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We interviewed Michelle Peluso, Chief Marketing Officer at IBM, in our latest podcast. Peluso shared how to stay motivated as a leader, how to handle challenging discussions, and being CEO and mom. Here are our top three favorite highlights:

On Staying Motivated as a Leader.  

“I think a few things. First of all, surround yourself with awesome people, with friends, with partners, with people you work with, with colleagues, mentors, with bosses, because all of us are on this constant journey of improving. And so there’s never a destination in leadership, you don’t get there. You know, you can always be better, as a founder, as a mom, as a leader. And so, to have the sort of grace to accept that, that this is just…it’s just a journey, and there’s always tomorrow, to learn and to improve.

And to be surrounded by people who will call a spade a spade and help you think strategically about decisions you’re making or actions you want to take, or things you’ve done. I think that is really, really powerful. But then it’s also all about that support network to keep propelling you forward. I mean, who doesn’t occasionally think that they’re… If you didn’t occasionally think you were in over your head, then you wouldn’t be dreaming big enough, you wouldn’t be taking enough risk, that getting outside of your comfort zone, that feeling, however you want to describe it of like…”

On How to Handle Challenging Discussions.

“I think humanity is most important. I think really being clear about what do you need to convey. Who’s on the other side of this conversation and what’s their story? What are they likely gonna hear? Which may be very different than what you’re trying to say. How do you think about the whole picture? You gotta be direct, you have to be transparent, but you also have to be human. There’s another place that’s great to have grace on the journey with you.

I learned, over my career, you can’t avoid those conversations. It’s really critical to have them. As a matter of fact, if anything, if your instinct is saying something, you gotta listen to it and move quickly. But I think that having them with clarity, with data, with humanity, with a real care and thought to the person who’s receiving the news is very important.”

On Being CEO and Mom.

“I was CEO for like five or six years before I became a mom. Six years. So I had been CEO for a while. But then I got pregnant as the CEO. And that was hard. And all of a sudden you have a baby and you think, “Gosh, my style, which has really been about hanging out with the engineers late at night as they’re trying to figure out tough problems, or taking teams out for dinner to celebrate.” I was living in New York and Dallas. I was kind of back and forth. And all of a sudden you’re like, “That all can’t work.”

When my daughter was born, I just realized I didn’t want to be on the road as much as I had been on the road. And I really wanted to have…obviously, be with her and have her with me in New York. And so I spent a long time working through different ideas, but I did ultimately say to Travelocity that I needed to have a long succession period. So over six months, we found a successor and I left Travelocity.

But part of it in retrospect was I didn’t know how to change the means with which I was leading, and I felt like I just needed to shake it up and go somewhere new where I could say, “Okay, this is my…I’m still as passionate, committed, team-centric, etc., but I can’t do it by being on the road every week.” I had to come up with new ways of doing that. “And I want to leave the office at 5 every night but I’ll be online from 8 to 11.” I just needed a change to figure out how to balance being a mom I wanted to be and being a leader I wanted to be.”

You’ll find the full interview and transcript below.

Daniel: Today on Connections.

Michelle: I think that night we were up very late, on the night of the 10th, just because we were in negotiations to sell Site59 to Travelocity [inaudible 00:00:11] another player. There were a couple different players. And so they were just mildly in that conversation. And then, of course, everything changed that morning and our offices were two, three blocks off the towers. Our people saw things they shouldn’t see. That was our subway stop. Thank God nobody [00:00:30] died from my team, but there were a bunch of people trapped in our office and didn’t know whether to stay, whether to go. And they’re all asking, turning to me, and how do you know what to say?

Daniel: My name is Daniel Rodic and I’m your host at Connections, brought to you by Exact Media. We created this podcast as we realized that a lot of people we spend time with in our day-to-day work, brand managers, marketers, those who are trying to rise quickly in their careers could benefit from hearing the stories of the leaders they look [00:01:00] up to in their industry. In every episode, we cover the stories that you’ve never heard of. Where did they grow up? How did they get their first job? What were their successes and failures in their career and how did they recover from them?

