Susan Rice: Tough Love
Susan Rice served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations during President Barack Obama’s first term in office. She was later appointed by President Obama as National Security Advisor, a position she held until the end of his presidency.
Today she is the Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the School of International Service at American University, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.
She is the author the New York Times bestseller Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For*. In this conversation, Susan and I discuss how her upbringing shaped her skills at mediation, the course corrections she navigated in her career to get better, and how she ensured all perspectives were heard inside President Obama’s National Security Council meetings.
- Susan’s early experience mediating the arguments between her parents helped her develop resilience that would be useful later.
- It’s helpful to separate the behavior from the person. Address inappropriate behavior, and keep it in context with the larger relationship.
- “You can get a long way leading a team, even if many members of the team don’t actually agree with the direction you’re steering towards, if they feel that their advice, perspective, recommendations have truly been heard and appreciated.”
- When facilitating a critical meeting, ensure the principal attendees receive reading points and preparation well in advance.
- Humor, an iron fist, or a velvet glove are all useful tools at the right times. Experience helps you determine what’s best in the moment.
- Wisdom from Susan’s dad: “You can’t let other people define you, for you.”
- Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For* by Susan Rice
Download my highlights from Tough Love in PDF format (free membership required).
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- Leadership in the Midst of Chaos, with Jim Mattis (episode 440)
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