Secretary Robert Gates gave a nice, informative interview this evening at the LBJ Presidential Library on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin to promote his latest book A Passion for Leadership.


Secretary Gates has served under Presidents  Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama. Some lines of his that caught my ear tonight:


“God help us from the man or woman in a leadership position who thinks they’re the smartest person in the room.”


Presidents who had zero sense of humor: “Nixon and Carter.”


Whether in business or the military: “Those on the front line know best what’s not working.”


After 50 years of service to the government, “I am amazed I survived…. [because] at some point, experience becomes a liability.”


“We need more people [who have come up into leadership positions but] who know where they are from [i.e. “the sticks,” “the boonies”] and are willing to go back there [and relate and affect the people they left behind].”


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