My hope is that you will take away some interesting tidbits and tactics that will help you accelerate your careers. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about us. [inaudible 00:01:23] context and how we’re involved in the industry. At Exact Media, we work specifically with marketers to help them sample their products [00:01:30] through the parcels of online retailers. For example, if you bought running shoes online, we might give you a sample of a healthy granola bar in that parcel. If that interests you at all, visit us at www.exactmedia.io. Now on to our guest.

Today’s guest is Michelle Peluso, Chief Marketing Officer at IBM. I really enjoyed my interview with Michelle. This is a shorter one than we normally do, but equally as powerful. Michelle’s [00:02:00] career started at the Boston Consulting Group, then took her to the White House before starting her own company, co-founding Site59, which she eventually sold to Travelocity. She later became CEO of Travelocity and eventually moved on to becoming CMO at Citi. Later, she took over as the CEO of Gilt Groupe before selling that company to HBC. And now she sits on the board of Nike, in addition to her work at IBM. We cover some really interesting nuggets during this interview. [00:02:30] What was it like for her to build a travel company during 9/11, lessons she learned as a manager on how to have tough conversations, and why your skillset needs to be flexible to get the best out of your team. She also kicks off the interview by talking about one of her most favorite words.

Up front, I’d also like to apologize for some of the audio during the interview, given Michelle was calling us from the heart of New York. There are a few segments that are interrupted with loud sirens. But the content was just so good, I encourage you to listen through it, [00:03:00] as it’s some of the best advice I’ve gotten in a while. So without further ado, here is my interview with Michelle Peluso.

Thank you so much for joining us today. I actually wanted to start in the middle with you, as I was doing a lot of research and kind of exploration into your career. There was a talk that you did in 2014 at the New York Women in Communications event that really spoke to me. Because this week has been… [00:03:30] In particular, it sounds like for you it’s very busy. This week has been busy and challenging for me personally, and the company. You mentioned this word, grace, and it seems like it’s a very important word to you. I’d love for you to just tell us about what that means to you and why.

Michelle: Yeah, sure. Thank you for asking. I love the word grace, so much so that I named…we named our first daughter, [inaudible 00:03:55]. Her middle name is Grace. And when she was born, I wrote a letter to her about why [00:04:00] her middle name is Grace, and that she’ll get to read when she’s off in college someday. But I chose it because to me, Grace means a bunch of things. It’s been very relevant as I think about my business and leadership journey. Grace is about…it is about having tenacity and having perseverance. It’s about picking yourself back up when you fall. It’s about dreaming big and being ambitious but having the sort of humanity and self-reflection [00:04:30] to always know when you can course correct and how to course correct.

I guess, for my daughter and for myself, my greatest ambitions are always that you live up to your dreams, that you fulfill the things that motivate you, that you’re passionate about. And if you embark on any journey, whether it’s starting your own company, which of course I’ve done, or running larger companies, there’s going to be…it will be a roller coaster. There will be some amazing highs, and there will, of course, inevitably [00:05:00] be some lows. That’s what being audacious means. And having grace on that journey to pick yourself back up and to forgive yourself and move on and conquer bigger grounds is, I think, very important.

Daniel: The part that it reminded me of is this idea of an imposter syndrome that I feel like a lot of us face. I feel like I face that a lot myself. You kind of mentioned how it’s balancing. You give as much as you can give but [00:05:30] you still have self-doubt that like, “I’m doing everything I can and I’m still not a good CEO. I’m still not a good founder. I’m still not being the best parent that I could be.” You know, what have you done tactically in your life to help manage that kind of negative self-talk or self-doubt that I imagine creeps up in everyone that’s listening to this?

