offer from opposing counsel to join a prestigious New York law firm. Stacy also pointed out that it’s important to have an appreciation of your reputation in an organization to make sure there’s no misrepresentation. Women in particular are often pegged as not having the same commitment to their careers because of family responsibilities. And, while it may be stating the obvious: it’s all about relationships – establishing them and nurturing them. You want to become the “go to” person in your organization.

Jacqueline Jenkins added,“We can’t have it all at the same time. Let your lives ebb and flow based on what’s most important in your life at a given point in time.” Jacqueline also illustrated how confidence plays an important role in our lives and in our careers. By example, she noted that with her twin 11 year-old son and daughter, it’s often her son who demonstrates the higher degree of confidence while her daughter actually does better on the test. And she wisely opined, “Learn to embrace the unexpected things that happen in your careers.”

Dana Perino has certainly embraced the unexpected things in her career. There’s no better example of this than when she was named White House Press Secretary when her colleague and close friend, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, had to resign due to health reasons. Dana stepped up to the plate in a big way. Her rule: Be well prepared and know your facts better than any reporter present in the White House briefing room.

Since leaving the White House press office, Dana is busier than ever. In addition to co-hosting The Five, she’s a FOX News contributor, president of Dana Perino and Company, a strategic communications firm she founded in 2009, and serves on various boards. President Obama appointed her to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2009. The Board’s mission is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.

With her work commitments now primarily based in New York, Dana and her husband recently moved to the city. She is enjoying life in New York and happily shared her opinions and observations with Woman Around Town.

Woman Around Town’s Six Questions

Favorite Place to Shop: C Wonder in Soho; Faconnable on Fifth Avenue; the vendors at the Brooklyn Flea Market where I have purchased some fabulous items including a leather clutch with a corduroy butterfly detail that fits everything I need for an evening out.
Favorite Place to Eat: 21 Club
Favorite New York Sight: The view from our apartment. We live in a new building in Hell’s Kitchen, right above the Lincoln Tunnel, and we can see north, west and south. The Statue of Liberty gives me a quiet comfort every morning. I don’t like it when the fog has her covered up. For my 40th birthday, we had close friends and my mom and aunt visiting. We had dinner at Battery Gardens, in Battery Park. A wedding party there the same night had arranged fireworks at just the right moment, which went off just to the left of Lady Liberty. For a second we pretended they were for us, too.
Favorite New York Moment: There have been many – but on Memorial Day weekend as we walked by Times Square, the United States Marine Band was there jammin’ with songs from the Rolling Stones and Soft Cell. They performed right in front of the Armed Services recruiting station, and I will never forget the tears of joy and pride that spilled over as we cheered them on.
What You Love About New York: What you read about NYC is true – there’s an energy here that’s hard to describe, but wonderful to experience. And I love our doormen – we always have a laugh, play some trivia, share bits about our days. It’s not true that New Yorkers are unfriendly – we have found just the opposite. I’ll never forget a taxi driver who helped smooth over an argument when we were lost – and blaming one another for it. We kept apologizing to him, but he laughed and said as a married man, he understood. He stuck with us for the better part of an hour. We gave him a huge tip!
What You Hate About New York: Honking. It drives me crazy!

To learn more about Minute Mentoring, please visit the website.

About Robin Weaver (53 Articles)
Robin Weaver is a lawyer with over 20 years experience in strategic communications, government affairs and tax planning with a Fortune 100 company. She enjoys reading, especially history and biography, traveling, and movies. A life-long Anglophile, she also enjoys Jane Austen, George Eliot, and trips to London. Having grown up in Pittsburgh, she remains a loyal Steeler fan. For Woman Around Town, her stories focus on careers.