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McGill on the Move with Gil Troy

Date: Tue, 10/23/2012 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Don’t miss your chance to hear one of North America’s leading presidential scholars discuss the upcoming US presidential election! McGill historian Gil Troy, author of the recently released book History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, will give his take on the upcoming election in his talk, “Some things never change – The 2012 Presidential campaign in historical perspective.” For more than 200 years, candidates have campaigned for the highest office in the land, debating the major issues facing the country, capturing the attention of the voters, and reflecting the will of the people. Presidential elections are the centerpiece of American democracy, as citizens go to the polls every four years to choose a new leader. Professor Troy will take us through a fascinating political journey through American history, reflect on both the Obama and Romney campaigns, and postulate what might come to pass this November. A native of Queens, New York, Gil Troy is a Professor of History at McGill and a Visiting Scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, including History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s and Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady. He comments frequently about the American presidency on television and radio, and has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and USA Weekend.

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DAR, Branches, Boston, Massachusetts, Events, Learn, Reads

Event Details

McGill on the Move with Gil Troy (Boston alumni branch)
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General information:
Description: Don’t miss your chance to hear one of North America’s leading presidential scholars discuss the upcoming US presidential election!

McGill historian Gil Troy, author of the recently released book History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, will give his take on the upcoming election in his talk, “Some things never change – The 2012 Presidential campaign in historical perspective.”

For more than 200 years, candidates have campaigned for the highest office in the land, debating the major issues facing the country, capturing the attention of the voters, and reflecting the will of the people.

Presidential elections are the centerpiece of American democracy, as citizens go to the polls every four years to choose a new leader.

Professor Troy will take us through a fascinating political journey through American history, reflect on both the Obama and Romney campaigns, and postulate what might come to pass this November.

A native of Queens, New York, Gil Troy is a Professor of History at McGill and a Visiting Scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

He is the author of several books, including History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s and Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady. He comments frequently about the American presidency on television and radio, and has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and USA Weekend.

Details: RSVP/Pre-Register: August 27 – October 19, 2012

Admissions: $15 (includes light refreshments and one non-alcoholic beverage)

Date/Time: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Location(s): MOITI (Boston Fish Pier),
212 Northern Avenue, East Building I, Suite 300
Boston, Massachusetts, 02210
U. S. A.
View map
RSVP/Pre-Register: August 22, 2012 to October 19, 2012
Admissions:
General $15.00 USD
Equivalent to $14.56 CAD charge per ticket.
(includes hors d’oeuvres, one non-alcoholic bev)
# of tickets
Web link: http://giltroy.com/
Contact: •  Event Registrar
Phone: 1-800-567-5175 x. 7684
Email: event.registration@mcgill.ca

•  Boston Alumni Branch
Email: boston.alumni@mcgill.ca

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Cross-border relations 

We’ve already talked about Canada’s, and particularly McGill’s, special interest in that big country to the south. But as far as recurring topics go, cross-border politics takes the cake.

This month’s campus events don’t exactly buck the trend. Two events in particular will close out the month with some serious, and star-studded, discussions about U.S.-Canada relations.

Kind of a big deal 

The first, and decidedly more glamorous, event is a two-day conference held in the swanky Hotel Omni Mont-Royal, but flying under the McGill flag. The event, entitled ‘Canada and the United States: Conversations & Relations’, seems like old hat at first glance but a quick peek at the guest list certainly suggests otherwise. Scheduled to attend the event are Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, the current Governor General of Canada David Johnston (a McGill head back in the 1990s), Quebec Premier Jean Charest, and acting Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, among a gaggle of other ambassadors, academics and career politicians. The format of the conferenace should please lecture-weary undergrads, as the organizers have opted for informal, moderator-led, conversations in lieu of the traditional podium and PowerPoint format. How many McGill students will actually be able to get in the doors is another question all-together. Registration has already been closed, and the majority of students that attend have probably been hand-picked from the department that is hosting the event, The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. In any case, the entire event will be web cast live here. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t advanced enough to have the cocktail portion of the event transmitted via the web. One day. For now, students can watch some major players in regional politics talk about the challenges of sharing the North American continent from the safety of their own room. Just don’t try to attend if you haven’t been invited, security will be tight.

