Former New York City mayor and Time magazine's 2001 "Man of the Year" Rudolph Giuliani took the stage of a fully packed Alumni Arena on Wednesday evening, giving an inspirational speech centering on six ways to be a successful leader.
After brief introductions by Student Association President Christian Oliver and UB President William R. Greiner, Giuliani thanked the audience for coming, imitating the voice of Marlon Brando from "The Godfather."
The imitation is "an uncontrollable urge that takes over me," Giuliani joked. "It comes from listening to men talk that way for 4,000 hours as a United States Attorney."
The former mayor segued into his speech by describing the process in which he began writing his book, "Leadership." He said during his recovery from prostate cancer, he wanted to write about the principles that drove him to success throughout his political climb.
He said 80 percent of the book was written before Sept. 11, but many of the lessons learned before the attacks applied to how he handled the event.
"Life doesn't go by without crisis," Giuliani said. "You need to assume that in your life, you're going to have to face difficult, challenging things that are going to happen to you because that's what life is. It challenges you."
Giuliani paced the stage casually as he outlined his six leadership lessons, which he said could be applied to life as well as work. His first lesson was that one must have "a set of beliefs."
"You have to know what you believe, and you have to keep asking yourself that and developing it that throughout your life," he said.
Giuliani used former president Ronald Reagan as an example of a person with strong beliefs. According to Giuliani, Reagan was never "reinvented" or "re-contorted."
"(Reagan) always knew what he stood for," Giuliani said. "You weren't in a state of confusion about what he believed. He wasn't afraid to tell you what he believed because it might be unpopular, so you were getting Ronald Reagan, you weren't getting a reflection of yourself."
He said another person who possessed firm beliefs and principles was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose non-violent protest methods forced the country to self-reflection. According to Giuliani, the result was "embarrassing and shocking," and King was able to change people's thinking in America.
"By using non-violence, you could hold up a mirror to the people of this country, have them realize the contradiction between what they said they believed and what they did," he said.
About Sept. 11, Giuliani said the terrorists intended to kill "large numbers of people" and break the spirit of Americans, who they believed were "weak and pampered." However, Giuliani said, the "the strength of what people who live in freedom believe is so strong, that they can absorb a horrific attack like that, stand up and not retreat."
He said the second trait that a good leader should possess is courage, which Giuliani said is not the absence fear, but "overcoming fear in order to do what you have to do."
When someone in the city did something heroic, Giuliani would invite him or her to a press conference at City Hall. He recalled the time he invited a policeman who had jumped into the East River to save a person's life. When Giuliani brought him to the press conference, he was shocked to learn the policeman was afraid of talking to reporters.
"My first conclusion was the New York press corps is more dangerous than the East River," he said, laughing.
Giuliani said he later realized that the policeman was trained to help people, not participate in press conferences, and it was his training and preparation that provided him with the necessary tools to manage his fear and have courage.
Relating the experience to his own life, Giuliani described the fear he experienced when diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"I started to think to myself that I was a very lucky man," Giuliani said. "I was fortunate because I was given a warning about something that would kill me and therefore have an opportunity to do something about it."
According to Giuliani, no leader can achieve success without the third lesson - optimism - because no one would follow someone who did not offer the possibility of something better.
"Suppose I stood here and said, 'Things are bad. Things are going to get worse. Things are going to get much worse. Come on, follow me.' You would say, 'I'm going to follow the guy who gives me hope.'"
Giuliani said optimism does not mean "foolishness" or not having a grasp on reality, but rather being able to solve problems.
"Two people can look at a set of problems, and one of them can just look at all the problems and throw up their hands and say, 'It can't be solved,'" Giuliani said. "Another person can look at it and think, 'No matter how bad this is, let's see if we can find a way to get out of it.'"
When trying to remain optimistic during the Sept. 11 attacks, Giuliani said he thought of Winston Churchill, who was prime minister of England during the continuous bombings in World War II.
"Winston Churchill helped (England) get through it," Giuliani said. "He helped them get through it by presenting hope, the defiance that people who live in freedom can overcome anything."
Unlike Reagan and King, who were both optimists by nature, Giuliani said Churchill was a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression during a time when treatment was limited and psychiatric medication - with the exception of brandy and cigars - was unavailable.
"(Churchill) had to overcome this obstacle because he understood what was resting on his shoulders and that you have to find solutions to problems even if emotionally, you have to struggle with yourself to do it," he said.
After Giuliani graduated from New York University Law School, he worked for a federal judge named Lloyd McMann, who advised him to prepare four hours for each hour in court. Thus, Giuliani's fourth lesson was that a good leader should prepare enough to be prepared for the unexpected.
