Sometimes young people think that mentoring is to just about just show me the way.
Just tell me what to do, make my pain easier, get stuff out of my life easier. Yeah. Yeah. I want young people out there to know when they are looking for a mentor. They also have to think about what are you going to bring to the relationship between now and then?
Come on. Hi, everyone, I am Michelle Obama, and this is the Michelle Obama podcast.
In this episode, we're going to be talking about a relationship that can make all the difference for us in our professional lives, but also outside of it, and that is a relationship with a mentor, whether it's with a boss or a colleague who's a little older or maybe it's an auntie or an uncle who, you know, you can count on.
And so in this conversation, I'm going to be talking with my former boss, a senior adviser for Barack Obama, President Barack Obama and me for a very long time, and one of our closest friends in the entire world. Her name is Valerie Jarrett. Valerie is just incredibly accomplished. She ran a huge portfolio at the White House. She sits on the board of major companies and organizations. She wrote her own memoir.
But more than any of her titles or accomplishments, she is simply one of the most honest, most loyal people you will ever meet. Well, Valerie, welcome to the Michelle Obama podcast, I am so happy to be here with you. We are here today to talk about the role of mentoring, how the workplace experience impacts who we are.
And so much of who I am is the result of having, you know, not just a strong mother and a strong nuclear family, but strong friendships, not just in my private life, but in my work life. And when you and I first met, it was at that point in my life when I was struggling in my career to figure out who I was, what I really wanted to do.
The track that I was taking as a lawyer in a corporate firm really wasn't what I had expected.
It wasn't giving me what I needed.
It wasn't bringing joy to my life. It didn't feel meaningful.
I hadn't really spent much time in my young life thinking beyond just chasing a career title.
So for the first time in my life, I had to actually get off of this treadmill of what I was supposed to do and start thinking about what I wanted to do, what I was inspired to do. And that led me to Valerie Jarrett. And am I glad that it did? Yes.
Valerie, why don't we talk a bit about that, that first meeting and you know, where you were in your life, how you wound up working in the city government? That's where we were. We met.
Well, similarly to you, I had made up this 10 year plan and I was busy doing everything on my plan and woke up one day and I thought, is this am I doing something that is fulfilling to me? And. Well, Laura, my daughter, who by that point was a couple of years old, will she actually be proud of me one day? And the answer was no. And I started doing some soul searching. And a good friend of ours, Alvin Charity, said, Why don't you consider public service?
You are so miserable at that law firm? And I said, well, that was not my plan. And he said, just try it. You can always go back to the law firm. And so I took this leap of faith when I met you four years later. I had practiced law for four years for the city. And Susan Sher, who was, I think the number two person in the law department at the time, sent me your résumé and across the top and said, you know, extraordinarily bright young woman has no interest in the big law firm.
So right away you had me with a low. And I have to tell you, Michelle, I can still remember you walking into my office and you were so, you know, composed and confident.
And what did you do?
You told me your story, which is unusual for people to do in an interview when I met you, a black woman who was on the same path as me. I was so curious to interview you.
And you did. I was I mean, I felt and I was right.
And I thought in order to have a real conversation with you that I couldn't talk about, you know, my education, all that was on my resume, I was like telling you, this is what I'm going through. You know, I kind of was open enough because I thought, you can't help me if you don't understand why I'm here. And a job was just a part of why I was there.
You know, I lost my father and my best friend from college within a year of each other, you know, my father's death was fairly sudden, even though he was deteriorating for me for a long time. But my girlfriend, Suzanne, who was my age, we were literally four days, five days different. I was born on January 17th. She was born on the 21st, but she was diagnosed with lymphoma, like in the fall, and she was dead by the spring.
I felt her death profoundly, that was my wake up call because I wasn't married at the time it started dating Barack, he was another kind of wrench in my plan because he was somebody that just viewed life differently. He he wasn't on a path.
He he didn't do the conventional thing. Yet here he was having an impact and challenging me and making me think in a different way.
And I think all of that was just making me for the first time in my young life, I think, and not just do and my thought was that what do I have to lose, you know?
And the fact that you were open was one of the first signs that this is somebody that I want to have in my life.
