When asked, Obama agreed that she is “strong, smart and bold,” which is part of the motto of the organization. She urged the audience to “gravitate to the positive” and credited her parents for teaching her that lesson.
“Focus on the people in your life who give you positive reinforcement,” she said. “And it doesn’t have to be a parent. It can be anybody. I was lucky enough to have parents, but I also had some great teachers and mentors and people in my life that I would pull them in if I got some good energy, I’d just keep pulling on it.”
The event, attended by more than 2,000 people, benefited the research-based organization that sponsors local informal education programs.
“Don’t be afraid to dream big,” she said in response to a 13-year-old audience member who asked how to achieve Obama’s “position.”
“You have to see yourself in a place," she continued. "You have to be able to see yourself as that scientist, as the next President of the United States. You can be first lady if you want to, but there’s also the presidency.
In her speech, Obama also referred to eating healthy, getting exercise, and getting engaged as a good citizen and a member of a community as elements of “being smart, strong, and bold.” Obama is known for her Let’s Move! anti-obesity initiative.
“We know how much pressure there is on our girls to fit in,” she said, and referred to her own experience growing up. She credited her parents for their support, and also discussed the need for “supportive communities.”
“One of the things that I tell my girls is that you have to practice who you want to be every single day,” she said. “Who you all are today, what you’re doing today, how you relate to people—that matters. So think about that.”
Later in the afternoon, Obama headlined a fundraiser for the president’s re-election campaign that was sponsored by billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Buffett, who lives in Omaha, attended the Girls Inc. event along with his wife. His daughter Susie Buffett, who Obama recognized in her speech, is an officer of the board.