A Conversation with Condoleezza Rice

Extraordinary, Ordinary

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has written two memoirs of her life.  Read Extraordinary, Ordinary People and you will feel like you really know her personally.  She writes about her parents’ unconditional love and the values that helped her grow into a polished diplomat.  Read her latest memoir, No Higher Honor, about her time serving in the Bush administration and you will follow her experiences from National Security Advisor to Secretary of State in the aftermath of 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview the 66th U.S. Secretary of State about a wide range of topics ranging from her parents, her faith, and her passion for the arts.


Leadership Lessons

Three leadership lessons I took away from Dr. Condoleezza Rice:

Be “twice as good.”  Growing up in segregated Birmingham, she said that her parents taught her that she had to be “twice as good.”  It’s a lesson she says that applies not only in that challenging environment but to all of us.

Practice and perform when you are young.  For example, performing in sports and the arts are important for students.  You learn how to perform, fall down, and get back up the next day—something that serves us all well as adults.

Have a positive attitude.  Live by the motto, “You cannot control circumstances, but you can control your response to circumstances.”



Yes, you may know that Dr. Rice was the first woman to serve as national security advisor and the first black woman to hold the office of secretary of state.  You may also know that she has a Ph.D. in political science, is an accomplished pianist, and has been a professor at Stanford for 30 years.  Some things I learned from her visit that I bet you don’t know: She recently hit a hole-in-one and she can sign more than 1,000 books in less than an hour.  Now that’s impressive.


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