We laughed, we cried, and we definitely left feeling inspired as hell.
On Tuesday evening, thousands of eager attendees patiently lined up outside of Meridian Hall, previously the Sony Centre, to see former first lady Michelle Obama return to Toronto for Elevate Tech Fest.
Obama joined Claudette McGowan, the award-winning Chief Information Officer at BMO, a powerhouse in her field that has spent two decades fighting for inclusivity and innovation in the workplace.
- See also:
Obama walked onstage to a standing ovation and kicked off the evening by expressing her joy of being back in Toronto.
There was instant chemistry between McGowan and Obama, which carried throughout the course of the keynote, and opened up conversations that touched on Obama’s extraordinary memoir Becoming, what it means to be a public figure, motherhood, technology, and how to live a more purposeful life.
Obama shared her journey from adolescence living in the southside of Chicago to her days at Princeton and then Harvard Law and reminded the audience that nothing happens overnight and that we need to remember to give ourself time for things to run their course and happen.
When discussing technology, she said our phones are powerful devices, yet they also hinder us from experiencing the world and we often miss out on life while our heads are looking down.
She also mentioned that while technology can be empowering and used for good, developers, entrepreneurs, and tech users need to live in the real world and not lose their humanity and miss out on making real connections.
One of the most purposeful pieces of advice Obama shared was the imperative of using your seat at the table to improve diversity and to always be yourself and not like everyone else.
But, above all, the former first lady left the audience feeling inspired to not only be better but to do better, in all facets of life, and to always do so with grace, something she embodied during her eight years in the White House and continues to do now.