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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Feb 19, 2020

Michael Giorgione is the author of Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat. Michael dives into how the world’s leaders build relationships that can last through hardships, disagreements, and tragedies. Michael witnessed four U.S. Presidents at Camp David and how they interacted with world leaders despite vast cultural differences.  


Key Takeaways

[8:00] With so many different cultures and countries out there, the common element you can always relate to is that we are all human. Most of us love food and love our families. These two things, despite our differences, bring us together.

[8:55] We conduct more and more meetings over the phone/computer, but you still need that face-to-face interaction at least once a year to fully leverage the relationship.

[10:25] With so many diverse cultures coming into Camp David, Michael had to do his homework and make sure he acted respectfully within cultural norms.

[11:55] This might sound surprising, but great leaders know when to relax. At Camp David, leaders weren’t afraid to kick off their shoes, recharge, and eat a cheeseburger.

[15:25] The conduct of some of the guests there had surprised Michael and made him cringe, especially from those who weren’t very familiar with military ethics and protocol. It boiled down to a lack of self-awareness of how they treated others. However, Michael was able to meet four presidents at Camp David and the first families always treated the staff with respect.

[17:10] Michael notices that people who are self-aware tend to be confident and have strong self-esteem and a great dose of humility.

[18:50] The Reagans attended Camp David more than any other ‘couple.’ Michael says ‘couple,’ because they would often attend by themselves. The Reagans are an excellent example of how co-leadership can work. They knew each other’s strengths and worked with them.

[21:15] Michael was able to witness George W. Bush and Tony Blair develop a strong friendship at Camp David. He saw how these two world leaders were able to find commonalities, watch movies together with their families, and bond.

[25:00] When George W. Bush became president, it seemed to be very strategic that his first two guests at Camp David were with our British allies and our Japanese allies. Both visits were very informal/family events. No secret service, staff, etc.

[27:00] Strong relationships come down to finding commonalities and activities you both enjoy, which lays down the groundwork to talk about the heavy things leaders might have to go through. When you both know each other’s families and children, it becomes easier to empathize when someone is going through a tragedy.

[33:25] With social media so readily accessible, places like Camp David become much more needed than ever.

[35:40] Remember, it’s not about you. To be a genuine, humble, caring, and effective leader, you are serving others. This is greater than you.


Quotable Quotes

  • If you can talk about family or food with anyone in the world, you’re going to find a connection.
  • “Relationships… you build it and invest in it before you need it.”
  • Self-aware leaders are grateful and thankful for what we have and don’t have.
  • “Our quest for transparency is actually taking us in the exact opposite direction at times.


Resources and Books Mentioned


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