Sizing up the many faces of Mr. Obama 

The other event focusing on US-Canada relations will keep the red carpet in storage and is decidedly more student-friendly. Gil Troy, McGill history professor and Queens, New York native will be hosting a lunch-time conference entilted ‘Obama at the Midterm’ on March 28th in the Leacock building’s room 232. The conference promises to be a non-partisan look at the challenges, choices and expectations facing U.S. president Barack Obama as he wades into the second half of his first term with the specter of a presidential re-election campaign looming. With American unemployment hovering near %10, U.S. led strikes launched against the Libyan regime, and a country-wide budget crisis in the news, there should be plenty to talk about. Although not quite up to snuff with the President’s, Troy’s resume is impressive, with a long list of book and article publications attached to his name. Registration for the event is required, but if you can’t make it the entire event will be streamed live for free. Either way, political junkies shouldn’t miss Troy’s talk.

Canada and the United States: Conversations and Relations

March 24th, 25th

Hotel Omni Mont-Royal (1050 Sherbrooke St. West)

REGISTRATION CLOSED

Lunch and Learn with Gil Troy: Obama at Midterm

March 28th: 12:30pm

Room 232, Leacock Building

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Lecture and Reception with Gil Troy (Toronto alumni branch)

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iCalendar General information:

Description: Assessing the Professorial President 

On Tuesday, October 19, join us for another thought-provoking McGill on the Move lecture.

As midterm elections loom in the United States, President Barack Obama faces a complex array of challenges, choices and expectations regarding the economy, the war in Iraq, and religious rights and freedoms in the U.S.

In his talk “Obama: The Professorial President in the Time of Midterms,” Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill, will assess the performance, thus far, of a president who has faced unprecedented pressures at home and abroad.

A native of Queens, New York, Gil Troy is also the visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and the author of several books, including “Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s” and “Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady.” He comments frequently about the American presidency on television and radio, and has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and USA Weekend.

We look forward to seeing you at what is sure to prove a fascinating lecture.

Date/Time: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Location(s): Badminton Racket Club,
25 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario
CANADA
RSVP/Pre-Register: September 6, 2010 to October 19, 2010
Admissions:
General $15.00 CAD
includes light hors d’oeuvres; cash bar
# of tickets 

in basket
Contact: Event Registrar
Phone: 1-800-567-5175 x 7684,
Email: event.registration@mcgill.ca

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On the Gores’ breakup, the Clintons’ survival, and the marital toll of a lost election

Presidential expert Gil Troy in conversation with Kate Fillion

by Kate Fillion, Macleans, Wednesday, June 16, 2010 10:00am

Yoray Liberman/Getty Images

A professor of history at McGill and a visiting scholar affiliated with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, Gil Troy is the author of several books on the U.S. presidency, including an examination of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as first lady and Mr. and Mrs. President, a study of presidential marriages in the modern era.

Q: Why are people shocked that Al and Tipper Gore are separating?
A: People want to believe in marriage, and the Gore marriage was part of the national furniture. Starting in the mid-1980s, with Tipper’s involvement in the movement promoting warning labels for records [with explicit and violent lyrics], the Gores set themselves up as an iconic couple representing family values—significantly, from the left. They were saying, “Republicans do not have a mono­poly on faith, flag and family.” Especially during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Gores emerged as the counter to the Clintons’ famously dysfunctional marriage, culminating in 2000 at the Democratic National Convention with the famous smooch.

Q: What do you make of that kiss?
A:
Al Gore’s line was, “I wasn’t trying to send a message to the American people, I was trying to send a message to Tipper.” But it was very much a message to the American people. Everybody was joking about how wooden he was, and the issue on the table was: is he a full-blown personality or a Gore-bot? That prolonged kiss was the easiest, most dramatic way to respond. It got people talking, and telegraphed a disdain for Bill Clinton’s behaviour while reinforcing this narrative that the Gores were the Democrats who would not embarrass you.

Q: Well, Tipper looked pretty alarmed.
A:
Here you are on national television, glaring lights, blaring music—it’s not necessarily the most romantic of settings.

