Tag Archives: Leadership

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

Australian American Leadership Dialogue Gala Dinner

Former Congressman Marty Russo emcees the Gala Dinner for the American-Australian Leadership Dialogue.

American-Australian Leadership Dialogue Gala Dinner

American-Australian Leadership Dialogue Gala Dinner

One of my favorite Board memberships is to serve alongside some very talented colleagues on the American Australian Leadership Education Foundation.  This July, we held the bi-annual Leadership Dialogue here in Washington D.C. with an impressive array of meetings and events that brought together the best and brightest from Australia and America.

Some of the highlights included a welcome reception at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building and a series of substantive dialogue sessions on an array of important issues such as energy, education, defense, economic and trade.  It was particularly meaningful to join Robert “Bob” Walker and Robert “Bud” Cramer  — our two Board Members who are Former Members of Congress — on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to speak to a group of young leaders.  I think between Bob, Bud and I that we had all points of the compass covered in terms of political beliefs.  We spoke in turn about how political leaders can work together for the common good.

Emcee for American-Australian Leadership Dialogue Gala

Emcee for American-Australian Leadership Dialogue Gala

The feedback from these young Australian and American leaders was interesting.  They had many questions about “how” we were able to work together to get so much done for the country despite our differences.  They also questioned why today’s political leaders can’t do the same.  I wish I knew the answer!

Our big crowning glory to cap these three days of intense dialogue was to have a gala of 300+ attendees at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Wow, that was a beautiful setting to celebrate the strong relationship between American and Australia.  It was particularly fitting that the event took place on the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s famous walk on the moon.  We took care to remind the room that it the TV signal to broadcast that iconic moment to the world was routed from space through Australia.

It was a thrill to serve as Master of Ceremonies with a podium right in front of that famous Apollo capsule.

Australian American Leadership Dialogue Gala Dinner

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.


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.”





Political Headlines on Compromise

Former Congressman Bob Walker and Former Congressman Marty Russo on Fox News 5

Former Congressman Bob Walker and Former Congressman Marty Russo on Fox News 5

Today I sat down with former Congressman Robert Walker and Fox 5 Morning News host Allison Seymour for our segment covering the week’s top political headlines.

It’s very clear that Members of Congress need to address the approaching fiscal cliff. This election strongly indicated that the American people want compromise and they want Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner. President Obama campaigned very openly on taking a balanced approach to solving our fiscal crisis and his reelection shows that voters support it.