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5 Keys To Success

A friend of mine, celebrity fitness trainer and entrepreneur Felicia Romero had an idea for 2016.  Why not put together a series of events where successful business leaders speak to those on the rise.  I love the idea because there is no better way to learn and grow than to share knowledge. She asked me to speak along with Cynthia Sassi, founder of FabulousArizona.com I sat down to think about my talk.  I wanted people to be inspired to go after their dreams but also think in practical terms — how do I get there?  What is the roadmap? It is different for all of us, to be sure.  But I put together what I feel are the 5 keys that helped me succeed above and beyond everything else. (1) Preparation.  Will you be ready when opportunity comes your way?  I am often amazed at how ill prepared people are for big moments.  For me, being over prepared has not only saved me, but has propelled me to where I am today.  For interviews, I study and read and prepare to the point where guests often comment that they aren’t used to being asked questions that go so far beyond the surface.  For business meetings, I want to know absolutely everything about who I am meeting with, why, and what the goals are moving forward.  It is crucial to success that we not just show up, but that we are ready to win. (2) Work.  I have never been afraid of hard work.  In fact, I thrive on it.  At the business event I told a story about how,...

Former Cardinals Cheerleader Fights For Life With Spirit and Selfies

Recently I did a speaking gig and someone asked if I have always wanted to be a journalist.  The answer is yes — at least since I was 16 years old.  I had this fascination with finding out more.  Learning what makes people tick. The most incredible stories I have had the good fortune to tell over the years revolve around the strength of the human spirit. A few weeks ago, I met a group of former NFL cheerleaders at a party.  In conversation, they told me about their friend, Teri Bode, a fellow former cheerleader who is fighting Stage 4 Breast Cancer.  It has spread to her bones and she has to undergo chemo every other week to keep it from spreading to her organs.  They told me how amazing she is — an inspiration.  Of course, I just had to find out for myself. My photographer and I went to shoot a story with Teri about her will to live. As is the case with so many people I meet who are faced with adversity, her faith is strong.  Not only that, her spirit is infectious. Teri, a single mother to a 19 year old daughter, used to be a second grade teacher.  Now staying alive is a full time job. She has cancer, but cancer doesn’t have her. Last month Teri found the strength to do something remarkable.  She joined her fellow former cheerleaders on Monday Night Football for the Cardinal Cheerleaders’ 25th reunion celebration. Despite the ongoing chemo, aching bones, and a bulky back brace, this 49 year old marched right onto the field with sass and strength, and...

Podcasting Rocks

I’m obsessed with Podcasting. I love everything about it: The freedom, the creativity, the content creation. It is crucial for Podcasters to connect and be social (as is the case for anyone looking for an effective content marketing strategy). Being well connected opens up a new world of potential interviewees for podcasters.  And people love to be guests on Podcasts. They get to express themselves in more than just a sound bite. I just received this alert about a new group for Podcasters featured on iTunes New and Noteworthy. It reads: “Congratulations on reaching iTunes New & Noteworthy! Not an easy feat in the increasingly crowded space of new podcasts. You are cordially invited to join a community of elite podcasters (just like you!). These podcasters have also cracked the coveted iTunes New & Noteworthy list and are actively working to grow their shows, brands and bottom lines. As I’m sure you’ve realized, podcasting isn’t complicated, but it also isn’t easy, and there are countless hurdles to overcome to keep your show on top. Not to mention the ever-changing list of best practices to improve the quality of your podcast; cut down on production time; scheduling and time management solutions; and acquiring high quality guests to increase your exposure and expertise – to name a few. That’s why we created The New & Noteworthy Group. It’s a place for you to ask questions, share resources, schedule interviews, and explore new growth models with your fellow podcasters.” Again, it’s about connecting, creating, sharing, and being open to constant growth.  That is the way to...