Michelle: I think a few things. First of all, surround yourself [00:06:00] with awesome people, with friends, with partners, with people you work with, with colleagues, mentors, with bosses, because all of us are on this constant journey of improving. And so there’s never a destination in leadership, you don’t get there. You know, you can always be better, as a founder, as a mom, as a leader. And so, to have the sort of grace to accept that, that this is just…it’s just a journey, and there’s always tomorrow, [00:06:30] to learn and to improve.

And to be surrounded by people who will call a spade a spade and help you think strategically about decisions you’re making or actions you want to take, or things you’ve done. I think that is really, really powerful. But then it’s also all about that support network to keep propelling you forward. I mean, who doesn’t occasionally think that they’re… If you didn’t occasionally think you were in [00:07:00] over your head, then you wouldn’t be dreaming big enough, you wouldn’t be taking enough risk, that getting outside of your comfort zone, that feeling, however you want to describe it of like…

Oh gosh, I remember when I was named CEO of Travelocity, and I was so young. That night, nobody knew. It was gonna be announced the next day. I sat late at night in an office by myself, in the office by myself in New York, knowing that it was gonna be announced in the morning, and I was [00:07:30] just like, “God, am I good enough? Am I good enough to lead this company and the thousands of people? Can I give them everything they need? Can I be the leader they need?” But part of those questions, those self questions, that the job that creeps in, that can also fire you up and make you even more passionate in convictions about doing your best.

Daniel: Actually, that’s one thing I wanted to ask you. When you think about [00:08:00] your time at Travelocity, what do you think…thinking back, why did they put you in that position to become CEO? Doing a backwards analysis, what do you think stood out about yourself and what you’ve been doing that year leading up to it, that they said, “We’re gonna go with you,” versus all the people that have been there since the beginning of their company, before they acquired your company?

Michelle: I hope the innovation and aggressiveness, I think I had done a lot to launch the hotel business in a [00:08:30] fundamentally different way, taking on big entrenched competitors, got real traction in our execution and our financial performance. But more than that, I think, or just as much as that, I would hope my passion, my conviction, my passion for the company, my passion for the team, hopefully, my leadership skills, being able to inspire and motivate. So, of course, it has to start with a… Anytime you’re looking for leadership, I think you want to make sure the person’s got the foundational ability to achieve results. I mean, [00:09:00] be data-driven, execute, achieve great results.

But then on top of that, you’re looking for people who can motivate, who can inspire, who are humble enough to know they still have a lot to learn. So, hopefully, some of those things stood out.

Daniel: So, before that, just to give everyone context, there was a company called Site59, which was your first, I guess, official entrepreneurial endeavor. From what I gathered, this was not the first. [00:09:30] What was the story behind Site59?

Michelle: I was actually down at… I was in the White House. I was a White House Fellow, and I had actually taken on being the senior advisor to the Secretary of Labor. The interesting thing was I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and so I really wanted to start something. But I had a lot of calls from my friends back at BCG.

I had left BCG for the White House, and they wanted me to come back there. [inaudible 00:10:00] [00:10:00] some of my interest and passion in entrepreneurship. They said, “You know, it’s funny. We’re thinking about new business ideas.” This is 1999. [inaudible 00:10:12] and me spent a weekend fleshing out some business ideas, and the concept of Site59 emerged. And they had already started to work on it, and I got to come in and shape it and build it out and build a team and launch it. So that’s how it came to be. Great partnership and friends at BCG.

Daniel: [00:10:30] And it was interesting because it kind of…it was the first taste of almost a flash sale business albeit in travel.

Michelle: That’s funny. I never made that connection, but yeah, I guess it is.

Daniel: I thought it was like, “No wonder why she ran Gilt. She kind of cut her teeth in web 1.0.”

Michelle: I did cut my teeth in web 1.0. That is for sure. But you’re right, there was more of a parallel to Gilt than I probably even realized.

