What I Learned at Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama
We Are More Alike Than We Think
I returned from from Cleveland yesterday, after attending Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States. The event was one of the most inspiring I have ever attended. It was also one of the most fun, since much to my surprise, I ended up being featured on a local television news segment because of it. (My interview on News 5 Cleveland is at the bottom of the post.) The picture here is of me and my friend, DeLores Pressley, who attended with me.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the event was the interview style format. As you may know, Becoming is a tour event, being hosted in hundreds of cities around the world. Each one features Michelle Obama being interviewed by a different host.
In Cleveland, the interviewer was Carla Hall of The Chew, which aired on ABC for seven seasons from September 26, 2011 to June 28, 2018. I never saw the show … never heard of it, actually … but I can tell you that Carla Hall is a funny and engaging interviewer.
I loved this aspect of the tour because it meant you could attend in every city and it would be a different event every time. Each interviewer has a different style and asks a variety of follow up questions. The event is not heavily scripted. No two Becoming events are exactly alike.
The premise of Becoming is to give the audience a close-up look at Michelle Obama’s mindset, along with a behind-the-scenes view of what it is like to be a part of the First Family of the United States.
She told several cute stories from the perspective of her children, Sasha and Malia. For example, as their father won primary after primary, the girls were used to big celebration parties with lots of music, dancing and revelry. But when President Obama won the presidential election, the roads leading to the celebration party had been cleared by the Secret Service and District of Columbia police. As they rode to the venue where President Obama would deliver his victory speech, the streets were empty, prompting the girls to tell their father that, sadly, it looked like no one would be attending his last party.
Carla Hall was a great interviewer, posing thoughtful questions and interjecting only when necessary to add humor and maintain a natural and engaging flow of conversation. It was a very intimate encounter, particularly since Cleveland’s beautiful KeyBank State Theatre at Playhouse Square, is relatively small compared to some of the huge arenas where the event is taking place, and all of the audience seats face the stage.Here are some of the things I learned at @MichelleObama's #iambecoming event. #lifestyleceo #becomingmichelleobama #becoming Click To Tweet
I took tons of notes on my iPhone. Here are some of my biggest take-aways. The quotes are light paraphrases … I was typing really fast!
- Addressing questions about her expansive sphere of influence, the Former First Lady said, “I don’t care about the power. I care about the change.” This is a great way to think about your business as well. You can have a million followers, and bazillions of sales, but at the end of it all, what matters is that you have a meaningful and positive impact on people’s lives.
- In discussing what it was like to campaign in unfamiliar parts of the country where she was a total unknown, she shared that her hundreds of conversations at the kitchen tables of Americans nationwide showed her that we are more alike than we are different. She has concluded that the divisive nature of politics today is due mainly to the fact that, “We don’t get to embrace our similarities because we never sit down at kitchen tables and actually get to know one another.”
- In talking about how lack of confidence affects women’s lives, she said that we all must, “Learn to believe in the validity of your story.” This is of course super important for us as entrepreneurs. Our story is the life blood of our business, and fully embracing its power as it evolves is integral to long-term business success.
- “Fear is temporary.” I especially loved how she spoke about the power of fear. Rather than recommend that we pretend it does not exist, she said that we should embrace it and understand that it is temporary. Knowing that any unfamiliar situation will eventually become familiar is a powerful way to acknowledge fear without allowing it to overcome or control our behavior.
So, the News 5 Cleveland Interview
It happened completely by chance. As I was exiting the car at the valet stand in front of the theater, my friend introduced me to her friends as having come all the way to Cleveland from Charlotte to attend the event.
Turns out, it was news that someone had come to Cleveland from so far away to see a show. When Taeler asked me if she could interview me about why I did so, I was happy to oblige! Here is the segment, which aired Saturday evening after the event.
How cool is that?
“I Am Becoming …”
Perhaps the very best part about this event is it made me think even more about who I am becoming, and what legacy I am creating as I weave together the various swatches of the fabric of my life.
I am becoming so many things: a more compassionate daughter, a more loving mother, a better business person, a more devoted friend, a more effective entrepreneurial mentor, a better representative of my community, my adopted home state and my country … and more.
I am becoming a better version of myself, tweaking and reinventing who I am becoming on an almost daily basis.
Every day can now begin with my answer to the question: “Who am I becoming today?” And then, I will endeavor to live that day in a manner that is consistent with how I answer that question.
There was so much more to this event than I could ever convey in a single blog post. It is impossible to capture the sparkle and energy that was in the room. There were women there from all across Ohio, and a few, like me, from far away too.
They came from all walks of life, and were all different colors and shapes and sizes. Each one brought her own unique power and brilliance to the event. It was a special and unforgettable experience.n
You can purchase Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, on Amazon, or at your favorite book store. It’s also available on Audible, narrated by the author. You can check out upcoming tour dates at her website.
And check out my friend, DeLores’s, on She Elevates, where she teaches young girls to become successful entrepreneurs.
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