Growing up in the 60s in New York City, torn between her air stewardess single-mom and her grandmother with a notorious life, Robin F. Schepper never imagined that one day she would have an office in the East Wing of the White House, leading Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign.
I am so happy she finally captured her fascinating life story in a book – something we've all been encouraging her to do for years.
If you’re interested in an uncensored peek at how US politics works, behind the scenes and at the highest levels; or how a dynamic woman can prevail in a male–dominated world; or how family complexities and trauma can be drivers of success; or how someone can remain laser-focused on their goals, despite all odds, then this is the book to read.
I first met Robin in 2000 when I had just started working at the organizing committee for the Athens Olympic Games. She had walked into the room radiating confidence, patience, and strength. She had been poached from Washington, D.C., where she led political campaigns, to train us on how to design powerful communications strategies, handle global media, and manage reputational risks. She also persistently taught us to audaciously believe in ourselves and to always aim high.
And for the last 20+ years, she's stayed the course as a dear friend and mentor, and I could not be more grateful. Now I am excited that others – especially young women – will be able to benefit from her extraordinary life story.
-- Emmy Markoglou
#goodreads; #insipirationalbooks; #inspiration; #bookworm; #booklovers; #bibliophile; #genderequality; #USpolitics
If you’re interested in how family complexities and trauma can be drivers of success; or how someone can remain laser-focused on their goals, despite all odds; or how a dynamic woman can prevail in a male-dominated world; or if you want an uncensored peek at how US politics works, behind the scenes and at the highest levels, then you need to read this book.
Growing up in the 60s in a German-speaking neighborhood of New York City with the stigma of being a bastard in the eyes of her Catholic church, with a flight attendant mom and brothel-owning grandmother, Robin F. Schepper developed the tenacity and courage to dream big, overcome obstacles, and achieve her goals.
Robin and I worked together on the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI) when she was Senior Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC and I was invited to lead the strategic planning. Robin had just transitioned from her office in the East Wing of the White House where she was the Executive Director who launched First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign. At the time, she was working on another audacious goal, to figure out how to create a life where she and her husband could raise their family in Colorado without sacrificing her career in DC.
While HBI was a major endeavor, it was par for the course for Robin who has worked on numerous major initiatives, including on the organizing committee for the Athens Olympic Games, on the Senate Leadership Committee for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, on the Advance Team during the Clinton Administration, and on numerous campaigns such as Clinton/Gore '92. She's traveled the world and has had some incredible experiences.
But instead of just sharing the adventurous high points, Robin's authenticity and transparency in sharing her full story, including some truly painful parts, reveals some themes that make her story both relatable and inspirational. I couldn't put this book down - I read it in one sitting.
-- Gail Stout Perry
hashtag#memoir hashtag#strategy hashtag#goodreads; hashtag#insipirationalbooks; hashtag#inspiration; hashtag#bookworm; hashtag#booklovers; hashtag#bibliophile; hashtag#genderequality; hashtag#USpolitics
Finding My Way is an excellent, well-paced memoir that sneaks up on you as it the story unfolds! Before you realize it, this strikingly honest, powerful, and engaging book will pull you in to Robin's life and leave you in a new state of mind. I was in turns shocked, sad, thrilled, awed, and inspired. - Sarah
A page turner. I was inspired by Robin’s capacity to forgive and forge ahead. Her very exciting work stories were my favorite parts, spanning the globe and covering stints in media relations, presidential campaigns, the Olympics. Her stories about growing up and her neglectful family will brake your heart, while her capacity for love and compassion toward them will serve as an inspiration to be a better person.
Have some tissues nearby, because you will need them. And turn off your phone, because you won’t want to be interrupted once you start reading. - Victoria
I bought Robin's memoir because I have had the pleasure of knowing and occasionally working around and with her over the last couple decades and I thought the political stories might be interesting.
Little did I know how much more this book is about and can mean to anyone who reads it.
Rarely does a book make such a profound influence on the lives of its readers, but this one does. It makes you think and reflect as you turn the pages. and I am still reflecting days later.
Within the first 30 minutes I alternated between smiling, sometimes with a lump in my throat, followed by warm laughter as I traced my friend through so many unique episodes of a life well lived. You get to see through her eyes as she experiences so much: learning new things that challenge her and contradict her expectations, extreme curiosity, then sadness and angst followed by such joy and merriment. These stories are so well woven together that each new chapter both surprises you and leaves you with a sense of "ah hah" and "yes, that makes perfect sense." It all fits together so well. That is why she is who she is.
