My Secret Life in the CIA


The CIA is looking for walking contradictions.

You must keep secrets but skillfully persuade others to tell you theirs. You have to love your country but willingly leave it behind for dangerous operations around the world. You need to live a double life but be trustworthy enough to carry out the nation’s most sensitive tasks.

Michele Rigby Assad was one of those people. Working undercover for the CIA, she served in treacherous areas throughout the Middle East—a woman leading some of the most highly skilled operatives on the planet.

The threats were real.

The missions were perilous.

And deep inside, Michele wondered: Could she really do this job or had she misunderstood her life’s calling?

In Breaking Cover, Michele has at been cleared to drop cover and tell her story of incredible struggle, of unexpected challenges and thwarted missions, and most significantly, of powerfully realizing what really matters in the face of her greatest fears.

Available Hard Cover, Soft Cover, Audio, and Digital Formats.

About Michele

Growing up in a small town in Central Florida, Michele didn’t know much about the world. But her parents taught her the power of positive thinking which she embraced at a young age–being willing to do the hard things, never giving up, and working hard until you succeed. This propelled her down a long and windy road, taking her to destinations she could have never imagined: serving undercover for ten years as a counterterrorism officer in the CIA; solving difficult problems as an international security consultant; supporting the fight for global human rights; and helping refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) persecuted by al-Qa’ida and ISIS.

Upon retirement from the CIA, 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.

Photograph by Axel Muench

Michele on Megyn Kelly Today
“A Southern Belle To CIA Spy”

Michele on ABC’s 20/20 special
“Escaping ISIS”

Turning Liabilities into Advantages

Intuition is Marketable — Lessons From the CIA TEDx BinghamtonUniversity


Michele Rigby Assad

Michele is a global thought leader whose extensive knowledge and unique stories translate into every industry. Michele’s presentations are customized for conference objectives, event themes, and audience composition:

  • Keynotes and Inspirational Presentations–Corporate events for companies working in the following sectors: technology, social media, finance, banking, insurance, sales and marketing. Other specializations include women’s leadership, human resources, civic organizations, national nonprofits, and faith-based groups.
  • Television Interviews–Michele is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the following areas: intelligence operations, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, national security, foreign affairs with a focus on the Middle East, behavioral interviewing techniques, and vetting people/interrogating information.
  • Podcasts and YouTube Videos
  • Customized Training–Law enforcement, corporate security and counterintelligence divisions, national athletes and sports management teams (players, recruiters, management).

What Dealing With Terrorists Taught Me About Sales, Unconscious Bias, and Hidden Strengths

    • How to build rapport using intelligence profiling secrets–You can’t sell to someone unless you understand them.
    • My ninja strategy for upending conscious or unconscious bias in five minutes or less.
    • Learn to bring the best of yourself into operations to transform average into amazing.

The Life-Altering Power of Grit

    • Use in-the-field, operational planning techniques to prepare for Murphy (Murphy’s Law). Learn to expect the unexpected so you don’t lose focus when things go wrong.
    • Leverage a fierce resolve to learn and grow to weather unexpected storms and come out on top.
    • Tap into your Grit–Don’t give up when everyone else has folded. Don’t go home when things get hard. Don’t give up when obstacles appear. Grit ensures you hang in there no matter what.

Get Off the X: Get the Inspiration You Need to Survive and Thrive

    • Secrets for escaping an attack or surviving an ambush that you can apply to pushing out of your comfort zone.
    • How “going to war” teaches you to manage fear and elevates your game to elite levels.
    • Learn the most powerful strategy for overcoming inertia.

Keynotes and Corporate Training Events


Request a media interview, book Michele to speak!

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