From Fired To Hired Author Shares Success Story

“I didn’t fail as a person.  I maybe failed to meet somebody else’s expectation, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t bring value to a company, to other people, to my family, and to myself.” That is what Kathi Miller-Miller realized after she was fired.  It is a shocking experience for anyone who goes through it.  You question your own values and self worth. I interviewed Miller for my Podcast, Carey Pena Reports.  Her success story is an inspiration to others looking to pave a better path for themselves. Miller was a business professional, a manager for 25 years, who helped other people with their careers.  For her, getting fired was the best thing that could have happened.  Although she didn’t realize it at the time. “I was looking for some new up to date information about how to search for jobs,” Miller says,  “But the book I was looking for wasn’t out there — so I wrote it.” Miller moved ahead with her writing, which morphed into a booming website where she offers career tips and advice. She challenges readers to take their power back by stopping to consider if they are getting equal loyalty from their employer that they are offering.  “Loyalty,” she says, “is a two way street.  Far too many times employees stay on that corporate train even if it is heading for a brick wall.” Finding your passion and making it part of your everyday life is a big part of what Miller writes about.  “It really comes down to finding the intersection of your passion and your values.” That intersection has proven very successful...

Lead By Example

It is a powerful thing to lead by example.  You never know who might be looking up to you. I have always felt strongly about lifting others up rather than tearing them down. Years ago I met this sharp ASU grad, Melissa Rein Lively.  I was a News Reporter in Phoenix and she was coming up the ranks in PR.  It didn’t occur to me that our early interaction meant so much to her.  Until the other day, when she wrote this post: “Many moons ago when I decided to try my luck in the PR world I met one of the most talented journalists I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.  Not only was she incredibly kind to a terrified fresh out of J-school new kid, she has continued to inspire and amaze me for well over a decade.  Very lucky to have you as a treasured friend and mentor.” I share this post not to draw attention to myself, rather to illustrate two points: (1) You never know who might consider you a mentor. (2) When you are in a position to lead, it is powerful. What you do with that power is a choice. Words of encouragement matter.  Respect matters.  Kindness...

A Modern Day Leader Who Knows How To Inspire

One of my favorite things is to interview leaders who rock.  Those who realize that a truly great leader helps to encourage, inspire, and motivate.  Those who have fundamental respect for their employees and co-workers. Dr Kellie Warren, CEO of Florence Crittenton is one of those leaders.  She calls herself a ‘walk around leader’.  She doesn’t sit in her office with the door shut.  Warren wants to see what is going on, engage with her employees, solve problems, and achieve success — not just for herself, but for all those who work at Florence Crittenton and the girls who come there for help. In our interview, Dr. Warren tells me what is most important for her is to work with purpose, and to elevate those around her to do the same. How Not To Be A Victim Of Your Past with Dr. Kellie...

Organ Donation Saves Lives

It is such an honor today to receive the Media Partner of the Year Award from Donor Network of Arizona. Over the years, I have covered dozens of stories about organ donation. It is something I am very passionate about. I’ve covered stories about people who make the decision to become living donors, and stories about families who, in the midst of heartbreak, find strength in giving the gift of life. The picture above is with a woman who lost her four year old daughter suddenly and tragically. By donating her organs, the family saved a four year old boy from Minnesota. I was there when the two families met in Arizona. As a journalist, this is the kind of story that sets my heart on fire because it is a story about the strength of the human spirit. Nothing is more inspiring than to see people dig deep, overcome pain and grief, and make life...

Three Acts of Kindness That Saved A Life

“I was just waiting for someone to turn their back on me.” 16 year old Eddie stood on stage and poured his heart out (not easy for anyone, let alone a teenager to do).  He talked about the father with PTSD who was off his meds, abusive, and out of control.   The mother who disappeared from his life.  The uncle who was a raging alcoholic. By 8th grade, Eddie had bounced from one home to another.  When his father got remarried, there was a glimmer of hope that things would get better, but that hope faded fast.  As things progressively got worse,  Eddie was forced to sleep outside without food.  He was starving and scared.  Until the day a stranger reached out to him. This was the first act of kindness Eddie says saved his life. A man saw him wandering on the street and stopped to ask a simple question, “Are you okay?”  He took the boy into his home, fed him, and called for help. It was a sign that someone cared. After that, Eddie moved from relative to relative.  He ended up back under the same roof as his alcoholic uncle.  Eddie says at that point he began spinning out of control.  He was both using and selling marijuana.  He said that he expected, in a few years, he would either be in a group home, locked up, or as he put it, a ‘blood stain on the sidewalk.’ Then came the second act of kindness. A neighbor offered to open his home to Eddie.  After all of these years, he finally had a stable place...

