Meet My Mentor, Condoleezza Rice: A Levo Exclusive Interview with the Former Secretary of State|
In August 2012, Levo contributer Lila Barton wrote about how she met her mentor, Condoleezza Rice, while playing golf. (Yes, really!) We are republishing her story in honor of our special Golf Week series this Jan. 7-11.
“You will make a difference in the world, but not immediately. Your first obligation is to find something you like doing, because if you like doing it, you’ll do it well.”
It’s 6:15 a.m. as I walk into the gym to meet my Stanford golf team for our morning workout. The gym is usually quiet at this time; however, one person is finishing up her routine.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice works hard in the gym. As we warm up, we watch her do weights, stretch, and end with the VersaClimber, a cardio machine that simulates mountain climbing. It’s brutal.
When Dr. Rice finishes, she always walks by to say hello. At 6:15 a.m. I have to wipe sleep out of my eyes so that I appear awake as I talk to one of the most powerful women in the world. I once asked Dr. Rice how she balances her life in order to fit in early morning workouts. She replied, “I never sacrifice my workout. And I try not to sacrifice too much sleep.”
Condoleezza Rice has been surfacing in the headlines recently, as many people want her back in Washington. The role of V.P., or maybe even president, seems like the natural course of a career for someone like her, but she has chosen a different path. At a relatively young age, Dr. Rice has said goodbye to Washington for now. Only she knows whether she’ll ever return. She has made her home back at Stanford University where she is personally impacting the lives of young people, like me.
How It All Began
My relationship with Dr. Rice began my freshman year when I met her at the Stanford golf course. When the spring of my sophomore year arrived and it was time for me to declare my major, I had no idea what I wanted to focus on for my remaining two years. I enrolled in a political science class taught by David Holloway called “The History of Nuclear Weapons,” which turned out to be one of my favorite classes at Stanford. This class, along with my desire to get to know Dr. Rice, inspired me to major in International Relations. Soon after I made this decision, I asked her to be my academic advisor.
After spending the last four years listening to Dr. Rice speak to different groups, studying one-on-one with her to further my knowledge of the Middle East, and spending time with her on the golf course, I want to share with others the mentorship side of Condoleezza Rice. I’ve learned countless lessons through her disciplined and graceful manner, and I’d like to share these lessons with my peers.
I recently sat down with Dr. Rice to talk about how she viewed her career as a college graduate, how she dealt with the pressures of public opinion without losing her confidence, and how she defines success. I walked away with amazing insights. What she told me can help anyone shape their professional journey and lives by taking one step at a time. Her wisdom showed a glimpse of who Condoleezza Rice is behind the scenes: an extremely strong woman who is serious and fun, dedicated and caring.