Ambassador Susan Rice: If you're not able to make the people who you're leading feel valued and feel like their input matters then you're going to lose them.
You really have to recognize that the people around you have value to add and that you may be the person in charge you have the vision. You have the responsibility woody. But if you're not able to make the people who you're leading feel valued and feel like their input matters then you're gonNA lose them awesome. I'm Carly's Aken. I'm Danielle Weisberg. Welcome to skin from the couch. This podcast is where we go deep on career advice from women who have lifted from the good good stuff like hiring and growing a team to the rough stuff like negotiating your salary and giving or getting hard feedback. We started the skin from a couch. So what better at our place to talk it all out than where it began on a couch today. Hey we welcome ambassador. Susan Rice to skimmed from the couch ambassador. Rice was national security advisor to President Barack Obama before serving as national security the advisor. She was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations as well as a member of the cabinet. Prior to the Obama Administration at Basseterre Rice was a fellow fellow at the Brookings Institute and began her career in foreign policy under president. Bill Clinton so many questions also ambassador rice as has just published her book tough love the title references. Her parents approach to raising her which prepared her for career in world politics. And I'm guessing a lot more. The memoir has been called both highly personal and unflinchingly honest. It's landed her a spot on the New York Times Bestseller. Lists congratulations. We we are thrilled to get the opportunity to speak with her about her historic career ambassador rice. Welcome to the couch. Thanks so much. It's really great to be with you. Both very excited right okay. So let's jump into it first question we ask everybody. Skim your resume for us. Okay scholar written and published academic work on national security and foreign policy when I was at the Brookings Institution as a foreign policy scholar I've also been a management consultant diplomat. negotiator national security expert. That's the first time we've had those bullets on this show. What is not on your your wikipedia or login? Daniel dropped. Her microphone in a very important question was the literal mic. Drop in writing. Not On your official biography or Kapadia that we should know about you. Well I mean there's a lot but one of the most important things if not the most important things is that I'm a mom. I have two kids one in high school now in one in college and I'm a wife and I'm a proud daughter daughter of two parents who had phenomenal impact on me So family to me is hugely important. What is a typical day? Look like for you now now. It's well now when I'm not on book tour normally. Okay it's so much better comparatively like I can get up at seven you know as opposed to five thirty or six. I can work out and take my time doing it. Not being rushed I can put on my yoga pants I and my fleece and very leisurely eat my breakfast. which is usually like fruit and yogurt or something like that with a lot of coffee and then it depends on what my days as about? When I was writing the book? Sit Down and focus on that. I spend time at the School of International Service at American University. where I meant to our students I do some speaking. I do some travel. I'm on the board of Netflix. And I do some other private sector so depends on what the the the deal of the day is but for the most part the great thing is I'm in charge of my own schedule and I'll have to get dressed up except when I'm on book tour you said You can travel. I'm sure you have traveled so much watch but a lot of it has been in your professional life. Where's the last place? You traveled here for fun abroad or anywhere anywhere. The last foreign trip we took took was to Peru with the family in August which was really fun. 'cause it's been a while given that the kids have jobs in camp in whatever that we've actually been able to do to a cool foreign trip together. Is there a place you haven't gone. That's been on your bucket list. Oh Gosh lots. Let me do a short summer. Yeah I would think you've been everywhere. I've been a lot of places Che's but not everywhere and there's a lot of places I still WANNA go Thailand Morocco Sosa Czech Republic. Ah Norway I've been Ireland into the big places have been you know. China had been Russia into Japan. Indonesia I've been to many parts arts of Africa most of western Europe a good bit of South America but I still want to go to Chile. I WANNA go back to Argentina. Yeah I WANNA go back to Brazil. We should do do a little girls chalet you should. It's amazing you talk about family being really important to you. And that's obviously a huge inspiration from the book. The the title of the book is a nod to your parents parenting style. Tell us about your parents. Well I had to really wonderful parents both past unfortunately but my dad. I was born in segregated South Carolina around nineteen twenty. His grandfather. My grandfather had been a slave. He fought in the Union army in South Carolina during the civil war and then after the civil war my great grandfather rather miraculously got a primary education occasion became a teacher and then got his divinity degree Went to college and after college he An after his early professional career. He established a school in New Jersey. called the board in town school and from the late eighteen eighty s until nineteen fifty-five that school educated generations of African