The Plastic Bottle Project

Every great movement starts with a simple idea. For Desirae Rocha, the idea came in the form of a plastic bottle. Rocha is not your average 27 year old. She represents the best of what it is to be young, ambitious and full of light-the-world-on-fire spirit. She is the West Valley College-Going Counselor for a non-profit called Be A Leader. They provide FREE resources to get high school students into college — let’s just start there. This is a crucial, grass-roots effort. They give students the tools they need so they are not intimidated by the process. College should be available to all who want to go, and who are willing to put forth the effort. What she does day-to-day is help teenagers plan a future. But Rocha, being the ambitious young woman she is, wanted to do more. She set her sights on cleaning up campuses around Phoenix. She came up with a community service project that ties together clean-up, recycling, and feeding the hungry: The Plastic Bottle Project. Rocha put her contacts to use, enlisting the help of high-school and elementary students to collect and recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans.   Students from Phoenix Union High School District, Tolleson, Aqua Fria and Peoria all agreed to help (yes, there are a lot of great kids out there). ASU also signed on with an assist from the Hispanic Business Student Association and El Concilio — a Chicana, Latina leadership organization. After all, this is what leadership looks like. Money raised will feed the hungry and homeless at an event in Phoenix on March 28th. Rocha is putting together lunch bags with sandwiches, snacks,...

Dance of a Lifetime

People have asked me over the years how I handle reporting so much bad news. I’ve worked in TV news since college and I have reported on many tragedies.  Too many.  I’ve driven home in tears more times than I can count. At the same time, I’ve covered the incredible depth and strength of the human spirit. People often don’t know how strong they are until the time comes. For 10 year old Ella Parkhill and her family, the time is now. Ella was born with an extra vein in her heart — a condition called PDA. Her mom, Carly, tells me the size of the vein was misdiagnosed by several cardiologists. Carly and her husband Chad refused to rest until they got to the bottom of Ella’s medical condition and the mysterious symptoms that continued to surface. Ella’s feet were blue in color, and in 2013, a friend suggested that the family have her growth hormone tested — since she was small for her age and had severe developmental issues. It turns out, Ella’s PDA is actually 7 times the size of what doctors originally believed. She has what’s called Eisenmenger’s Disease. In non-medical terms, Ella’s heart and lungs are working overtime and there is no cure. Her mom told me that despite this ongoing health crisis, they ‘live a mainstream life without limits for her.’ Ella has two younger brothers, ages 8 and 5. The family takes each step in this journey together. A close family friend told me that Carly’s children are reflections of the ‘spirited and intense love she has for them and for life...

Ask Her More

I’ve worked the red carpet as a journalist and it is, in my opinion, pretty horrible.  The publicists either want nothing to do with you or can’t live without you.  The stars sort of want to answer questions and sort of want to be left alone. I’m just here so I don’t get fined (courtesy Marshawn Lynch #beastmode). I digress. When I saw Reese Witherspoon’s #askhermore post on Instagram, I was intrigued. I saw it early Oscar Sunday before it caught fire and it captured my interest.  By show time, it was a trending topic.  A great hashtag coupled with A-list star power will do that.   #BBCtrending: #AskHerMore inspires change on Oscars red carpet http://t.co/BONUk1GQf7 pic.twitter.com/Tmn5sfQULs @BBCWorld — CareyPenaTV (@CareyPenaTV) February 23, 2015 Here is my question: If reporters on the red carpet ask her more, will the actors give more of themselves? The fact is, when you are asked real questions about real life issues,  it means being present — it means opening yourself up to the reporter, and by extension, to the audience.   It means getting past the Hollywood phony baloney. The red carpet interviews were good —  at least the ones I saw with the major networks (who knows what the poor local reporters slugging it out on the line were dealing with). The actors seemed to welcome questions that were more about content than clothing.  I enjoyed learning why certain people connected with certain roles and how those roles may have helped them evolve as individuals. Young journalists should use this as a learning moment.  The goal should always be to ask good questions...

