Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 7, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Leadership


  • Arizona business, community, and sports leader Jerry Colangelo and ASU President Michael Crow discuss leadership in Arizona.
Guests:
  • Jerry Colangelo
  • Michael Crow - President, ASU
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Solving the economic and social challenges facing Arizona will take political, business and community leaders working together to forge a cohesive vision for the state's future. Joining me are two men of vision -- leaders in each of their respective fields. Jerry Colangelo is a nationally known sports entrepreneur who assembled the USA basketball team that won the gold medal in 2008. He also helped make Arizona the sports town it is today with the Phoenix suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and various other organizations he's owned or been involved with. Also joining me is Dr. Michael Crow. As president of Arizona State University, he's been pursuing his vision of transforming ASU into a model of a new American university. Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon."


Ted Simons: We wanted to get you here because of the concept of leaders. You're both leaders and obviously movers and shakers. Jerry What is leadership?

Jerry Colangelo: In my definition, it's someone who is willing to take calculated risks and willing to fail in pursuit of his goals and ambitions and many people are afraid to take that step. And, therefore, you either have that or you don't. I don't think you can read it in a book. I don't think you learn it from experience. If you're blessed with some instincts that allow you to become a leader, you will.

Ted Simons: Define leadership.

Dr. Michael Crow: Leadership is the function that individuals and sometimes groups carry out where they listen carefully and agreeing with Jerry, they make decisions, the hard choices. They make decisions about where are we going, how are we going to get there and work to bring others along. So that people can all move together toward that objective.
Ted Simons: Is that something? -- do you think it might be innate more than something that can be developed?

Jerry Colangelo: Well, to a degree. I think you have the instinct, but certainly, you can develop your instincts to a degree and what Dr. Crow is talking about in terms of leadership is to bring people along with you. In terms of teams winning games rather than just individuals. No one individual can accomplish everything there is to be done. And I think in some of the great pursuits it's been teams of people with someone taking the leadership role.
Ted Simons: Do leaders know their leaders?

Dr Michael Crow: I think leaders know their responsibilities, so in a sense once you -- you move into a leadership role and you're successful in that role, you know that you have a responsibility to do all that you can do to help set the course, to help plan the resources and to help make the decisions to move in the right direction and yeah, you know that's part of your responsibility and it becomes, it even goes beyond responsibility. It becomes duty.

Ted Simons: How do leaders balance vision, their ideas, their confidence and knowledge and -- their confidence and knowledge, how do you do balance that with cold hard reality? You want to get X and Y done but its hard enough to get A and B started.

Dr. Michael Crow: It's a process you have to understand you're going to be successful sometimes and not successful other times and move forward through whatever the odds are or whatever the challenge happens to be and you can't be discouraged and you have to be able to step back and see where your going, get a sense of where things are headed and know where you are and remove yourself as needed and then throw yourself back into it as needed. It's a kind of emotional focus and emotional control.

Ted Simons: The idea of persistence, with again, cold hard reality. How do you work that balance?

Jerry Colangelo: I just think you do. Quite often, you're asked to serve in leadership capacities. Most every team I've been on and most organizations I've been associated with, I've captained or chaired, not because I sought it. It's because it sought me. And so my issue, if you will, I've always made myself available and, therefore, sometimes I spread myself out a little bit thinly. But in this community, when I arrived 40-some years ago, it was a different place. It was a mom and pop kind of community and run by somewhat of a good old boy network. Or at least a handful of people who got things done. You know, just making the decisions to turn this community around. And over the years, there have been a group of people who took on that responsibility but the opportunity was there to do it, if you were willing.

Ted Simons: And that was 40-some odd years ago.
Jerry Colangelo: Over the last 30 years ago, 20 years ago, but we live in a different era today.

Ted Simons: You've been here eight some odd years as president of Arizona State University. When you got here, did you see a different kind of leadership? Has it changed since you've been here?

Dr. Michael Crow: I don't know that leadership has changed. Complexity has changed, and we've reached a moment in Arizona history and American history it's time to get back to work and focus our energy and time to focus or assets for national and regional and state competitiveness and I would say eight and a half years ago we hadn't realized that to the extent we have now and now we're at a moment where leaders and there are many leaders out there, leaders working with others, have been able to find ways to move us back on to the right track and so I don't think there's -- it used to be this way or that way, that doesn't make much difference. This is the way it is right now. And the way it is right now is the most important thing.

Ted Simons: Its interesting that you said that, we had Marty Shultz, who is a leader in his own right in a variety of causes in town -- we had him on "Horizon" here recently, and we talked about leadership with Marty, and here's what he had to say.
Martin Shultz: One of the movers would be a Bert Barr, a famous majority leader, 21 years in the legislature. He is a Republican and actually ran for governor at one point and lost. He teamed up with Bruce Babbitt. With Alfredo Gutierrez so they combined their talents and weren't in agreement philosophically or politically but knew they had to get things done and I would hope that's the case with this legislature going forward. Whether a conservative or moderate or liberal agenda evolves, what is important is that results occur and the results are going to occur I think in the most balanced way when all the elected officials both on the right and left and the governor get together in some kind of compromise.

Ted Simons: We've had other people on the program and a constant refrain, Arizona seems to lack those kind of leaders that Marty mentioned now. First of all, respond to that and are we lacking in general strong civic leadership right now?

