Guest blog post Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and a Political Commentator on CNN and CNN Español. She serves on the boards of several non-profit groups and has named several times as one of the top 100 Hispanic leaders in the country by Hispanic Business.
ED NOTE: Maria Cardona was the
Deputy Press Secretary for Secretary Ron Brown and served at the Department of
Commerce for six years during the Clinton Administration
everything I learned about public service, I learned from Secretary Ron
Brown. He was the best kind of mentor, short on personal advice, long on
teaching by example. The first time he walked into the Department of
Commerce, he told his staff he wanted to meet the cafeteria workers and the
janitorial staff. When he was taken to the cafeteria, the workers almost
fainted. They had never seen the Secretary – any Secretary - walk into
the cafeteria before. Some even cried. This exemplifies my biggest
lessons from my time with Ron: to always meet people where they are, make it
personal, and never think, no matter what title you have, you are better than
anyone else in the room.
had the ability to make you feel important no matter who you were. He was
just as comfortable speaking with Saudi kings as he was shooting the breeze
with homeless teenagers in the favelas in Brazil. His message was always
the same no matter who he talked to: The United States business community was
there to help bring more economic opportunity to their citizens, while
expanding market opportunities for US businesses.
Secretary would always say he was a big fan of “doing well by doing good.”
He was visionary about where the next opportunities for US economic expansion
would come from, and he was unapologetic about making the deals that would help
American enterprises sell more goods abroad, creating jobs and opportunities on
both ends. But he never forgot about the people behind the
progress. He would always want to meet the local business leaders, the
workers, the families that were starting to prosper because of these expanded
opportunities. Ron was always treated like royalty wherever he went in
the world, but he never played the part.