Women in Business: Q&A with SallyAnn Salsano, Founder and President of 495 Productions

01/13/2014 01:05 pm ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

SallyAnn Salsano is Founder and President of 495 Productions and the creative force behind each of the company's shows. Salsano has turned her 495 Productions into one of the leading production companies and a bona fide hit factory, with shows airing across the major networks and various cable channels.

Salsano started her illustrious career in New York City as an intern for "The Howard Stern Show" and "The Sally Jesse Raphael Show," eventually spending five years on "Sally" as she worked her way up to the role of producer. Prior to launching 495 in 2006, she was a show runner on ABC's "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette," "Trista & Ryan's Wedding," and "Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition," as well as on FOX's "Surprise Weddings."

In December of 2009, MTV premiered 495's groundbreaking series "Jersey Shore." A Long Island native, Salsano drew upon her own experience of growing up in an Italian-American household for the series. The show was an immediate hit and after its sixth season, the show reigned as the highest-rated show in the history of the network. In 2013, Salsano returned to her daytime roots by serving as an Executive Producer for the new hit daytime talk show "The Real," which premiered on FOX on July 15th and will return in fall 2014.

495 projects currently in production or on the air include: "Snooki & JWOWW" (MTV), "FriendZone" (MTV), "The Ex and the Why" (MTV), "Jerks With Cameras" (MTV), "Tattoo Nightmares" (Spike), "Tattoos After Dark" (Oxygen), and "Down South" (CMT).

Salsano has spoken on her successful career and the art of producing at various events and panels including: The NY Television Festival, Natpe, B&C's 3rd annual Women Of Hollywood, the Produced By Conference, the True/False Film Festival, Realscreen East, Realscreen West, and more. The Hollywood Reporter has honored Salsano for her exemplary work and has featured her on their "Reality TV: THR's 50 Most Powerful" list for two years in a row and on their "THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100" list. She has also been featured in Forbes, Variety, the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and on ABC's "20/20," just to name a few.

How have your previous employment experience aided your position at 495?
I feel like you're a better leader when you have done all of the jobs of those you are leading. It's not that I know better or am smarter, I've just made a lot of mistakes already. I'm a true believer that you need to make mistakes to succeed. Just after you've made the mistake, don't do it again.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
That's the hardest part for me. I'm not sure if I should be giving advice on this, but I could use some! All kidding aside, you need someone who embraces and supports what you do, even when the phone is ringing at 3 am.

What have the highlights and challenges been since founding 495?
The highlights have been working with the best producers out there and being able to create my own environment and do a wide range of shows for different networks (I get bored easily). The biggest challenge has been managing all of that.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to establish their own business?
Don't worry about gender, just do it and be good at it.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Being misunderstood. I know this is a cliché but we get called bitchy and harsh, rather than strong and passionate.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
You can do more than one thing and should if you want to. For instance, you can be great at your job and be a good mom, have a balanced life but that doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Stop letting people tell you how to split your time and do what works for you. Just get takeout if you're working late, stop over thinking it.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have learned so much working for so many different people, I have taken away some really good qualities and some qualities I hope never to repeat. The most important lesson I learned from my first job was that when the chips are down nothing motivates the team more than having your boss in there with you 'til the bitter end to work through it.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My mom...I got my work ethic from my mom who was able to find that balance but she taught me the importance of having a career, my own identity and the importance of having my own stash of cash...always.

What are your hopes for the future of 495?
To keep on going, I just want to keep making TV for as long as the airwaves will have me, I love my job.