Adam: What is something about you that would surprise people?
Rebecca: Although I write books about true crimes and people who do terrible things to each other, I am not paranoid about crime and don’t live in fear of being a victim. I like to laugh and am an optimistic person.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setback or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Rebecca: When I was young (29 years old) I learned my husband was going to die. After he did, I knew life was not going to be what I had assumed it would be. So I moved east, went to graduate school, and went after a different kind of career than I probably would have had. I was more ambitious, and decided to see how far in journalism I could go.
I had more than my share of failures because my interests took me in a number of directions. I worked hard. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I wasn’t. But that was okay, because I have always thought that success isn’t about money or belongings. I think it is about doing the work you like.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Rebecca: There’s a theory among some leaders (meaning bosses I have worked for) that a good manager is a tough manager, one who uses fear. It doesn’t bring out the best in employees. I don’t think you can’t go wrong by being kind. Not everyone should be a leader at work or aspire to be one. I think the important thing is for us to find what we are best at and happiest at and strive for that.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Be kind, don’t be threatened by the success or talent of others, and create an environment creative people can thrive in.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Rebecca: Don’t burn any bridges if a job doesn’t work out and you are asked to leave. It’s a small world and you’ll probably meet those people again. You’ll be glad you hung on to your dignity and treated others well.
Adam: What is the one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Rebecca: Mentor women and people of color who have traditionally been shut out of certain careers, and may still be shut out. In my case, I’ve tried to help other women and young people who will work hard and accept that you never stop paying your dues.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Rebecca: Most of my hobbies – reading, 1930s and 1940s radio programs, film noir, live theater and film – are related to my fascination with storytelling. I love exploring all the ways to tell a story and all these genres have influenced me.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Rebecca: I think it is incredibly important that creative people find a way to make a living doing what they love. It takes patience and perseverance. As Harper Lee (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) said, “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”