5 lessons we learned from Michelle Obama Live from #Inbound17
So far, #INBOUND17 here in Boston has been a heady mix of the usual conference fare… inspirational speakers (Dharmesh Shah – one of HubSpot’s co-founders was particularly brilliant) and workshops with hands-on advice.
But Michelle Obama is a far cry from anyone you could reasonably expect to hear from at a conference. She’s a bucket-lister and may be the only person speaking here who my mother has ever heard of (she stopped following wrestling after Hulk Hogan retired).
It’s fair to say Mrs Obama rocked it. In front of a capacity crowd who had queued for hours before the doors opened at 7.30am – Roxanne Gay, who interviewed her on stage said, “only two people could get me up this early in the morning… you and Beyoncé”.
Psst: She later revealed her favourite song off Beyoncé’s Lemonade album is LoveTrap. Mine too!
Song snapsies aside, here are the lessons we learned today from Flotus.
1. You can’t lead with fear
Mrs Obama opened by saying something that could directed at the current administration. “You can try to lead with fear. It doesn’t work. It’s not healthy.”
Speaking about her role as First Lady, she said that, “she did not want to be a First Lady of slogans and no strategy. I hope that I was able to bring vision and strategy to the role.”
She noted that there was a level of double standards when it came to media coverage of her role.
2. You create the conversation.
Michelle’s strength of will is evident.
“When I started, the conversation [in the media] was about my shoes,” she revealed. “Every single article written started with what I was wearing. My husband wore the same blue suit for eight years and nobody noticed.
“But you can’t let other people define you… take a moment to define your own truth.” True, that.
3. Define your process… or lack thereof
Michelle has brought that vision and strategy to her current project… writing her White House memoirs. But she admits that her writing process is a lot different to that of her husband.
“I’m not a writer so I don’t really have a process. I’m working with a collaborative team where we talk it out. Barack is up in his room scratching out every word but I come home and feel reflective. It’s like therapy.
“What the book is becoming is answering the question… ‘How did this little girl, Michelle Robinson from Chicago, end up here?'”
4. Always be yourself
The only answer she could come up with for how she ended up where she has is that she’s never tried to be anyone else.
“I’ve never tried to be anyone else in my life,” Michelle stressed. “You can’t do anything if you are not yourself. It’s all about your authentic self. I’ve always listened to my authentic voice”.
5. Stay true – and be feminist
Continuing on with her theme of establishing an authentic voice, Michelle said that, “any woman who voted against Hilary Clinton in the last US election voted against their own voice. How could they look at her opponent [Donald Trump] and think that ‘his voice represents me?'”
Judging by the reaction she got today (standing ovations on the way on stage and back off it too), the Democratic Party should look no further when they are looking to find a voice to resonate with the American people.