Q: In this cynical age, why would people fall for such obvious political stagecraft?
A:
Canadians do this less, but all of us in modern, celebrity-oriented democracies tend to project onto our leaders some dimensions of our lives and dilemmas. In general, Americans are torn between wanting to progress and still wanting something old-fashioned. That’s how Al and Tipper Gore became the soothing background music in this cacopho­nous age: see, there are some couples and families that still work. Marriage, whether you’re getting married in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator or in front of 400 people in the most traditional Catholic ceremony, is a leap of faith. To have totems is reassuring, and the Gores set themselves up as totems.

Q: Why did they continue doing that, with the publication of Joined at the Heart, even after Tipper ruled out her own Senate run in 2002?
A:
It makes sense in modern American celebrity culture to cash in on your identity, and the central signifier of the Gores’ lives was their togetherness. It was very much a baby-boomer togetherness, not an Ozzie and Harriet we-never-fight togetherness. It was, “We’re different: he’s a bit of a stiff, and I’ve had some emotional ups and downs.” They’ve always competed with the Clintons in the popular imagination as contrasting symbols of their generation. The Gores were preaching “it’s hip to be square” while the Clintons seemed buffeted by the turbulence of the sexual revolution, which is one of the baby boomers’ signature cultural contributions. It’s the irony of ironies that the Clintons are still together while the Gores are splitting, because, of course, divorce is an iconic baby-boomer act.

Q: Why has the Clintons’ marriage endured?
A:
I think it has to do with the bar of history. When you become president, in the same way that your family is suddenly the first family and you don’t just work in an office but in the Oval Office, you become extremely aware of the fact that there’s going to be a presidential library, there’s monumentalism about the whole experience, and I think it becomes that much harder to divorce. Especially with the Clintons, where people were constantly saying, “The marriage is a sham,” there’s hesitation to give their enemies any satisfaction. Plus, there’s a bond there.

Q: It’s not just a political alliance?
A:
I was never part of that school of thought. Their commitment to Chelsea kept them together; they very rarely rolled her out as a political prop, they protected her to an extraordinary degree. And throughout all the ups and downs, Bill Clinton always made it clear Hillary was the smartest woman he’d ever met and had a kind of discipline he lacked, and she often talked about his tremendous people skills, which she lacked. They worked together, they fed off each other and built off each other. Those are parts of the recipe that make for a marriage.

Q: Why does campaigning put such a strain on a marriage?
A:
It’s a combination of the hellishness of being apart and the hellishness when you’re together. The hellishness of being apart is Betty Ford counting that when Gerald Ford was House minority leader, he was away from home 256 days in a year so she was on call 24 hours, seven days a week for their kids. Even when the couple is together, there’s a certain apartness; the drug of public adulation makes it difficult [for the candidate] to come down. It’s not a whole heck of a lot of fun being in a room where all eyes are on your spouse, you’re the prop, and your mandate is a variation of the Hippocratic oath: do no harm. And this guy that you married 25 years ago when you were just students, there are ego issues—and simply the insanity of the campaign trail, the late nights, the jumping from hotel to motel. But the White House is a surprisingly healing place for a marriage.

Q: How?
A:
The couple is finally living above the store, as they say. There’s less travel, they’re entertaining more, so she’s no longer just a prop. Also, you’re in this glamorous mansion with servants galore—there’s a fairy-tale nature to the existence. The other thing that heals presidential marriages, and probably to some extent vice-presidential ones, is that it’s hard when you’re president to get straight advice, especially if it’s critical. Even some of your closest friends clam up. Nancy Reagan reported that during the Iran-Contra scandal, she asked Robert Strauss, a Democrat and one of the wise men of Washington, to explain to her husband how serious the issue was. But as soon as Strauss sat down he got all “Mr. President” and couldn’t deliver the message. So she had to do it. Presidents love the adulation, but also understand the need to be grounded, and the spouse is often the conduit to reality. It’s a key bond.

Q: So if you go through the hell of campaigning and then lose, like Gore, you don’t get that healing opportunity?
A:
It was a devastating public blow. Al Gore was raised for the presidency, and they came so close to getting the White House.

