Barack Obama Says This Is The Most Important Thing He Can Do Now That He's Not President

He's passing the baton.

On Monday, former President Barack Obama made his first major public appearance since leaving office in January by moderating a panel on civic engagement at the University of Chicago. During the discussion, which featured young leaders from the community, Obama looked toward the future and spoke about championing a new generation to make a difference.

In fact, while Obama did a mock job interview with Stephen Colbert last year as a joke, he does have an idea for what his next job should be since returning to public life — and it's an important one:

I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job, and what I'm convinced of is that, although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help, in any way I can, prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.

Not long ago, Obama was a young leader himself. He spoke about his experience as a community organizer in Chicago, and the positive message it taught him about making a difference:

I am the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire, nor did I transform these communities in any significant way, although we did some good things. But it did change me. This community gave me a lot more than I was able to give in return, because this community taught me that ordinary people, when working together, can do extraordinary things. This community taught me that everybody has a story to tell that is important.

Obama expressed his faith in the next generation, calling them "sharp and astute and tolerant and thoughtful and entrepreneurial," and saying at the close of his appearance, "There's a reason why I am optimistic, even when things aren't going the way I want. And that's because of young people like this."

Those young people will soon have some reading material from the former president to help keep them inspired, as Obama's other job since leaving the White House has been writing his memoir, which he reportedly called a book "about my political journey."

Watch Obama talk about passing the baton in the video below:


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