Daniel: I think one thing that we might have overlooked when we were talking about why you were ultimately chosen as CEO for [00:11:00] Travelocity, is I think you lived through a particularly tough time with Site59 during 9/11, both because of the business you’re in but also your proximity to the catastrophe. I want to understand. Walk me through that experience on 9/11 and the day after, September 12. What was the conversation like with your team that day?

Michelle: No experience has shaped me more [00:11:30] as a leader than that one, and no experience has probably colored my desire to think about that word grace more than that experience. We were a couple blocks off the towers. And so, that morning… Actually, that night, we were up very late, the night of the 10th, just because we were in negotiations to sell Site59 to Travelocity [inaudible 00:11:47] another player. There were a couple different players. And so, they were just mildly in that conversation. And then, of course, everything changed that morning.

And our offices were two, three blocks off the towers. [00:12:02] Our people saw things they shouldn’t see. That was our subway stop. Thank God nobody died from my team, but there were a bunch of people trapped in our office and didn’t know whether to stay, whether to go. And they’re all asking, turning to me, and how do you know what to say? I actually was on my way down to the office. I lived in the village and I was walking down University, right near Washington Square Park when we saw the gaping hole. [00:12:30] I ran… The fastest thing for me to do was run back to my apartment and get online fast and get on the phone and start connecting with people.

For our team, it was…we lost the business ball. I mean, obviously, no one’s buying last minute travel on September 12. We had people stranded that I had to try to help, and their families. Obviously, the communication was incredibly spotty and patchy. We had customers stranded all over as well, [00:13:00] obviously since all flights were grounded. And then we lost our office space for several weeks. All of our servers were down there and we’re sneaking in under the dark of night into the restricted areas to just try to get our servers out, to help customers. It was a very hard time. We went from burning \$200,000 a month with two million in the bank, to burning a million a month with two million in the bank. Of course, we called off all the acquisition conversations.

There was a lot of business stuff. But more than that, it was the human side. You rebuild [00:13:30] the team. The requirement that takes as a leader and sort of the profound need to motivate, inspire, direct, create the vision, create the priorities, focus, but also just care for people who are experiencing things they shouldn’t experience. At the end of the day, the underlying…sort of everything became, “This isn’t gonna be the end of our story.” You know, this was just [00:14:00] not gonna be the end of the story. That was a big motivating factor as we pivoted the business model, we rebuilt out the office space, we got customers settled. We started taking care of the local firehouse and cooking for them on Mondays. They just lost so many first responders. It was a way for us to feel better too.

And then every day when we had to go back down once we got back in our office in the couple weeks. We had to go down to that area every day and sort of relive it. There was a lot that taught me about leading [00:14:30] when times are the hardest.

Daniel: Whether it’s something obviously as serious as 9/11 or something less serious but still those tough conversations, whether you have [inaudible 00:14:43] or you have to report to your board or your management or letting someone go, how do you personally as a manager and leader prepare yourself for those sorts of discussions?

Michelle: I think humanity is most important. I think really being clear about [00:15:00] what do you need to convey. Who’s on the other side of this conversation and what’s their story? What are they likely gonna hear? Which may be very different than what you’re trying to say. How do you think about the whole picture? You gotta be direct, you have to be transparent, but you also have to be human. There’s another place that’s great to have grace on the journey with you.

I learned, over my career, you can’t avoid those conversations. [00:15:30] It’s really critical to have them. As a matter of fact, if anything, if your instinct is saying something, you gotta listen to it and move quickly. But I think that having them with clarity, with data, with humanity, with a real care and thought to the person who’s receiving the news is very important.

Daniel: Thinking more broadly about management advice, a lot of the audience for this are probably managing people for the first time. [00:16:00] So kind of two questions around this is, when you first started managing people, what advice do you wish you were given, whether it was at BCG or at Site59 or elsewhere, which [inaudible 00:16:15]?

