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'Passion, Excitement and Interest': Barack Obama On What It Takes To Be Successful

Obama also shared his thoughts on the role artificial intelligence (AI) will play in reshaping the workforce.
Image Source:  Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla
Image Source: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

In today's competitive world, a successful career requires more than just talent and hard work. It demands a passion for your work, the ability to embrace failure as a stepping stone, and a commitment to personal growth. Former President Barack Obama, known for his remarkable journey and accomplishments, offers valuable insights on these aspects.

During a chat with LinkedIn editor-in-chief Dan Roth for the platform’s “This is Working” podcast, Barack Obama emphasizes the significance of being "really interested in, and excited about" the work you do. Obama also shared his thoughts on the role artificial intelligence (AI) will play in reshaping the workforce, and his new Netflix docuseries which is expected to provide a nuanced portrayal of the joys, challenges, and emotions associated with various professions.

Image Source: Scott Olson / Staff/ Getty Images
Image Source: Scott Olson / Staff/ Getty Images

Importance of Passion and Genuine Interest in Work

During the conversation with Roth, Obama emphasizes the significance of being "really interested in, and "excited about" the work you do. He stressed the importance of focusing on what you want to do rather than what you want to be. By being absorbed in your work and having a genuine interest, you are more likely to excel and have an extraordinary career.

Embrace Failure As Part of Learning

Source: Chip /Somodevilla / Staff
Source: Chip /Somodevilla / Staff

Obama encourages individuals to embrace failure and view it as a valuable teacher. He emphasizes that even the most successful people, like Michael Jordan, have faced numerous failures along the way. Failure should not define you rather it should serve as an opportunity for growth and learning, he said. By analyzing your failures, identifying areas of improvement, and making necessary adjustments, you can develop resilience and ultimately succeed in your endeavors, he advised.

Advice for Succeeding at Work

Image Source: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/ Getty Images
Image Source: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/ Getty Images


Drawing from his own experiences, Obama offers practical advice for excelling in the workplace. He stresses the importance of taking initiative, being proactive, and developing a "can-do" attitude. Employers value individuals who not only identify problems but also take responsibility and propose solutions. Additionally, focusing on delivering exceptional results on assigned tasks can lead to recognition and advancement opportunities.

Rise of Artificial Intelligence and Workforce Reorganization

During the interview, Obama also discussed the rise of AI and its potential impact on the workforce. He emphasizes the need for society to have conversations that re-examine how we approach work. One example he mentioned was the possibility of cutting down 40-hour work weeks to 35 hours to disperse work among employees. While these conversations may not have gained traction in the United States yet, Obama suggested that they may become necessary in the future.

He says, "We're probably going to have to rethink how work is organized and how the economy is organized in some pretty profound ways."

	Source: Chris McGrath / Staff
Source: Chris McGrath / Staff

Barack Obama's Netflix Docuseries

Since his presidency, Obama has explored the concept of work. One of his recent ventures is hosting a docuseries on Netflix titled "Working: What We Do All Day." Inspired by Louis "Studs" Terkel's book "Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do," the docuseries delves into the lives and experiences of individuals from different backgrounds and professions. Obama's goal with the series is to shed light on the diverse range of jobs and the impact they have on people's lives

Source: Chip Somodevilla/  Staff
Source: Chip Somodevilla/ Staff


Obama's exploration of the topic goes beyond surface-level discussions. He delves into the profound impact work has on individuals' identities, sense of fulfillment, and overall well-being. By elevating the stories of people from different walks of life, the docuseries aims to foster empathy and understanding among viewers, encouraging them to appreciate the diverse tapestry of the workforce.

Source: Arturo Holmes  Staff
Source: Arturo Holmes Staff

In addition to sharing insights from his docuseries, Obama's conversation with Roth touched on the transformative potential of technology, particularly artificial intelligence. He highlighted the need to re-evaluate how work is organized in the face of technological advancements. Obama emphasized that society must adapt to ensure a fair distribution of work and explore ways to provide meaningful employment opportunities for all.