This book will make you rethink some of the relationships of your work friends, even good ones, that you think you know. I wish now I had spent more time on the campaign trail listening to my friends about their lives BEFORE politics and in between engagements and projects. Most people will say that you are only as good as your last performance, but Robin shows us that we are so much more than that last assignment or project that we worked on. People are complicated, multidimensional, and have stories to tell that mean so much to us and those that hear them. Thankfully, Robin has done so. Thank you so much Robin for opening our eyes into your world. - Charles Halloran
Raw. Vulnerable. Courageous. Beginning with her unusual upbringing in New York City in the 60's & 70's, the author takes us on a fast-paced and engrossing journey through her life. All the while, weaving in lessons for us on resilience and staying focused on our goals. It is astounding that even as a child, she knew what she wanted and did not want from her life. Sadly, there were many disappointments and challenges along the way, incorporated into her story not to make us feel sorry for her but to build a believable narrative for where her toughness and hard work leads her. Especially heartbreaking was her relationship with her mother. All of this makes for a memoir that pulls you into this young girl's life and makes you want to be her cheerleader as she explores a life most of us cannot imagine.
Writing your personal memoir is a brave and daunting undertaking for even the most accomplished person. How do you make it interesting and relevant for someone who doesn't even know you? The author shares with us just enough detail and at a pace that allows you to reflect on how each of us is impacted by family, friends, employers, even strangers and the choices we make in our lives, some by us and some by others. I came away from reading this book with a renewed faith in our ability to not just overcome obstacles and challenges but to leverage them for positive change in our lives, whether it be an undiscovered passion, new friendships, a career change or relocation, or as simple as a vacation trip you might take, maybe even solo. No one should ever feel stuck in a life that they do not want. Grab this book and find some inspiration from a young girl who became a woman who was never intimidated by what it would take to live the life of her dreams. - Maura B.
Schepper's book feels like it should be a movie. She was pretty much raised on her own from the age of 15 in Manhattan. Her story recounts her ability to not just survive, but thrive, creating an extraordinary life for herself.
The settings alone make it a must-read journey: from New York City in the 70s to Washington, D.C., Athens, Prague, California and beyond...it's a really compelling ride. Layer into that the author's fierce determination to find answers about her biological father, and create the family life she so earnestly craved growing up.
Schepper's voice is open, brutally honest and conversational. She tackles issues about truth, authenticity, family. Great read! - LK
Wow! What a story - Robin has lived an incredibly full life, filled with adventures, travels, professional successes, many loves, as well as devastating struggles, heartbreaks, shame and shocking family revelations. Robin approaches countless obstacles with amazing positivity and success, even from her early childhood. Her positive outlook, steadfast moral compass and many successes are an inspiration. The story of her journey, filled with many surprising revelations, was fast-paced and riveting. - Louisa
This is an extraordinary memoir. It’s at once a coming-of-age story; a psychobiography of a fascinating one-of-a-kind family; an inspiring account of clearing a daunting gauntlet of personal and professional obstacles; a testament to grit, determination, independence, and optimism; a political thriller; and a travelogue with well-drawn portraits of 1970s New York, 1980s-1990s Washington, D.C.; current-day Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and a host of venues abroad including Germany and Greece. It's moving throughout and a lightning read. I picked this up intending to read it over several days and finished it in one – it was that engaging. - Paul Engelmeyer
Finding My Way was a fascinating glimpse into the life of Robin Schepper with no details spared. It was so raw and real that I almost felt guilty as if reading someone's journal. The closest comparison I have is Michelle Obama's Becoming which provided such vivid details into the life of such an interesting and remarkable woman. Robin has lead an equally impressive life, having overcome so much to climb high in politics and triumph in life amidst so many obstacles. Thank you Robin for so intimately baring your soul and sharing your story to inspire us all. - Alyssa
Robin's story is one of tough relationships, adventure, and family. Robin shares her worldly experiences of growing up and going through life as a daughter, a feminist, a partner, and a mother. Just when you think you know where her life's story might be going, there is another adventure around the corner. Robin has had an extraordinary life and I loved how this book brought you on her journey of understanding her roots as you think of your own. - Bert
Robin's story is one of tough relationships, adventure, and family. Robin shares her worldly experiences of growing up and going through life as a daughter, a feminist, a partner, and a mother. Just when you think you know where her life's story might be going, there is another adventure around the corner. Robin has had an extraordinary life and I loved how this book brought you on her journey of understanding her roots as you think of your own. - Roberta
I am loving this book-a window into the life of an intrepid girl, growing up, practicing courage. The author writes as if she is five, when she is five, thirteen, when she is thirteen. You grow up alongside her. - Annie
Beautifully written and engaging memoir. The author’s honesty in sharing details of her life is both moving and inspiring. Highly recommend. - Anne
What a fascinating life the author has led. Basically living on her own in NYC by the time she was 15, Schepper figured out how to make her own way, but always questioning the family history that was only parceled out in small portions, especially pertaining to her biological father.
I found her search for her true history to be the most interesting part. I wish she had included more of her grandmother’s story there appeared to be a lot of material to cover.
Schepper has accumulated a lot of experience and travel for a woman who fought to carve her own path in the world.- Janilyn
"Finding My Way is more than a book. It is storytelling from an author who brings readers into her closest circle of friends, sharing the details of her life that her questions, challenge her values, demonstrate her capacity to achieve and willingness to love in spite of the obstacles in her path from her earliest days of childhood." Kiki McLean, public affairs and political strategist.