Q: Was it crushing for her, too, after decades as the Good Wife?
A:
Absolutely. The job of first lady is alluring because you do have a certain kind of power, you can make a difference in people’s lives. You bring a lot of political capital to the table as the spouse, through the entertaining, through creating the narrative. We don’t really know what goes on even in our best friends’ marriages, so we don’t know to what extent did she blame him for the loss in 2000? Did she think he could’ve campaigned more effectively? We have no idea.

Q: Would she have grounds for blaming him?
A:
It wasn’t just that forces beyond Al Gore’s control stole the election. Al Gore lost it. Two things were going on: the press was very hard on him, and his campaign was a nightmare—poorly planned, poorly run. There were all kinds of ridiculous things that came out, like he was thinking of dressing more in brown, because it’s an earth colour. How did we even hear about that? There was competition among Gore’s campaign staff, and also a failure to lead on his part. Part of the reason he didn’t run in 2004 is that a lot of his fundraisers just wouldn’t work with him again.

Q: What is it like to have to leave your home, Washington, after a loss like that?
A:
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter wrote very powerfully about how devastating it was to be repudiated by the American people [in 1980], especially after they had such an amazing run in 1976, and to come home to Plains and think, “Now what?” There’s also the comedown, which the Gores would’ve experienced after eight years of having staff at their beck and call. It’s not just that you’re not in the White House but that all these goodies you’ve become accustomed to disappear. Harry Truman talked about coming home after his time in the White House and having to drag his own luggage, though he was the kind of person who enjoyed it. But few of us enjoy going backwards.

Q: Has any other losing candidate for the presidency reinvented himself as Gore did?
A:
No. He hit the celebrity trifecta: bestselling book, Nobel prize, Academy Award. He’s had political impact, cultural impact, international impact—which takes us back to why their separation is generating water-cooler conversations. The Gores remained in the popular mind; they didn’t fade away. But maybe, like Pat Nixon, Tipper had had enough. Once they left the White House, Pat Nixon said, “You can do what you want, but I’ve paid my dues and I’m not going to be a public woman anymore, no more speeches.”

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Gil Troy on “Take 5”

Take 5 Complete Edition 02/02/10

CIUT 89.5 FM

McGill History Professor Gil Troy on Barack Obama’s first year as POTUS…

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CTV Post-Inauguration Coverage

Barack Obama’s presidency will not only make history because of his ancestry, it also marks a generational gap in the leadership of the United States.

Will history be kind to Obama’s inaugural speech?

SHOW: CANADA AM CTV Television, Inc. 8:18:30 ET January 21, 2009

ANCHORS: BEVERLY THOMSON

GUESTS: GIL TROY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us. And we will defeat you.

[Taped segment ends]

THOMSON: President Barack Obama took a hard line against the threat of terrorist attacks. And he also signalled that the United States is tired of war and wants to leave Iraq to its own people. He also talked about Afghanistan in that speech.

For more on Obama’s inauguration, joining me now is presidential historian Gil Troy.

Great to have you on to discuss this. There are so many different measuring sticks as to the success or the impact that this speech is having or will have. What did you think of it?

TROY: I agree with most people that it wasn’t as lyrical and as soaring as people expected, as people have come to expect from Obama who’s just an extraordinary orator.

But I think the more we read the speech, rather than just thinking about it and listening to it, we see that there was a lot of substance in it. And it’s important to see that what he was trying to do — he was the one person in that sea of 2 million people who was saying: Whoa, slow down. I’m not the Messiah.

And I think that was important. But he also was showing the way that he’s going to govern. He’s going to not be someone who’s just going to be a mindless 1960s liberal. He’s going to bring back government but with thoughts. And he wanted to say also “I am not a wimp” — which was the message in that opening quotation you used.

THOMSON: You know, he also talked about a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus. And he spoke about everybody needing to come together. And that was one of the points within this speech that the crowd just erupted in applause.

Have you ever seen — certainly there may have been more, you know, out-of-the-park speeches that you’ve seen in your time. But have you ever seen a reaction like that where a crowd that big, so many reduced to tears out of hope and faith?

