Michelle Obama on Empathy and Being Yourself

Michelle Obama speaking on empathy and being yourself

In my last post, I shared that I approach my work at VentureLab from a “girl lens”—meaning I am always thinking about how can we best give girls (as well as boys) the tools and confidence they need to become tomorrow’s changemakers. Last week at the Inbound 2017 conference in Boston, I had the honor of hearing one of the country’s champions of girls’ education—none other than Michelle Obama—speak. Being in her presence was so inspiring and energizing that I felt compelled to share three highlights from her many words of wisdom:

1. “Women are often socialized to think: ‘Before I speak up, it has to be perfect.”

Girls and women need to not be afraid to put themselves and their ideas out there, even when we get messages to the contrary. At VentureLab we know that one idea can spark another idea, which could spark another idea that ultimately changes the world! As a society, we can’t afford to not hear girls’ and women’s ideas. (That’s why our mission is to provide free, world-class entrepreneurship education to youth and girls of all backgrounds.)

2. “We all need to be empathetic.” 

I couldn’t agree more. You can’t effectively solve problems at a local or global level if you don’t take other people’s thoughts, feelings, perspectives and experiences into account. At VentureLab, we believe empathy is a critical mindset kids will need to become tomorrow’s innovators and changemakers.

Throughout the session, I was struck by Mrs. Obama’s poise, wisdom, and presence. She truly lives another piece of advice she gave:

3. Be your authentic self… It’s a lot easier and less exhausting to go through life being who you are. 

It makes me hopeful when I think about today’s girls becoming empathetic women who are fiercely themselves, speaking up about the ideas they have (no matter how big or bold) and being armed with the mindset and skill set to leave their mark on the world.

My dear friend, Maggie (someone who brings out my authentic self) and I anxiously waiting for Michelle’s speech.

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