Thank you. So you bowled me over. Obviously, I gave you a job offer on the spot. I didn't have any authority to give you a job offer, but I gave it to you anyway.
I couldn't imagine why David Haseena and the mayor wouldn't be totally blown away the way I had been. But wisely, you demurred and said, let me get back to you. So before you made the decision to come, you and your then fiance and I had dinner. I remember that dinner so vividly because in the nicest but most priding kind of way made me like, tell me his story, my life story. I can hear him now going, where are you from?
Chicago. To grow up here. Yes. Were you born here? I know that you were trying to hide that, and I always tried to hide it.
I oh, and it is so easy because nobody asks. Right. And it would never hurt anybody.
When you say you grew up here, usually they take you with that. But no, not your fiance.
He was like digging deeper.
I spent so much of my childhood just trying to be like every other kid. I just wanted to be what I would call normal. And I didn't feel normal because I had been born in Iran and I had lived there till I was five and then moved to London and then to Chicago.
And when my parents plopped me down in school in Chicago, I got teased and I got bullied for a whole host of reasons, but mostly because I was viewed as different. But what came out of it was that he didn't give me the normal reaction people give me. He she said, well, that's interesting. And then he started to open up and tell me about his life in Indonesia. So in a sense, we bonded for different reasons. But I did feel like at that dinner, this is an amazing couple and I remembered that.
You treated each other not just with love, which was obvious, but respect, and at the end of that dinner, I not only hoped that you were going to come and join the mayor's office, but I thought, you know, he is so talented. I hope that one day he could be mayor of Chicago.
That was my feeling for a black man. Like he really worked hard one day. He could be mayor, he could be mayor.
And it just shows you how we put our own SEELE ourselves. It never occurred to me to say he could be president or Harold Washington had been mayor. Well, maybe Barack Obama could be mayor to.
I accepted the offer and I and I trusted that you were in there for the right reasons, No. One, because you didn't have to be there, right.
You were an accomplished attorney, well respected.
You could have worked anywhere, but you were choosing to make to be a voice at a table of power, to be a black woman, a young black woman.
I just you know, I still can't believe I always felt you were so much older than me because you were you were such a baller, such a boss, but you were a baby.
Looking back now, I was a baby. You I was where we were. We were all babies. But you were a baby running things in the Daley administration.
You had his ear. He promoted you to become the head of planning and economic development for the city of Chicago. So I trusted that you were doing it for the right reason and that I could learn from somebody like you.
There was one meeting where you asked me to stop by and you were making the government work for people because so many people got lost in the bureaucracy, was so disorganized and you were trying to make sense out of chaos. And, you know, I remember walking by the meeting and hearing your voice outside and you were saying to all the city agencies that were around that table, we are not going to leave this meeting until we figure this out. And I remember I turn around.
I was like, you know, maybe she's got this.
You were the first person that showed me how to use that voice and how to quietly but definitely control the conversation and the agenda. And it was an important education for me.
Well, and I had gone in the sense from a mentor as well. When I first started working for the city, there was a woman whose title was assistant to the mayor for finance and development. She's the kind of person who would make space for you. So she took me to a meeting with senior staff. She'd say, Valerie, why don't you do the presentation? And I would be terrified, but what an opportunity that was that she afforded me.
So she let me shine and didn't feel like she had to be the one to always shine. And the thing that she really taught me that came in handy both in the mayor's office and in planning is she would always say, remember who we work for. We work for the citizens of Chicago. That's our ultimate boss. We are here to serve.
This is public service, watching you be one of the younger, often only women.
The oftentimes the only black person at a table full of CEOs and bank heads and community leaders was probably the most powerful thing I could see.
The Mayor Daley had a lot of strength.
He had a lot of weaknesses. But in terms of loyalty, one of the many reasons why I was loyal to both he and his wife, Maggie, I remember once I had brunch with them on a Sunday and Maggie said, What are you doing after brunch? I said, I'm going back to work. And she goes, Why do you work on Sunday? I said, I'm the commissioner of planning development. I work every day. And she goes, he doesn't work on Sundays talking about her husband.
