Politics 12 April 2019
Ahead of the 2020 elections, Harris Faulkner is using her role as a journalist to address some of the recent and recurring topics polarizing the Democratic and Republican parties. This Sunday, Faulkner leads her second town hall in Iowa to source perspectives from the American people on some of these trending topics, which continue to increase in relevancy ahead of 2020.
"When things start to grow across the nation, it becomes more than just a topic you cover," says Faulkner on her daily responsibility of reporting in the current political climate. “It becomes the fabric of what people will take with them when they go to the polls."
The FOX News anchor of Outnumbered Overtime, expects her second town hall to tackle the impact of the #MeToo movement on the 2020 election, the Democratic Party and the rise of socialism, yet she is also open to discussions based on what people have to say.
“We need to gather how they see it because that's all that matters," Faulkner shares. “It's not a matter of for or against, but rather the principles within these topics that both parties need to be aware of."
We had the chance to chat with Faulkner ahead of her town hall (airing at 8pm/ET on Sunday, April 14) about the impact of town halls, importance of listening, and the significance of the media ahead of the elections.
Tell me more about the town hall.
Town Hall America is something that my team and I fashioned last year. We wanted to pick issues affecting people all around America, and actually listen to them. If we're covering the border, we need to go to a border state. That's why I want to go to Iowa, not just once but three times in 30 days—we know the world will be focused on them as they begin to caucus. I've positioned myself as a keynote to hear from so many people, particularly women, and I want the few questions that I ask at the town hall to reflect that they're being heard.
What do town halls mean to you?
It's important that we talk and listen to each other. The one thing my mom used to say that resonates with me everyday is, 'Don't talk when other women talk.' We tend to be active listeners and say 'uh huh' but then we miss a lot, so try to be silent when you listen. She wasn't a political lady, but she was a big believer in people working together.
What is the layout of this town hall?
This talk will be in a barn but in round style so people will be able to see each other; I love that people can make eye contact. To me, that causes accountability, a richness of discussion, of possibility and opportunity to say, 'I don't agree with that, here's my perspective' or to say, 'You know what, we're nothing alike but wow, listen to that.' I like to gather before and after a town hall to make myself available to those conversations. I will be covering this through the next election and I want to start with openness.
Why do you think it's important to have these conversations?
We have such an interesting conversation going on right now with the #MeToo movement—who would have thought that anything could have competed with health care?
The situation with former Vice President Joe Biden is just one of the conversations that's lit up in the past few weeks, but it's important that we come at these issues with more than just emotion.
The current president has done something for the elector—to build that political energy on both sides of the isle. If people don't vote, how can they approach making their lives better? I've seen more HR departments put out notices to not talk about politics in the office. I've never seen that before—everyone is talking and feels like they want to be informed.
What do you think are the most important topics facing women for 2020?
The #MeToo movement and healthcare.
Also, being able to take advantage of where we are with the number of jobs available. It's one thing to go out and get one of those numerous jobs but if you talk about injecting women into the work force in a meaningful way, it includes all of us being able to reach up and pull up to hold positions in a higher place—and to be able to continue to reach. If we are going to change the parameters of how women are treated in and out of the work force we need to have more women at the top.
What do you want to tell female voters or women looking to get more involved in these topics?
My speech is less on politics and more on how we see ourselves rising. One of my principles is to be picky with who we are around—our 'squad goals.' We probably all need to fire some people in our inner circle who don't want us to do our best.
To segway that into politics, women vote in higher numbers per capita than men; we have a lot of power at the polls. We cannot be marginalized. We each have our own life perspective.
I'm a mom, I'm a black mom, I'm a wife, I'm working and balancing, not perfectly, but with all my heart and all my passion. I am not the same woman as someone who has the blessing of more children than I do and is choosing to homeschool those kids. We are different but in one way we are the same; we are powerful and when we go to vote, we are everything. That's why it's important to hear from all walks of life.
What should the media be doing more of in lead up to the presidential elections? What about less of?
I think that we should be doing less pontificating and more reporting. I know this is the day and age of quick bait on Twitter, but let's concede the fact that people will read your Tweet if they are following you because they are your followers—let's just concede that and go after the actual facts. We [journalists] play a role in America that is special, not only constitutionally special, but it's important because people are living their life at such fast speed that they may miss something—so we have a service.
America is a special place but we have to protect it. So when you ask me what should we be doing: drive hard in the lane of news and journalism—political news is a part of that—get in your lane and drive hard.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.