by Michael Goldberg

George H. W. Bush Speaks at 2001 GigaWorld IT Forum

Jul 15, 20012 mins
IT Leadership

George H.W. Bush (a.k.a. the president’s father) is a content man, happy to watch his grandchildren grow and his sons try to quell political firestorms (besides his namesake the president, son Jeb is Florida’s Republican governor). So when addressing 1,000 attendees at the recent GigaWorld IT Forum in Las Vegas, the elder Bush wasn’t afraid to acknowledge he knows little about IT.

“I didn’t understand a word,” Bush said?to great laughter?describing his meeting with analysts from Giga Information Group, which sponsored the event. “The subject at hand is e-business, and I’m no expert. I just learned how to forward Monica Lewinsky jokes to someone else.”

The former president did assert that he knows something about leadership and managing projects. Speaking in his familiar lilt, Bush emphasized important phrases like “mission creep.” His advice sounded familiar too: Hire quality people. Define your mission. And stick to it.

Bush said he took this tack with his White House decisions concerning Panama, Kuwait and Somalia, but he stressed that the lessons apply in the halls of business. “Strong leaders are not afraid to surround themselves with a team that’s not afraid to tell them the truth,” Bush said. Leaders in any organization are successful when they inspire a commitment to excellence for every member of the team, he added.