Why do you she said Sunday you should be with your family. I thought about it. I'm like, you know what, you are right, I should be with my family. But when Susan and I were newly in our positions, we didn't really know Mayor Daley that well after he'd promoted both of us. And we were sitting in his office and Susan and I started looking at our watches and he caught us and he said, so what's going on here?
And Susan and I looked at each other and I often wonder if Susan hadn't been in the room to kind of give me some encouragement, what I know.
What I have said to him, sir, the Halloween parade starts in 20 minutes and we're 25 minutes away. And he didn't miss a beat. He said, then what are you doing here? And why didn't she speak up?
And Susan, I go flying down Lakeshore Drive in Chicago and going a little above the speed limit.
We get to her son in my daughter's school. They were both in second grade together. And when the doors is open and the little darlings come out, you've been to that Halloween parade, darling. They are. They come out. And what are they doing? They're looking around the crowd for us.
And we were there.
And the lesson wasn't just, OK, this mayor of Chicago is understanding we are both single moms and if we don't show up, there will be nobody there.
But it was also like if we don't advocate for ourself, then he would never know.
He can't read our minds. He doesn't know what's going on in our personal life.
Well, it also speaks to the importance of having the diversity of leadership. What I experience was having a boss that was a woman.
Women bring a different perspective to the workplace that is important and relevant. Sometimes we get upset with men because they don't understand. Well, no, they don't understand. They're usually not the person who's taking care of the kid. You know, they they have someone else do that. And I say this to our male leaders. It's like we don't want women to be like men.
You know, that's not what we're fighting for. We're not just fighting for women to put on suits and to don the habits and perspectives of men to be accepted as leaders. No, we need that feminine energy, that perspective, that approach.
A lot of male employers, you know, they don't even know to make those accommodations.
When you were the head of planning and economic development, along with some of the other senior women in the Daley administration, you got I knew you were mothers.
You weren't hiding it when Laura called you. And Laura was, what, eight, ten old was. She was little when you were.
No, she was younger than that. Five or so. Yeah, she was five.
But if Laura called, everything stopped and I would sit be sitting in meetings with you and you'd be hammering down some intense thing and Cathy would beep you in its Laura on the line and wouldn't matter what you were saying, you would swivel around in your chair just to slightly turn away and you'd say, Hi baby, how are you?
And you wouldn't rush her. You know, you would answer her little five year old questions and then you would say, Mommy, you'll be home. This is what we're doing. Then you turn back around and be right back in it.
And I thought, Boller butler, you know, I was like, she just flipped. She was like the head of economic development one second and Laura's mommy the next.
And I saw you and Susan Sher and some of the other women leaving meetings to go to the Halloween party and rushing to get to the school play.
And that made us all more productive and feel like our not just our work had value, but our lives had value. Right.
We have to find the courage to be willing to say this is what I need. And and in so doing, we empower ourselves. And then you need to make sure that you're working for people who allow you to be who you are. Yeah. And they can't be that for you unless they know who you are.
Well, and you also learn that there are millions of women and people out there who work in jobs where they don't have the luxury, they don't have the opportunity, they don't have the voice, they don't have the leverage, which is why I always say it's incumbent upon the people like us who do we have to be that voice.
More on the Michelle Obama podcast after the break. And it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy once you start setting your demands. Mm hmm. It is easier for people to just respect them.
And I think a shockwave came when before Kathy was my assistant, I had an assistant who one day did not put Laura through when she called.
And when I came out of a closed door meeting, I laugh at that like, oh, that's why I never knew that woman. I don't even know you're talking.
You never met her because she handed me one of those little pink slips, which says, you know, Laura and I looked and I said, Laura, who is she said, Laura? And I said, well, she couldn't recall because you would have come in and got me. And she said, well, you were in a meeting with the door closed. And I said, but, you know, the rule is if Laura calls and she said Laura said it wasn't important.
I said a five year old doesn't make that decision. I do. I'm the mother. And I get to I can tell within ten seconds if I can say, Laura, I will call you back. You know, you're just dialing me because you want to hear my voice or is there something that she needs? But if she wants to hear my voice, she gets to do that. And so, yes, she didn't last for a host of reasons, but that was one I remember most.
