How to Boost Your Confidence

July 9, 2024


Want to raise your confidence and resilience as an assistant? Take inspiration from guest Chynna Clayton, the former “body-woman” of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Recorded at EA Ignite Spring 2024 and produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals - ASAP. Learn more and submit a listener question at

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Leah Warwick: Hi, everyone. I'm Leah Warwick, and you're listening to Season 3 of "The Admin Edge." We recorded this season at EA Ignite Spring 2024 in Nashville, and our first guest is keynote speaker Chynna Clayton. After starting as a White House Intern during the Obama Administration, China became the "body woman" for First Lady Michelle Obama, and then was retained by the personal office of Barack and Michelle Obama as their Director of Travel and Event Operations. Chynna is now the founder and CEO of Matriarch Made Development. Without further ado, here is my interview with Chynna.


Chynna, welcome to the podcast. 

Chynna Clayton: Thank you, Leah. So excited to be here. Thank you for having me today.

Leah Warwick: It's so good to have you here today. I want to start with an observation I have of you. You come across as such a lovely and confident person, and I figure you must've cultivated confidence and resilience to have the career that you have had. You've written about your guiding principles, and they include patience, accountability, and vigilance. Where does that come from?

Chynna Clayton: Well, those are the principles that are required to support a first lady. But when it comes to confidence, that has honestly been a journey for me. It has taken time for me to get to a place where I feel like I can speak to a lot of these issues, where I feel like I know enough. Oftentimes, I'm still suffering from imposter syndrome – that mean, old, nasty imposter syndrome. What has helped me in finding my voice, because I grew up in a Southern household, where kids were meant to be seen and not heard, where you were not meant to go back and forth with an adult; an adult was supposed to do that on your behalf.


While I think that that cultivates respect and deference for others, it didn't really help me in finding my voice. It shrunk my voice a lot of times, and so I had to find my way of out of that. I was always opinionated. I want to be very clear: I was a very opinionated child, but I didn't feel like I had the platform to be that, oftentimes, based on my upbringing. So, I had to figure out what that voice was and how to show up in a confident manner. What really did help me – there were two books that I read. One was Composure: The Art of Executive Presence.


That helped me to really combat the imposter syndrome that I had been experiencing: 1) to put a name to it, because I was just like, “What is this?” And then 2) to start some practices in order to help boost that confidence and shake that syndrome. And then the second is actually being released to the public today, and it's Undiplomatic by Deesha Dyer. She's a Former White House Social Secretary. Throughout her time in that position, she also battled with imposter syndrome. Just hearing her personal experience and how she overcame it was super helpful. And I got an advanced read, clearly, given that she was a friend, but I encourage everybody – if you are struggling with confidence and trying to find your voice, sometimes you just need some helpful tools to help you through. 


Leah Warwick: I love that you shared those resources because I think that's something a lot of assistants can relate to, especially in high-profile, high-pressure situations, and you have had one of the most high-profile positions an assistant can have, ensuring every detail of Mrs. Obama's personal and public-facing events were executed flawlessly – wow. What are the skills you gained and qualities you have that would benefit someone aspiring to that type of role?

Chynna Clayton: Well, in that role, every day is a teaching moment. There wasn't too much rinse and repeat in the White House. So, what I had to bring to that experience was a certain level of care of the person that I was supporting. I had to care about their vision and how I showed up. A huge part of it [was] I had to learn how to maintain composures in the moments of chaos – and, trust me, there were plenty. But those are the skills that I think leaders can really respect. Those are the skills that help you show up in the way that you want to, quite honestly.


And then I had to learn not to take things personally. You're supporting a human being, and their moods fluctuate. You never know what they're coming off of. If they come into the office with a sour mood that day, then let me not take that personally. You may just be going through something. I think that a lot of these things that I'm describing are what it takes to be in these roles. 

And then a huge one is not to have an inflated ego based on who you're supporting. It's just like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You're not the star here. Remember that, and try to be humble and kind in the way that you approach the role. One thing that I would also remind someone who's just starting is that you're bound to make mistakes. These things happen. So, give yourself grace. Figure out how you're going to improve on that situation and ensure that it never happens again, but it's okay to make a mistake. Don't beat yourself up over it. 


