Posted in: Exclusive, Interviews

Magazine Maven: Editor-in-Chief Mitzi Miller on Choosing Happiness

As the editor-in-Chief of Ebony magazine, Mitzi Miller sits at the helm of one of the most celebrated and influential publications in the world. A best-selling author and widely respected mentor to many aspiring journalists the New York native thrives in the fast-paced world of digital and print media whether she’s interviewing stars for the cover of Ebony, assigning stories on police brutality or making media appearances.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up around 7:30 and I immediately say a quick prayer before I get out of bed. Usually it’s a prayer of gratitude for this life and for the day. I’ll check my e-mails and answer anything that has popped up, put out a couple of fires and sometimes if I’m really lucky I can make it to the gym for about an hour.

I head to my office and I’m there by 10am. I average about four hour-long meetings per day. I spend my time producing the magazine, figuring out what stories are going into the next issue, and meeting with my editors.

I can’t remember a day where I have been able to get out before 9 pm. I’ll come home and do a little more work, talk on the phone, talk to my mom. I try to talk to my mom frequently because it grounds me. It’s easy to get caught up in work and disconnect from your loved ones so I’ll send text messages to people I was thinking about throughout the day when I get home.

I have been trying to read for leisure instead of checking social media. It can’t be the last thing I do with my brain so I have been reading a lot of self-improvement books. Oprah’s What I Know For Sure is up next after Thrive by Ariana Huffington.

What are three secrets to your success that you rely on to live your dream?

Keep it simple. We tend to overcomplicate things and that makes us fearful. Everything is doable when you break it down to small parts.

You have to say yes. Refute fear. The adrenaline rush that you get when you’re excited is the same rush you get when you’re afraid. It’s the same level of adrenaline. It’s how you choose to perceive that moment. If you refuse to say I’m scared and instead say I’m excited it changes everything.

You have to choose happy. Every single day you wake up with two options. You can either get up and be awake and walk through your life feeling like things are just what they are or you can get up and be grateful and excited and say, ‘today I’m going to be happy.’ The majority of us, myself included, have to make a conscious effort to be present in our lives and be happy. Being intentional about your happiness changes everything. It helps you to be more productive, to let things go quicker and figure out answers to things that seem so complex. Things you thought you would never get past, you just do.

What has been your biggest career mistake or obstacle you’ve had to overcome and what did you learn from that experience?

I think the biggest regret is not establishing work/life balance from the very beginning. I love what I do and I feel very blessed to be able to make a living doing what I love so it has always been very easy for me to inundate myself in my career and not take the time to take care of myself or make sure I’m spending time with the people that I love. As I have gotten older, while I have no regrets, I realize how important balance is. You never get back vacations with your friends or sunday brunches. Everything changes constantly and if you miss it you miss it. I think pursuing your career at 110% is important if it’s what you love but you should never lose sight of the people you love and making sure you are having experiences. At the end of the day it’s the memories and the moments. It’s not the achievements and the accolades. I used to work seven days a week and I missed weddings and bridal showers and things I can’t get back. I missed getting to know my friends’ kids when they were babies.

Who are your personal heroes and why?

My mom because she came to his country with $25 in her pocket. Both my parents came with very little money and they managed to provide an amazing education and life experience for me and my sister. They have never once allowed fear to stop them. They had all these challenges that i will never know and the just kept going and always pushed me to keep going.

I look up to Joyce E. Davis. She’s one of my mentors and she was entertainment editor when I was an intern. I have always wanted to be half as good a journalist as Joyce. She could have been catty and could have been overprotective of her position and that was never the energy I received from her. She was so welcoming to me and to this day I pay that forward. You hear these stories of girls not finding mentors and I have been so blessed to find mentors every step of the way.

Oprah is a living testament of living your best life. I am such a super fan. I get that she’s fallible but I also think there’s so much to be learned from the way that she lives and how she has evolved over the years. Her journey is so inspiring.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: “Life is for the living.” That’s my excuse for doing everything.

Follow Mitzi Miller

@mitzimoments on Twitter
@delcarmen75 on Instagram

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