When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Valerie Jarrett: I try to get a workout in.

TG: What gives you energy?
VJ: Waking up every day knowing that I’m in a position to make a positive impact in someone’s life.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
VJ: Do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and always try to do better.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
VJ: Unfortunately, it does. Given the nature of my current job, I’m only able to get about five hours of sleep at night, and the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone.

TG: How do you deal with email?
VJ: I pride myself on staying on top of my emails, but sometimes they are like an avalanche. I catch up between meetings and certainly by the end of the day.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
VJ: Rarely happens, but when it does I play Words With Friends. One way I stay in touch with my friends.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out?
VJ: I have never felt burned out. However, I am certainly looking forward to a little rest beginning at 11:59 on January 20.

TG: Share a quote that gives you strength when times are tough.
VJ: “Dig deep.”

Originally published at medium.com


  • Valerie Jarrett was the longest serving senior adviser to President Barack Obama. She oversaw the White House Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Before joining the White House, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, Chair of the Chicago Transit Board, Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer the Chicago Stock Exchange, Commissioner of Planning and Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Jarrett also practiced law for ten years in both the public and private sectors. Jarrett has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Time’s “100 Most Influential People.” She received her A.B. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. She is currently the Senior Adviser to the Obama Foundation and ATTN: and sits on the boards of Ariel Capital Management Investments, 2U, and Lyft. She is Board Chair of When We All Vote, Co-Chair of the United State of Women and is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.