And so I think and then it became the rule and it was like urban Laura and I, even Laura, because it was a tube. Well, that assistant didn't last very long. So and I think because I was in a position of power and authority, it made it a lot easier to do. In fact, I realize when you set it that I was being a role model, which I didn't really think about at the time that you were watching me, I was more like, I'm doing this for Laura, not realizing, oh, people who are younger are seeing this behavior and that maybe that will help them and not everybody does that.
We are living, breathing role models, not just in what we say, but what we do. And if we're not making space and we're not showing balance in our own lives, no matter what we say, young people are watching what we do.
They are watching and saying, I look up to this woman and if she's working until, you know, 12:00 at night, seven days a week and not mentioning her kids, then I guess that's what I have to be, to be a good professional, to be a good employee.
And we think that we have to present ourselves perfectly to young people.
Right. If you're too far up, if you if you if you're perceived by young people as being perfect and untouchable, they give up.
I never want young people to think that failure is an a part of everybody's journey. Yes, I fail my bar the first time.
What does it do for me if some kid thinks I've never had a failure, that that's the only way you can be first lady is if you're perfect.
No one is. My ability to see other women who balanced it all and were able to set boundaries for themselves gave me the tools and at least the vision of how I could be a working mother.
That was huge for me, you know, being able to say to my team at whatever level my job was, it's like, let's block out all the things that are my life. First, let me put let me put me on my calendar first. Let me put my kids activities and parent teacher conferences. Let me put my workouts. Let me put the things that are important to me on my schedule, like an appointment block out that time. Did I have to tell them that it was booked with a Halloween parade, that I tell them that it was booked with a workout for me?
No, you just say I'm booked.
And guess what people do. They go, OK, well, let's find another date.
Let's find another time. We we do that for in our work lives all the time.
We blocked that time off. But it is possible.
To give yourself a reason to say no, if you put yourself on your schedule first and the end of the year, the opposite, right where everybody was filling up your schedule without any consideration of what your needs were. And if you let them do that, you won't have any time left. They'll fill up every minute of your day if you let them.
That's right. That's right.
Are you on the campaign trail where you say, OK, I'll do what you want me to do, but I have to be back by dinnertime? Yeah, I carry that into the White House. When I realized that over the course of the presidential campaign, when I still had a job because I thought I was still working for a good half a year before I was walked away and did campaigning full time, that I gave the campaign three days a week.
And I said, you know what, these are the times, you know, I've got to get up. I want to get my kids to school. I get to get my hair done and I got to get home in time for dinner. And you have this chunk of time in between there to get me on a plane. And I will go anywhere. I will work as long as you need me to work. But when that bell rings, you I need to be at home at this time and don't call me.
And I got so much done in those three days that people thought I was working on the campaign full time. The same thing was true as first lady. I was up three days a week.
We called it being up. And for a woman that was meant I had hair and makeup done and I didn't want to waste a day of hair makeup because when I'm first lady, if I'm not up, I am not in her makeup. I am looking like me. Right.
So when I had hair and makeup, it's like, let's do every speech read, as you all know.
Thank you so much.
Let's do TV. Are you First Lady Michelle Obama? I am Grover.
Hi, how are you. Let's do all of this stuff. Welcome to the White House.
And then I had the rest of the week for my children and for my husband and for dinnertime and for me time.
And I was highly productive in that time. I got so much done. We launched four initiatives. We spoke at graduations, we did essays, we did events. You know, we had the house was full of activity in the White House, but it was scheduled around the parameters I set for my family.
Those of us who are bosses have to give the team permission to because that's culture, you've created a culture now where people know they can bring their full self to work. You have to reinforce it over and over and over again because people are also bringing their baggage from their prior experiences to the table, which means to some degree, you've got to let them let go of that baggage and realize, oh, no, this is a new place. Now, we're not playing by those rules that you played where you couldn't talk about who you are because you have to do that here.
That's what I expect of you. And so leading by example. And you did that, but also empowering other people to say, well, it's OK for me to do that to.
Sometimes young people think that mentoring is to just about just show me the way.
Just tell me what to do, make my path easier, get stuff out of my life easier. Yeah. Yeah. I want young people out there to know when they are looking for a mentor. They also have to think about, well, what are you going to bring to the relationship?
