The Actual Nation Lifestyle Interview

QUESTIONS FOR JULIE GICHURU

1. If given a chance to ask God only one question, what will it be?
That’s a tough one. I am very spiritual. As a follower of Christ I connect very closely with my Lord and Saviour. Honestly, I ask him numerous questions every day and seek his guidance through prayer and the living word. I don’t think I could single out one question that would be more important than all the others… Perhaps it would simple be a request for His grace for our family, all the days of our lives.

2. Share your journey and struggles as a news anchor.
It’s been close to 15 years now in media and its been an exciting journey. There have been challenges but I am not one to focus on the negative. In this industry hard work, passion and knowledge reap rewards in career. However rewards in career come with their own challenges and most importantly with increased responsibility. For me the journey in media has just started. There is much more to come God-willing.

3. What keeps you awake at night?
I’m a bit of an insomniac so many things keep me awake at night. Most of my creative thinking happens late at night so I often spend time writing my thoughts and ideas and working on short and long term plans.

4. What is it like, sitting there and interviewing prominent people on your shows Sunday Live and Africa Leadership Dialogues?
Prominent people are just people. I love having conversations with all kinds of people so I do enjoy my work. Having said that i also enjoy conversing with many people whom i meet on a daily basis. I love to seek new perspectives and to understand what drives our thinking. My greatest interest is to understand what makes people tick, their motivations and value systems… I am blessed to be able to take these conversations to wider audiences through my shows. As such I try to focus on positive and transformational thinking for Africa, an area that is sadly overlooked by most media platforms.

5. How do you prepare for your interviews?
I research the thematic area and the guest. I will usually have a brief chat with the guest just to relax them. You get a lot more out of an interview when your guest is comfortable and relaxed. I don’t like to create a confrontational environment as guests simply close up or revert to scripted answers. Finally, its important to keep your team in the loop so I will usually brief the Editors and Directors on the interview and get their feedback.

6. What goes on in your mind when driving to work?
Most recently I have been struck by the incredible transformation of our roads networks. I get quite nostalgic about the simple days of yore but I am also excited and inspired about the massive improvements In our infrastructure. These improvements offer new opportunities to so many, lower costs of transportation for traders, hopefully they will herald less hassle in getting around… Very exciting!

7. What is your comment on arguments that we have more glamour than brain on TV?
How does one evaluate this?
Is one in competition with the other?
We have an incredibly dynamic media, and looking at the quality of stakeholders across the board I would not agree with that statement.

10. What drives you?
My love for God, my passion for life, my devotion to family and responsibility to society.

11. What do you consider as the biggest career decision you ever have made?
I have made several big career decisions and each of them proved to be a huge factor in my growth both in career and also on knowledge.
The first was to move from my initial career path… I studied Law and then did an MBA with a focus on World Trade Law and International Business, but I ended up in media.
I have moved from television to radio, back to television. Across television platforms I made some key decisions, the first was to move from KTN to Nation TV where I played a key role in the launch of the NTV brand under the leadership of Ian Fernandes, working with a great team including Emmanuel Juma and Joe Ageyo. In 2008 I left NTV for Citizen TV in a very strategic move seeking growth, creative space and an increased understanding of local production. My tutelage with Wachira Waruru at Royal Media Services and the support of Chairman and Vice Chair Mr SK Macharia and Mrs Gathoni Macharia has been invaluable. Sometimes you have to take risks to succeed. However, risk must be calculated.

12. Figure this, you woke up left with only 10 minutes to interview prominent persons in the studio and you can’t trace your make up kit, what would you do?
That’s funny! I would wash my face, pull my hair back and tie it in a ponytail or pigtail and roll with the flow, au naturel.

Can you survive in a world without make ups?
Yes. When I am not working I don’t usually bother with it. It feels great to have my face ‘free’.

13. What is your average work day?
I don’t have an average workday. As a television host and entrepreneur my schedule is different from day to day. I host both Sunday Live and Africa Leadership Dialogues, on top of this I am working on growing 2 businesses, the fashion retail company MIMI.co.ke and production company Arimus Media Limited. On top of all this I engage in numerous development efforts. Each day is therefore very diverse. This works well for me as I would struggle with the tedium of a 9-5 work schedule.

14. Do you carry a book in your bag? Which book would you recommend to every woman?
I don’t carry a book in my bag as I read more on my ipad. I store lots of classic books on in my bookshelf. The works of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain are like old friends. The Bible is also a must have close by. Again, I access is easily on my iPad.

15. What one woman leader/professional do you look up to and why?
There are many women I look up to. The grace and intelligence of Graca Machel inspires me. The passion and dedication of Wangari Maathai set a great example for me. In terms of faith and family I look to Mary the mother of Jesus, an incredible woman with such strength and grace of spirit.

16. How did you meet your spouse Anthony Gichuru?
By the grace of God Tony and I met through our circle of friends. He is close friends with the elder brother of my best friend of many years. We met in Nairobi shortly after I completed my studies in the UK.

17. Tell us something about your marriage proposal and subsequently wedding?
Haha! It’s interesting that we focus on events rather than the journey of life itself. We ask about proposals and weddings rather than love and marriage. We have been married close to eleven years now and together for fifteen. I thank God for his friendship and love and am utterly devoted to my family. I wish society could invest more time and focus on family, this is the key to growing a good society.

18. What is this thing that you love most about your partner?
There are so many things I love about my husband, it is hard to settle on just one. I love his intelligence and wit, his strength and resilience, his hard work and determination and most of all his faith in God and focus on family.

