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Liz Gateley

Gateley recently took on her new role at Lifetime after a successful run at MTV producing hits like “Teen Wolf” and “Scream.” She’ll have a major say in Lifetime’s future programming direction. She says the biggest growth area for women is “behind the camera—both in writing and directing. With the explosion of the need for content, I’m hoping more women can get their projects made.”

 

Where are the biggest growth areas for women in cable?

I would hope that the biggest growth area for women is behind the camera — both in writing and directing.  There are a lot of us in the executive chairs, which is amazing.  But with the explosion of the need for content, I’m hoping more women can get their projects made, which is something we have great success in doing here at Lifetime.

 

What’s the most important aspect of mentoring?

The best thing you can do to mentor young people is to open doors and nudge them to walk through them, whether it be making introductions in a hallway at a company and telling them to follow up or just taking the time to help them with a project.  And it’s important to always have their back, no matter what.  That creates trust, which is the key to any relationship.  When I was leaving MTV to start a company, I knew one year in advance.  Van Toffler had asked my partner, Tony DiSanto, and I to stay for an extra year.  During that time, I couldn’t tell anyone we were leaving and I knew the direct reports, three of whom were women, needed to be encouraged to make their own decisions so they would be ready to lead when I left.  So every staff meeting when they would ask me what I thought, I would ask back, “What do you think?”  They always knew the answer but just needed that safety net.  If I needed to re-guide them, I would but I got more and more hands off and as the year went by they started to realize I trusted their decision-making ability, giving them confidence in their own independent decisions.

 

What/who inspires you at work? What/who inspires you outside the office?

At Lifetime, I’m constantly inspired by the talented people around me. The entire team here keeps me plugged in to so many interesting new things.  Nancy Dubuc is, of course, a huge inspiration.  We have been friends for years and now working for her and Rob Sharenow, I get to see firsthand how talented she is (which I always knew but never got to be inside the room to experience) and how much she really cares about certain causes.  She really walks the walk when it comes to mentoring other women around her.  And Rob constantly makes me laugh.  I am very lucky to be here at Lifetime and work with such great people.  Outside the office, my kids inspire me.  Life is one constant merry-go-round of triumphs, mess-ups and conflicts with others.  Helping them maneuver new challenges always reminds me I have to practice what I preach: “Be kind to others, face a conflict head on and get over it.  Certain things will eat you up inside if you don’t nip them in the bud.  And enjoy your big moments in life.”  I don’t enjoy the good moments enough and my kids keep me focused on those reminders to enjoy the “little” good things that happen as much as the big ones.

 

Best trick for maintaining the personal-professional life balance?

Ha!  There is no trick!  There is some maniacal evil fairy somewhere watching all of us try to do everything who is laughing at us all.  But seriously, I think it’s about facing each day one at a time and making sure you say “no” enough.  I was killing myself to make it to a cocktail party recently.  I was late and frantically running out of the office and really wanted to say hi to friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  But as I walked out the door, I decided to go home and spend a quality night with my kids instead.  It was so nice just to have them by myself while my husband represented us at the party.  That was a last minute “no” — not the best etiquette — but I’m learning to say “no” more well in advance.

 

Your favorite trick for unwinding?

Doing something fun that is engaging and outdoor—whether it be swimming at the beach, throwing a football with my kids or a game of tennis with girlfriends.  Anything outside with family and friends is how I love to unwind.  And a margarita after any of the above helps, too!

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