It was I was talking to Amelia about this the other day because, you know, we were talking about having impact and how young people were. And I know our generation talks about it a lot of times. A lot of young people want it really fast. Like, I want to make change. I want to be a speechwriter. Right. You know, it's seen that in the campaign. I want to come in. I think I want to run communications.
It's like, well, first of all, you're 23. You just got out of college.
I tried to make the point to Malia that the young people that are that have been in my life a long time and who are my mentees, I reminded her that they started out, several of them in the campaign, doing some of the grungiest jobs, you know, volunteering to pick up speakers at the airport, doing advance work, which is some of the hardest stuff.
That means you have to go out and set up the site before. That means you got to get coloring books for the candidates kids. You got to bring food and it's grunt work.
But the people who are with me now and who now have responsibilities over my schedule or they've helped run a big book tour or they are running our higher ground productions and working with Netflix, almost all those people started out doing some grunt work.
And you watch how young people do the work that they don't want to do the thankless work that's not so fun.
And to do it well, those are the people that I look to and go, huh? That person's ready to be push. That person wants to do more. I'm I'm ready to invest in them. Right.
Attitude matters, attitude and effort and energy. And, you know, being a cheerful spirit, even on a bad day, the folks that I hired in the White House to be a part of my team were many of the junior staff that I saw along the campaign trail all over our country back in 2007 and 2008. That impressed me with their job that they were doing. Little did they know I was looking at them as somebody to potentially have a much more senior position.
The job of the mentor, of course, is to help people grow and not give them so much responsibility that they fail, but to be able to gauge what works and what isn't going to work and and when it's not working to say to them, this isn't working. But I think this will.
And you and I had a had a similar experience in high school and that our college counselors were discouraging, I remember going to my counselor and I told them, you know, since my first year of high school, I had always wanted to go to Stanford.
And he said, there's no way you're going to get into Stanford and out of maybe obstinance.
I applied anyway. But plus, it's just like I had been so determined to do this. But my mother, the cautionary one, said well, applied a bunch of other schools, too. And I never told her what he said to me. And so I did. And I ended up getting in all schools I had applied to. But I remember going to college thinking, well, maybe it was a mistake, maybe that maybe that guy was right.
Maybe I don't really deserve to be here.
And it wasn't until I started getting my grades that I was like, well, wait a minute, I'm actually doing all right. But he did damage to me, I think, with that setting of a low expectation of me. I think it has a lot to do with the limitations of race and class that sadly guide to many people, I mean, you know, a lot of these counselors, you know, they they have they're dealing with hundreds of students.
Oh, hold on.
Hold on, Laura.
I still beat you to it. I know she's probably been texting me. Hi, sweetheart. I'm doing my podcast myself. Of course, you know, I had to take your call, Laura, otherwise I'd be off message. She says hello. Oh, all right. OK, bye bye. Was that perfect or was it good? I know I sound a little pumpkin pop up. I was like, oh, I know. She's still the pumpkin popping in the pumpkin.
I have been texting me for hours and she worries like a little old lady. So if I don't answer her right away, then she assumes that I've tripped and I'm on the floor bleeding or that it's like I'm not dead.
I'm just doing a podcast. I'm alive.
I interrupted you.
No, no, it's a good thing. But but yeah, it's some of it is people's limited view, their own biases, their prejudice, their racism. And there are a lot of people who don't they've been told that a little black kid or a brown kid or working class kid is only supposed to achieve so much. That's that's their limited view of the world.
But the thing that that all adults have to think about is what happens when you say that to the kid who has nowhere else to go with that negative energy.
They sit with it and it slowly erodes the sense of who they are when the realities, as we both discovered, are just the opposite. There's no magic in these schools.
I talk about affirmative action all the time. The minute you sit in these hallowed halls and you sit on these boards and you sit in the C Suite suites, you see a lot of excellence, but you also see a lot of mediocrity. You see a lot of reverse affirmative action of kids who were there because their parents paid for their placements at those schools. We've seen it in the college admissions scandal, which is nothing new to us. We know that there are people who are alumni, donors or or football boosters or you name it.
There are plenty of ways that kids are placed in positions and told you deserve it when they haven't earned it at all. And you've got, you know, thousands, millions of talented young minority, poor working class kids, kids who live in small rural towns who nobody gives the chance.
