Have you ever had a perception of a public figure and when you finally meet them, it’s invalidated instantaneously? Largely due to her significant role as our 66th Secretary of State, my perception of Condoleezza Rice had always been one of distant. Although an early President Bush supporter, I’ve not always completely agreed with our foreign policy. It certainly hasn’t improved materially under Hillary Clinton (see article on “US shows the world a naive side”).
What I was delighted to learn at a recent gathering of Revenue 50 executives in New York where Secretary Rice spoke is that she actually prefers to be called “Condi.” She’s warm, personable, extremely well educated and very approachable (if you discount the number of very large men in black suits which escort her).
You see, Condoleezza Rice (whose given name is derived from the Italian musical expression, Con dolcezza, which means “with sweetness”) was born on November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama as the only child of a Presbyterian minister and a science, music, and oratory teacher. She’s extremely well educated, plays classic music and is a huge sports fan!
She is a professor, diplomat, author, and national security expert. Rice was the first black woman, second African American (after her predecessor Colin Powell), and the second woman (after Madeleine Albright, who served from 1997 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration) to serve as Secretary of State. Rice was President Bush’s National Security Advisor during his first term. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Rice served as the Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification.
In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.
How do others perceive you before they meet you and what are you doing to make sure you’re seen (and felt) as genuine, warm, and approachable?