Michelle: Two thoughts on that. I mean, first of all, I got great advice once from an early management experience when I was at BCG, from a partner. He basically said, “Michelle, look. Right now, you’re motivating and you’re inspiring and you’re leading.” I was [00:16:30] brand new to some early management jobs at BCG and leading case teams. And he said, “You’re leading people who are a lot like you. You’re all sort of Type A, out of an Ivy League school. They’re analytical. They want to please.” You know, he said, “I just want you to know, this isn’t really what management’s like.” He’s like, “My instinct is you’re not gonna be a consultant. And my instinct is you’re gonna want to operate and run things. And when you do that, you’re gonna start having lots of different kinds of people report to you with really different skills and really different ways [00:17:00] of learning and styles of learning. And then you’re gonna have partners. If you think about your leadership toolbox, you kind of have a hammer…”

You know, not that I was the personality trait, but he’s like, “You’ve got one or two tools right now.” He’s like, “You have a screwdriver, you have a hammer, whatever it is. You’ve got a couple tools in your toolbox because you’re dealing with people who are a lot like you.” I started thinking about all the different ways that people need to learn, the different ways that people are motivated, the different styles people have, because you’re gonna have to broaden your toolbox a lot to be an effective leader over time.

And I thought [00:17:30] that was really good advice, that it’s your job to change style, as opposed to expecting your team to exactly adopt your style. It’s your job to understand how to pull the best from somebody who’s maybe in sales versus somebody who’s maybe a total creative, versus somebody who’s really analytically-minded, somebody who really wants to advance in their career, versus somebody who is pretty happy where they are and just wants to do great work. That, I thought, was great advice. Never mind, by the way, when you’re trying to beat up a [00:18:00] partner or whatever. You know, that [inaudible 00:18:03].

The other advice that I always loved was…maybe this is one I sort of figured out myself but… When you’re not managing, you take a lot of pride and you get a lot of motivation from being the person who knows everything and can do everything with respect to X. So you are the person people can turn to on whatever it is, campaign optimization, or some of the email [00:18:30] systems or push notifications or some sort of direct marketing or… You’re the person who owns that and runs that, and people come to you, you’re the knowledge expert and you feel a lot of satisfaction from that. But the more you start managing people and the more senior you become at managing people, the less you are doing the work and the more the work is obviously done by others.

And so it becomes a derivative satisfaction. If people come to you and ask you a question, you may not know the answer. And so, letting the spotlight shine on other people, [00:19:00] feeling derivatively satisfied because other people under you are growing and knowledgeable and proud of their work is a different source of satisfaction. I think, ultimately, it’s even bigger because the impact is so much bigger. First time managers often have a hard time letting go of the reins of that precise domain they knew and starting to feel satisfied and happy because people that work for them are succeeding [00:19:30] and achieving.

Daniel: So to counterbalance that, is there any commonly repeated but bad advice that you’ve heard or you’ve tried and realized doesn’t really work, that people should avoid in terms of managing their team?

Michelle: I think, at the end of the day, you have to [inaudible 00:19:57], you have to be who you are. [00:20:00] Everything I said about adding tools to your toolbox, but it’s still your toolbox, right? You can never be someone you’re not. So I think the most important thing is, whenever you get advice of “Be more like this or more like that,” just make sure it’s authentic. Because when you lack authenticity as a leader, it really has challenges.

Daniel: That makes sense. We were talking a bit about your time at Travelocity and what I thought [00:20:30] was really amazing, was when you became the CEO of Travelocity, it’s also when you became a mom for the first time. It sounded like that was a pretty major turning point in your career. What was that moment like when your first child was born?

Michelle: I was CEO for like five or six years before I became a mom. Six years. So I had been CEO for a while. But then I got pregnant as the CEO. And that was hard. [00:21:00] And all of a sudden you have a baby and you think, “Gosh, my style, which has really been about hanging out with the engineers late at night as they’re trying to figure out tough problems, or taking teams out for dinner to celebrate.” I was living in New York and Dallas. I was kind of back and forth. And all of a sudden you’re like, “That all can’t work.”

