Careers

Megyn Kelly on how she overcame one of the most difficult episodes of her career

Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly.

The first Republican debate of the 2016 election changed the career of broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly. The Fox News anchor, who was acting as a moderator, asked then-candidate Donald Trump about comments he had made calling women "fat pigs" or referring to them "dropping to [their] knees."

Trump's reactions, both on-stage and later, were out-sized and included his highly controversial "blood comment," which some saw as a reference to Kelly's menstrual cycle. The journalist describes how they rattled her professionally, and how she stabilized again, in her recently published book "Settle for More."

After the debate, Trump berated Kelly on social media, following through on his threat to unleash his "beautiful Twitter account," Kelly writes. Calls for her to be suspended circulated online.

"I felt alarmed," Kelly writes.

It was a low point in her career, as well as in her personal life. Hundreds of people called for her resignation. She didn't know how to act around her colleagues. "Was I a heroine or a victim? Or a villain?" she wondered. The blow-up distracted her from her demanding job.

She received numerous death threats, which forced her family to have an armed security guard accompany them on a vacation to Disney World. Her 5-year-old daughter Yardley asked her what a "bimbo" was and said she was scared of Trump.

To get through the very public unpleasantness, Kelly faced the challenge head on. She arranged an off-the-record meeting with Trump, and then she interviewed him on air.

"The way I see it, I rose," Kelly says. "I made a decision to change the story, to restore my proper place in this election, and I followed through [...] I was a reporter trying to cover a presidential candidate."

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Eric Liebowitz/FOX via Getty Images

Kelly also learned the power of compassion and friendship. Almost daily, friends, family members and even acquaintances reached out and expressed support. Receiving texts from industry colleagues like Don Lemon and Katie Couric, and even messages from people she had previously argued with on air, helped her.

Perhaps most importantly, Kelly learned to create a barrier between her and the negativity. At her husband's request, she set times where she would not look at her iPhone. She spent more time with her two children.

When people asked her how she was getting through the controversy, Kelly taught herself to reply, "Well, I've got a great husband, beautiful children, and supportive family members, friends and co-workers. And I've had a lifetime of training."

"Adversity is an opportunity." -Megyn Kelly, broadcast journalist and author of "Settle for More"

When facing a career obstacle or problem, Kelly recommends you ask yourself, "What defines you? Is it this latest stresser, or is it who you are a person?"

"Experience gives you a folder in which to put a new upset. 'Ah yes, I'm being called a bimbo by the likely Republican nominee,'" Kelly writes. "'I will file that with my bouts with workplace sexism.'"

Creating distance between the problem and your emotions is key, advises the journalist.

"Adversity is an opportunity, and one that has allowed me to flourish," she writes. "It has made me stronger, my skin a little thicker."

"And as with any turmoil in your life, none of it is for nothing if you survive it and take stock."

Kelly recently announced that she plans to leave Fox News and will be joining NBC News.

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Disclosure: CNBC's parent company NBCUniversal owns NBC News.