Steal her secrets series: West Michigan TV station general manager answers 25 career questions


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room and you can just tell she’s got it going on!  You wish you could be her or simply wish you knew her secret to success.  WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work.  We’re having them dish the details on everything from work life to home life and what has led to their career success.

25 Questions with Diane Kniowski

Meet Diane Kniowski. She’s the General Manager for WOOD TV8 & WOTV 4 Women in Grand Rapids.  While she’s normally busy managing three local television stations behind the scenes there’s a lot more to know about this power woman and her career.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

I am in charge of selling the vision, defining the goals, bringing clarity to our direction, removing the roadblocks and encouraging and supporting the team to success. I love it because I am in the people building business. And building great people results in building a great product. I love helping and guiding people toward success.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

My three must have items are my wallet, my lipstick and my nail file. My biggest surprise was finding an old cigarette lighter from the 80’s. It had WOTV 8 with a chopper on the front.

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer. I loved to hear stories and tell stories. My mom was a writer and when she would sit down at the typewriter, my brother and sister and I would sit down and write, too.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

I don’t have nightmares, but I worked for a female manager that dressed inappropriately, threatened her employees and was constantly acting rude and yelling to her team. I vowed NEVER to be anything like that woman. It was a great lesson.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

I think I have been able to advance my career by being the person who can deliver. I always make sure I am doing my job, but I also make sure that I take as much of that to the next step and offer the company more. That behavior does get recognized. I believe my promotions were based on doing more that just my job.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Flats. I did heels for years. They kill my feet, now.

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

Not okay. If you need to cry, leave the building, close your office door, or hit a private spot. Crying is a reaction to an issue. Learn how to appropriately handle the issue. Work is a professional place. Respond professionally.

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

This is my biggest challenge. I work very hard at having a balance, but it is a struggle. In my line of work, you are never off the clock. Television/Media is a 24/7 job.

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

I eat lunch at my desk almost every day. I actually don’t mind it. I get so much more paperwork done by being efficient with my time.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

Everyday, I am grateful for so much. I am grateful for my health, my smart mind, my compassionate heart and my loving family and friends. I am very grateful.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

I met with a woman to discuss a job opening that she had in her organization. I asked questions and admitted several times that I wasn’t sure if I wanted the job, I wanted to find out more, first. I then decided, after our lunch, that I wanted the job. I called her and asked her for an appointment. She said to me loud and clear…”I am not interested in hiring you. That was your interview and I don’t want someone on the team that I have to convince if they want to be here. I want someone who is fighting to be a part of my team.” I was mortified and totally embarrassed. I learned a hard lesson that day, but it has never left me.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

I always check my calendar the night before, so I know what is on my calendar for that day. I also pick out my clothes and pack up anything I need the night before. I just wake up, shower, get dressed and get out the door. I am not a great morning person, so I keep my routine simple.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

Managing 26 people out of a job and into early retirement (due to the economics of the business) with kindness, compassion and grace.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

The most important thing in my life right now is keeping my health and personal relationships and teaching and building my team at work.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

I woke up today at 6:15am.

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

I usually notice how they are dressed or their overall appearance. It’s just too hard to miss.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

I am reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. It is about de-cluttering your space to de-clutter your life. I often have so much going on and such a hectic life. I found this book at an airport on one of my travels and it is really about simplifying on a major scale. You start by over-organizing your space and eliminating much of the stuff you have around but never use. It is a method to free up your space and then free up your mind. It’s a great concept. It is working. I never thought I had too much stuff, but I actually like have less stuff around me and keeping my personal space more open. I am still an early student, but so far, so good.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

I receive 800-900 emails a day. 75% of those emails are pure junk, but I have to go through them to get to the important emails.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

I love The Voice and The Biggest Loser. Both of those shows are about everyday people making a effort in a new direction and succeeding.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

I am pretty open to most places. I really prefer some place with a view or surrounded by nature. I just relax and open up more in those places.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

WOOD TV’s 24 Hour News 8 app.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

Testifying in a congressional hearing for the broadcast industry. My job was to communicate the ability for television stations to respond with help in critical situations and not just show up to report. I citied the example of our team arriving in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina with a van full of water. We arrived in a highly damaged city in Mississippi and we were the first water supply to arrive for the residents. We brought the water with us because we thought that might be helpful. We never realized that we would provide that city with a critical delivery and be first on the scene to help.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

Tell me about the biggest challenge you ever faced and how you overcame or dealt with it.

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

Working with incredible people that help serve our community.

Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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