On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with James Rosebush, former senior advisor to President Ronald Reagan.
YS: There is a lot of turmoil in leadership. I want to focus tonight, and if I may, seek your guidance and wisdom from the decades of work that you have been in, understanding communication in its finest form. Perhaps you could share with us some interesting and important leaders and that which defines them, their success communication, and leadership?
James Rosebush: There’s a lot of turmoil. We’re not talking about just the U.S., we’re not talking about politics, we’re talking about all sectors that are in complete turmoil. When you search for leadership, to emulate, to copy, to use as examples to have tremendous success, it is hard to find any sector, and I ask myself every day, why is that? Why is there such a shortage of great leadership? I have to say it relates to values.
However, a great example of a leader is Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. Why does Zelensky come across as a great leader today?
It is because he is completely authentic. He has something he believes in, to the nth degree. You know he’s willing to sacrifice his life for something that he believes in and cares for- he believes in Ukraine, the future, and because of that, you are going to believe in the Ukrainian people. He is truly a fighter for the Ukrainian people. Now, let us look at the corporate sector. Let us look at business customers. They want to flock to a company that they know cares about them. They want to know that if I’m going to come into your store or if I am going to order something from you to be delivered to my house, that the people who are running that company care about me, because I’m a customer buying their products and I can be the first person to promote their business.
YS: On tonight's shows we are talking about principles of leadership and examples of leadership. Let us talk about what you learned from President Reagan. What better example was there?
James Rosebush: You asked me what I learned; I will tell you I learned a million lessons. And I should write another book called A Million Lessons I Learned from Ronald Reagan.
First, I will tell you something interesting is going on right now. Reagan is having a resurgence; it is not that Reagan was never in a cool spot in terms of his popularity and respect. But he is having a moment right now, and I will tell you how I know: because my best-selling book True Reagan, which was out in 2016, is now being translated into Hungarian and Portuguese and I am also negotiating to have it translated
into Polish. In Poland, they love Ronald Reagan, they have statues of Ronald Reagan in Gdansk and when you go there, you see it even more. The reason
is that they have a thirst for what Reagan represented: being an evangelist for freedom. Reagan was certainly great, in the top five of all U.S presidents. But more than that, Reagan, wherever he went in the world- and I went with Reagan on so many of these trips – when he went out to talk to collectivist farmers in China, in the Soviet Union, and everywhere he went, he was always preaching that freedom is a G-d-given right.
The reason for that is that he was an evangelist for freedom, and he wanted people to have the freedom to worship the G-d that they chose, and that was not worshiping the state. Communists and other restrictive regimes are looking to control you from the government, so he wanted to unleash the individual’s ability to worship in the way they sought. Because why? Because he believed thoroughly that man was born with an individual right to freedom and liberty and that was the only way for a person to ever get out of poverty. You must have the freedom of self-determination, to advance your skills, to advance the opportunities that are given to you in capitalist economies. They do not want you to have those in these restrictive controlling societies. Why? Because they want to be the players and have control of regulating everything in your life and everything that you do. Reagan was very opposed to that, so he was an evangelist for freedom everywhere he went in the world.
YS: Let's head to the second principle that we are addressing in tonight's show. The first one was authenticity, and this one is recognizing opportunity. Let's talk about Elon Musk because he is on fire with this. Walk us through the process of Musk acquiring Twitter, what he saw in the opportunity, how he held on, and now he's proceeding forward.
James Rosebush: My vantage point is that I just read a couple of months ago the definitive biography of Elon Musk. Elon Musk is a person who captures opportunities and does something about it. You know, there are a lot of us that sit around and say, “Well, it would be a great opportunity to turn Niagara Falls into a hydropower plant,” you know, or something like that. OK but it is not going to happen. So, what makes Elon Musk different is that he takes on the biggest challenges. What I really love about Elon Musk among many things, is that he does not care about money. And you would say, “Oh, come on, what do you mean? He is the richest man in the world.” He is willing to lose it all. That is not what he is there for. He has an idea a minute, and he wants to take that opportunity and do something about it. I believe that his methods or his goals are as humanitarian as moneymaking. Look at him – he is thinking about space, tunnels, transportation, and how we can improve them and now he sees Twitter as something that he can improve as well.
