Jessica Yellin Says Her Life Became Easier When She Stopped Asking For Permission

Jessica Yellin is the former chief White House correspondent for CNN and author of the novel Savage News. She's also the founder of a community called #NewsNotNoise, providing a to-the-point take on top news stories through her Instagram account. (Motto: "We think the news should give you information, not a panic attack.") Here's how she feels powerful...

I feel most powerful when...

I am able to marry instinct with my purpose and achieve something in the world that causes change or greater understanding without much resistance from the outside world or personal obstacles. For example, when I'm able to break down or frame a story to my audience, and they get it and it changes their understanding of an issue.

Power to me means...

For me, it's about power to rather than power over. Power to connect, power to grow, power to create change and get stuff done. Impacting people's lives in a positive way, that's power.

What do you do when you feel powerless?

When I started the #NewsNotNoise Instagram, more than a dozen people told me that no one is going to be interested in news sold differently. I kept encountering this resistance, but then I finally realized I can't wait for people to give me permission to do it, I should just do it. I found an audience and that's what matters to me, that my work connects and resonates with an audience that is looking for stories told in a different voice. A lot of news nowadays is about outrage and hysteria, and a lot of the audience is just tuning out. I'm finding a way to communicate that is engaging, but minus the added hysteria.
My book Savage News, a million people told me not to do it, but again, I didn't wait for permission. I just knew I had to tell this story and write this book. When I stopped asking for permission, things became so much easier and clearer.

What's your power anthem?

"Raise Up" by Ledisi. ("You gotta know who you are / You are meant for a purpose.") It's so inspirational and uplifting. If I just need to get stuff done, this 10-minute remix of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" gets me going. Also, "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie. I have incredibly cheesy taste in music — I blast dance music in the car. I like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, lots of pop.

Who's your power icon?

One of my heroes is Nellie Bly, the pioneering investigative journalist. She just persisted. She succeeded by following her gut and doing what she believes is right, and in the end she made a difference.

What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?

It's all about my hair. If my hair looks right, I feel good. I do my own blowouts; I have a host of tools depending on the weather and day. Outfit-wise, I'm usually pretty casual now that I don't have to be on TV wearing blouses. I wear sneakers — I'm not a high heels person.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
For more content on powerful women, check out On Her Turf.

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