When my daughter was born, I just realized I didn’t want to be on the road as much as I had been on the road. And I really wanted to have…obviously, [00:21:30] be with her and have her with me in New York. And so I spent a long time working through different ideas, but I did ultimately say to Travelocity that I needed to have a long succession period. So over six months, we found a successor and I left Travelocity.

But part of it in retrospect was I didn’t know how to change the means with which I was leading, and I felt like I just needed to shake it up and go somewhere new where I could say, “Okay, this is my…I’m still as passionate, committed, team-centric, etc., but I can’t do it by being on the road every week.” [00:22:00] I had to come up with new ways of doing that. “And I want to leave the office at 5 every night but I’ll be online from 8 to 11.” I just needed a change to figure out how to balance being a mom I wanted to be and being a leader I wanted to be.

Daniel: Tactically, what were some of the things you began to do differently that still let you spend time with the team but has to be during…?

Michelle: It was that. It was being really clear about that I leave it 5, and I still do that, and that I work nights. I work evenings from 8 to 11, [00:22:30] but that I don’t expect others to do that. For me and my family, that works so I can be home for dinner and homework and bedtime.

Second thing was I established what I called the marketing cabinet and the digital cabinet when I was at Citi, which was the next job I took. I was the global chief marketing and digital officer at Citi. I established what I called the cabinet. So instead of me sort of hoping all over the world, the regional leaders from… The marketing regional leaders and myself, we migrated sort of as a group [00:23:00] from one visit a year in the U.S., one big city a year in Europe, one big visit a year in Asia, one big visit a year in Latin America. So instead of hub-and-spoke, me hitting all the markets, we went around together. So we were together often. And then all of us got to see what was going well and what needed help in Europe and Asia and Latin America.

So that also became very predictable for me, so I could tell the teams, “This is when I’m in your region.” You know, it was planned out a year in advance. So things like that, as opposed to sort of trying to just randomly hit every country [00:23:30] that asked me to come visit. There were a lot of things that I had to learn how to change. While keeping the principles I hold dear, change the means.

Daniel: You mentioned one thing about kind of ones that are non-negotiable [inaudible 00:23:44] home every day by 5 p.m. Are there any morning or evening rituals or routines around that that you’ve developed? Like every morning I do this, every evening I do this. This keeps me sane and happy in my day.

Michelle: Not enough. [00:24:00] But I really do when I can, and it’s never…I’m never good enough at this, but I really love getting ten minutes in the morning to meditate. I get up early, the kids are up early, the house is chaos getting everybody ready for breakfast and school. And I’ve always got 25 emails to answer in the morning. So I get up at about 5:45, or 5:30, 5:45, and I do a bit of work. The kids get a little bit of Kindle time in the…they get it once a day and they almost always choose mornings. So they get their half-hour watching Kindle. [00:24:30] And for me, that’s sort of 15, 20 minutes of catching up with work, and 10 minutes of meditation. And if I can do that, that’s a great way to start the morning.

And then it’s full on. Then it’s bring on the pancakes and the bacon and the milk and the whatever it is, and the uniforms and the homework that didn’t get done, and feeding the cats, and then dropping them at school at 8 and then right to work. I work right across the street from the kids’ school, which is amazing. So it’s literally kind of 90 seconds [00:25:00] door to door.

Daniel: That’s amazing. For your meditation, is there anything particular, or any particular tool or routine that you do?

Michelle: I love Headspace. I love the app Headspace. I think it’s terrific.

Daniel: Yeah, I’m the same. I’ve done a couple streaks on Headspace. It’s a pretty unique tool.

Michelle: Yeah.

Daniel: When I’m thinking… Actually, it’s a very random question that was kind of off topic of all this, but one thing I also noticed was that things like since the Site59 [00:25:30] days up until today, other than the stint she had in Barnes and Noble, you and a woman named Tracy Weber had seemed to be almost joined at the hip.

