Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The First Lady gives a revealing commencement talk, Megyn Kelly credits Dr. Phil with transforming her life, and Sheryl Sandberg tells us how we can honor the memory of her late husband. Enjoy your Monday.
• Michelle Obama opens up. At a commencement speech at Tuskegee University, Michelle Obama spoke frankly about the role her race played in the 2008 presidential campaign. As potentially the first African-American First Lady, she says she often worried: “Was I too loud or too emasculating? Or was I too soft? Too much of a mom and not enough of a career woman?” It’s enlightening and refreshing to see the First Lady speaking so openly about her experiences as a powerful black woman.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Damn you, dementia. Lori E. Murray, distinguished chair for national security at the U.S. Naval Academy–and wife of Fortune editor Alan Murray–writes movingly about her mother, who has been suffering from dementia for a decade. The disease is a horrible purgatory, says Murray, taking your loved one away, but leaving you “deprived of the opportunity to mourn.” Anyone who has dealt with a loved one’s dementia feels the truth of her sad words.
• An answer from Sheryl. When someone on Quora asked how to express sympathy for Sheryl Sandberg after the tragic death of her husband, Dave Goldberg, he or she probably was not expecting an answer from Sandberg herself. But Sandberg did reply, writing that one friend choose to honor Goldberg by canceling a work dinner to have dinner with his kids instead. “I think there is no better way for any man or woman to honor the memory of my beloved husband.”
• An MBA mom. When single mom Divinity Matovu decided to pursue an MBA, she struggled to find role models–or even basic information–about how to balance motherhood and her education. Now, Matovu, who starts at Penn’s Wharton School of Business this fall, has launched MBAMama.com to help other mothers who find themselves in the same position.
• Settling for more. On her eponymous Fox News show, Megyn Kelly finally met and interviewed Dr. Phil McGraw, whom she’s long credited for inspiring her to go from an “unhappy lawyer” to a TV news journalist. The Dr. Phil quote that prompted Kelly to transform her life? “The only difference between you and someone you envy is that you settle for less.”
• DuPont’s war. DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman has suffered a series of setbacks recently in her battle versus activist investor Nelson Peltz, writes Fortune‘s Stephen Gandel, and if she doesn’t cut a deal with Peltz before the proxy vote on May 13, he’s likely to land up to four seats on DuPont’s board and may break the company up into parts.
• No pass for Putin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called out Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis yesterday. Speaking at the Kremlin, she said German has sought to work more closely with Russia in recent years, but that “the criminal and illegal annexation of Crimea and the warfare in eastern Ukraine has led to a serious setback for this cooperation.”
• The Super Bowl of florists. Did you get–or give–flowers yesterday? If so, America’s florists thank you: Mother’s Day is the biggest sales driver for the $27 billion floral industry.
MPW INSIDER MONDAYS
Each week, Fortune asks our Insider Network — an online community of prominent people in business and beyond — for career and leadership advice. Here’s some of the best of what we heard last week.
• You need a truth-teller. Sometimes the truth hurts. That’s why you need a mentor, says Penny Herscher, CEO of business analytics firm FirstRain. Her mentors have always called her out when she was obnoxious, unfair or weak, and pushed her forward whenever she struggled with self-doubt.
• Pay it foward. Need another reason to become a mentor? Chances are, the impact of your work won’t stop with your mentee, says Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership: 65% of women who have been mentored will go on to become mentors themselves.
• An inside woman. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy at EY, says you can do without a mentor–what you really need is a sponsor. Having a champion inside your company will help you get ahead in a way that an outside advisor never could, she says.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Oliver’s on point. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver celebrated Mother’s Day by slamming the U.S. for its failure to provide mothers with paid maternity leave. “You deserve the very best, moms,” said Oliver. “You’re just not going to get it.”
• The inevitable woman? New York Times columnist Frank Bruni explains why Hillary Clinton is the “inevitable” frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, despite her flaws.
New York Times
• Pao pushes back. Ellen Pao is fighting Kleiner Perkins’ request that she pay nearly $1 million in expenses for the VC firm’s witnesses during her discrimination trial, calling the costs “grossly excessive and unreasonable.” KP has offered to waive the fee is she agrees not to appeal, but it looks like Pao wants to keep her options open.
• The doyenne of Deloitte. Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte’s new CEO, was on Meet the Press yesterday to talk about how her firm is working to give its female employees more power over their careers and to provide more flexibility for all its workers.
• Frida forever. Despite having died back in 1954, Frida Kahlo seems to be having her moment. The artist, whom this New York Times story calls “the mother of the selfie,” is the subject of a slew of new books and exhibitions this spring.
New York Times
• Who’s earned an app? Britney Spears has joined Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry in the ranks of celebrities with their own mobile video game apps. Who should be next? Fortune has a few suggestions.
• Inspired casting. Natalie Portman will play Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex, an upcoming film about the Justice’s life.
• The cult of Comey. Designer Rachel Comey doesn’t buy ads in glossy magazines, put on glitzy Manhattan runway shows or pay celebs to wear her clothes. Nevertheless, the “cult of Comey” is growing and sales are up, hitting $6.2 million in 2014.
• The CIA transitions. This New York Times editorial tells the story of Jenny, a CIA intelligence analyst who recently came out as a transgender woman to her colleagues at the Agency. So far, Jenny’s experience has been relatively smooth, thanks in large part to Diane Schroer, the former Army officer who set a legal precedent for transgender federal employees by suing the Library of Congress in 2005.
New York Times
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ON MY RADAR
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25 famous women on their mothers
|My grandfather taught me that sometimes you have to go with your gut and sometimes you have to take on a little risk.|
| -- Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corporation, whose grandfather founded NASCAR, and whose son, Ben, is a driver. |