Valerie Jarrett Found Success After She Abandoned Her 10-Year Plan

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. First up: political powerhouse Valerie Jarrett.


Valerie Jarrett

Author, Finding My Voice

Nickname Lally

My first job was as an associate at a Chicago law firm.

My big break came when I found the courage to abandon my 10-year plan and swerve toward my passion for public service.

I’ve had to work hardest at staying focused on being a positive force for good.

I never imagined I would work for an African American president in the White House.

I wish I’d learned sooner to trust the quiet voice inside of me.

The risk I regret not taking is abandoning the “perfect plan” sooner.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent at a luxurious spa exercising, having a massage from head to toe, a manicure and pedicure, topped off with a lovely glass of champagne.

The horrendous toxic nature of too much of our discourse keeps me up at night.

When I’m struggling, I say to myself that my ancestors overcame far greater challenges than I could possibly face. Be resilient and there will be better days ahead.

I am unapologetically a proud black woman.

Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.

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