From left: Mina tie-waist minidress, $440, and Celyn black bootie, $495, both at Alice + Olivia, The Royal Poinciana Plaza; hair clip, $48, by Jennifer Behr at Alice + Olivia, The Royal Poinciana Plaza. Button-up shirt, $168, and velvet jeans, $178, both at J.McLaughlin, Worth Avenue; Rockstud shoes, $1,095, by Valentino at Saks Fifth Avenue, Worth Avenue; bracelet, $95, at shopheet.com.
For TV journalist Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the popular MSNBC show Morning Joe, getting a contract at the show and writing her first book, Know Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, was a breakthrough moment for her. “I had a job in television where I wasn’t making as much money as my male counterparts, and I remembered that. The day I finally fixed it and I was being paid my value and was on par with my colleagues, I went from being 60% good at what I do to being 98%. I was there. I belonged, and the relationship gives you value back—and the right value.”
This is the message Brzezinski is determined to share with young professionals around the country in her new book Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond, which she wrote with her dynamic producer on Morning Joe, Daniela Pierre-Bravo—whose story as a young undocumented immigrant not only surprised Brzezinski, but inspired her to present her story and a different perspective to the work force.
As a young girl from an immigrant family, Pierre-Bravo had to work several jobs to pay for college and to survive personally and professionally in New York. “I had to work my way through school, hold down several jobs in New York, and I had to overcome a lot of things by trial and error. I didn’t have anybody holding my hand, telling me who to talk to or what to do. I just had to go back at it without the feeling of fear of failure,” says Pierre-Bravo. “By the time I got in the door at Morning Joe from the NBC Page Program, I was really hungry to prove myself and be useful. I think that is one of the biggest missed opportunities: to be useful to the person that you work with. I know it sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.”
As attested by her boss, Pierre-Bravo had an awareness and an intensity that set her apart from other pages. “It was the look in her eye,” smiles Brzezinski. “It was very intense. She was intent on getting the job; no matter what it was, she got it right—even my coffee! Even getting coffee is a huge opportunity not to be missed,” says Brzezinski. “Daniela was different than the other young people coming through the programs at NBC. I know we are supposed to provide the opportunities, but young people are supposed to take the ball and run with it, and she ran with it!”
From left: Maxi dress, $995, by La Double J at Kirna Zabête, The Royal Poinciana Plaza; hoop earrings, $95, at idaliabaudo.com. Silk top, $890, and blue wool trouser, $790, both by Adam Lippes at Kirna Zabête, The Royal Poinciana Plaza; silver bracelet, $129, at idaliabaudo.com.
The young author agrees with her boss, who she credits with teaching her so much about their industry and being successful in the workforce. “The details are what really matter. I took to heart the details, including Mika’s coffee, because the details are the clues,” notes Pierre-Bravo. “Just by seeing and absorbing how she worked with the people on the set, I learned a lot. My lack of direct opportunities taught me how to zero in on the things that matter,” confesses the young producer. Brzezinski continues, “You have a lot of young people today who think they need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, and anything less than that is just not going to make it. They are just so ready for like five steps up before they are ready.”
So what are the key ingredients this dynamic duo is sharing to packed audiences of young people around the country? Both women agree that attention to the details, drive, education and poise are real determining factors in navigating the working world successfully and moving up the ladder. “You really have to be ready to learn,” says Pierre-Bravo—and, adds Brzezinski, “be emotionally resilient.” The veteran TV personality recounts: “I had so many closed doors. When they kept closing, I just kept knocking because I knew a yes would come after all those noes.”
“Finding your voice is all about finding your value—what you bring to the table and your skills, and aligning that with the ecosystem that you’re working within. It all has to work together,” says Pierre-Bravo, smiling as her proud mentor looks on. “That’s so important,” Brzezinski adds, nodding her head. “Daniela put her time in working; getting face time with people; not squandering opportunities; and showing great work, her intensity and, yes, even her attention to my coffee order. It mattered.”
Photography by: Nick Mele / Styled by Zlata Kotmina / Assistant styling by Irina Smirnova / Makeup by Wilbert Ramos / Production management by Rachael Singer / Special thanks to Lorie Acio, senior director of communications for NBC News and MSNBC; and Rachel Campbell, chief of staff