Community//

TV Host Debbie Matenopoulos: “To avoid burnout, work hard and stay dedicated to your goal, but make sure to take care of yourself.”

Work hard and stay dedicated to your goal, but make sure to take care of yourself. When building a business or raising a family or trying to rise through the ranks, we often put ourselves last. But I can promise you this, the sure-fire way to failure is not being able to finish the race […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

Work hard and stay dedicated to your goal, but make sure to take care of yourself. When building a business or raising a family or trying to rise through the ranks, we often put ourselves last. But I can promise you this, the sure-fire way to failure is not being able to finish the race because your health is suffering — mentally, emotionally, or physically. Slow and steady wins the race. Also, there are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree. Every step is a part of the process. Enjoy the journey instead of fighting it.


I had the distinct pleasure to interview Debbie Matenopoulos. Debbie is an actress, television host, journalist, and lifestyle expert and is currently the co-host of Hallmark’s The Home and Family Show. Debbie also wrote a critically acclaimed and bestselling cookbook, It’s All Greek to Me. Calling the book her love letter to her family’s native Greece, Debbie journeyed to Greece to write and photograph the book and is proud to share her family’s favorite classic Greek recipes right from their own kitchens.


Thank you so much for joining us Debbie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was just twenty-one years old, I started my career as a TV host/journalist on the hit ABC daytime TV show The View. I was then, and still am, the youngest person in the history of daytime TV to hold a permanent host position on a network show. Before being plucked out of obscurity by Barbra Walters, I was studying journalism at NYU and working at MTV simultaneously. I was always a naturally curious person, so journalism seemed like the proper career path for me, and thanks to my big loving Greek family, my love of cooking, food, and taking care of people also developed at a very young age. Thankfully, I have been able to combine the two on my daytime lifestyle show Home & Family on Hallmark Channel. With the help of my amazing family in Greece, I was able to write my very first best-selling cookbook, It’s All Greek To Me; Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with My Family’s Century-Old Recipes.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Getting to where I am today took a lot of hard work. Nothing was ever handed to me. I come from a working-class immigrant family whose most abundant currency was love. Although we never had a lot of money, the importance of family and a strong work ethic was instilled in me at a very young age. I set my mind on a goal and knew the key to success was not just working hard but also working smart. At seventeen years old, I enrolled in the NYU journalism program and simultaneously worked as an intern at MTV. My daily schedule was as follows: attend my first class at NYU at 7:45 am, leave school at 10:00 am, be at work at MTV at 10:30 am, work until 6:00 pm, then go back to NYU to attend night classes from 6:30 pm — 10:20 pm. I did this for four years straight, with no summer vacations. Looking back, I have no idea how I handled that schedule, but I do think it prepared me for my future production schedules, which can still be very long and hectic.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The drive to continue was never, and has never been, an option for me. It’s simply how I am wired. While it may seem hard to others, and while yes, it has been difficult at times, I think about just how much my parents sacrificed for my siblings and me. I realize it doesn’t even scratch the surface compared to what they did. They picked up and moved to a new county in their twenties with two children in tow (I came along seven years later), not speaking the language, in order to provide their children with better opportunities than they had. Between going to night school to learn English while working full time, my parents also managed to raise their family and make sure we had everything we needed. So, when times get tough, I think about their struggle and their journey, and I remember just how fortunate I am.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

You know the saying, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” Well in my opinion the other 20 percent is following up. You have to get up every single day, be motivated, be dedicated, and keep sight of your goals. You will get there no matter how long it takes as long as you stay the course. At the end of the day, the last one standing is the one who wins.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my gosh, there have been so many where do I even begin? Haha. Doing live television sitting next to some of the most respected women in the business (Barbra Walter, Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, and Star Jones) can be incredibly intimidating, as you can imagine. I learned quickly that an NYU degree is not worth as much as life experience on a live television show. I have said way too many stupid things to be able to recount them all in this interview. But the good news about that is, it really helped me to become comfortable in my own skin. People mess up in real life all of the time; they just don’t usually do it in front of millions of people every day. Something about making mistakes and owning them is very liberating.

