Madeleine Albright On Ambition and Obsoleteness

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Madeleine Albright On Ambition and Obsoleteness

Wednesday, 13 May

Madeleine Albright was in her early 20s when she wrote in an essay, "I am obsolete." She'd just become a mother to twins, and since graduating college had moved several times for her husband's jobs in journalism—a career field that she too had wanted to enter. "All of a sudden these things that I thought I was going to be able to do, I couldn't do," she told me. "Everything...was different than I had thought." 

It was her eventual divorce two decades later that Secretary Albright says put her on the path to becoming U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. Since leaving that position in 2001 in her mid-60s, she's stayed plenty busy⁠—launching consulting and investment firms, and continuing to teach at Georgetown. But when I talked with her recently, she'd been self-isolating at home for weeks. "Because I'm in my eighties, and because of what's going on with the virus, all of a sudden I'm beginning to feel obsolete again," she told me. "I have been fighting gravity. That’s what I’ve been doing." 

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