This lesson stayed with Giuliani when he became mayor of New York City. He had prepared the city to deal with various types of bombings and biological warfare, but when the terrorists struck on Sept. 11, he "never thought of anyone crashing into a building with a plane."
"I realized Judge McMann was right," Giuliani said. "Although we hadn't anticipated the way in which (the terrorists would attack), by preparing for everything else, we were better prepared than I had realized."
Part of that preparation was Giuliani's fifth tenet of leadership: teamwork.
"Here's a lesson to remember: If you are in charge of something, that's the time to say to yourself, 'humility, humility, humility. What are my weaknesses?'"
When he was elected mayor, Giuliani said the city was averaging 2,000 murders per year and was named "the Rotting Apple" by Time magazine. The economy was also "in a bad cycle," he said, and the city budget was "out of control."
As someone who spent most of his career dealing with the law, Giuliani knew how to handle the crime problem, but said he was uncertain how he would approach the city's economic crisis.
"I had to hire people who had more expertise with taxes, the economy, managing the budget, and I had to defer to them more," he said.
In the anthrax outbreaks that followed Sept. 11, Giuliani panicked because he thought all the anthrax antidotes were in the World Trade Center. However, his commissioner of emergency management informed the mayor that he did not keep all of the antidotes in one place - rather, they were spread throughout different areas of the city.
"When people ask me, 'How did you do it?' I would say, 'I rested on the shoulders of giants.'"
Finally, Giuliani addressed the last and most important element of leadership: communication.
According to Giuliani, "the best and most effective method of communication is just talking to people," and good communication manifests itself in different ways.
Giuliani recalled President George W. Bush's visit to Ground Zero on Sept. 14. He said the site was unsteady, and the secret service was angry that the president was spending so much time in a dangerous area. Nonetheless, Bush spent a lot of time talking to the people working at Ground Zero.
"The people who were there understood exactly what he was doing," Giuliani said. "He was showing, as their leader, he was going to be there with them, he wasn't going to be afraid, he was going to share this with them, and really gave them morale and strength for a really, really long time."
Giuliani said at one point, Bush was speaking to a large, muscular construction worker, and he said something so moving to the worker that the worker hugged the president, and it seemed as if Bush "disappeared in his arms."
A secret service agent who Giuliani knew from his days as a U.S. attorney turned to Giuliani and said, "If the president gets killed, you're finished!"
During the question-and-answer session, which was moderated by Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black, Giuliani was asked how he felt about the balance of power in the United States, given that election margins were so narrow and the Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches.
In terms of domestic policy, Giuliani said it is not healthy for a democracy to have a "monolithic viewpoint." On the other hand, Americans should have a unified front when issues arise relating to international affairs.
"What is not healthy is when you can't get bipartisan cooperation in order to get things done that need to get done - when you have too much obstructionism and no willingness to compromise," he said.
Another question addressed the relationship with the press during his term and referenced to an article in The New York Times that commented on the relatively few press conferences held by Bush, whereas Giuliani was known to have almost daily press conferences.
According to Giuliani, the role of the mayor is different from the role of the president in that the mayor deals with local issues that affect people's day-to-day lives, and other presidents, not just Bush, went for weeks or months without holding press conferences.
As for the press, Giuliani said they tend to pursue issues "much longer than they should be pursued" and in the case of a scandal, innocent people may get "wrapped up" in the process. However, he commended the press for taking an active role during Sept. 11 by risking themselves to cover the stories and bring information to the public.
The press is no different from any other institution," he said. "It has some really good people, really courageous people, and it has some really bad people, because they're human."
One student asked, in light of the first World Trade Center bombing, if something could have been done to prevent Sept. 11 from happening in the first place. Giuliani said it was not right to pass blame on anyone for the tragic events and that it was entirely unexpected.
"The reality is, it's very hard now to play Monday-morning quarterback about something that no one anticipated ... therefore, things that appear to be signals now, were not signals then," he said. "We have the benefit - or the horror - of having lived through it, but the day it happened ... it was unimaginable."
Lindsay Krawszwk, a 19-year-old Niagara County Community College student, said she enjoyed Giuliani's lecture.
"I think (the speech) taught a lot of valuable lessons you can apply to every day life, and people who are leaders can apply it to the people they're leading," said Krawszwk.
Jill Markward, a senior communication major at UB, agreed.
"I thought the question and answer (session) was good, he handled it well," Markward said. "He was funny, he's a got a good sense of humor. He had a good sense of Buffalo and the people in the community."