Kirstine Stewart recently started her much-publicized new gig as the managing director of Twitter Canada. Many saw it as a puzzling career move, but Stewart said she was keen to undertake a new challenge. Here, the former CBC-TV exec shares some of the secrets of her success, including why it’s not such a bad thing to be addicted to your CrackBerry.
Always be on
I probably should have rules about disconnecting from technology, but I don’t. The recent cover of Fast Company magazine had that whole “Unplug” movement, but I think it’s up to individuals to make choices that make sense for them. For me, there’s no such thing as work-life balance, it’s just a flow between the two. I think one of the things that I’m known for is being reachable. I respond to messages quickly. There is an inherent risk to always being on, but I think I’ve been able to turn it into an attribute. I’ve got photos of me on my honeymoon on safari, sitting in the back of an open jeep, and I’m on my BlackBerry because something was happening back at the CBC.
Meanies never prosper (for long)
I don’t believe in the saying “nice guys finish last.” We live in a world that is so connected and where you constantly encounter the same people. Maybe there is some short-term gain to be had from being unkind or disrespectful, but that will catch up with you. The advice about being good to people on the way up because they’re the same ones you’re going to meet on the way down is probably the best I’ve ever gotten.
Beware the wisdom of the pack
On occasions when I haven’t been happy with the end result of something, it often comes back to failing to listen to my inner voice. I can remember a few times at the CBC where we were looking at casting for certain shows and the group was wanting to go in one direction and I didn’t want to be the one to stand up and say this doesn’t feel right. And then it ends up that I should have stood in the way. Sometimes you just know, and it’s important to trust that instinct. Like with Battle of the Blades – I was totally confident in the idea, to the point that I didn’t even realize that people wondered whether or not it was going to connect with audiences. I was glad I didn’t hear about any of the doubt until after it was a hit.
How to dress for success
I remember the first time I was on any kind of stage at the CBC presenting the fall programming. It was something that I was really looking forward to and very proud of and then the next day I read about the shoes I was wearing. At first I felt like I had let the organization down because how I dressed had distracted from the main message. That was horrifying. I thought, that’s it, I’m going to throw out my heels and start wearing loafers, but of course then they would just find something else to pick at. As a female in a high-power job, I try not to feel like I have to be a poster child for all women. I just try to be the best version of myself.
K-Stew on K-Stew
Of course I became aware of Kristen Stewart [from the Twilight movies] because you can’t type my name without being auto-corrected or search my name online without getting her instead. It’s funny because once I found out about her I realized that she has a lot of qualities that I admire. She’s not bowing to any kind of stereotype of what a successful actress is supposed to be or how a successful actress is supposed to act and dress and what events you’re supposed to show up to. She has experienced so much criticism–her relationships, her wardrobe, her facial expressions – but she seems to be able to rise above it, which is impressive for anyone, especially someone so young. I’m a K-Stew fan.
This interview has been edited and condensed
As told to Courtney Shea
Special to The Globe and Mail