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My Interview with Senator Bob Graham
I was running a little late for our interview. I don’t like to do that because it makes me look like I didn’t think they were important enough to show up on time. But I had just finished an interview with Speaker of the House Dean Cannon who was extremely busy that day and Speaker Cannon and I finished over 40 minutes late. My interview with Senator Bob Graham was very important.
He opened the door to his townhouse when I arrived. I was expecting someone to open the door for him. Little things surprise me like this. Like we both like cows. We sit on a couch that has a cow pillow. And I
Apologized for running late. The reporter from WCTV, who’s doing a story on me and my interviews at the Capital, follows too. Bob Graham doesn’t act like he’s had all the important jobs that he’s had and that’s another
Little surprise. He has a Florida tie that he wears a lot (all the time I think) because he likes Florida a lot. I know he’s had more important interviews than talking to a kid and I know he has a full schedule for the day but he makes me feel important -another little surprise.
Q.“Growing up- what was really important to you and that helped you to be a successful person?”
A. “Education was always a centerpiece in my home. My mother had been a teacher and my dad was very interested about education. He was an engineer by background. My parents never said they expected me to make good grades. I just knew they expected me to get good grades .”
Q. “Kids have all kinds of obstacles today they have to overcome. When you were a kid what obstacle did you have to deal with and how did you overcome or deal with it?”
A. “Well, I don’t know, if it was an obstacle or not because it had benefits but I grew up on a dairy farm about 25 miles northwest of miami so some of the things the children my age participated in was like little league baseball. I really couldn’t do because I couldn’t stay after school long enough. But growing up on the farm was good in that it taught me personal responsibilities. I used to raise calfs to show at 4-H events. It taught me the importance of being able to have a lot of skills because I’ve learned a little about mechanics and animal husbandry. That proved to be very valuable later in my life like when I was doing a lot of different jobs. I won’t say I was an expert at any of them but I know enough about how to get started.”
Q. “I read your bio and one thing I found really cool was your workdays - where you did different jobs - what did you learn from your jobs of workdays? And was there one that had you a little nervous?”
A. “I did 408 jobs over a period of 30 years so there wasn’t very much in Florida that I didn’t do! My first job was teaching a semester of high school civics and I did that at the suggestion of a teacher that said, “If your going to be involved in policy for education, you ought to learn something and the only place you can learn it is in the classroom.” That was a life transforming event not only did I achieve what she said that I got a good reality base of what was happening in education .” But I learned the difference between learning by doing : learning from learning about it in a book or listening to someone give a lecture.”
Q. “Being a Florida Representative, Florida Senator, Fl Governor and a U.S. Senator, is there one office you liked the best and why?”
A. “Well, I enjoyed everyone of them. I guess being Governor was the most satisfying because you have the chance to do a lot of things. You can see if they worked or didn’t work. You have a chance to surround yourself with very talented people such as our former chief of staff, Tom Herndan, and learned from him and the gratifications of people of Florida that recognize what you are trying to do is very reassuring.
Q. “You’ve worked with a lot of great public figures. Is there one or two that was really super to work with and what made them so special?”
A. “ Well, there were a lot of people I worked with in stated government and were super people and they were very special. One of them was our chief of staff Charlie Read who was an educator but who acquired a lot of good political skills and was very good working with the Legislator. He subsequently became Chancellor of the State University system and is now Chancellor of the California State University system.
Q. “What do you think it takes now to be a leader and has that changed from when you started out being a leader?”
A. “I don’t believe there’s been much change other than the subject matter. I think the difference between a leader and a manager, is a manager takes what is given and tries to make it work as well as possible. A leader, at his or her best, is questioning whether the status quo is acceptable or not and what would be a better outcome and is leading the change to get to that better, newer way of approaching life or approaching the civic interest of the citizens.
Talking to Senator Graham was pretty awesome and I hope to talk again to Senator Graham- maybe next year! I went outside and the reporter asked me some questions and filmed it for that evenings news. I didn’t get to see it that night. But the next morning in the House, people told me about it.