The anchorMSNBC host finds 'home away from home' in Lititz
When Mika Brzezinski wants to get away from the craziness of co-hosting her morning news program “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, she likes to hit the road with her husband, WABC investigative reporter Jim Hoffer, and head to Lancaster County.
They've had a house in Hoffer's hometown of Lititz for the past few years, but lately she doesn't get to spend nearly as much time there as she'd like, partly because of taking her “Know Your Value” message on the road.
In 2012, Brzezinski published the bestselling book “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth” as a financial negotiation guide for women. This year she released a follow-up called “Grow Your Value” and launched a five-city “Know Your Value” tour to empower women in the workplace and provide a road map to the common challenges they face — from communication and social skills to interviewing and salaries.
Lives: New York City area and Lititz
Works: Co-host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC
College: Williams College, Williamstown, Mass.
Stress relief: Jogging
Her new goal, the long-time journalist says, is to “brand a movement.”
Q: Was the “Know Your Value” tour a success?
A: It's been a remarkable success. We had a sold-out crowd in all five cities and recently did our final event in Orlando. But we're going to build on it now and keep going. I don't know yet how many more cities we're going to do, but we'll be announcing a new tour very soon, probably for the spring.
What were some of the high points for you?
I'm not a household name like Barbara Walters or Meredith Vieira, so it was remarkable that so many people came out for the tour. What I took from it is that women really want to know their value. They're hungry for this message. Also, I'm stunned by the celebrities who wrapped their arms around this project — Martha Stewart, Brooke Shields, Rachael Ray, Elizabeth Warren. For them to fly somewhere and give a whole day to this message is just incredible.
Did growing up in Washington, D.C., and having a father who was so involved in world politics (Zbigniew Brzezinski was President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser) help to guide you into a journalism career?
It did. It exposed me to the world and made me curious. And it attracted me to telling stories. I got to go to China, and I was at Camp David during the peace accords between Israel and Egypt, so I met a lot of leaders when I was young and was exposed to so many social issues.
How about the women in your life?
I really got a leg up from them, especially my mother and grandmother. My mother was a sculptor, and my grandmother was the niece of the (exiled) president of Czechoslovakia (Edvard Beneš) during World War II. My grandmother was a very elegant woman. When she was young, it was thought that the most important thing for a woman to be was self-possessed and confident. So when I'd go to the White House with my parents at the age of 9, I was given a lesson in etiquette. And that helps me even now.
There's so much going on in the news these days. What do you do to stay on top of everything?
I'm always on the phone and I read all day long, taking in information from all sorts of different media. It's a constant churn. I love what I do, but it takes a lot out of you.
"I’m always on the phone and I read all day long, taking in information from all sorts of different media. It’s a constant churn. I love what I do, but it takes a lot out of you."
How do you get your mind off of it when you're not working?
I have a hard time getting away from it sometimes. That's why we have our place in Lititz. You need to have somewhere to go. And I love to go for a run to clear my head. The Lancaster County countryside is one of the best places to do that.
How long have you had the house in Lititz?
For five or six years. We normally live in the New York City area, but Lititz is our home away from home. My husband grew up there and always wanted to put down roots in his hometown. His three brothers still live in the area, too — Lititz, Ephrata, Millersville. The Hoffer brothers are quite a lively, raucous bunch. Whenever there's a family event, they'll play volleyball and get into a huge brawl. I think it's only half-serious. But it's a great family.
Do you have certain places you like to visit in Lancaster County?
I loved the Wilbur Chocolate plant in Lititz, so I was sad to hear it was closing.
Do local folks ever stop you on the street and try to engage you in political discussions or talk about your show?
That happens pretty much everywhere, not just in Lititz.
Do you have any additional projects coming up?
I can't say anything yet about other projects that I have in development, but they grew out of what's happened over the past year. I've been so honored to have a career in journalism, but I'm a TV host now, and having the skill to help women know their value is my calling. You have to look at these things from a business and branding perspective. I have a message to build on, and I've realized there's so much more we can do to give women advice and tools they can utilize.