TROY: You’re absolutely right, the crowd was the star of the day. Or a co-star with Obama and his family.

There were 2 million people there. And it was cold. And it was crowded. And it was really unpleasant. But there was something so magical about it that people didn’t grouch, they didn’t grumble, they were just so excited to be a part of it.

There have never been so many people at an inauguration. And I think it showed that the very essence of Obama, the very fact that he was becoming president — and not just because he’s the first African-American, I think that in some ways has almost been overplayed — but also because after eight years of Bush, because he’s young, because he’s charismatic, because the nation is facing such serious challenges, all these things came together and created this remarkable, magical moment.

And the hope is that he can actually now turn that magic into serious governance.

THOMSON: Well, certainly a lot of chatter about the first 100 days. What will you be watching for?

TROY: I think two things: how he plays the symbols and then turns it into substance. And most important, of course, he’s got to get a grip on the nation’s economic trouble. It was very sobering that the stock market dropped yesterday. It also dropped after his election. And I think he’s watching that. He knows that the bankers are worried, that the finance people are worried.

And in general there’s always a problem with the Democrats — they sometimes don’t have the same credibility with Wall Street. Although Bill Clinton was able to get that kind of credibility. So, it’s very important that he show that he’s going to be someone who’s effective with Wall Street as well as with Main Street.

THOMSON: How tough is it going to be for him to meet these extremely high expectations?

TROY: Extremely tough. And I think he knows that. He knows, you know, “hope” is this balloon that gets inflated and inflated. And on the one hand it can elevate us. But it can also be easily overinflated and pop.

And we forget how much hope there was surrounding that Man from Hope, Bill Clinton. We forget how much hope there was surrounding that first Southerner elected since Reconstruction, Jimmy Carter. And both of them ended up with much more complicated presidencies.

So, Obama is smart. He knows his history. He keeps on invoking Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt because they were people who came in in some ways with low expectations and were able to soar. And I think he’d rather have that dynamic than the dynamic of yet another Democrat who comes in with incredibly high expectations and leaves people sort of disappointed and a little bit with a hangover.

THOMSON: Gil Troy, always great to talk to you about this. Thank you so much.

TROY: Thank you.

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The Globe & Mail, 12-16-09

Gil Troy on leadership

Talking Management: Gil Troy

Globe and Mail UpdateTuesday, December 16, 2008 at 11:14 EST

Karl Moore spoke to Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, about what CEOs can learn from U.S. presidents.

KARL MOORE: Good morning, Gil.

GIL TROY: Good morning.

KARL MOORE: So, you’ve written a lot about presidential leadership – very interesting material. Does that apply, in your opinion, to the business leaders as well?

GIL TROY: I think the argument that the best presidents were moderates that the best leadership comes from the centre is not just limited to the White House. And, I think that CEO’s and leaders of organizations can learn a lot from both the great presidents who understood they had to build to the Centre, and the presidents who failed by playing to one extreme or another.

KARL MOORE: What do you mean build to the Centre? Maybe, you could just tell us what you mean by that.

GIL TROY: So, what I talk about in the book, is the need for a president to understand, that in order to be effective in a democracy, he has to find that golden mean. He has to be balancing. So we look at someone like George Washington. George Washington, we could call the case study of the squabbling subordinates. He had Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, two brilliant men, who were at loggerheads. And, Washington understood that if he appeared to be favouring one over the other, then he would have even more chaos in the administration.

At the same time, he was a man of principle, I’m looking for moderates; but, I’m looking for muscular moderates. And, what we see Washington doing is playing the two off each other, understanding that he has to learn from both, that he has to give each victories enough, so that each of them stay within the organization. And, reminding them constantly, and reminding the people around them, that we’re Americans. We have to keep our vision of the community together.

And, so for a CEO to learn from George Washington, and read this case study, you learn about how to handle tension. You learn about how to channel tension. And, you learn how to remind your organization about the bigger picture, about the goals of the organization.

When you look at someone like Abraham Lincoln; and, you can say there we have the case of the squabbling states. And, I also think about Abraham Lincoln as a muscular moderate; because he had a – you think North/South – but we tend to forget that one of the tensions he had was, he had a Northern Coalition of States that was under extreme stress.