Jerry Colangelo: Things evolve. The people he mentioned were leaders, they really truly were and found a way to work together for the betterment of the community. For the betterment of this state. There may be different agendas today, maybe things are a little bit different in my mind, at least politically than they were 10 years ago, 20 years ago, but it is what it is and so we need to compromise and people need to come together with the common good in mind and our state is faced with a number of issues right now. We need jobs, we need to bring in companies, we need to improve our educational situation and more money to do the things that I'm referring to. We need transportation, we need infrastructure. How are we going to deal with growth when this comes? Where will we be 10, 20 years from now, that's the real question.

Ted Simons: Are you finding people who are asking those questions. Where will we be in the future, 10, 20 years from now, are you finding those folks in Arizona right now? or is this something we're lacking at the moment?

Dr. Michael Crow: I don't think we're lacking in leaders or talent or any of the ingredients to move forward. What we've got going on right now, we have arguments about things going on, on the edge of the field and so we've got people arguing about things that aren't central to our success. What we need is to change the argument or change the debate to those things that are the most central. How are we going to educate our workforce? How will we prepare our families for success? And create an environment that can make these things happen? We've got lots of people that think that's what they're talking about. It's like the Super Bowl yesterday. You have arguments after the play is over, that's pointless, get back to the play, the field, back to advancing the ball. To me, it's clear we've taken our eye off the ball and we need all the leaders to get people to focus on the ball. The ball is how to move Arizona higher for economic and social and cultural success. Anything else is pointless.
Ted Simons: How do you get people to get their eye back on ball?

Jerry Colangelo: One of the things we're doing is the commerce department was in turmoil, if you will, and we're now going to privatize momentarily, we hope, over the next few days, the Arizona commerce authority. We need a toolbox to go out and be competitive with other states to bring those companies and create the jobs. That's a beginning. And if we can do that and take that task to heart and get people to buy in along the way. That would go towards what Dr. Crow was talking about in moving in the right direction.

Ted Simons: How do you get those folks to buy? At the legislature, there are a lot of people not crazy about the commerce authority and say its playing favorites and we don't want to play favorites as far as business community and economic development is concerned. How do you respond to that?

Jerry Colangelo: My response is plain. The Arizona department of commerce failed and so what we're suggesting, recommending and something that will be approved by the legislature unless I'm way off base, is that we now have a chance to move forward and be successful because we're willing to invest of ourselves and our time and resources to make it better.

Ted Simons: Back at the legislature, obviously, they're looking at higher education, at universities. What are you telling them? How are you letting them know that as far as you see, getting leadership, getting the economy moving forward, the whole nine yards, if you will, education has to be a priority. And again, it's a investment as opposed to a spend. How do you get the message out there?

Dr. Michael Crow: We're trying to get folks to get out of the way to allow institutions that can take on innovative roles and leadership roles like the universities to be able to facilitate their innovation and transformation so they can be what the people and state needs without so many controls and mechanisms and so forth. For the folks around that think we want to act and behave in more entrepreneurial ways, let's do that. If we allow the forces of competition to prevail in all things, they'll be absolutely fabulous outcomes if we can manage the process toward a set of objectives we're working toward in an educational space. Competition is good. And there are ways you can allow leadership to spring up by permitting competition to be the mechanism through which leadership organizations and leadership individuals can move forward.

Ted Simons: I remember last time you were on, I mentioned we had Craig Barrett on and I asked him if Arizona was serious about education. And he said no. He didn’t think that state was at least serious enough about education and you agreed with him. How do you get serious about? What do you have to shake out there?

Jerry Colangelo: My analogies are usually with sports because that's been where I spend most of my life. But, you know, I get pretty tired of seeing where we're ranked educationally in the country, as a state. If we're not in the top 10, the top five, shame on whoever is making the decisions that have caused that to take place. There's a long history there. Let's not look back. Let's look forward. What you said a moment ago is really the key. We need to invest in education on every level. And once we do that, we'll see the results.

Ted Simons: The new American university, Arizona State University, and the state of Arizona which has so much going for it and we're not the economic dynamo that a lot of people thought we would be in the ‘40s, ‘50s '60s and even '70s because we had so much going for us. What is holding us back?

Dr. Michael Crow: We are an economic dynamo. We have a large and robust economy but not robust enough. I think what holds us back mostly is we have to flesh out the breadth of the economy here. We can't just have tourism and real estate and things like that. We have to have manufacturing and research and we have to have people building things and selling things overseas and we have great people and a great place. We have all the ingredient, we have to decide that's what we want to do. And it's not about picking winners. It's about getting on the path to success and creating an environment for success where winners can rise up and actually win in a broader spectrum of activity. That's what we're lacking more than anything else.

Ted Simons: In the '60s and '70s, did you see Arizona developing. Are we the rookie that you drafted that reached our all-star potential?

Jerry Colangelo: I think we were depend. Almost entirely on growth and when you're dependent on just one component of an economy, that can cause problems and obviously, that's what hit us here. We need a more diverse economy, in my opinion, here in the state and if we can develop the kind of jobs that would sustain that kind of growth, we'll go through the cycles and we've been through a lot of real estate cycles and we know the ramifications in that area.
Ted Simons: Great discussion. Thank you so much for joining us.

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