Valerie Jarrett Tells Esquire What She’s Learned

In May’s edition of Esquire’s “What I’ve Learned” feature series, senior advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, discussed her relationship with the President and Michelle Obama, and other random musings about her life.

Jarrett met the Obamas in 1991, when she offered Michelle a position at the mayor’s office. Afterward, the young couple reportedly went to dinner with Jarrett, where Jarrett was introduced to Barack.

Here’s an excerpt from the “fill in the blank” type of interview:

If somebody’s trying to get you angry, the calmer you get, the angrier they’ll get.

I try not to keep any ice cream in the house because I can go through a pint pretty fast.

Anytime I was hesitant about taking a chance, my grandmother would say, “Valerie, put yourself in the path of lightning.”

I was the first person in my family to become a lawyer. I was working on the seventy-ninth floor of the Sears Tower. I had a great office overlooking the sailboats on Lake Michigan. But I was miserable. A friend advised me to think about city government. I was hesitant—I was on my path and, miserable as I might be, it was my path. But Harold Washington had become the first black mayor of Chicago, and I made the move. I got a cubicle … with a window facing an alley. That was a little jarring. But as soon as I stepped in that cubicle, I felt This is where I belong. I was working with people who shared a common passion in their love for the city. I thought, Hey, I can get used to this cubicle.

Just because you’re nervous doesn’t mean you have to look nervous. Nobody can look inside you. Project what you want to project.

I was doing an interview on a panel of women. The question was, Is it more important for a woman to be respected or liked? My view is you can actually be both — if you add being decent.

Children play the same no matter where they come from.

Laughter is very important to health. So I laugh a lot. On the hard days, you try to find a little bit of humor, even if it’s macabre.

The president is the kind of person who, the day before the final exam, would open the book, read it, and get an A. The First Lady is the kind of person who, the first day of class when they were discussing dissertations, would plot out how to finish hers.


Read more: Valerie Jarrett Interview – Valerie Jarrett White House Quotes – Esquire


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