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For Marissa Mayer, It's God, Family and Yahoo

By Ben Popken, NBCNews.com | TODAY contributor
Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012 | 10:57 AM ET
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

At Fortune Magazine's "Most Powerful Women" dinner in Palo Alto, Calif., businesswoman Marissa Mayer, who was criticized for juggling a short maternity leave and her new role as Yahoo's CEO, says she has found balance by "ruthlessly prioritizing" God, family and then Yahoo, citing legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

"The baby's been easy!" Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer told an invite-only crowd at a Fortune "Most Powerful Women" event on Tuesday evening in Palo Alto, Calif.

"The baby's been way easier than everyone made it out to be. I think I've been really lucky that way but I had a very easy, healthy pregnancy. He's been easy. So those have been the two really terrific surprises: the kid has been easier and the job has been fun!" Mayer said, referring to her son, Macallister. The crowd chuckled along with her.

It turns out the former Google executive, known for her planning skills and extensive use of spreadsheets to make major life decisions (and determine the perfect cupcake recipe), can still be surprised when it comes to both motherhood and corporate leadership.

"I think that there's two surprising things," Mayer told the audience, comprised mostly of women, "I knew that the job would be hard and I knew that the baby would be fun. And the thing that surprised me, and really puzzlingly so, is that the job is really fun! Yahoo is a really fun place to work."

In a television exclusive, TODAY aired excerpts of the interview this morning, which may be her last public interview for some time.

The 37-year old, Mayer, who became Yahoo's CEO while 6-months pregnant and gave birth shortly thereafter, returned to work after a two-week maternity leave, sparking debate about whether she could both lead the embattled internet giant and be a good mother.

More broadly, her story has kindled a national conversation about whether women can truly "have it all" in terms of work-life balance. As a female CEO in the male-dominated tech world, and pregnant at that, some have pointed to her ascent as evidence of "The Fall of Men."

"What's the most important thing that you do, to get it all done?" Mayer was asked onstage at the FORTUNE event.

"You have to ruthlessly prioritize," replied Mayer. Doing interviews haven't been high on the priority list lately.

"And that's one of the reasons I haven't been talking and I will go back to not talking after tonight." said Mayer.

So far investors agree with how Mayer prioritizes her time. Yahoo's stock is up 18 percent since she took over.

A native of Wisconsin, Mayer cited legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi as an inspiration.

"And you know Vince Lombardi says, in my life there are three things: God, family and the Green Bay Packers, in that order. For me, it's God, family, and Yahoo, in that order."

In a few hours Mayer will join a group of CEOs meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss their priorities for the so-called "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take place Jan. 1, unless Congress acts.

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