That's what also what being a good mentor is.
It's like if you're going to take on a position of being a teacher or counselor, you have a responsibility to clear your head of your prejudices and your bigotry.
You know all of that because you can damage a kid for a long time to come.
During our White House time, one of the the programs that I was most proud of was our mentoring program that we had in the White House.
You know, we didn't make that public because that was something that that we wanted to do because we felt we had an obligation of living in the most famous, powerful address in the land. What were we doing as the first lady and his senior advisers to the president, women in this administration?
What were we doing to actively lift up young people not working for us or interning with us, but, you know, young young women in high school who were trying to find their way. And we started the White House mentoring program and Barack had a companion program for young men.
But you were played a big role. You were one of the, you know, more powerful and more important mentors.
I'll tell you a story. I'm not even sure I've ever shared this with you, but the first group of mentees that we brought in were all down on the first floor ground level of the residence, waiting to be invited up to to meet you.
And I walked from the West Wing on my way to the reception luncheon that we had for them. And so I had to walk through the crowd and they were they were so emotional about meeting you. Many of them were in tears. Typical teenage girls had no control over their emotions. And because you weren't there, they felt free to just sob and scream and and they were a hot mess before they went upstairs. But they composed themselves to go upstairs.
And what I remember so vividly about you and you have talked about this a lot, is it for the moment they met you. You were so present in their life. And, you know, you've talked about the fact you don't know whether their families were present, what kind of circumstances they were living in. All you know, is it for that time that you connected with them? You wanted them to know that you valued them and you could just feel them relaxed because you're like, oh, she's a mom.
She's just like normal. And so I think the program, it was about the intimacy of that connection. And that was the piece of it that I enjoyed hearing their stories.
And, you know, teenage girls, they'll talk. You just have to like, oh, yeah, wind them up. But that and the thing the program did, you know the reason why I think I like formal mentorship programs, especially with young people. It takes time for them to warm up and to reveal themselves. It doesn't happen over the course of a meeting. I don't care how open you are. Our mentorship program was a heightened version of that.
These young kids were being brought into the White House and they were meeting with the first lady at the time. And that was really heady. But that's true for any, you know, relationship with young people.
It takes them a second to ease into themselves, to start opening up because they don't know if they can trust you just because you're the first lady, just because they don't like there's a part of me was like, I don't know these people. I don't know if they're serious. I don't know if they'll be here. I don't know. So the consistency of formalized mentorship program, it reinforces to young people that you're serious about your investment in them. And my point to them always was if you can walk into the White House and look the first lady in the eye with confidence and share your thoughts and ideas and share some popcorn and laugh if you know, if you can feel your growth getting comfortable in the most powerful house in the land, there's nothing you can't do.
There's no place you can't go because you've been to the mountaintop and you've looked power in the eye and and you were a part of this.
Mentoring can be that powerful and formal, consistent mentoring can change the trajectory of a child's life.
We have seen it again and again and again. Even if they don't end up in a certain place, it changes the fabric of who how they see themselves in the world.
And my thing is like, if we could do it in the White House under some challenging times, I know that every corporation, every bank, every office, every you know, everybody out there can think of a way to do something formalized like that for the young people in their communities.
And I will say one of the things outside of the formal mentorship program that you that you two did is it when you touched people, it was never the drive bys. So, for example, when you and Barack went to Indian Country and you met those teenagers who had suffered so much, the suicide rate in the high school, I know was off the charts.
And what did you do? You invited them back to the White House not once, but again. Then we went Chicago and and brought that with a group of students at Hyde Park High School who were in this becoming a man program before there even was of My Brother's Keeper. And then he invited them to the White House around Father's Day. And I'll never forget, one of them gave him a card and it said it was a Father's Day card. They actually they all signed the card.
And one of the kids said to him, you know, I've never signed a Father's Day card to anybody. And Barack said, Neither have I.
Well, the powerfulness of that momentum, those young boys will never forget when he said that to them. To people who are trying to find the mentor within them, what advice would you give that relationships are everything, that that's what makes us human is our ability to develop deep and meaningful relationships in our life.
