Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Tells Women: Build the Life You Want

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Why you should care

The New York senator is a political powerhouse and feminist, and she still finds time for dinner with her family every night.

OZY's new TV show, Breaking Big, explores the secrets to success.OZY's new TV show, Breaking Big, explores the secrets to success. Click to find out more.

OZY Media’s third prime-time television show, Breaking Big, airs Fridays at 8.30 p.m. ET on PBS stations, OZY.com and Facebook Watch. Join us as we explore the unexpected journeys to success of some of the world’s most influential stars. This week’s guest is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“If people are willing to fight for what they believe in … anything can happen,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tells OZY CEO Carlos Watson in this week’s episode of Breaking Big.

It took 10 years of working on other people’s campaigns before Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand worked up enough confidence to run herself. That’s typical for a lot of women, she says. But Gillibrand grew up surrounded by strong women — her grandmother, Polly Noonan, was a secretary in the New York State Legislature in Albany — who influenced her political ambitions. After law school, Gillibrand went into corporate law but quickly felt lost. Searching for more meaning in her life, she found inspiration when she heard Hillary Clinton call for more women to help make decisions in Washington, D.C.

Running in a very red district in Albany, Gillibrand officially launched her political career by defying the odds and getting elected to the U.S. Congress in 2006. In 2008, she became a New York senator, filling the vacancy left by Clinton when she was appointed U.S. secretary of state.

Today, Gillibrand works tirelessly as an advocate for women’s rights but manages to balance a full political schedule with being a hands-on mother. She tends not to schedule meetings before 9am or after 5pm so she can make her sons breakfast every morning and be home for dinner each night. Women should know they can achieve balance, she says, noting how having time to “do parenting” is important to her. “My advice is to try and build the life you want and know you can always be a good mom,” she says.

Being fearless in the political realm and knowing exactly what she wants is why her name is high on the list for possible 2020 presidential contenders.

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