Liz Claman, an anchor on the Fox Business Network, was in Omaha for the annual Berkshire Hathaway weekend to interview Warren Buffett – and to meet Omahans.
This is the 10th year Claman has been to Omaha for the meeting. She'll be interviewing Buffett today at 2 p.m. at his Omaha headquarters, Kiewit Plaza.
She’s the host of "Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman" weekdays from 2 to 3 p.m. Claman calls it "a wild ride every day. Anything can happen in the final hour of trade!"
Momaha.com recently talked to her to learn more about this working-mom.
MOMAHA.COM: Tell us a little bit about your background, specifically in journalism.
Claman: You could actually go all the way back to my childhood dinner table. My dad would delve into so many subjects with us. He constantly asked us open-ended questions. Instead of "Did you have a good day?" he'd ask, "What's the best thing that happened to you today?" By showing me the way, he taught me to question and have a sense of wonder. I became a radio DJ while in high school at Phillips Academy Andover. My radio teacher took me into Boston where I got my 3rd class FCC license. I loved reading and writing the news on radio. By the time I got to college, I turned my attention to television news. I took every journalism class at UC Berkeley I could. One of them focuses solely on the glory days of CBS News. I was very inspired by Edward R. Murrow so I marched into the local CBS station in my hometown of LA and asked for an internship. The rest is history.
MOMAHA.COM: How did you get a job with Fox Business?
Claman: It was 2007 and I had decided I was done with business news. My contract was up. I had been at CNBC for 9 years and felt it was time to move on to something new. I love challenges and I wasn't feeling challenged anymore. That was on me, not CNBC. Suze Ormon, whom I respect immensely, inspired me to take a flying leap. I just didn't know where. One day Fox called. They wanted me to come in to 'say hi.' Literally, that's what Kevin Magee, my old pal in the business who was by then running programming at Fox News, said to me. "Come say hi." I walked in and he shoved me down the hall to Roger Ailes' office. He said, "Roger's waiting to meet you." I walked in and had the most inspiring conversation I've ever had with anyone in television. When Roger said, "You should come work with us," I said yes and never left.
MOMAHA.COM: How long have you been coming to Omaha to cover the Berkshire Hathaway meeting?
Claman: My first year was in 2007. Warren invited me after I had come to Omaha to do a long-form interview with him in late 2006. I was quite amazed by the experience of the Berkshire shareholder weekend. There's nothing else like it on the planet. Ten years in I still feel the same way.
MOMAHA.COM: What's probably the most important thing you've learned from Warren Buffet during all your years working with him at the meetings?
Claman: He's the ultimate optimist. Just as everyone is moaning and worrying about the economy, politics, America's 'lost status' in the world, terrorism and the decline of western civilization, he breezes in and says, "Never bet against America." He almost wills it to be true. My dad used to say there's no downside to reasonable optimism. Warren lives it. So I've learned that you can worry your life away or make your own better reality.
MOMAHA.COM: How do you juggle being a mom and doing the family thing while also having a successful career?
Claman: My husband, Jeff Kepnes, is executive producer of special events at CNN. He travels a lot, especially this year being an election year. We have two children. Gabrielle is 14 and Julian is 11. We live a crazy-busy life with constant horse-trading and tag-team parenting. I like to say it's perfect in its imperfection. My cousin Sharon Hall, who has two kids and a big job in Hollywood, said it perfectly: "We have a lot of plates spinning in the air and sometimes we live with broken plates." I wouldn't have it any other way and my kids know they're the most important people in our lives. Warren once said to me, "Parenting is the most important job you'll ever do." He also told me, "Liz, you work way harder than I do," which made me laugh. He runs 90+ companies, hello?
MOMAHA.COM: Why is it important to introduce children to the value of a dollar at a young age?
Claman: You'll ruin them if you don't. I grew up in Beverly Hills surrounded by wealth. But my parents were both children of penniless Russian and Romanian immigrants who worked unbelievably hard to create a better world for their kids. They always reminded us what it took to give us that life. Sorry to quote my dad so much, but this is a good one. He always said, "I gave you kids every advantage except 'disadvantage.'" Meaning, disadvantaged people fight harder to succeed. The underlying message was, you guys need to fight to succeed. Nothing comes easy.
MOMAHA.COM: Do you have any tips for parents on how to introduce this concept at an early age? How have you taught your children to be financially responsible?
Claman: I always tell my kids, "There's a Rolling Stone song by Mick Jagger. It goes like this: 'You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.'" So we don't shower stuff on them. They do get what they need but we make sure they understand how hard mom and dad work to pay for what matters: education. I also think it's really important to remind them that there's so much need in the world and that you must always help the less fortunate.
MOMAHA.COM: What advice do you have to parents (specifically moms) when it comes to balancing family/careers?
Claman: By all means, keep a calendar. My husband and I are constantly adding to the communal Outlook calendar so nothing slips through the cracks. (Trust me, stuff will still slip through the cracks!) At least one of us is there for school events, and important moments. Make sure your children know how much you love them but also how much you actually enjoy your work, too. That way there isn't some dark mystery that makes them feel like your job is something negative. And when you ARE there with your kids, be present. Put the iPhone away. Look them in the eyes. Laugh a lot with them. And never stop letting you know you believe in them. Suddenly, you'll believe in yourself too.