Americans both in vocational and technical skills and in college preparatory skills and Albert Einstein and Stein and Mary McLeod but Thune. Eleanor Roosevelt. All came to the school which was really quite extraordinary in that. Legacy of service of education was what my father was raised with but born in this oppression of segregation and Jim Crow. He really was struggling to figure out how he could fulfil his potential during World War. Two he served with the Tuskegee airman and in the segregated Army Air Force and he had the horrible experience of not being able elite in restaurants off of base but seeing German. POW is being served and so he knew that he wanted to become somebody. He was brilliant and after after college he decided in after the war lead the south. Go out to California. He got his PhD in economics at the University of California Berkeley and then he spent his professional fashion career. Working his way up he worked in the Treasury Department. He worked at the World Bank in a senior position. Ultimately he was a governor of the Federal Reserve. And I'll come back to him but I learned from my father just extraordinary perseverance and basically believing in yourself even when society and everybody around around you is telling you that you're not worthy or you can't. My mom came from a totally different background. She was the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica. That came came to Portland Maine of all places in nineteen twelve and my grandparents on her side. Had No education was agenda when was a maid and yet like so many immigrants immigrants. They came with the American dream in saved and worked very hard and sent all five of their kids to college. Two of my uncles became doctors. One a university president won an optometrist optometrist and then along came my mother the baby and she was Valedictorian of her high school class. She was debate champion. She she went on to Radcliffe College now. Part of Harvard and was president of the entire student body graduated magna cum laude and because she almost didn't get go to college because she was denied a scholarship because she was black but eventually because her principal enter debate coach went to bat on her behalf. She azazel receive another source of money. She made the fight to enable college to be affordable to low income Americans. Her life's passion and she. He was known as the mother of the Pell Grant Program because she was instrumental in establishing and sustaining this extraordinary program. That's allowed eighty million Americans to go to college. My mom was it was a bad ass in nineteen fifty when she graduated from high school as an African American woman. In a very white state of Maine She he went on through her career to be a pioneer. And so these two parents who were wonderful but had a horrible marriage which can come back to really taught me to fight and to be strong and to not be dismissed her diminished or discounted by others how his career talked about in your household growing up. I mean I. I had a working mom and a professional mother from the earliest days of my life and so on the one hand. It was an example in an expectation that you can work and have family at the same time. It was rare. Frankly at that time this has been the late sixties early seventies for the mothers of my classmates for for example to be working outside of the home in a professional capacity. So I had her example and I had my father's example of rising up in government and in private it's sector we were expected to excel. We were expected to work hard and do our best. We are also taught that you know we could be whatever we wanted to be. They weren't saying you gotta be this or you got to be that but the fundamental message was whatever you choose to be do your best at it and make it something. That's about somebody other than just yourself when I hear you talk about your parents and them as role models to you and your family I think about it two ways on one hand. I'm like that is incredible. crediple an amazing and they obviously created such a strong legacy in you. Second thing I think of is that's got to be a lot of pressure at times. Did you feel that growing up. Who is funny not really not in the sense of? I was scared that I wasn't going to meet their expectations and they were going to get mad at me. They had a really important saying that. Did they sort of banged into me. And my brother which was do your best and your best will be good enough and what they meant by that was you know. Don't be a slacker. Don't be fast but if you do your best and it's not you do badly that's okay. You are allowed to fail. You just not allowed not to try your best. And so they gave us a sort of confidence in safety net. They'll be behind us. We can take risks. We can do something thing that we may not be good at but just do your best. The message was you know. Don't be lame and that was kind of their version tough love. It doesn't mean that they expected us to always get as observe. Be The best person on the basketball team or whatever the the thing was but were they gave us a hard time was when we sort of cut corners fit in the Rom- of your imagination that you would have the jobs that you ended up having served in the way that you ended up serving the particular job that I had were not in the realm of imagination. Because I didn't know yeah. When I was young I was going to be interested in foreign policy and national security? I didn't know the field well enough to say. This is what I want to but I knew that I was likely to to do something and do it to the best of my abilities and that it would be an ambitious objective.