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Five Empowering Life Lessons From Michelle Obama (That You May Have Missed)

 Five Empowering Life Lessons From Michelle Obama (That You May Have Missed)

I’ve had Michelle Obama in my ears for the last month. In the morning as I walk to work, doing my groceries on the way home, heading off to meet friends for dinner, on the park bench while watching my kids play soccer.


She’s become a trusted advisor. A wisdom whisperer. A funny pal. Her impeccably articulated stories now etched into my day-to-day memories.


In the fifteen hours that I’ve listened to her a few key moments stand out. Not the rousing moments woven into her sold-out live book tour performances (that I loved, BTW!), but softer moments.


Subtle and quiet, they show shifts in perspective as Michelle takes more and more responsibility for her own happiness and fulfilment.


Learning how to take charge of your own happiness and fulfilment is a theme that means a lot to me. Why? Because it’s the bedrock of the coaching journey—the springboard that creates big leaps forward.


So in a celebration of subtle springboards, I present you with:

Michelle Obama’s Five Discreet Life Lessons On Taking Charge Of Your Own Happiness and Fulfilment (That Didn’t Make It To The Book Tour)


Lesson 1: If You Want To Find Your True Self You First Have To Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You

Michelle Obama lived the first 28 years of her life as a happy control freak, following a strict recipe of hard work and determination. Even her stuffed animals were stiff. When the question “Am I good enough?,” regularly popped up in her head, she pushed herself even harder to prove her worth to others. Following a success-driven path on a straight-and-narrow road landed her in the corner office of a swanky law firm with the prospect of climbing even higher up the lawerly ladder. But then she met Barack, a late to meetings, unpredictable, out-of-the-box thinker with a wild drive and no clear path. Falling for Barack was a challenge ideologically and emotionally. It meant rebelling against predictability. Against the establishment. Against the perfection impression she hoped to project. Allowing herself to fall in love with him was the start of her swerve off the predictable path into a windy, challenging, imperfect, but deeply more satisfying one.

In Michelle’s Words:

"This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path—the my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly."

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When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

I had a very intimidating social studies teacher in High School named Mr Savage. 


He would walk into the classroom, silently go up to the blackboard, scribble a provocative open question, like “What is democracy?” in his chicken-scratch handwriting and then stare back at the class with his beady little eyes. (can you tell how much of a fan I was??)


He’d smile slyly with pinched lips revealing a little scar alongside his mouth. Then he’d gesture to the class to let the debate begin. 


I dreaded that moment. I was a shy and insecure adolescent and that kind of intellectual dogfighting made me shrink even further into my shell. 


Mr Savage didn’t give homework, but he did assign two big writing projects per year that were famously tough. For one project we had to propose our ideal presidential candidate and then argue and defend why we thought he or she should win.


You Should Be Talking Business With Your Besties

You Should Be Talking Business With Your Besties

So it turns out that Edith Wharton didn’t care much for her female peers.


In the copy of Old New York that I borrowed from my mom, the author of the introduction, Marilyn French, says that Wharton was “stubbornly disinterested” in the successful female writers of her era. A dismissive attitude French calls “horizontal hostility.”


The term “horizontal hostility” was coined in the 1970s by lawyer/activist/feminist Florynce Kennedy to describe destructive power dynamics between women. Be it shaming, attacking, belittling or flat out denying each other’s potential and talent. 


Women have come a long way since.  

Wonder Women: Lean In, Lean Out, Toughen Up, Soften Up, Be Your Best or Just Be?

Wonder Women: Lean In, Lean Out, Toughen Up, Soften Up, Be Your Best or Just Be?

My coaching is focused predominantly on women. I coach high-potential, creative women in multicultural environments that have a special spark in them that hasn’t been fully nurtured yet. Maybe they know their spark well, maybe they don’t, but they feel it bubbling under their skin like spaghetti sauce at a slow simmer. They feel its presence, can smell its aroma, but they haven’t plated it, tasted it and shared it with the world yet. And they know that if they don’t start facing, listening, and stoking that spark with the nourishment that it longs for they will regret it forever. And who wants to die with those kinds of regrets?

How Do You Know When It's Time To Get On That Plane?

How Do You Know When It's Time To Get On That Plane?

I’ve done two totally terrifying things in my life.

  1. Move to France 18 years ago

  2. Give birth to my second son sans meds

Every other experience I’ve had in my 43 years on this planet pales in comparison on the “holy shit I don’t think I can do this” spectrum. I’ve often thought about these two moments as seminal “warrior woman” milestones in my life. So massively hard but unthinkably rewarding they’ve come to symbolize a source of strength and determination in me that I didn’t know I had.