Community & Government

Being the First

Secretaries Albright and Rice share their advice for being different and becoming a trailblazer. They also go deeper into how their childhoods shaped their worldviews.

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Topics include: Extraordinary Ordinary People * Shaping of Worldviews


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I have learned a lot from Secretary Rice over the years. But I think that the capability of dealing with very difficult problems in a very calm way. I haven't seen you lose it ever. But I do think dealing with the issues systematically and listening to people. And then I have to say what I find interesting-- and I feel this way about other former secretaries of state-- is how you saw the department because it's not a simple place, how we dealt with the departments. And I think that we learn from each other. - It continues, learning from the Korbel Albrights because, of course, I learned an enormous amount from your father. But Madeleine, you just exude a sense of confidence in yourself, in the department, and in America. And maybe it is because you were a refugee. But it is so integral to who you are that it just comes through. And there's nothing that's made up about it. There's nothing that is invented about it. It's truly authentic and organic. And I think it's why you were such a successful secretary of state because people could see it. You also have worn the mantle lightly, I would say, of the first woman to hold this job. That could have been a very tough thing. - Well, I can't believe that I had that opportunity, frankly, because-- by the way, when people say the word ambitious, it's something that men say lovingly or proudly to other men. But if they call a woman ambitious, then it's supposed to be derogatory, in some way. But it had never occurred to me that I could be secretary of state. But I do think that it was interesting to be a first-- and you were also first-- is that you know that people are watching you. And you're trying to figure out how you behave in a way that you're representing your country but at the same time so that people understand who you are. And it isn't that simple, frankly. I mean a lot of it has to do with how you respond to the people in the State Department. By the way, there were a lot of questions as to whether a woman could be secretary of state. They said a woman couldn't be secretary of state because Arab leaders wouldn't deal with a woman. Well, that went away. And then somebody at the White House-- and I never want to know who-- said, yes, Madeleine's on the list, but she's second tier. So I was sure I would never be secretary of state. There is kind of a questioning as to how did she get there, and I didn't? And especially, you know, from some people who thought they should be secretary of state. So it isn't all always pleasant. But you've been chosen, and you want to do the best possible job. And I think you need to listen to what some of the criticisms might be and then avoid those that you think are just petty. But it does happen. - And that might be a lesson for some of our students out there who are different, either by gender or race or ethnicity. Sometimes being a first is not actually because you really intended to...

About the Instructor

Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice stood toe to toe with dictators, counseled presidents, and managed to find common ground on issues that still polarize us today. Sit down with two legendary secretaries of state as they reveal how to build bridges, hold boundaries, and apply history’s lessons to everyday challenges. The class presents an intimate portrait of the late Dr. Albright’s legacy for the next generation.

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Madeleine Albright & Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice teach you to settle differences in everyday life like a diplomat.

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