Becky Quick: Quick Study

CNBC's Becky Quick on her show's 20th anniversary, moderating the Republican debate in October and how her experience gave her a thick skin.

CNBC's Becky Quick, host of Squawk Box.
CNBC's Becky Quick, host of Squawk Box.
Photo courtesy of CNBC

Becky Quick, co-anchor of CNBC’s Squawk Box, spent her childhood chasing the oil boom around Indiana, Texas and Oklahoma with her mother, geologist father and younger brothers. Her family eventually settled in Medford, and Quick went to Rutgers. For much of her 20s she worked at The Wall Street Journal, then moved to CNBC in 2001. Now 43, she lives in Haworth with her husband, son and two stepdaughters.
New Jersey Monthly: You work one of those crazy morning shifts. How’s the commute?
Becky Quick: I get up at 3:47 am, and I’m usually out the door at around 4:30. I drive myself because I get sick in the back seat of black cars, and I don’t like to talk to anybody at that hour. I listen to business headlines on 880 [WCBS radio] till 5:04, then I switch over to NPR. It takes me around 40 minutes. Usually traffic’s not bad.

NJM: In October, you were a moderator for one of the early Republican presidential debates. Do you agree with the criticism that CNBC put the candidates on the spot?
BQ: I honestly don’t think it was any different than the two debates that went on before then. If you go back and look at the questions, they’re all pretty similar. We were trying to distinguish between candidates, sure, but that’s the goal of any debate.

NJM:So your panel didn’t set out to fling “gotchas”? 
BQ: We didn’t. If you want to be president, the leader of the free world, you have to be able to handle tough questions. This campaign season is different in that there are so many people in the race, and the people leading are outsiders to the GOP establishment. They’re not people who have been sanctioned, so they have a lot to answer for.

NJM: You took some heat for your debate performance. At one point Donald Trump denied saying something you asked him about. You appeared to have forgotten your source. Did you fumble that exchange? 
BQ: Do I wish I had had the source in front of me? Sure. But you don’t expect somebody to deny something that’s on his own website, so it took me by surprise…but overall it wasn’t a bad experience.

NJM: You have thick skin! Is that from living in New Jersey? 
BQ: It’s from experience. It used to bother me when somebody said they didn’t like the shirt I was wearing. Now I’ve learned to jump around with Donald Trump and Chris Christie.

NJM: You’re known for hard-hitting interviews with power brokers like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Who impressed you most?
BQ: If I had to pick one person, I guess it would be Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway….Charlie is 90 years old—and he tells people exactly what he thinks.

NJM: Last year, Squawk Box celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of conversations about the future with business and media visionaries like Barry Diller and Les Moonves. What did you learn? 
BQ: When you talk to these people who have been doing incredible things for 20 and 30 years, you realize they’ve had that longevity because they understand change and they’ve been willing to adapt. What I’ve taken away is that you have to adapt to the pace of change to be successful. If you don’t move fast, you’ll lose your lunch.

NJM: Oh, no! You don’t want to lose your lunch. 
BQ: I don’t mean “lose your lunch” like you’re going to vomit. I mean you’re going to get your lunch eaten if you don’t move quickly.

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