One Question That Will Make Your Life Better

What makes you tick?  It’s pretty powerful to actually stop and think about that question.  If you don’t know the answer, you should find out.   You will be better for it. Since college I have been running at a frantic pace, rising up the ranks in the television news industry.  While my career has been a blessing, I knew that it would take more than work to truly make me happy. What makes me happy, and whole, is getting involved in issues and causes that have a meaningful impact.  This is what makes me tick. Have A Heart For years, I have known about the Heart Ball.  The committee is made up of exceptional women, about one hundred Phoenicians, who come together in a forceful way to raise millions of dollars for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Peggy Goldwater was the first chair of the Heart Ball back in 1959.  At that time, research for pacemakers and bypass surgery was just getting underway. Heart disease, according to the National Heart Association, is the number one killer in the United States.  1 in 3 Americans has heart disease.  Nearly 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day.  This is a serious health crisis that the American Heart Association — with support from Phoenix Heart Ball — is trying to tackle.   Don’t Just Talk, Take Action I‘ve had the great fortune of serving as emcee for many charity events over the years.  It is incredibly touching to see the heart and soul of the people behind the scenes who care so deeply.  Whether it is raising awareness to...

From Intern To Anchor: 5 Things I Learned About Success

Ambition is not a dirty word. You need ambition to drive you forward — to not only set goals, but to actually reach them.  Without ambition, it’s all just sort of blah. There was never any blah in my world.  I wouldn’t have it.  That’s how I managed to rise from news intern to main anchor. People frequently ask about my story.  In fact, just last week I received a message on Twitter from an ASU student who just scored an internship at my former station. He heard my story and said he was inspired.  He hoped that he could make the same happen for himself.   I wrote him back the following:  “You will rock it.  Work hard and always stay positive”. So, how did I do it?  How did I take a dream and make it a reality? Here are five steps to success that worked for me: Define your goal. Having a strong vision of where you want to go is a clear way to stay motivated.  For me, it was an evolution: from intern to writer, from writer to field producer, from field producer to general assignment reporter and then on to investigative journalism and anchoring.  Every step in the journey does not necessarily need to be a step up, but it needs to be an expansion of where you are today.  Motivation keeps us engaged. Make yourself valuable. Just showing up isn’t good enough.  You have to prove that you are valuable to the operation.  I made it a point to learn a lot of different jobs in the newsroom.  I enjoyed the mechanics of...

Compassion with Fashion.

The other day, someone emailed me a picture of this pit bull found inside a trash dumpster with a rope around her neck.  I wish I could say cases like this are uncommon.  Sadly, though, we see acts of cruelty against animals all the time.   It makes you wonder what kind of person would do something like this. But where there is bad, there is always much more good.  Someone heard the dog — lets call her Bella– in the dumpster and came to the rescue.  Bella is now being nursed back to health and hopefully will find a loving home. Now think about Bella, thrown in the trash dumpster to die, and consider this: 17,000 dogs and cats are rescued by the Arizona Humane Society every year.   17,000 abused or neglected animals — some found wandering the streets, others rescued from horrendous conditions.   Many simply turned in by families who could no longer care for them. And this is why we rock the runway. The Arizona Humane Society puts on an incredible fundraising event every year called Compassion with Fashion.  It’s been voted best charity event and it is easy to see why.   The atmosphere is incredible.  1,000 pet lovers showed up on a beautiful, sunny Saturday at The Arizona Biltmore ready to raise money and have fun. Brandon Lee, our newest anchor and lover of dogs (he has three pit bulls that he rescued from the streets of LA), joined me onstage.  The dogs in need of homes made their way down the runway accompanied by, in some cases, the wonderful, caring veterinarians and rescue workers from The Humane Society, in other...

Valley Leadership-Man and Woman of the Year Awards.