"Robin Schepper writes as she is talking to one of her girlfriends with honesty and humor. Challenged from an early age to find her own way, she perseveres to create a life and family of her own making. Her memoir provides a road map on how to balance life, love and fun. She teaches us to be brave and to be candid as we craft our own narrative. I couldn’t put her book down."
-- "I am loving this book-a window into the life of an intrepid girl, growing up, practicing courage. The author writes as if she is five, when she is five, thirteen, when she is thirteen. You grow up alongside her." -- Annie Wohlgenant
-- "...What Schepper describes as “the shame of the truth, and the work of keeping all these secrets hidden from the outer world” combined to make her intensely insecure and uncertain of her own worth. But instead of succumbing, she decided to “create my own worth and show everyone that a bastard child could succeed.” Which she did in no small measure.... -- Anne Green
Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5
Written with gravitas, the memoir Finding My Way is about leading a purposeful life and imparting knowledge with dignity and honesty.
Robin Schepper’s memoir Finding My Way interrogates the past to nurse ambitions for the future.
Schepper was born in California in the 1960s. Her mother was a flight attendant for Pan Am; the father’s name listed on her birth certificate was incorrect. The mother-daughter duo moved to New York to live near Schepper’s German grandmother, a masseuse whose studio offered other services too. As a result, Schepper’s childhood was full of secrets and unknowns. In adulthood, adherence to truth became her mission.
At school, Schepper lobbied for more sex education. During college in California, she tried to locate her father. Using her German skills and air travel habits, she studied and lived abroad too. Later, she worked on political campaigns (including Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative), planned big events (like the Olympics in Greece), and ran a communications firm, in addition to getting married and adopting two sons. After learning about her biological father, she reconciled with the mother and grandmother whose traumas hurt her but gave her grit.
Revealing secrets and dispelling the associated shame, the book shares difficult stories about hasty moves, family conflicts, and colorful dating experiences. Its momentum is strong, and its prose has a spontaneous quality—both candid and conversational, marked by exclamations, soul-searching, and entertaining anecdotes. But its use of superlatives compromises its otherwise convincing explanations of its positions. And the book’s chapter titles, which feature repeating dates, interrupt its natural, chronological flow, while the included photographs, which are inserted in the middle of the book, don’t all make sense until the book is complete (and some spoil later surprises).
The political arenas in which Schepper worked end up coloring and sharpening the text. Determined to find out the truth about her past, she wound up fighting for transparency in democracy too. She was prompted to end relationships based on her own desires for independence and to support her aspirations. Further, during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Schepper’s painful memories of abuse were triggered, leading her to pursue justice. Indeed, she used her personal history to chart a vision for the future. Without dwelling on mistakes, the book works toward a hopeful ending with lessons that are applicable to other seekers too.
Written with gravitas, the memoir Finding My Way is about leading a purposeful life and imparting knowledge with dignity and honesty.
Reviewed by Mari Carlson
November 28, 2022
Jo Guest (Reviewer) has just submitted Feedback for Finding My Way.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Enjoyed reading this book about a little girl who you grow up with as you read it. She is resilient and determined well above her age. It is not surprising she ends up with a very prestigious job working in the White House.
FINDING MY WAY
A Memoir of Family, Identity, and Political Ambition
Author: Robin F. Schepper
Review Issue Date: February 15, 2023
Online Publish Date: January 21, 2023
Publisher: Girl Friday Books
Price ( Hardcover ): $28.95
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 9781954854963
A political operative recounts her long struggle to find her biological father.
Schepper, born in America but a German speaker until entering school in Manhattan, was raised by a single mother who “was called a bastard child in the Catholic Church” because she gave birth to her daughter out of wedlock. Her mother, an international flight attendant, was always vague about the father’s identity. (In an intriguing passage, Schepper speculates on her mother’s relationship with the Indonesian dictator Sukarno: “If Dr. Sukarno had been successful in his advances toward my mom, she might have become one of his wives—and I would have never existed.”) The author’s grandmother ran a brothel, which required Schepper’s intervention when Nana was back in Germany and “some of the girls wanted to do house calls to make more money, which was against Nana’s rules of operating her business.” Work in the film business and then politics followed, with Schepper always on the lookout for clues and DNA that would establish the facts of her parentage. The clues her mother left were unhelpful, but Schepper proved to be an adept investigator, stymied but never broken by a long chain of dead ends and false leads. Unfortunately, some of the matters that she would have profitably spent more time on go by in a flash, such as her service in the West Wing as the head of Michelle Obama’s program to encourage young people to exercise. Where she could go deeper into the inner workings of political campaigns, the writing often falls flat: “I worked the event in Boston for election night, when Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush. It was hugely demoralizing, as we all feared how Bush would lead our country.” Adoptees and those in search of birthparents may find the example of Schepper’s perseverance to be inspiring, but a handbook for political advance work it’s not.