Michelle Obama set the record straight during an appearance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, one of the many stops on her Becoming book tour. Speaking about work life balance, and finding a way to excel in your career and marriage, Obama spoke frankly about what works and what doesn’t — and that the expectation of “having it all” isn’t always feasible.
“That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time,” Obama said. “That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.” The crowd erupted at hearing the former first lady say “shit,” and Obama quickly apologized. “I forgot where I was for a moment!”
“Leaning in” is a method that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote about in her book 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Even Sandberg herself acknowledged that the “leaning in” wasn’t as effective as she’d like it to be.
“We are stuck at less than 6 percent of the Fortune 500 CEO jobs and their equivalent in almost every country in the world. There were 19 countries run by women when Lean In was published. Today there are 11,” Sandberg said in 2017.
Obama didn’t just talk about what doesn’t work. She also discussed how she found people to believe in her when she was growing up, because she couldn’t find support in traditional places. One high school guidance counselor told Obama that she wasn’t “Princeton material.”
Following her appearance at Barclays, Obama rescheduled a few of the stops on her book tour, to make time to attend George H.W. Bush’s funeral.