Former First Lady Michelle Obama sat down for a “chat” with renowned television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon.
The two spoke for an hour about everything from life after the White House to raising daughters in the age of social media.
At one point, Obama detoured from their conversation to pay respects to the lives lost Sunday in Las Vegas.
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families,” she said. “Sadly, that becomes part of the job” as president and first lady during times of tragedy.
In the months since leaving the White House, the Obamas have been spotted vacationing with friends, dining out in D.C. and enjoying being away from the spotlight.
“It’s good. It’s really good … to have control over your day-to-day life,” Obama said. “For 10 years, our life wasn’t our own.”
Now, Obama is able to focus on her memoir and also meditate her decade in power.
“You’re doing all of it under the harshest, brightest light there is with people judging, supporting, judging and supporting,” she said.
The former first lady recently came under fire for slamming women who voted for President Donald Trump. Speaking at a conference in Boston last week, she accused female Trump supporters of going “against their own voice.”
"What does it mean for us as women that we look at those two candidates, as women, and many of us said, that guy, he's better for me, his voice is more true to me," Obama said. "Well, to me that just says you don't like your voice. You like the thing you're told to like."
But on Tuesday, she mostly kept away from politics, instead answering questions about balancing work and home life, raising strong daughters and staying fit.
Towards the end of her talk, Rhimes surprised Obama with a video from her husband, former President Barack Obama, on their 25th wedding anniversary.
"You have been an example to our daughters and to the entire country," he said. "Truly the best decision I ever made was to be persistent enough asking you on a date."
On facilitating the next generation of women leaders:
She credited “having parents who always thought what I had to say was important. They made room for our voices at a very young age,” she said.
“So early in our lives we’re sushed. Sometimes we’re treated too preciously … like a doll."
"When my father taught my brother to box at the age of 7, he bought me a little pair of gloves.”
“You have to respect her and give her power at a very young age.”
On women asserting themselves in the workplace:
“I have been at so many tables with so many fools that are imposters, but shame on us if we sit by and let an imposter talk us down.”
“You see wrong happening and you sit by quietly because you’re afraid to fail - that's what I want to challenge women to do: Speak up.”
“Don’t waste your seat at the table. We can’t afford for you to be afraid to fail.”
On raising kids in the digital age:
“Because of social media, kids are more exposed to more people and more cultures. They are more open. They are less tolerant of obvious inequities.”
“Many of the young people only know Barack Obama as their president. They will feel ... some of what is happening now is intrinsically not what they were taught. I’m optimistic in that way.”
On her favorite snacks:
"Comfort food. Anything salty - fries, pizza, burgers."
On her current reading list:
"Commonwealth" by Anne Patchett, "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger, "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, which, she said, "seems interestingly applicable to these times."
Also, "Songs of Solomon" is her favorite book of all time.
Quote to live by:
"Do unto others as you would have them done unto you."