Carey Peña on Inspiring Others and Her Favorite Spots in Metro Phoenix

The founder of Inspired Media 360 shares her views.

Valley resident Carey Peña was a fixture on the local news, spending 15 years at 3TV in roles ranging from investigative reporter to main anchor. In 2015 Peña launched Inspired Media 360, a media firm that bridges technology and television, with the goal of “inspiring communities with the power of optimism.” The company produces talk shows and podcasts—including “Carey Peña Reports” and “In The Moment”—as well as blogs, columns and social outreach.

Any favorite places around the Valley? 

The Valley is a truly beautiful place to be and there are so many great spots to enjoy! For shopping, Scottsdale Fashion Square is amazing with its variety of shops. Also, the Scottsdale Waterfront which takes you into Old TownCamelback Mountain and the Gateway Preserve are both gorgeous places to hike. Royal Palms Resort & Spa is a favorite for happy hour and just enjoying the Arizona surroundings with friends. 

What inspired you to start your company?

Someone I admire and who is a very sharp businesswoman said to me that growth is like being a flower. To continue to bloom, you may need to re-pot yourself. I think this is true for me. I loved working in local news and appreciated all of the opportunities, but I wanted to expand and grow in new directions. I don’t ever want to look back in life and wonder 'what if'—so, I took a leap.  

How about restaurants?    
The restaurant scene here is gaining national recognition now with all of our creative and talented chefs. I’d have to say Cafe Monarch and Elements are two of my favorites. You can’t go wrong by way of food or surroundings! But, I could submit a long list of fantastic Valley restaurants. Hats off to our Arizona chefs for putting us on the foodie map! 

If someone was visiting you from out of state, which places would you recommend they visit?

Desert Botanical Garden is really cool. Old Town Scottsdale is always fun for visitors—and be sure to take a snap in front of the “LOVE” sculpture. Roosevelt Row is a gem, especially if you can check it out on a First Friday and experience all of the art and fun foodie culture. The Phoenix Art Museum has fantastic exhibits and the Musical Instrument Museum is great. But most of all, we always encourage our guests to take a short drive up to spectacular Sedona! Of all the places I have traveled in Arizona and all over the world, I have to say the Enchantment Resort is one of the best.

Why the name Inspired Media 360? 

Inspiration is my favorite word. To me, it embodies all that is good: happiness, aspiration, forward-thinking and positivity. I was actually getting a massage and as my mind was calm, the name came to me. It basically represents our mission statement to inspire and be inspired in all that we do. Plus, I love the short version: IM360. It’s all about the hashtag.  

Do you have a favorite story that you've covered? 

This is such a tough question to answer because I’ve covered thousands of incredible stories over the years, ranging from big national and international breaking news to stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I guess one of my favorite recent interviews is with combat veteran Derek Weida. He lost his leg during a firefight in Iraq, and after being forced to medically retire from the military, became suicidal. Weida talks about his journey back from the brink, how he made a decision to get off the couch and go compete in a tough mudder(!), and from there, he became a nationally known athlete with millions of followers. He is off-color and straight-to-the-point—the kind of interview I love. His story has more than 500,000 views on my YouTube page.

What inspires YOU? 

Kindness inspires me. Selflessness inspires me. 

What has been your personal career highlight?

I don’t know if I have hit that yet! There is still so much more to do. But I might say solo anchoring hours of live coverage the night the nation found out Osama bin Laden had been killed would be one of my career highs. All of the pain and suffering following the horror of 9/11 came flooding to the surface when President Obama confirmed that the Navy Seals had completed this mission. Among so many career moments I will never forget, this is at the top. 

Carey Peña