When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
James Warren: Run to the bathroom at 4:55 a.m., fetch my charging laptop in the living room, go to the basement and turn on “Trump & Friends” (I mean “Fox & Friends”), “Morning Joe” and “New Day” to finish off a media newsletter for Poynter Institute and Vanity Fair.
TG: What gives you energy?
JW: Fear of failure—and not getting newsletter done before preparing the kids’ breakfast and waking them up at 6:10 a.m.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
JW: Small piece of yellow lined paper with my hand-written to-do list.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JW: Murray Kempton’s “Part of Our Time.” It was published in the 1950s but remains a marvelous blend of nitty-gritty journalism, intellectual sophistication and refreshing irony from the late newspaper columnist. I wondered if I ever good be half as good.A:
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JW: I am a captive, mostly of several news apps and ESPN. It’s at the bedside since it’s my alarm clock.
TG: How do you deal with email?
JW: Poorly. I respond to almost everything and at much greater length than I should.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JW: A few weeks ago due to self-inflicted work wounds—took on too much—and juggling real life (driving kids places, etc.).
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
JW: It involved the passing of a friend whom I simply did not take the time to see enough, even though knowing she had a terrible cancer. I’ve not really overcome it but committed to that not happening again.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JW: Of late it’s the opening to Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game”:
Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
Moral to me: make the best of this short time we’ve got.
James Warren is chief media writer for the Poynter Institute, daily media columnist for Vanity Fair and contributing editor to U.S. News & World Report. He’s an award-winning former managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and former Washington bureau chief for the Tribune and the New York Daily News. He’s done freelance work for a large group of publications including The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast and Washington Monthly. He appears frequently on television on both media and politics. He’s a New York native, graduate of Amherst College and lives in Chicago with his wife, Cornelia Grumman, and their two boys, Blair and Eliot. He is also an obnoxious New York Yankees fan.