Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani mixed humor with wisdom Wednesday night as he spoke to a packed house about leadership.
Giuliani was welcomed by a standing ovation the minute he took the stage at Georgia Southern University’s Hanner Fieldhouse.
After a few opening jokes, he began speaking about leadership and its importance in life.
“I have a very strong belief that leadership is taught, not inherited,” he said. “Leaders aren’t born, they’re made.”
In discussing several principles of leadership, Giuliani emphasized “You have to have strong beliefs. You can’t lead a business unless you have goals for that business.”
He spoke about the influence of president Ronald Reagan, for whom he worked when Reagan appointed him Associate Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Reagan “exemplified leadership,” he said. “He had a very strong set of beliefs and ideals.”
Goals are very important to succeed, he said. “People operate the best when they have goals.”
He talked about taking the lead when elected mayor of New York City, and how he reduced crime and welfare dependence by more than half. He said having a goal – meaning “We wanted a Times Square that was family-friendly.” Setting goals made him a successful mayor, he said.
Optimism is also very important to success, he said. “To be a leader, you have to be an optimist. But being an optimist doesn’t mean being a fool.”
Having a realistic approach is also important. “Train yourself from a very early age to be a problem solver.”
Optimism often influences reality, according to Giuliani. “If you can see it through rose-colored glasses, you can make it that way.”
Courage is another attribute to being a leader. “You have to have courage – you have to be brave,” he said, explaining that bravery does not mean lack of fear. “If you don’t feel fear, you aren’t human.”
Failure is also a good thing when it comes to leadership, he said. “Failure is a wonderful thing to happen. It is the best learning opportunity there is. Don’t let the risk of failure stop you from reaching.”
Prior to his speech at Hanner Fieldhouse, Giuliani met with members of the media for a press conference, and said he enjoyed speaking to college-age citizens “more than anything else.”
When he speaks to a younger crowd, “I come away enthusiastic at what a good future we’re going to have,” he said. “It’s always an uplifting experience.”
He answered a question about student debt forgiveness, saying he is against the idea. “If you borrow money, you have to pay it back,” he said.
He predicted “more harmony” next year after the presidential election, adding that he feels Mitt Romney, if nominated, can beat President Barack Obama because people “don’t want four more years of Obama.”
The upcoming election will be a “verdict” on how people feel about the current president.
“Obama promised hope and change,” he said. “There has been change, and it has been all for the worse.”
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.