Community & Government


Bill Clinton

Lesson time 09:25 min

President Clinton reveals his approach to helping people see the value of your proposal, and he emphasizes the importance of knowing when to take a stand.

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Topics include: Define Their Version of Success · Know When to Take a Stand · Be Tough in Private, Respectful in Public


[MUSIC PLAYING] BILL CLINTON: When negotiating, one of the most effective things you can do is to help the other side see why a proposal you advocate is also good for them. It's something I've tried to do throughout my career. If I had a difference with Boris Yeltsin over expanding NATO into Central Europe and the Baltics, for example, I would tell them why I thought it was, over the long run, best for him that Russia had a big decision to make about how it would define its greatness. I didn't talk about how-- in the beginning-- please think about the Poles, and the Czechs, and the Hungarians, and think what they've been through. Please think what it's been like for the Baltics since the 1930s. We got there. But first, I said, you have to decide how to define your greatness. And it sounds fairly contemporary today. I said to Yeltsin, you know, you have staggering capacities and computer technologies. So you're not going to win on the nuclear battlefield. We don't want to do that. And you now don't have a particularly strong economy. And you do have the ability to leverage your neighbors because you have so much oil and gas. And you control a lot of the pipelines. But that's not a lasting solution. But you could have Silicon Valley in Moscow. You can become a great source of creation of wealth and opportunity for the Russian people. So you may be tempted to say, our greatness is about our vastness, and our mineral wealth, and our ability to control our neighbors, and then to weaken our adversaries by using this new power. Or you can say, our greatness is in the minds, the imaginations of our people. They have produced some of the world's greatest literature, some of the world's greatest music, and some very impressive scientific advances. After all, Sputnik went up first into space. And it was a debate I was winning with Yeltsin. And I said, look, I want you to succeed. But you have to define success. [MUSIC PLAYING] Before you ever go into a negotiation, you should know inside what you will give up and what you won't. But also, the parties have to trust each other to know when they're playing games and negotiating and when they're looking them in the eye and saying, listen, I don't believe this. I can't do this. I suppose the most contentious domestic negotiation I had with a positive outcome was the Balanced Budget Act. And it was that that led in 1995 and 1996-- the lead up to it were the budget fights there where the government was shut down twice because I would not agree to cancel the Department of Education. Block granting the Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamp programs so the states could cut for people, basically, their access to health care and food, and children, and do all these other things. And the Democrats were about to scream. And everybody was mad. And I said, we need to stop. I pointed at the President's chair behind the desk at the Oval Office. I said, the only way you're going to get this budget ...

About the Instructor

Commander in chief from 1993 to 2001, Bill Clinton has spent a lifetime navigating complex challenges and bridging deep divides. Now the 42nd president of the United States teaches you how to be an effective, empathetic leader. Learn how to assemble, inspire, and empower diverse teams, mediate conflict, manage criticism—and create a personal framework to guide you and your team toward a shared vision.

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Bill Clinton

Drawing from his career in politics, President Bill Clinton teaches you how to inspire diverse teams, manage criticism, and mediate conflict.

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