[Crosstalk]

Michelle: She is my secret weapon. She’s definitely my better half here at work. Tracy’s brilliant, and I have had the extreme fortune of getting to work with her really everywhere I’ve been. You know, we met at BCG [00:26:00] and then she came and joined me at Site59. She was really the one who came up with a lot of the ideas for Site59 and the early build when she was at BCG. She is so smart and she’s just incredibly execution oriented. She’s really operational and technical. She is an incredible leader of people. She is way too humble. She shouldn’t be nearly as humble as she is. She’s just got great integrity. I don’t know, I’ve just been really, [00:26:30] truly, truly blessed to have the chance to work with her as many times as I’ve had.

She always surprises me. That’s what I love. She’s always growing and kind of rising to new challenges. It’s amazing to have a partner at work. And we’re not even really working together at IBM, we’re working in different parts. But just knowing she’s here is a good safety blanket for me.

Daniel: It’s just really impressive [00:27:00] for a partnership to last so long through so many companies. It seems like you always transition at the same time over and over again.

Michelle: Amazing how that works. Just pure coincidence.

Daniel: When you think about going forward, I mean, IBM, obviously, is a very, very exciting opportunity [inaudible 00:27:17 to 00:27:19]. I had a question around…it seems like your roots really stem from building things from scratch, like your father did it, your grandparents did it, you did it through [00:27:30] Site59. Have you ever thought or what’s your thoughts being around doing something and building something completely from scratch [inaudible 00:27:39]?

Michelle: Which is what I got to do with Site59, really, and [inaudible 00:27:44] with Gilt. You know, look, I love building things, whether it’s at big companies or starting it from scratch or small companies that need to scale. I love… Yeah, I love building. I love growing. I love teams on a mission. [00:28:00] I love the transformative power of technology and the places that can take you and the places it can take the human experience. And the connectivity we can have to each other. That, to me, is all incredibly inspiring.

Daniel: Do you have anything left on your bucket list, either professionally or personally, that you really want to check off sometime soon?

Michelle: The bucket list is long. There’s been very few checks on the bucket list, [00:28:30] compared to all the opportunities that still exist. I don’t know, I’m just super passionate about being a great mother and wife and raising my daughter and my son with a sense of obligation to society and humanity, but also sort of the courage and the confidence and the passion and the conviction to be all that they’re meant to be and they want to be.

That it’s theirs to determine, [00:29:00] but I’m here to support their journeys. I would love to help children more probably at some point in my career. I would love to, either with my nonprofit work, which I’m always very involved in, but make a bigger difference for children. So that’s always in the back of my head.

[Crosstalk]

Michelle: Particularly girls.

Daniel: Is there anything in particular, like a unique problem you’d love to solve with young girls?

Michelle: I’m not gonna say anything. [00:29:30] I’m just gonna… Because I’m not gonna be on the record of committing. I have to figure it all out still in my head. I always felt incredibly fortunate to be a girl in this country with the parents I’ve had and the educational opportunities I’ve had and the health care I’ve had and the friendships I’ve had and the work partnerships I’ve had. So it’s always struck me that [00:30:00] I am very fortunate, and so you try to pay that forward in as many ways as you can. But I have more to do.

Daniel: I think that’s just one thing I wanted to acknowledge you on, is that I’ve read and absorbed all the different things you’ve done. One thing that seems pretty consistent is your gratitude for life and [inaudible 00:30:22] philosophy. I think that’s an important trait I’ve seen in most of the other people I’ve talked to who’ve done really amazing things, is that they have a sense of gratitude. It’s like, [00:30:30] “Hey, I’m really fortunate to be in this country, in this position, in this role. And [inaudible 00:30:36] this opportunity to make the most of what I’ve been given.

[Crosstalk]

Michelle: Thanks for saying that. And thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.

Daniel: No, I appreciate it. Have a great vacation and hope to talk to you again soon.

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