What do you think makes your brand stand out? Can you share a story?

In a sea of so many people trying to be something that they are not just because they believe that’s what the masses want, I think my brand stands out because what you see is what you get. I am as authentic as I can possibly be, and I stay true to my core belief system. I think it’s important to be as honest and transparent with my audience as possible. Because of that, I have passed up many endorsement deals for things I don’t believe in and I don’t believe fit into the healthy lifestyle brand that I am building. Regardless of the amount of money they offer, if I don’t believe in it, why should I try and convince someone else to just for a paycheck?

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Work hard and stay dedicated to your goal, but make sure to take care of yourself. When building a business or raising a family or trying to rise through the ranks, we often put ourselves last. But I can promise you this, the sure-fire way to failure is not being able to finish the race because your health is suffering — mentally, emotionally, or physically. Slow and steady wins the race. Also, there are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree. Every step is a part of the process. Enjoy the journey instead of fighting it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been so many people that have been so kind and taken chances on me along the way. One of the earliest stories I can think of that truly changed the trajectory of my life was when I was an intern at MTV. The head of the MTV news department, and my boss at the time, was a man named Dave Sirulnick. When it was time for my internship to end and for me to receive my review in order to get my credits for college, he brought me into a meeting and told me he would like to hire me as a production assistant because he saw just how driven and hardworking I was. At that time, I was still a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and was doing an internship at MTV in New York for the summer to earn credit. I thanked him profusely and told him how honored I was, but that my parents would never allow me to not finish college because they never had the opportunity to even attend college. Instead of saying okay and sending a seventeen-year-old kid on her way back to Virginia, Dave said, “I’ll help you transfer to NYU.” I then said to him, “But how? My parents can’t afford that.” He then replied, “There is such thing as financial aid you know.” Dave had no reason to go out of his way to be that nice to me other than the kindness of his own heart and his ability to see just how hungry and eager I was to work in the entertainment business. If he didn’t take a chance on me and offer me that job so early on, I just may have gone back to Virginia and missed out on so many other opportunities.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to do that each and every day whether it be helping others through my TV show or the people around me in my everyday life. That’s really the goal of all of this. What is the point of having this success if you can’t help others around you and share it with your loved ones?

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started building a brand” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Everything will always take twice as long as you thought it would.
  2. Becoming a best-selling author does not make you rich.
  3. Doing the right thing and the moral thing is unfortunately not always commended.
  4. Every obstacle is actually a learning experience and an opportunity to grow. You don’t always know it at the time, but bumps in the road can turn out to be the biggest blessings of all.
  5. There will be times you will be asked to compromise your integrity in order to make the path to success easier. Don’t.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would ask people to take a six-month kindness challenge both with themselves and everyone else around them. My father said something to me when I was very young, and it has resonated throughout my life. He said, “No matter what you do with your life, make sure to always be kind and gentle with the people around you. Because everyone, no matter who they are, is dealing with their own personal pain, no matter how big or how small. We are all far more fragile than we let on.” That has always stuck with me in my life, and I always try to live by his words to the best of my ability. So, having said that, I would challenge others to choose their words and their actions carefully when dealing with one another. Imagine if all of the words we spoke on a normal day were tattooed on our skin. What would that look like? Would we be beautiful, or would we be ashamed?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Instagram: @iamdebbiem

On Twitter: @iamdebbiem

On Facebook: @iamdebbiem

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Four-time Emmy Nominee and Best Selling Cookbook Author, Debbie Matenopoulos: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

by Bianca L. Rodriguez, Ed.M, LMFT
Spotlight On//

How the New Music Sensation Nasty Cherry Learned to Be More Vulnerable

by Lindsey Benoit O'Connell
Community//

Debbie Robinson: “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”

by Phil La Duke

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.