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American Councils’ Center for Global Leadership Hosts Webinar for FLEX and YES Students

Dr. Potolicchio with Senator Bradley

On May 8, the 2023-2024 Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program cohorts were welcomed to the last webinar of the "Global Leadership Series," provided by Dr. Sam Potolicchio, Executive Director of American Councils’ Center for Global Leadership (CGL).

The concluding meeting featured the former U.S. Senator and Senate sponsor of FLEX, Bill Bradley, The New York Times columnist and bestselling author of “The Man Who Broke Capitalism," Mr. David Gelles and his wife, Ms. Alison Boyd Gelles, the President of Newfound Group and Executive Director of Renaissance Weekend. Ms. Betty Sue Flowers, the former director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and current American Councils Trustee, and Ms. Lisa Choate, the President and CEO of American Councils, also appeared during the session. The webinar was attended by 90 participants who posed insightful questions both through the chat and during the Q&A.

During the conversation, Dr. Potolicchio, Mr. Gelles, and Ms. Boyd Gelles shared their advice for fruitful communication techniques. “What you want to do in a conversation, whether you are getting to know someone, or it is more professional, more academic, you want to figure out what they are passionate about and give them the opportunity to lead into those stories,” said Mr. Gelles

Asked what valuable leadership lessons they learned throughout their careers, Mr. Gelles explained that "Leadership often means going against the grain, which means making counterintuitive decisions, and having the conviction of values and morals to do those things even against the good advice of colleagues, board, or public opinion.” Ms. Boyd Gelles added, “The most recognizable leaders are often the ones with the least self-centered ego, who are willing to get their hands dirty, people who do not take themselves so seriously and are willing to listen and engage but also do the physical work and not be above any act or mindset.”

Former Senator Bill Bradley, whose vision and leadership established the FLEX program in 1992, gave the closing remarks and emphasized the FLEX program's mission, which he defined as “an investment in people-to-people diplomacy and deeper understanding through experience.” In his interaction with the participants, he highlighted the importance of “courage and imagination, and the ability to relate to people on a human level and communicate how you feel about all that to others” in becoming a successful leader.

On the topic of motivation, Senator Bradley shared a lesson he learned in his formative years, saying, “If you are not practicing, somebody, somewhere is practicing and given roughly equal ability, he's going to win ... I never wanted to lose because I had not put in the time to be the best that I could be as a player, student, and human being ... The key thing is knowing clearly what your goal is and understanding you are building muscles, and they are not necessarily those that are going to do chin-ups, but the muscles that are going to put you to realize your potential as a student, a human being, or wherever else you want to be.”

Senator Bradley expressed his pride in the participants, alumni, and everyone involved in FLEX: “I am glad you wanted to know me a little bit, but I am just so proud of everybody in this program, including you, Dr. Potolicchio! I am proud of those students who experienced it and American Councils for all the work that gets done to facilitate this. It is a great investment in the future understanding between people, that is the common humanity, the whole purpose.”

About CGL

The Center for Global Leadership (CGL) offers cutting-edge leadership curriculum, high-level mentorship, and curated networking events to enable participants to realize their full potential as professional and socially responsible global citizens. Leveraging American Councils’ vast virtual and physical infrastructure, CGL connects its preeminent mentors to the world's exceptional emerging leaders regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status.