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Leadership Lessons
Anchored to accomplishment
Rick Gangwani
update on Saturday, November 5, 2011
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Reading your favourite newspapers, scanning the blogosphere, hitting the gym and sitting in on a Mandarin class with your three-year-old may sound like a fruitful itinerary for the weekend. But for CNN International's Kristie Lu Stout, it's just another start to the work day, which commences after lunch and culminates with the live broadcast of her television show, News Stream, later that evening.

Indeed, it's of little doubt that the award-winning anchor and correspondent, who started her career covering technology news for a magazine in the US, exercises remarkable poise in juggling her schedule. Yet for all her success in this area, the effervescent newswoman shies away from glorifying her routine with popular phraseology.

"There's a lot of talk about 'work-life balance', but I really hate that term because it sounds like some strange acrobatic dance. You just have to power ahead, move forward and make sure you keep an eye on your priorities.

"Every day I ask myself what the most efficient way to spend my time is," Stout says. "You'll never, for example, catch me talking endlessly for an hour and a half on the phone with a friend."

This focus on efficiency is equally apparent in the way Stout interacts with writers and producers, with whom she "reads-in" on the day's news, and then meets with in the mid-afternoon to discuss the show rundown.

"After we figure out our rundown [in the afternoon], which is always in flux because of breaking news, I start to read-in even more, paying particular attention to any live events we're covering."

This, explains Stout, is critical when it comes to dealing with breaking news - arguably, the most challenging, but also most exciting, part of her job.

"It's always an adrenaline rush when you're reacting to things in real time," she says. "There's no script and you don't know what's going to happen next. You're essentially witnessing the event at the same time as the audience."

Of course, not all major events occur during the broadcasts. Along with her regular appearance on News Stream, Stout also contributes to some of the network's other shows and specials, the bulk of which are aired in the US.

And while CNN does strive to allocate coverage obligations to whichever office is up and running at the time, Stout notes that she does have to break with routine on occasion when it comes to major events.

Asked if such assignments might someday affect her ability to be a good journalist and mother at the same time, Stout remains confident that, like other female anchors of note, she will likely prevail on both fronts.

"Christiane Amanpour is a mother. Katie Couric is a mother. I have no doubt you can achieve both," she says. "Ultimately, however, you have to have the infrastructure to support you. Without it, I'm not so sure."

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