19. What expensive gift have you ever received/given to someone?
I think the greatest gifts are free. The greatest gift I ever received is the gift of children. The greatest gift I ever gave is the gift of children.

20. Would you adapt to a man’s world for you to succeed in life?
We live in a patriarchal society, adaptation is important for survival. I think it is important to adapt but to live true to your value systems. So while recognizing most of our cultures are patriarchal we must still ensure that we maintain and uphold all the values that are dear to us.

21. Do you drink? Which is your favourite drink?
Black coffee. Kenyan coffee.

22. What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to be a journalist?
Know your stuff, work hard, think deep, be unrelenting in your passion for growth and knowledge.

23. What makes you frown? What makes you smile?
Anything that hurts children affects me deeply.
Family, friends and children make me smile and happy.
God delights me.

24. Tell us about the one thing you would give up in your life?
We are told not to be attached to worldly things. I could give up material things, they mean very little.

25. From the records, at a tender age of 10, you wanted to be a criminal lawyer, what happened?
I studied law and found that in principle I disagreed with most of the laws on Evidence. I felt they were skewed and inequitable. I had a greater love and passion for commercial law. It was unexpected but I adapted.

26. Why do you love watching cartoons?
Haha, I don’t know why I love watching cartoons. I just do. Perhaps I am still very connected with my inner child. I would hate to ever lose touch with that inner spirit that embraces the simple things in life.

27. What’s the saddest moment in your life?
The loss of our son. It was devastating. The grace of The Lord has carried us through.

28. You are one of the top women in media, what has been the secret behind your success?
I think it is the grace of God and simple authenticity. I have a passion for what I do and I think it is evident. That passion reflects in the mood and spirit of our audiences and so we are able to connect. It is a blessing and a responsibility and I am thankful for it.

29. Most of the women in the industry have fallen by the way side, what has kept you going all this while?
I don’t think that is a correct assertion. There are many women in the industry who are doing incredible things, perhaps in different spaces. I have many role models to look up to from Muthoni Likimani to the kate Anne Wafula of KBC; from Catherine Kasavuli and Zain Verjee to Farida Karoney, Mercy Oburu and Caroline Mutoko. Kenyan women in media are doing great things!

30. What are the challenges of being a mother and at the same time a career woman of your level?
Every working woman faces challenges in achieving balance between work and career, irrespective of industry, title and job description. I always say its impossible to achieve balance, we must therefore set our our priorities and ensure that all around us understand these priorities. We must make ourselves invaluable by doing the best job possible in the workplace. Then use the good relationship with your employer to ensure you are ale to vest time and effort in family even as you do your job and grow your career.

31. Why did you leave Nation TV, now NTV, where you seemed to be thriving?
The season had come for increased knowledge and growth. It was time to do something different. The market needed it and I did to. I will always remember NTV with great fondness.

32. What is this one thing that you will never forget about?
Like an elephant (and I love elephants) there are many things that I don’t forget. But throughout my life I will always remember that an awesome God created me and chooses to love me. What an empowering thought! I hope you can remember that all the days of your life too!

Greater Understanding.

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It was escalating and there was no way I was going to back down – it was a matter of principle! I stood my ground with a crowd of students jeering around me and wondered if anyone would have my back. On that sunny and pleasant afternoon, under the clear blue Thika sky, the mood at the Imani School dorms was explosive. A terrible emotional storm was brewing and I was right in the centre of it. It needed to happen though. It had been a long time coming, and this was my chance to handle the issue once and for all, God-willing. Continue reading →

Madiba is Gone…

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Does the grass whisper…
“He is gone, He is gone…”
Do the clouds mourn his passing?
#RIPTataMandela Continue reading →

If— By Rudyard Kipling

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IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Continue reading →

Ugali Beans & Bullets & the Fail Fast Doctrine

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“Ugali, Beans and Bullets!” he said.

Wow! It was profound!

“Ugali, Beans and Bullets!” I thought… Hmmmm. Continue reading →

Meeting Mandela

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“He is in the conference hall right now and the plenary session is just about to end!”

As the words of the smart middle aged lady echoed in the hushed hotel lobby my heart started to beat rapidly and I broke into a sweat. Suddenly I felt quite weak, just the thought of seeing him in person was too much for me to bear! Continue reading →

Talk is Cheap

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First they said,

“She is married to a very old man,

A veritable sugar daddy,
What a terrible plan!” Continue reading →

Consider Peace: The Story of General Chop Am

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I had tossed and turned for over an hour, sleep had completely evaded me. I didn’t like being away from Tony and the children but this was only a few days of travel and I felt it was so important to accept the request to speak at the Sierra Leone Peace and Reconciliation conference.  But now just one day into the conference I couldn’t sleep, haunted by the stories, perhaps even by this place, I kept tossing and turning unable to settle my mind and spirit. Continue reading →

The Wisdom of the Magi

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Every Christmas we have the chance to watch the re-enactment of the Nativity ongoing in schools and churches, and we often hear a special Christmas carol about three kings of the Orient. Indeed, many of us sing along joyously… but have we ever asked ourselves about the real implications of this story? Have we ever delved into the true meaning behind the words? Continue reading →

Awesome Kenyans: The Artist

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I had the honor and privilege to go to school with amazingly talented people. We all experience that blessing as amongst us all are very gifted people, who often just need encouragement to nurture and grow their talent. Continue reading →