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton What does it take to be a leader?  Not just a boss but a true leader. Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy To be in a room full of thought leaders; people who are inspired — and who want to inspire others —  is pretty incredible. Thats why I love Valley Leadership.  Their motto is connecting, learning, leading. For the second year I was asked to emcee their Man and Woman of the Year Awards.  And again this year, two outstanding leaders were chosen.   Gary Trujillo was told at one point along the way that he wasn’t cut out for higher education.  He went on to get his MBA from Harvard Business School.  His resume is impressive, to say the least and his accomplishments are many.  Gary has done a lot for the community over the years including the creation of the Roosevelt Community Technology Center in Phoenix.  They provide state-of-the-art computer technology to hundreds of families who are often underserved and overlooked.   Gary’s story goes to show that you can never let anyone define your limitations.  Glass ceilings are made to be broken. Ellie Ziegler is a woman who breaks the ceiling every day.  She has volunteered for over 30 non profits over the years.  Right now she is focused on Boys & Girls Clubs of Phoenix and Scottsdale.  Ellie expanded their Back-to-School Clothing program from serving 150 to...

What I learned from Elizabeth Smart.

My day started early — meeting Elizabeth Smart at the Arizona Biltmore for an interview.  We tucked into a corner booth.  She was not the little girl I remember from media coverage of her kidnapping.  In walked a beautiful, poised young woman.  She was soft spoken but very confident as she talked about her journey from victim to advocate.  From powerless to powerful. Hers was a story that captivated the nation back in 2002 and for years to follow.  Held by two depraved human beings for 9 months after being snatched from her bedroom at age 14, Elizabeth told me that at one point during the ordeal she made the mental decision that she wanted to survive.  And she would do whatever was necessary to make sure that happened. That included, sadly, being a submissive slave to her captor.  She spoke rather matter of fact about repeatedly being raped; being treated as some sort of second wife to this man who proclaimed to be a religious superior.  He talked constantly about himself, Elizabeth told me.  She said it was excruciating to listen to him hour after hour.  Self absorbed and delusional. She seems to have come to terms with her past.  There are bad days, of course.  She’s only human (as she put it).  But Elizabeth made the point of saying that this was 9 horrible months out of her beautiful 26 years. Perspective. Elizabeth was in town to be the keynote speaker at the Florence Crittenton Teaming up for Girls luncheon.  This is an organization I love.  They take in young girls who have been abused or are in danger and help them turn their...

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says, Lean In.

From very early on, I had it in my mind that I wanted to go out into the world and make my mark.  I was ambitious and curious.  And then I had a lightbulb moment about the perfect career path.  After catching part of a political convention during my sophomore or junior year in high school, I realized I wanted to become a broadcaster.  Being from LA, a lot of people I knew and grew up with were in — or seeking — show business. That wasn’t what I wanted long term.  But when I saw that young woman, reporting from the convention, I thought — perfect.  I’m in. I was ready to Lean In. I moved to Arizona to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.  I wish this for every single person who goes to college: The feeling of joy when I walked on campus.  Entering the broadcasting department, seeing the cameras, the equipment — I loved it all.  And I dedicated myself 100% to this career. With a little good fortune and a lot of ambition, I scored an internship with 3TV in Phoenix while attending ASU.  I remember the day I first walked into the newsroom — a real working newsroom — where people were all in a hurry, there was always another deadline.  I loved it.  Every crazy, frantic moment. This career has been interesting and challenging.  It has made me a smarter person with a broader view of the world.  What a blessed life. And then came my babies. The gift of motherhood is better than I ever expected.  I come from a...

Have you found the meaning in your life?

Have you found the meaning in your life? That was the question former Tempe Police Officer Scott Tipton asked the audience when he took the stage at the Desert Ride Marriott.  The setting was beautiful; the room filled with red on Valentine’s Day.  Well over 500 people in attendance for United Blood Services Valentines For Life Hero Awards. I’ve been the emcee of this event for five years now and, each year, I am reminded how much I love this cause. It’s about saving lives. Scott Tipton almost lost his when he responded to a domestic violence call.  As he told the emotional story on stage, you could, quite literally, hear a pin drop in the room.  He remembered arriving on scene, a woman — battered and bruised — answered the door.  Her boyfriend was sitting in his car across the parking lot.  Officer Tipton went over to that car.  Not long after, he began recording his interaction with the suspect. He played the recording of what happened next.  Gunshots.  The suspect shot at Scott Tipton 7 times.  As first responders arrived, you could hear the desperation in their voices as they worked to save him –  pleading with him to hang on. Scott Tipton — a husband, and father — did hang on.  His life was saved thanks, in part to his bullet proof vest.  But mostly, thanks to 27 strangers who donated blood. Four surgeries and nearly 30 blood transfusions later, he was able to get on with his life.  He lived to tell this incredible story. When people take time to give blood, they are doing something...