I can tell you that some of the most rewarding relationships that I have in my life, including the one obviously with you, Michel, came from what started out as an acquaintance. We clicked. We worked together, and over the course of nearly three decades, it grew deep with those roots. Don't happen just because you think they should. They take hard work and you've got to give each other. You've got to be able to look at the relationship from the perspective of the other person to it's not just all about you, it's got to be what is that?
And sometimes when we're particularly junior and you're looking up to people, you think, well, what can I possibly do for them? Michelle, you brought so much joy to my life when you came and joined the mayor's office. And then we were together and planning unbelievable joy and an unbelievable relief to know that if I gave you something, I knew it was going to be done at the absolute best. And so for the mentees, realize that you bring joy to the mentor, it's not just them being helpful to you.
You know, a lot of times people think mentors are famous people, people with titles and, you know, achievements, people that they see out in the world. But we are all role models.
And I you know, I just the one thing I don't like is that people who have a platform who say I'm not a role model and I'd like you have a choice, then don't be out there.
Because if you were being seen in any way, shape or form, there is somebody looking up to you.
And I want young people to realize that mentorship starts early and it starts right in your own backyard.
For every young person who's listening to this conversation, I don't care if you're 12 or 10, there's somebody younger who is watching you.
They are watching how you carry yourself, how you laugh, how you make fun of things, what you wear. There is always somebody right behind you looking at how to be. And in that way, we have to carry ourselves with the knowledge that we're we're always setting the tone for people behind us.
We are always in somebody's line of sight so badly.
I want to thank you. Oh, this is such a treat. We've got a lot more work to do. I know that times feel hard right now and there are a lot of people who feel discouraged, but there's also a lot of hope and potential. And we're seeing it in the young people who have been in our lives. They are stepping up in ways that are important and promising, and it's up to us to to be there to help them guide the way.
So thank you for being that for me and so many people right back at you, my friend. My dear, dear, dear friend. So I want to thank Valerie not just for joining me today, but for everything she's been for me in my life and for so many people who've worked for her and with her over the years. As you can tell, she is someone that understands to her core that when you make it in this world, you have got to reach back and lift up other folks who will one day step into your shoes.
And that doesn't just mean if you're in the White House or the C Suite or any other lofty position, it also means taking on the responsibility. Any time you've got someone out there who's looking up to you, maybe you started your job a couple months before the newest hire. Maybe there's someone in the grade behind you who's looking for some support. Maybe there's a kid growing up down the street who just likes the way you carry yourself, no matter who it is or where it is or what it is.
You have an opportunity and a responsibility to make those kinds of connections. And if you find yourself looking for someone to learn from and lean on, my advice is to take that first step of introducing yourself to the folks around you, ask them for coffee or set up a meeting, ask them whatever questions you have on your mind, do whatever you need, but just make sure you do it, because once you start a conversation, there is no telling where it might end up.
So thanks again for listening.
Talk to you soon. The Michelle Obama podcast is a Spotify original presented and produced by Higher Ground Audio in collaboration with Dusseldorp Productions from Higher Ground Audio, Dan Fierman, Anna Holmes and Mukta Mohan are executive producers.
Jenny Marrable is our editorial assistant. Adam Sachs is our consulting producer from Dusseldorp Productions.
Mischa Youssef is the executive producer R-1 Nexen. Jonathan Shiflett are the producers additional production support from Marinus. Jonathan Shiflett is also our engineer. Monika Wilhelm is the archival producer and transcriber. Rachel Garcia is the Slate editorial assistant.
Daniel echt Don Ostroff and Courtney Holt are executive producers for Spotify Special thanks to Mackenzie Smith, Joe Palsson, Christina Shaoqi, Melissa Winter, China, Clayton, Alex Mae, Caroline Adler, Moralez and Marone Halema Schol. And thanks to clean cut studio search party music. Tyler Leuchtenburg, Dylan, Rupert Carolynn, Lipka Young Creative Agency NDR Azarian. Our theme music is by Stevie Wonder. Original music by Andy Coulson and Tele Fresco. The song you heard at the beginning of this show is The Night Song by Raven Linnie.
Thanks for listening to the Michelle Obama podcast.