Lessons from The White House

The White House Internship Program is designed to cultivate young leaders and give them an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain exposure to the public service sector via an Executive Office assignment. Naturally, there’s a lot of exposure to v. important public sector leaders (who in a past life may have also been private sector leaders). Throughout my time there, I jotted down notes from mentoring meetings, brown bags, roundtables and the like. Compiled below are some of the best ideas & advice I received in the most magical place in D.C (circa 2009 -Jan 2017).

On Policy 

  • These are people issues, not women’s or color issues
  • Your pitch should be tailored to your audience. “If they can’t connect emotionally, they probably can’t connect economically” (And you want them to connect economically ? )
  • Politics are good, you can change things for the better [through policy]
  • I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, I expect them to understand it
  • Campaigns are supposed to be referendums on policy (re: 2016 election)
  • The penalty good people pay for not being in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves – Plato
  • Change demand, change the market and policy will follow. We (the people) lead politicians not the other way around
  • If you didn’t vote, life wasn’t that bad for you for real

Advice to  “head-strong” women

  • Pick your battles
  • Spend your energy on doing better (not complaining how unfair it is)
  • Be strategic but don’t let them know you’re strategic
  • Prove yourself (that takes self-confidence) Build up to be the person that they need and let them come to you

 

Be strategic but don’t let them know you’re strategic

On Intellectual Gravitas 

  • Look beyond pedigree
  • Don’t let others determine what or who you should be 
  • Don’t judge people based on their reputation or looks 
  • It’s appropriate to question someone’s judgment but no their motive. If you attack someone’s motive, they’ll retreat and you’re unlikely to reach an agreement

In the Truman Bowling Alley

 

On Career Progression

  • Be you… consistently
  • Find your why then your what
  • Don’t aspire to a title, we need whole people
  • You won’t have a clear vision until you are no longer afraid
  • Your narrative should be positive
  • Execution > strategy; Strategy is 10% and execution is 90% of the plan for success
  • Focus on the positive (when you start thinking about how crazy the world is)
  • [Have] Honesty, decency, courage, and authenticity
  • Pay attention to detail in the mundane things; Excellence is in the mundane task and consistency
  • Dignity & Respect 
  • Be Kind, Be Useful, Be Fearless
  • When you have to make a decision between two choices, do the one that scares you most.
Be you… consistently
My biggest take away is the Obama’s standard of treating everyone with respect from interns to other world leaders They treat everyone with dignity and respect. ❤️ That’s a quality I personally, strive for. Overall, I left The Obama White House feeling motivated and inspired. I know my why, just have to figure out my what.

First Lady Michelle Obama, and the Fall 2016 National Economic Council Interns. Yes, that’s me twining with The First Lady

Be Kind, Be Useful, Be Fearless

 

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