A tale of two presidents

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton hit the stage at GBTA convention

September 15, 2012
by By Michael Power

It was a conference with a decidedly presidential tone as two former US presidents took to the stage for keynote addresses. On July 24, Ge

Bill Clinton

orge W. Bush spoke about leadership, his time in office and the decision-making behind some of the challenging during his presidency. Bush then sat for an interview with Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO to discuss global events, the economy and his memoir, Decision Points.

“When you get into the Oval Office you’d better be ready to make decisions,” said Bush. “To run a company or an organization, you need to have a vision and principles. State them clearly and honor them.”

Life includes risk and involves adverse events, he said. For example, running for office is risky. “You can lose and they say what a pathetic candidate,” Bush said. “You can also win and they say what a pathetic president.”

While the presidency was an enormous challenge, some aspects of the role were clear advantages. “It’s a pain to have to stop at a red light and taking airplanes is a little tougher,” he quipped. “But I miss being the commander-in-chief.”

The next day, Bill Clinton took the stage as the convention’s final keynote speaker, speaking about the political and economic landscape, the William J. Clinton Foundation.

George W. Bush

Clinton expressed optimism for the economy’s future, noting that while interdependence is today’s watchword.

There’s still a need the need to exchange ideas and meet face-to-face to spur innovation, he said.

“We live in the most interdependent period and we have to ask ourselves how we can become more competitive,” he said. “What works in the modern world is cooperation and networking. Debates are healthy but it can’t be seen as a weakness to cooperate.”