48 Hours in LA!

48 Hours in LA- Villa Blanca West Hollywood.   OF COURSE the place is beautiful.  It was decorated by the ever so chic (and doesn’t appear to age) Lisa Vanderpump from Beverly Hills Housewives. I can confirm the anti-aging observation first hand since my girlfriends practically tackled the woman when she walked into the restaurant.   And so the weekend begins at Villa Blanca; our whirlwind 48 hour trip in my old stomping grounds of LA. 9 friends flew in to celebrate Suzanne’s birthday.  And, let me just say, its not an easy thing to coordinate a trip for 9 women! A birthday trip to LA? Can I really get away to do that.  Of course I can. Because it matters.  When it matters, we make the time. At an event last year for the American Cancer Society, one of the speakers said something profound.  She said we should think about time management this way: Replace “I don’t have time for that” with “that is not a priority.” A more honest approach. Friendship, in my estimation, should always be a priority.  Even with husbands to love, kids to take care of and careers to advance.  Friendship still needs to have a place in our life — beyond Facebook.  Most of this group of friends met while working at 3TV in Phoenix.  It was a crazy, ambitious time for us all.  Our careers were rising and we were bound together by the moment.  On one hand perhaps a little competitive, on another hand, supportive.  As time goes by, one by one, we attend weddings and baby showers, and, in general, watch...

Girl Scout Women and Young Women of Distinction Awards

When I spotted that green dress in the department store, I know it was perfect.  Just the right shade of Girl Scout green.  I had the honor, once again, to host the Girl Scout Women and Young Women of Distinction Awards. The outfit needs to be right! Off to the Biltmore I went (one of my favorite places in Phoenix) to join a group of incredible people. I love this celebration.  The Girl Scouts shine the light on remarkable women and young women of all ages in our community.  Women who are not content with status quo.  They want to make things better.  And they have a game plan to make that happen. Take for instance, Morgan Serventi from Page, Arizona.  This young woman is stunning.  But she clearly is not focused on outer beauty.  She was awarded the Young Woman of Distinction honor for creating a Methane Bio Digester for a village in Kenya.  I know what you’re thinking.  What the heck is that (I didn’t know either until I listened to Morgan – who, by the way, speaks with all the poise and grace of an award winning actress).  The Bio Digester converts methane into fuel that can power a stove.  It makes it possible for village residents to prepare hot meals and boil unsanitary water.  Morgan says her goal is simply to make the world a better place.  Instead of sitting around on Facebook obsessing about herself, this teenager identified a problem — across the globe — and came up with a game plan to try to fix it. A lot of people say they want...

Women of Worth

What does it mean to be a Woman of Worth? My friend Kimberly Iverson is finding out the answer to that question in a pretty incredible way. Kimberly and I met back in our 20’s.  We had some fun together; traveled and did whatever it is you do when you are free of responsibility.  I was in school at the time studying broadcast journalism at ASU.  Kimberly was trying to navigate her path.  She ended up getting married and having children at a fairly young age.  Being a mom is a  role that certainly makes you a woman of worth. But there was more to come. She ended up going to nursing school and later would work in hospice care. I’ve heard many people refer to hospice nurses as angels on earth.  And, in dealing with hospice when my grandfather — who I loved so dearly — was facing end of life, I would certainly have to agree. Like many friendships, Kimberly and I drifted a bit over the years.  Not because of lack of fondness between us.  But because no longer did we find ourselves free of responsibility – able to get up and go anywhere on a moment’s notice.  Now we had careers and families.  And very busy schedules. Over the years we’ve managed to keep in touch on Facebook and e-mail.  We’ve seen each other when time allowed (here we are a goofy Halloween party along the way.  I think I was dressed up like Ivana Trump).   I’d been following Kimberly’s effort to start up a non-profit called Bucket List Foundation.  It sounded really amazing...