Tag Archives: Influence

Happiness and the Greater Good: The Power of Giving Back

Marty Russo speaks with radio host Lisa Cypers Kamen about serving the greater good and giving back through action and influence.

Today I joined Lisa Cypers Kamen on her Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio show once again for a half hour discussion. Last time, we talked about how our founders saw happiness. Today we focused on how the State of the Union is about reflecting on progress, setting goals, and trying to bring together a diverse group of people to achieve joint success.

Listen to, “Happiness and the Greater Good: The Power of Giving Back” below to hear about:

  • The State of the Union’s history and evolution into what it is today
  • Reflecting upon a personal State of the Union to take stock of ourselves for the year
  • How to lay out a blueprint for yearly goals and come up with an action plan to accomplish these goals

The Declaration of Independence and The Pursuit of Happiness

The Declaration of Independence and the pursuit of happiness are a good combination to celebrate on this Fourth of July holiday.

Former Congressman Marty Russo joins Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio to discuss.

It was fun to join Lisa Cypers Kamen on her Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio show for a half hour discussion of how our founders saw happiness.  I met Lisa in Scottsdale, AZ when she moderated interviews at the American Sleep and Breathing Academy conference.

Check out the podcast here or on iTunes.

Original Declaration of Independence

Original Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is considered the most influential document in American history.  If you are ever in Washington DC it’s worth a trip to the National Archives to see it in person.

The second sentence in the Declaration reads:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  This idea was based on the ideas of English philosopher John Locke who wrote that people have a “natural right to life, liberty and property.”

However, in the initial draft Thomas Jefferson changed “property” to “pursuit of happiness.” Although Jefferson’s first draft was highly edited,  the phrase “pursuit of happiness” stayed in the final version.  So it must have been important.

What is the pursuit of happiness?



What’s interesting is that in 1776 happiness was defined differently than today.  The minds of the great political thinkers of the 18th century tied the concept of happiness to civic responsibility.  In the context of the Declaration, happiness was more about an individual’s contribution to society rather than pursuits of self-gratification.   Our country was founded on the concept of liberty and freedom and the responsibility to contribute to society.  In fact, the purpose of the Constitution is to provide the framework of government to protect our right to pursue happiness.

The Fourth of July is a good reminder to us all that the Declaration of Independence is about pursuing the kind of happiness that comes from making our country and the world a better place.  That’s showing true leadership.

Whatever you are interested in, find a way to get involved and have your voice heard.   My observation over the years is that people who get involved in civic interests and helping other in the community are happier.   There’s a number of ways you can get involved –here’s a few:

  • Work with neighbors on a community issue.
  • Go to a public meeting on an issue that’s important to you
  • Volunteer to help other in need
  • Register voters
  • Volunteer for a campaign for someone who is running for public office
  • Find an organization that is active on issues that are important to you and volunteer your time and money

The Fourth of July is a good time to get re-energized on making the world a better place.


Speaking At The Sleep and Wellness Conference

The American Sleep and Breathing Academy held its Sleep and Wellness Conference 2014 in Scottsdale AZ.

My topic was “An Insider’s Guide to Influence In Washington.”

Sleep and Wellness ConferenceThis annual conference for health care professionals focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to sleep medicine.   I especially noted Member Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board who spoke about how important it is to examine issues of operator fatigue when investigating transportation accidents.

Below are some conference photos and slides from the “Prezi” that accompanied my speech.   I enjoyed sharing insider tips on how Washington works and how lobbyists are effective.  It was fun to look at a tourist map of Washington and explain how a lobbyist views sites like The White House and the United States Capitol.

The best question from the audience asked, “How can a David can be heard in a world of  Goliath lobbyists?”   That question cut to the core of my message to audience  — you need to get involved, you can make a difference.   It can often seem as though a big lobbying operation has the money and resources to always shut out smaller interests.  But my experience is that Members of Congress in particular care more about what their constituents think.

A group with an issue like “sleep disorders” can get their message across by picking specific issues to work on and combining efforts. These efforts should be directed toward their own Members.  As we discussed, it’s important for the sleep community to establish relationships with Congress and let it be known that they want to be part of the solution.  The best way is to become a source of expertise so that when sleep issues come up, the Members already know and trust this expertise.  It was especially rewarding after the speech to hear a dental professional discuss how the sleep community might get involved to make a difference.

Sleep and Wellness

ASBA Sleep and Wellness Conference 2014, May 1-3 Scottsdale, AZ

Marty Russo and Roy Green
Marty Russo and Roy Green
Dr. Richard Klein, Marty Russo, Dr. Elliott Alpher
Dr. Richard Klein, Marty Russo, Dr. Elliott Alpher
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide

Political Speaking With Close Up Teachers

Former Congressman Marty Russo Speaks About US Politics and Government

I’m sure you have all heard of the Close Up program which brings students from all over the US to Washington to learn about our government.  On April 7 I did a little political speaking to a large room of teachers who had accompanied students from a number of states.  We talked about the keys to influence and I told them some stories about Presidents I sPresident Dwight Eisenhower Quoteerved under when I was in Congress.

A major point of discussion is that the American Federal Republic is designed to work through influence, not power.  It is a major misconception among many people that Washington DC is mainly a place for power people who tell others what to do.

The truth is that in our government, there are many checks and balances built into the system so that no one group is too powerful.  The founders of our country did not want to return to the unilateral power of the King, so they put a number of competing interests in play throughout the government.  So getting something done among all these competing interests requires influence much more than power.

I like to share a great quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, because he wants to do it.

Here’s a few more of the Prezi slides from that presentation:

CloseUp April 7


Lectures on Politics at Loyola Marymount University

Former Congressman Marty Russo lectures on politics, the Congress and the Presidents he served under.

It was a pleasure to visit the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and talk with the students about politics, lobbying and how to make a difference in Washington.  We discussed the nature of leadership and influence and how our Democracy is designed to work through influence, not power.

Prezi on Leadership and Influence

Our Prezi on Leadership and Influence

It was fun to use a “Prezi” to take the class through the discussion that started with LMU, zoomed over to the Congress, made a side visit to the Jefferson Memorial, zoomed to The White House and then ended back at LMU.

In the Prezi slides at the Congress we talked about how many people have a misconception that our legislature works based on power — my view is that Congress works based on having influence.  The Jefferson Memorial slides offered a great place to talk about the founding of our country and the Declaration of Independence.  In the US we have a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  It is part of our 1st Amendment freedoms  That is the definition of what a lobbyist does.

Leadership and Public Service Award

Leadership and Public Service Award from some great LMU student leaders

The White House Prezi slides gave a good backdrop to stories about the four Presidents in office while I served in Congress.

As a product of the Jesuit educational system, I especially enjoyed ending with slides back at LMU with a discussion of “Servant Leadership.”  To be both a servant and a leader at the same time is the paradox at the basis of Jesuit education.

It was an honor to be presented with the “Leadership and Public Service Award.”