I recently intereviewed Dr. Condoleezza Rice in front of a live audience gathered for a book signing of her newly-released memoir, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.”

The former Secretary of State exceeded my high expectations during her public speaking opportunity.

Yes, she was a terrific interview and the book-signing crowd loved her – but you would have expected that. Media pros know how to bridge any question to a key message they want to deliver. She shared engaging stories about her parents, her recent experience accompanying diva Aretha Franklin on the piano, her love of football, and the most compelling people she met around the globe as the country’s top diplomat.

But what caught me off guard was her genuine warmth backstage in the greenroom prior to the interview. Some book critics have taken shots at Dr. Rice’s memoir, describing her writing as “aloof” and “distant.” As a result, I expected a brusque, all-business presence to sweep into the green room, impatient to move on with the evening.

Instead, Condi Rice was remarkably warm, thoughtful, and razor sharp. Upon learning my name, she even labeled us the “Connie and Condi” show. Despite her stature, influence and impact, she totally connected with every person in the room, from an intern to a pro athlete and NFL analyst.

Matter of fact, after the interview, the NFL analyst told me that Dr. Rice seemed to knows more about detailed football strategy than he does. Talk about influencing a discerning audience!

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