Michele Rigby Assad
Upon retirement from active service, Michele and her husband Joseph (also a former intelligence officer) joined a group of Americans who wished to aid persecuted Iraqi Christians. Their efforts resulted in the evacuation of a group from northern Iraq that was featured on ABC’s 20/20 in December 2015.
Today, Michele is a corporate consultant, trainer, and keynote speaker, sharing a variety of lessons from her unconventional life. Michele holds a master’s degree in Contemporary Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a political science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
- SwiftSword ™ Risk Mitigation Tools for High Performance Companies
Learn how to optimize operational decisions and mitigate risk using vetting methodologies from the world of intelligence.
The ability to make wise decisions is what sets apart average companies from exceptional ones. The secret sauce is the ability to vet people, products, vendors, and opportunities. Just like vetting is critical to our national security, vetting is the cornerstone of sound business and personal decisions. It enables a spectrum of activities from hiring the most talented and highly motivated employees, to identifying the most promising investment opportunities, to choosing the right childcare provider.
Vetting (verifying, scrutinizing, authenticating) is essential to our everyday lives, yet those who are expected to vet are rarely provided the training to do so. The SwiftSword ™ training course will give you the tools to become a Truth Hacker—able to vet people and information like a pro. Michele’s tools will enable you to cut through chaos, lies, and marketing fluff, to steer your company to success.
- Lessons from the CIA — How to Pivot in Times of Crisis
One thing you learn planning and carrying out operations in war zones is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t prepare for every contingency. You have to get good at pivoting in the moment and making decisions on the fly. Such is the new world thrust on us in 2020. Strong leadership understands that now is not the time to maintain continuity of operations—it is time to rethink everything.
• Learn how to harness fear to cultivate optimism and resiliency.
• Understand how to promote an environment in which your team members’ unique experiences, outlook, and creativity can be harnessed to solve operational challenges.
• Develop new strategies for tapping into your diverse workforce to navigate changing realities and requirements. (You will be surprised how many amazing ideas come from staff that, up until now, hasn’t had the opportunity or encouragement to share fresh ideas that can breathe new life into operations.)
Michele became one of the world’s leading experts on resilience as a result of a challenging ten-year career in the CIA that took her to countless war zones. What she originally thought were repeated “slights” by management which sent her to one dangerous place after the other, she now counts those tours as the secret to her success. Michele emerged from those experiences with a level of counterterrorism and counterintelligence expertise that was off the charts. It turns out that the environments that were the scariest and most intellectually challenging were the places Michele developed a deep knowledge of her craft and operational know-how that could not have been forged anywhere else. Michele is on a mission to encourage others to be willing to do “the hard things.”
- Unconscious Bias: How to Knock Down the Walls
I’m used to assumptions. I’ve dealt with them my entire life. It is hard for people to merge the two seemingly different versions of me: an outgoing and kind person who cares very much about others-with the counterterrorism and Middle East expert. Most human beings are conditioned to associate a leader with someone who wields power in a more forceful manner. Those with sunny dispositions are often relegated to the second tier or the back row. This cognitive dissonance is a product of an Unconscious bias that sets our expectations of people’s strengths, weaknesses, personality and interests. Our assumptions are based on a lifetime’s worth of input, so this happens without our cognizance. We are not aware that this process is occurring.
In the workplace, subconscious bias affects internal processes such as hiring, promotions, leadership development, training decisions, and project management. In terms of operations, subconscious bias affects our marketing and sales strategies, product design, prioritization of projects, and so much more.
Learn the first steps to knocking down the walls to unconscious bias and creating a culture of strong leaders:
• Acknowledge that we can do a better job
• Dig deeper and get to know others better
• Ask more questions
• Determine whether unconscious bias has affected the way you’ve done business and identify one way to start rectifying that
- How Leveraging War-Zone Tactics in the Workplace Can Help Overcome Stereotypes
Michele uses her experience as a female in the male-dominated intelligence sector to show how your unique personality and perspective are key to being a stand-out in the workplace. Despite being told that she could not carry out successful counterterrorism operations because she would never be accepted as a female by the terrorist sources she would have to work with, Michele turned this assumption on its head. She explains how she triumphed by turning her perceived disadvantages to her advantage in the debriefing room, acquiring intelligence others could not.