Media mogul Tina Brown The following transcript has been edited for clarity.
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Your parents were immigrants from Syria, and I saw that you said that their experience gave you a great education in entrepreneurship. What did you mean by that?
I often get asked how I got into entrepreneurship. People ask, "Did you have a paper route?
Did you have a lemonade stand? Did you have a job early in your life? And the more I think about it, the more I think that immigration is the ultimate entrepreneurship, in many ways.
I mean, if you think about what an entrepreneur is typically signing up for, they're typically giving up something of certainty, right? A job, or income, or a career, or money, for some very speculative long-term outcome that they think it's going to be good, but have no idea what that journey's going to look like. And that idea of being super, super comfortable with uncertainty, being super comfortable with the unknown, this idea that, just never give up, this relentlessness, were all attributes that I realize my parents have been imbuing in me, had been teaching me or demonstrating not to be an entrepreneur, but just because that's how they lived.
What were you like as a kid? Oh, I was super nerdy. I mean, super, super nerdy. My parents made a very conscious priority to Americanize me, and I think that's one of the great things about our cultures.
For most immigrant families, this idea of becoming American is a really important part of that transition to the first generation of American-born kids.
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I think I was a pretty normal kid in that I loved the Chicago Cubs and I loved to go outside and play basketball. Growing up in Illinois, yeah. Michael Jordan was drafted when I was 6, so it was, like, I thought all teams had the best player ever. But I was a super math nerd, and up until my high-school years, I started growing up as the smartest kid in the class. And that was my rap, for better or for worse. Did any of your family remain in Syria?
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I mean, up until the warabout six years ago, virtually all my family remained in Syria. So with the war they all just fled?
Yeah, I mean it's super sad, obviously. I think people basically made one of two decisions. They were either, like, "We're young enough where it's worth it to restart our lives in a country where we probably don't know the language or we probably aren't licensed to do our profession or whatever.
I'm super old, and if this is my lot in life, this is my lot in life. Go pick up and start over?
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I just think people weren't up for that. So do you think that there's a different mindset now, as with your parents when they were, like, "We just want to be Americans — let's forget and move on"? Do you think that you see it differently than they did?
It's not so much "Let's forget. All my cousins were born in Syria; I was born here. Not dumb luck, but, luck. So I'm super grateful, and if you just think back, there were two or three moments in my life where I got super lucky, and I think when I was younger I used to think, "Oh, I'm just super good" and whatever.
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