Former New York City Mayor, and Republican presidential candidate, Rudolph Guiliani spoke to a near capacity crowd at the O. Wayne Rollins Center Tuesday on the campus of the University of the Cumberlands.
It was a nearly packed house in the O. Wayne Rollins Center Tuesday evening as former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani spoke about "Principled Leadership in a Time of Crisis."
"The principals of leadership are also the same principals that get you through difficulties in life," he told the crowd of students, faculty, community members and first responders, who were on hand for the event.
"The same principals that you use to take an organization and build morale, those are the same principals you use to get yourself through difficult times that all of us have.
"In order to be a leader, you have to have a strong set of beliefs. You have to know what you believe. If you run a business, you have to have goals for that business. If you run an agency, you have to have goals for that agency. If you run a city, you have to have ideas because ideas inspire people."
Giuliani served as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, during which time he worked to reduce crime and make improvements to the city’s welfare system.
He was completing his final months as mayor when terrorists crashed planes into both towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. In 2001, Giuliani was named Time magazine’s "Person of the Year" for his steady leadership in the aftermath of 9/11.
Giuliani noted that the most successful people believe in what they are doing, whether it is a government job, business or coaching.
"The first thing you have to do if you want to be a leader is to figure out what you believe," Giuliani told the crowd.
People tend to follow someone, who is offering solutions to their problems, and, as such, effective leaders have to be problem solvers.
The power of optimism is also key if you want to be a leader, he said.
Giuliani recalled one day 11 years ago when he was sitting in his office, and his doctor called telling him that he had a positive test for cancer.
He hung up the phone, and it didn’t register to him until the next morning.
As mayor, Giuliani said the first thing he did in the morning was read to the two New York tabloid newspapers, which each carried the headline, "Mayor has cancer."
"Now I knew I had cancer," he joked.
Giuliani admits that he started feeling sorry for himself for a few days. After all, cancer is the disease that killed his father.
Then he realized that he was fortunate enough to have gotten a warning, which is something most people don’t get. He slowed down, looked at his options, and developed a sense of optimism.
"The power of optimism is overwhelming, if you want to be a leader," he added.
Leaders also must possess courage, which doesn’t mean the absence of fear.
Any firefighter that has run into a burning building faced fear, he said.
You should be afraid because fear is an enormously valuable emotion if you let it motivate you to work harder to reduce risk.
The key is preparation, which is why soldiers train extensively before they go into battle.
When he was first starting as a young attorney, Giuliani noted that an old judge gave him the advice to have four hours of preparation for every hour that he was going to be in court so he would be prepared for anything.
He said that naturally, things in life are going to happen which you didn’t prepare for. The unanticipated always happens at some point, but if you have prepared properly, you’ll know how to handle it.
9-11 was a good example of this.
Police, firefighters and first responders of all types had prepared for every emergency situation that they could think of, but they never anticipated someone using a plane to attack a building.
On the morning of the attack, Giuliani rushed to the command center after learning about the attack.
"I said, we will just have to do the best we can," Giuliani told his department heads.
While they didn’t have a plan to deal with terrorists striking a building with an airplane, they had plans in place for building collapses, and plans in place to deal with blackouts and other disasters, which they drew upon in their time of need.
"The better prepared you are for a natural disaster, the better prepared you are going to be for a terrorist attack, and vice versa," Giuliani said stressing relentless preparation. "In order to be a leader, you have to be able to explain to people what you want."
The annual lecture series is made possible by an endowment from local business owners Dr. Terry and Marion Forcht, who founded the Forcht Group of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Leadership in 2006. The purpose of the Center is to provide programs and activities that enhance the development of leadership, character and good citizenship.
Past speakers in the series have included Roy Moore, Zell Miller, Stephen Covey, Ben Stein, Karl Rove and Mike Huckabee.
During Tuesday’s program, University of the Cumberlands President Dr. James Taylor and Giuliani handed out leadership awards to several people, including: Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird, Sheriff Colan Harrell, Williamsburg Fire Chief James Privett, Whitley County EMS Director Kelly Harrison, and 911 Terminal Agency Coordinator Jessica Taylor.