Dr. Marisa Porges is Head of School at the Baldwin School. Dr. Porges previously served at the White House, as White House Fellow. Prior to joining the White House, she was a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and at the Council on Foreign Relations. In these roles, she traveled throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan, conducting research on counterterrorism—including interviews with former members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and Syrian rebel fighters, where she sought to better understand their perspectives. Dr. Porges also served as a counterterrorism policy advisor in the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Defense, and on active duty in the U.S. Navy, flying jets as a Naval Flight Officer.

Dr. Porges holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a doctorate from King’s College London. Her awards include the National Committee on American Foreign Policy 21st Century Leader Award and the NATO Medal for service in Afghanistan. She is widely published, including by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other top-tier outlets and she has appeared on CNN, CSPAN, Al Jazeera and more.

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  • Keys to a good coffee meeting with someone:
    • Be early
    • Find a quiet spot
    • Know your order before you get there. Don’t make it too complex
    • Have a goal for the meeting. Know what you want to get out of it
  • “You don’t have to be a feminist to care about these lessons, nor do you need a daughter or a sister. You just have to know a girl or young woman and care about her future.”
  • The differences for a woman vs. a man in business:
    • Women have fewer mentors and sponsors
      • “You need to seek mentors on a regular basis”
      • “Men need to mentor women” — “Make room for women mentees”
      • What should the man who is nervous to mentor a woman do?
        • Meet in a public place
        • Talk about business
  • Key to excellence: The ability to adapt
    • Marisa joined the Navy after High School. She was inspired by the movie Top Gun
    • She got in a bad car accident and had to be rescued by the jaws of life
    • She had to shave her head in the Navy
    • “Our reality forces us to adapt. We change jobs 4x more than our parents did.”
  • How to be adaptable?
    • Be open to pushing yourself to new environments
      • Test yourself in a new environment. Don’t always set up for the perfect environment
      • Do something differently — Test your boundaries
  • How to be authentically empathetic?
    • The platinum rule — Treat others as they want to be treated (not how you want to be treated)
    • Be vulnerable, open, and real
    • While interviewing terrorists in Yemen, Marisa got them to open up by authentically opening up first
      • “Be conscious about when and how you’re vulnerable. It can’t be too often. Monitor your emotions.”
  • Look for go for it moments… Learn to rebound from failure and understand the key takeaways from them. Be able to deal with uncertainty.
  • Marisa shares a story about a parent of one of her students. Marc. His daughter was going through an issue at school. Marc said, “I went into Dad mode and said should I call the school? Talk to a teacher? —- This is a terrible way to respond as the dad of a daughter. A dad needs to “coach from the sideline.” Help your daughter practice self advocacy. Ask them questions, be curious. Help your daughter find her voice and speak up. One easy example to practice — “When you go out to eat, always have your daughter order her food. When you call to order a pizza, have your daughter do it.”
  • Marisa worked in the White House and needed to become an excellent communicator to prepare for her conversations with The President. How did she do this? “Practice, practice practice.”
  • Excellence:
    • How we learn from failure and bounce back… What happens next?
    • It’s always about the others in your life. Who are you surrounding yourself with?
    • Small things make a big difference
  • Here is WHY joining a Learning Leader Circle is a good idea…


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Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership