Courtesy of NBCUniversal
By Patricia Sellers
February 18, 2015

Now that Mika Brzezinski is set to take her “Know Your Value” brand of girl-power evangelism on the road, you may wonder: Will Joe Scarborough, her Morning Joe co-host, be part of her nationwide tour?

“Of course,” Brzezinski says. She pauses and smiles and then adds: “By the way, who else would carry my purse?

So it goes with the Brzezinski, who is never a dummy about using all she’s got. On a snowy Tuesday morning, I visited the bantering morning-show host at her MSNBC office in New York’s Rockefeller Center. Wearing her daughter’s Ugg boots with her black dress, she explained her new venture, a series of live events for women in five U.S. cities, that she and her employer, NBCUniversal, had announced a few hours before.

Based on her 2011 best-selling biography-advice book, Knowing Your Value, Brzezinski says she sees the nationwide “Know Your Value” tour as a vehicle to “give women tools to live a better life” as well as to build a new “movement.” But, she insists, “I’m not going to be like Oprah.”

Brzezinski’s events, starting in Philadelphia on April 10, will be relatively small—for 500 women or so—and “work-shoppy and hands-onny.” This is her way of saying that she, as host of each full-day powwow, doesn’t want to spend the bulk of her time preaching to the rafters. Rather, she wants to spotlight and coach individual women who are struggling to succeed in their professional or personal lives—and to make it really fun, stage contests in each city, with celebrity judges picking local and national stars.

“Think of it as game show meets pageant meets makeover show like you’ve never seen before,” Brzezinski says. She’s intentionally cryptic, she explains, because she plans to reveal details on Morning Joe next week.

The 47-year-old Brzezinski chronicled her own struggles (in 2006, she got fired from CBS) in her book, and she came up with the idea for the “Know Your Value” road show a year ago, she says, because women come up to her almost daily to say something like, “I read your book. I got the raise.” Her book sales endure (“I still get checks”), and she has a new book, Grow your Value, due out this May. “I figured that if I don’t do something with this, I’m an idiot. I’m irresponsible.”

Actually, most women would kick back and enjoy the residuals. But Mika is not like most women. (“I want to change the definition of aggressive,” she says, explaining that her father—Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter’s National Security Adviser—praised her as a child by calling her “aggressive.”)

So, she went to her bosses, including MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel, and pitched the idea. She got a yes, in part because she made the case that every major company has in its ranks “women who are really good but don’t know how to put what they do well into words—and we lose them.”

And as companies strive to promote women and fix their gender imbalances at the top, it’s not surprising that sponsors lined up to fund the “Know Your Value’ tour. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is the presenting sponsor. Other backers include Prudential (PRU) , JetBlue (JBLU), Tivo (TIVO), and fashion brand Milly, as well as Comcast (CMCSA), NBCU’s parent.

Brzezinski’s events—like other women’s conferences such as the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit—will be livestreamed on the web and will produce plenty of digital content for other platforms. Besides promoting her empowerment confabs on Morning Joe (of course), Brzezinski says that segments will appear on Today and other NBC properties as well.

So, she’s got something of value in the making—for building the Mika brand, at least. “Once you know your value, you’ve got to grow it,” Brzezinski says. “I see this as growing my value.”

And speaking of value, is she getting paid to produce and host these events? Yes, but she and NBCU are still fine-tuning their business deal, and the financial terms are to be determined. “I’m certainly going to keep my eye on the bottom line for the future,” she says. For now, “I’m helping this company, and this company is helping me build a movement.” Brzezinski knows her value—and the value of her bosses too.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Brzezinski is not being paid to work on her “Know Your Value” tour this year. Fortune regrets the error.


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