The Border States were slave-holding states; but they stayed with the Union. What Abraham Lincoln has to do, is he has to, while having the ultimate goal of eliminating slavery; he has to keep the real focus on keeping the Union together; because he understands that if he rushes ahead, and tries to eliminate slavery too quickly, he’ll lose the Border States, he’ll lose the war. So, a CEO would learn from Abraham Lincoln that part of building for the centre is having a vision; but, knowing that you sometimes have to go in baby steps, you have to go gradually, you have to keep your eye on what’s realistic, while also keeping a broader form of vision.

KARL MOORE: How about some of the modern presidents? What are some of the lessons we might get from a Reagan, a Clinton, or a Bush – ones that we’re more familiar with?

GIL TROY: Well, when you look at someone like Bill Clinton, there are, I think, two lessons, that CEOs can learn. First of all, whereas George Washington has these squabbling subordinates, is able to channel them; one of the problems with Bill Clinton was that he had a little bit too much of the university professor in him, and, enjoyed the chaos of many different voices – which sometimes can be very good; because one of the problems that we see in presidencies is, and also we see in corporate board rooms is that insulation.

But, with Clinton, he let it get out of control, partially because of his own lack of discipline, and we had too many voices coming from the administration. It created a lot of haze. It created a lot of chaos. The other thing with Clinton was that he was so committed to being a centrist, is that he ended being a spinal centrist, as opposed to a muscular moderate – that he sometimes forgot his “ideals”. For example, at the beginning of his first term he talks about health care, and he goes 60 per cent towards achieving his goal; but, he ultimately fails; because when push comes to shove, he doesn’t really make it the core principle of his administration. And, he’s too concerned with popularity, he doesn’t push through, and he ends up as a president who had more potential to succeed than actual success.

Then, we look at someone like George W. Bush, known often as the first CEO president, I think there are some negative lessons to learn, that Bush often says that “the devil may care about what’s going on”, “you have to keep your eye on the prize. You have to keep ahead, forging ahead towards the goal.” And, I think what Bush teaches us is that, yes, it’s important to have a goal; but you also must remember that you have people who are following you, an organization of a thousand, or an organization of 100,000.

Equally, you have to make sure that people are buying in to your goals, and if you rush too far ahead you fail. You will learn this really from Franklin Roosevelt, if I can just go back to the 1930s. Roosevelt understood that if he was five giant steps ahead of his people, he would fail. He understood if he was half a step behind, his people, meaning both his subordinates and the American people, he would fail. A good leader is half a step – three-quarters of a step ahead. And, we look at the excruciating dance that Franklin Roosevelt had to dance during the fight over whether or not the United States should enter World War II.

He was always just ahead enough, so that he could push the American people where they needed to be, not so much that he was following, and not so much that he was rushing too far ahead, as George W. Bush did with Iraq.

KARL MOORE: So, it’s interesting, because when you look at change – and CEOs are often about leadership about transferring, about changing – part of the issue is creating a sense of urgency, and a sense that we must change, as opposed if you change you’re going to screw up a successful organization. So, there’s a real tension there. And, you’re suggestion there, looking at Roosevelt, is that don’t get too far out, but get people to buy into what you’re seeing, what your vision is.

GIL TROY: The great presidents were grounded – Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt.

And I take them, because you can learn from the left and from the right. They had a sense of a vision. They had a sense of wanting to change; but, they also knew that human beings, to a certain extent, are conservative. And, you have to give them enough comfort to be able to change. And, so you have to push, but not push too hard. You push too hard, you miss the boat. And, it’s very much a tension; but I think the CEO can learn from reading about Roosevelt, learn from reading about Reagan – that you have to be going forward. You have to be moving somewhere; but, you also have to be remembering to get buy-in.

KARL MOORE: So, it’s interesting, when you think about, you understanding moderates from the point of view of the Republicans, you have the Democrats. Reagan was fighting and trying to lead through. In the world of a CEO, what do you have to compromise about? What’s the equivalent in the world of a CEO?