YS: Could you share another key principle in communication?
James Rosebush: I tell you; I wish that I could give you examples of 100 great leaders that are masters of communication. But we have this tremendous deficit of great communication today.
The first thing that you really must master in terms of being a great communicator is storytelling. It does not matter if you are a business leader or running a shop. To be a great communicator, you need to tell stories. Number two, the story must have a point. The story is really like a parable that illustrates something that you’re trying to say. That is why people who are trying to be like standup comics when they work as a business leader or a leader of a country and try to just tell an offhand story, it just doesn't work. Reagan, they said, you know, loved jokes. However, he did not tell that many jokes or stories that were not related to a political objective. He would often tell stories about what life was like in the Soviet Union. He would say, “You know, when you place an order for a car in the Soviet Union (not so true today), you get
it delivered within a month or you could have it in 38 years,” or something like that, you know, it just brings down the house, right? But look, he was making a point. He was denigrating their economy, but the way he was doing it is the most important.
I will give you another example. In Reagan’s speech when the Challenger came down, you may remember, that was a very, very tragic day. He talked about it a lot and he said lots of wonderful things, as the whole country was in mourning, but his speech that followed is top in history. Now, why is that? Because at the end, he recited this magnificent poem that ends with this phrase, “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of G-d.” And that is how he ended his speech. Now, I am telling you, that is what I remember about his speech.
YS: James, you service a wide range of professions and professionals. How can people find out more information about what you do?
James Rosebush: One of the most fun things that I get to do is a program – I have a business partner in this – called Deal Ring. We train people who are fundraising for their investment products. One of the most gratifying things is to see people come in. It is their job to talk to investors to bring money into funds that they have created or companies that they are trying to fund, but they are completely terrified. They know their product, but they need some help being coached. So, I spend a day coaching them. We put them in front of judges, and there is a contest to see who is going to win the right to make the pitch to these investors. It is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I do, and I will tell you why.
One day a guy came in and he was a part of the program, and the whole time he was speaking down to the floor, and his hair was hanging down, and the audience could not even see him. So, I thought to myself, this guy really needs a jolt of confidence. So, I told him, “Go across the street, and get some hair gel.” He is like, “What do you want?” I said, “Go. Just do what I tell you to do.” I am pushy because I want to see results. So, he comes back and goes into the bathroom and puts in the hair gel. He comes out and he looked so much better. Then I pushed him against the wall, and I said, “I want your neck against the collar of your shirt.” Then I sent him back out to try again, and he received a standing ovation, why? Because people could see him. And getting a standing ovation increased his confidence. He wrote a review on my website, and he said, “Oh, you changed my life.” Well, I did not change his life. I just gave him a few tips. Right? So, these are things that everyone needs and there are not that many great speakers that really know all these things. I have to say I just learned them by watching other people. But you can contact me at www.growthstrategy.us and find out more about what I do.
YS: On a personal level, is there anything you can share about Reagan that people would not know?
James Rosebush: One quick story I will tell you was when we went to Geneva to have the first meeting with Gorbachev. I asked him as we were spending time together, sitting in front of a big fireplace at the villa of Agha Khan, “What do you think? We had all these initiatives with Soviet Union. But what do you think will really bring down totalitarianism? Communism? What will end it?” He said, “Oh, Jim, there is only one thing, and that is people’s desire to worship G-d.” Now, I could not run out and say that to the press corps, because they would have laughed at me and it would be a big headline: “Reagan, is this kooky, you know, blah, blah, blah.” So, he did not talk like that in public, but to me, he did. That is just an example of the things that Reagan was, he was working on two levels. One was the pragmatic political platform and the other on a much more spiritual plane.”