Leah Warwick: That's some advice that I – and I'm sure so many of our listeners – should and will take to heart after listening to this because sometimes it bears repeating, at least for me. And you've written that with Matriarch Made Development that you strive every day to be an inspiration for young girls, especially those who have experienced similar life challenges. What keeps you going with this mission? What motivates you?

Chynna Clayton: Oh, my goodness. So, my biggest motivation is being able to help make a difference in anyone's life. If there was someone who was struggling with having an incarcerated parent, like I did, allow them to not bear that shame that isn't really theirs to bear. And if by telling my story I am relieving them of that, then I want to do more of that. If, from telling my assistant journey, I am helping someone to avoid the pitfalls and the mistakes that I made when I was in it, then that's motivation enough. Just to know that I am helping people. That's what this role is. 


We're all here because we have a desire to help and to elevate those that we support. So, if I know that I'm doing that just by talking and by sharing my experiences, that's all the motivation that I need. 

Leah Warwick: I love that. That warms my heart. That's how I feel just being here at this event and watching your keynote. It was heartwarming. It really reminded me – and I think so many people that I saw visibly affected by what you were talking about – that we're doing this because it comes from deep inside, and we're all connecting here. There is such a feeling of love and connection that we're also trying to spread through this podcast. There are people reaching out to us in this podcast, like a listener, who wrote in a question. She's an administrative professional. Her name is Courtney. She is seeking advice. She writes: "In a company with 20-plus admins, some exclusive to a group, some who do a little bit of everything, how would you suggest to boost confidence in a newer admin who is trying to find their path?" 


Chynna Clayton: Oh, my goodness. Well, hi, Courtney. Thank you for the question. You know what I would say? I think, being somebody new into that space, is intimidating. That individual is surrounded by veterans who know what they're doing, who get in it and can turn stuff over in a heartbeat, so now you're like: "I can't keep up." You're second-guessing yourself. I think the key is to make that individual feel welcome. As I mentioned just a minute ago, remind them that mistakes happen so that they are not playing them on a loop in their minds. But, instead, they are acknowledging them. They are confronting them. They are correcting them. I think that will help to create this environment that fosters learning, that fosters development, because you're letting them know that this is a safe space and this is okay, which, in turn, will boost their confidence when they know: "I'm not the only person making mistakes. I'm allowed the space to make a mistake." It makes the world of a difference.


Leah Warwick: Yeah, it sounds like a growth mindset, thinking about mistakes as learning opportunities and reframing that. Everybody's been new in something, even people who are very experienced. Maybe they're new to being CEO and maybe they're nervous. You never know what's going on under the surface. So, composure, being kind always, having a smile, it really does affect not only what's happening inside but how you relate to others. I loved how you talked about that in your keynote, too. 

Chynna Clayton: Thank you, Leah.

Leah Warwick: I could go on and on. I really could. It's just so great to have you here.

Chynna Clayton: It is great to be here. When I tell you this, that you guys have created here, this community, this family, this friendship, it's phenomenal. It truly is.

Leah Warwick: I think that's the perfect way to end it. I have nothing else to add. We're just getting started here at EA Ignite, and I think we're off to a great start. You opening the event was just a dream come true, so thank you for being here.


Chynna Clayton: Oh, for sure. Thank you for having me. It has been an honor.

Leah Warwick: And where can people find you online after the event?

Chynna Clayton: Yeah. So, if you're looking to get in contact with me, you can get in contact via my website, which is, or

Leah Warwick: Thank you so much.

Chynna Clayton: Of course.

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Leah Warwick: Thank you for listening to "The Admin Edge," produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals. Original music and audio editing by Warwick Productions, with audio and video production at EA Ignite by 5Tool Productions. If you liked this podcast, please leave us a nice review and five stars wherever you listen to podcasts, and subscribe. If you'd like to submit a listener question, you can do so on our website at

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