GIL TROY: Moderates get no respect. We’re told we’re boring. We’re told that we’re wimps. We’re told we’re mush balls. And, one of the things I’m trying to push, with this notion of muscular moderation, is that the moderate is in some ways, someone who’s sensitive to his or her surroundings; someone who understands the dynamics, but also knows that part of their job is to lead. So, I think what works with a CEO is, a CEO like a president has constituencies. And, a CEO, like a president, has to say who’s buying in, and who’s – what’s the tension, what’s the back and forth, between me and my people, me and my board, me and my management team, me and my workers. And, you know, people love to complain these days about the high salaries of CEOs. That’s a good example of a distancing perhaps, between the CEO, and the rank and file. And, what we learn from applying some of the lessons of democratic politics to the corporate board room is that democracy doesn’t necessarily just mean sharing power and opening up to the people; but, it means keeping rooted in the community discourse – keeping rooted in the norms of the community, while also being the engine for change.

KARL MOORE: So, it’s the idea of a stakeholder. Rather than the shareholder being the only one, that may be perhaps the political party. As a stakeholder model, saying there are employees; there are communities where your base might worry about the environment. There’s the government, as well as your shareholder, as well as perhaps your banker. So, there’s a bunch of groups you have to work with, and understand their concerns. And, somehow please all of them to some degree.

GIL TROY: I have to say, I thought I was writing a book about moderation, and I ended up writing a book about nationalism; because, to be a great moderate president, you have to be a great patriot. You have to be a great nationalist. I think it applies to this example of CEO; because, you have to understand you are a community leader. And, I think if we spent more time thinking about businesses as communities, as functioning communities, and we ask the same question – you know, Al Gore has this now, worrying about our carbon footprint. If you ask as a leader, “What’s the toxic footprint that I leave?” I want to minimize that. I want to make sure that I’m not leaving bad feelings. I’m not rankling people too much. Again, without being a total mush, without forgetting core principals. But, if you think about your role as being a constructive community leader, a constructive agent of change, I think it can lead to successes in the board room and beyond.

KARL MOORE: So, part of it is, you want to create a sense of pride. So, I’m an American, I’m a Canadian, I’m an IBM-er, I’m a Microsoft person – that there’s a sense of real engagement, of something bigger that we’re proud of, and we’re leaving a legacy, whatever part of the company we are.

GIL TROY: If you read these presidential case studies, especially, if you focus on the modern world, the modern presidency, one of the things you see, is that so much of modern leadership is what Theodore Roosevelt called the bully pulpit – setting a tone, symbolic leadership. We have a tendency sometimes to say, “Well, if it’s all symbol, it’s empty.” That’s true. But, if there’s no symbol, you’re also in trouble. And, a leader has to set a tone.

A leader has to understand that part of the job; part of the mandate is leading people together. You know, you think of an organization that has 100,000 people. The challenges of leading a 100,000 person organization are the same as leading a country of 300 million. You can’t speak to each one. You can’t create a personal relationship. So, what do you do? You set certain goals. You set certain standards; but, you also set a tone. And, you start a communal conversation, and a communal sense of going forward.

KARL MOORE: So, it seems some ways, I think, big companies are moving to, perhaps the pre-millennial generation particularly, where you’ve got to have multiple voices heard – whereas, it used to be more a meta-narrative – here’s the story and follow it. And, young people are not going to buy into it as much. But, in some sense, it means we’re becoming more like a democracy – that you hear the voices of these many constituents; but, we accept the CEO, the leader, the president’s got to make a decision that will please everyone. But, you’ve got to listen to the voices along the way.

GIL TROY: And, I think, again, you can learn from the democratic model, because here you have a situation where you’re leading 300 million people in the United States with very strong opinions, with a great gift of freedom. We don’t want to minimize how great that gift is. And, so you have to be able to push ahead while also hearing multiple voices.

And, certainly working with students, I see that this generation wants to be able to have their voice, have their stake. They feel a connection by being able to make their mark. But, the job of the CEO, even while allowing this chorus, these many choruses to come together, is to make sure there’s harmony. And, when I mean harmony, I don’t mean a lack of conflict. I mean being able to kind of have a harmonic convergence – where you have people coming together, and ultimately understanding that they have to sing from the same song book.

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