A part of me can’t believe that I’m actually going to write about the Meghan Markle interview with Oprah.
I pretty much ignore American and British tabloid media. I don’t pay attention to anything going on with the British royal family (and former members thereof). However, for some reason I can’t quite articulate, I decided to watch the full interview.
Invariably, interviews like this end up becoming a battle of narratives. Markle conveys a narrative of events. Members of the royal family have responded with their own narratives. Third parties will weigh in with their own opinions (yes, I’m guilty on this one too).
The whole thing generates a lot of media attention and ultimately is designed to generate advertising revenue.
I’ve never watched Meghan or Harry speak in an interview before. I thought I'd point out a few things that jumped out at me.
First, I really appreciate the courage and vulnerability Markle had in sharing about her struggles with suicidal thoughts. I’ve always said you never really know what’s going on with someone else and how they’re experiencing the events around them.
From the outside, what could be better than literally being royalty? Yet the outsider’s view is quite different than her account as an insider.
Second, I couldn’t help but notice how often she referred to “The Firm.” As some of you may know, this is how people in the McKinsey ecosystem refer to McKinsey… they all call it The Firm.
Initially, I wasn’t sure who or what she was referring to when she used the phrase “The Firm.” I was pretty sure it was not McKinsey, and then it dawned on me that she saw the royal family as a business (a.k.a. The Firm).
I found that fascinating. I had no idea that Meghan and Harry’s wedding generated over $1 billion in economic activity for the United Kingdom.
The third thing I noticed is that the way in which Meghan described The Firm really spoke to a very distinctive culture. An organization’s culture refers to the largely unwritten rules that govern how decisions get made.
What she described was a very distinctive and influential culture. Organizational cultures can be good, bad, or neutral. What really determines the impact a culture has on those within it are its values.
Values refer to that which is deemed important (and not important) for members of the culture.
One of the takeaways I got from the interview was that The Firm placed a high value on appearances, optics, and how things would be perceived by the outside world.
This leads me to my fourth observation.
I really appreciated Meghan’s efforts to get help for her mental well-being. It’s difficult to struggle with a mental health issue. It’s even more difficult to seek help. The one tradeoff with seeking help is that there’s a risk to optics.
If you seek help, it means admitting you’re not perfect. In a culture that values mental health, the priority would be on getting help. In a culture that values optics and appearances, the priority would be to maintain the perception that all is well. Anything else would be secondary to that core value.
Fifth, Harry and Meghan seem genuinely fond of each other. There were a dozen nonverbal cues that conveyed that. (If you missed it, you can study the 50 photo examples of nonverbal signals in my Emotional Intelligence (EQ) program, which will be available for enrollment in May.)
I love it when high-profile couples seem to genuinely like each other. I find that very sweet.
Sixth, I appreciated when Harry openly admitted that he wasn’t sure what to do and how he was struggling emotionally with the various situations revealed in the interview.
It reminded me of the following perspective that I share from time to time:
We may admire people for their achievements, but we relate to them through their struggles.
If you haven’t watched the interview, it’s worth watching. Click Here to see the recording. It works in the United States, not sure if it will work elsewhere.
In closing, the three takeaways from the interview are:
- What it seems like from the outside isn’t always what it’s like on the inside.
- People from all walks of life struggle (even a “princess”).
- Everyone, at one time or another, needs help… and that’s normal.
Speaking of help, if you know anyone who has struggled with mental health challenges, the following page has links to a variety of resources for getting help.