Tag Archives: Lecture

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.


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.”





Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University

Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University

Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles Lecture

I was honored to speak to several political science classes at LMU on November 11, 2013, as part of a visit with Department Chair Dr. Michael Genovese and Associate Professor Dr. Janie Steckenrider.    LMU has a vibrant program for developing future leaders that understand the role of politics and government in our society.

Dr. Genovese is an author of over 30 books on leadership including his latest, Leadership Matters:  Unleashing the Power of Paradox.  I enjoyed reading through the book which includes stories of leadership in all sort of facets of society:  from history to politics to Hollywood.

I had to laugh along with Dr.  Steckenrider as we both remembered that she attended one of my early political fundraisers at the Condessa Del Mar in Alsip, Illinois back when I was campaigning for re-election in 1976.

We agreed that politics and public policy has changed dramatically since those days. In the 1980’s I served as a Deputy Whip and had a front row seat to watch House Speaker Tip O’Neill work out deals with President Ronald Reagan.  I’d like to see more of that today.  The country needs the art of compromise to help us grow businesses and jobs.