Welcome to Alpha Strategy’s book club! This is where we ask members of our team to sound off on a book they recently read that resonated with them.
First up is our videographer, Elissa Landry, who has recently been gifted a copy of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, after rave reviews from a friend.
If you’re not familiar with this memoir from the former First Lady of the United States, Becoming tells the story of Michelle Obama’s life, from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago through to the end of Obama’s presidency in 2017.
Elissa shares her reading experience and takeaways below.
“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.” – Michelle Obama
What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing Becoming?
I think to communicate with her own words (rather than through the media or other public voices) who she is today and how she got to where she is.
Many people are misinformed or have placed assumptions on her through their narrow perspectives. In this book, she is able to share how she is simply a human who has faced challenges and dreamed dreams just like the rest of us, but who also came from a marginalized community, the same place a lot of girls in America are today.
Michelle takes care to describe her identity and journey in both a broadly relatable way but also in specific detail about her race, gender and the roles she takes on. I found that through this and her down-to-earth writing style, she is able to connect with many different kinds of people, with varying backgrounds, through the pages and turn their ears to hear what she has to say.
Then once she has their attention she shares her experiences and thoughts on a variety of topics such as privilege, education, health, responsibility, discrimination, and community.
What do you think of the book’s title? Does it relate to the book’s contents?
As a title for her autobiography it’s interesting because the book really is about her journey of becoming the woman she is today.
It’s about her becoming the Michelle Obama that we, the public, want to know more about, but it is also the history of her becoming the first black First Lady of the USA, and of her becoming a mother to two daughters. And more personally, it’s about her becoming a more educated and brave and caring human being.
The word “becoming” is about stepping into something new and possibly unknown. In the book, Michelle tells her life story and in each chapter, there is something new she must step into, whether it’s a new career, starting a family, or taking on the reasonability of being a role model for thousands of girls across the country.
These experiences reveal the many occasions of her becoming until ultimately she becomes this extraordinary person with a huge story to tell.
What feelings did this book evoke for you?
I was inspired and challenged to question how much I’m doing in my own life to help others and to grow personally so that I can make an impact in my community in the future.
I was also brought to tears many times as I read the heartwarming stories of the people Michelle met through her experiences both before and after becoming the First Lady. The compassion Michelle shows in her writing is very emotional and tugged very easily at my heart.
What aspects of her story could you most relate to?
I related a lot to the 20 to 30-year-old Michelle, who was a lawyer and who got married and then questioned what she really wanted to do as a career.
Michelle was very transparent about her career change to work for non-profit organizations and the emotions and decisions that led to it.
She was looking for something to make her feel whole and fill her passion but wasn’t sure what that was.
I think a lot of people in this age range feel the same emotions but will all make different decisions in the end.
Can you share a memorable quote from the book?
“It was possible, I knew, to live on two planes at once—to have one’s feet planted in reality but pointed in the direction of progress.”
Why do you think she chose to tell this story?
In part to leave a legacy of herself in her own words, in her own truth, but also to educate others about privilege and education, and racial discrimination and the many other themes that are threaded in the pages of her life’s experience.
Would you agree that it is “kind of” a leadership book?
Yes, because Michelle was a leader and it inspires others to be like her. She doesn’t give any specific leadership advice but she talks about her own experiences becoming a leader.
What takeaways are there for you in those terms?
I feel like you need to take the opportunities given to you but they don’t always present themself. You sometimes have to work very hard, rely on those supporting you, and don’t take “no” for an answer.
If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?
How was the process of writing out your own legacy/history? What was that journey like? How do you choose what to include and what not to include?
Besides Michelle Obama, which character in the book would you most like to meet?
Either Sasha or Malia. I would love to hear their stories of what it was like growing up in the Whitehouse.
For the record Elissa, we appreciate your hard work and how you help others on the daily here at the Alpha offices! Check out her Quick Marketing Wins video series, full of helpful tips and words of wisdom for entrepreneurs and digital marketers.