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.
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 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 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.
Photograph by Axel Muench www.axelmuench.com
What Others Are Saying
I have attended a large number of these types of conferences. Michele's session, however, was incredibly different. I have never heard such interesting stories and what’s truly amazing is the way she adapted these lessons to our life and work. Her session was the most popular once the word got out, and conference administrators had to turn people away at the door. Michele is a very gifted speaker.
Michele has been an absolute delight to work with. The feedback from our attendees has been overwhelmingly positive; they truly loved the interaction. I would recommend Michele as a speaker for any executive event, thought leadership session, female empowerment, leadership, etc. She truly is a catalyzer of incredible content and debate--her content is simply eye opening.
Michele was a compelling speaker who our employees loved. Her stories of life in the CIA provided great life lessons and inspired our team to reach for their full potential!
Michele was our opening Critical Conversations keynote speaker in May 2018. Her first-person accounts of being on the inside of CIA operations in unnamed countries kept the audience spellbound. She shared personal stories not usually heard through the filtered media, as well as personal feelings about what kept her faith strong in the midst of out-of-control circumstances. Her faith is strong and her accounts genuine - her friendly persona and interaction with the moderator and audience were encouraging and enlightening. She is a delight!
Michele spoke to our group and was fantastic! The feedback from the attendees was off the charts. They particularly commented on her real-life anecdotes, the lessons therein, and the inspiration it provided. She prepared a fascinating PowerPoint slide show that was tailored to the group. I whole heartedly recommend Ms. Rigby-Assad to inspire and entertain in just about any group setting!
Michele on Megyn Kelly Today
“A Southern Belle To CIA Spy”
“A Southern Belle To CIA Spy”
Michele on ABC’s 20/20 special
Turning Liabilities into Advantages
Turning Liabilities into Advantages
Intuition is Marketable — Lessons From the CIA TEDx BinghamtonUniversity
BOOK MICHELE FOR YOUR EVENT
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, Negotiations and Unconscious Bias
- How to build rapport using intelligence profiling secrets
- How to read body language to detect lies and understand your interlocutor
- Learn to leverage a technique called “framing” to avoid confrontation and find ways to exploit areas of commonality
My Advantage as a Woman in the CIA
- Use in-the-field techniques to turn challenging situations around so that you leave conversations in a positive way
- Leverage women’s intuition to gain an “unfair” advantage in high-stakes negotiations
- Ninja strategies to engage women and minorities in important conversations for collaboration and growth
Going Undercover: Finding Your Purpose in a Dangerous World
- 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
- The role of faith in dealing with terrorists — and overcoming in life