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Former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Says 2 Things She Learned in the Military Made Her a Better Leader — and Reveals How to Have Productive Conversations When You Disagree Gabbard shares her thoughts on the importance of service, open-mindedness and prioritizing people's well-being over political agendas.

By Jeff Fenster

Key Takeaways

  • Gabbard says that adaptability and critical thinking are crucial to public service.
  • She emphasizes open dialogue, respect for differing opinions and unity in American society.
  • By encouraging grassroots movements and civic engagement, Gabbard champions collective action as a catalyst for positive change.

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This week, I was honored to have Tulsi Gabbard on the show to discuss her life, passions and new book, For Love of Country: Leave the Democrat Party Behind.

From her early days as an environmental activist to her distinguished military career and subsequent political journey, Gabbard's life has been marked by a commitment to public service and embracing the transformative power of personal growth.

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Her journey began with her passion for environmental activism. When she was a teenager, she co-founded the nonprofit Healthy Hawai'i Coalition, but she says it was her military deployment that truly shaped her perspective and instilled in her the values of adaptability and critical thinking. She enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003 and deployed to Iraq in 2004. Serving in the military taught her the importance of being open to different ideas and perspectives, a lesson she says she carried to her political career.

"I enlisted because of 9/11 like a lot of other Americans and volunteered to be deployed to the Middle East," she says. "During my almost 21 years of service, I can't express in words how grateful I feel to have served alongside such incredible people from all walks of life, from all parts of the country — people who not only love our country but love each other."

As she detailed during our conversation, she believes that respectful conversations and exchanging ideas are essential for progress and unity in American society. Gabbard emphasized the need to bridge the divide between differing opinions, encouraging citizens to engage in meaningful discussions rather than resorting to divisive rhetoric. By prioritizing the well-being of the people over political agendas, she says we can create a more inclusive and cohesive society. "If [politicians] are not focused on serving the people, then [they] are focused on the wrong things," she says.

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Grassroots movements and collective action are also at the core of Gabbard's vision for positive change. She believes real transformation can only be achieved when citizens actively participate in the democratic process. Gabbard encourages individuals to be informed, hold leaders accountable and engage in civic activities that drive change from the ground up, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Her life of service in the military and politics has taught her a valuable lesson about keeping calm and collected during tough times. "Stay spiritually grounded in [your] purpose," she says. "Know exactly who you are, and know that generally speaking, those who are attacking you are doing so based on their own insecurities and fears."

In a time when political polarization seems to be the norm, Gabbard's journey reminded me of the importance of being open to different ideas and staying active in the community. As we navigate the challenges of our time, I believe that we can all draw inspiration from Gabbard's leadership principles of humility, compassion and spiritual grounding. "Be humble," she advises those in leadership positions. "In order to lead, one must do so truly with a servant's heart that cares for, inspires and teaches those they've been charged to lead."

About The Jeff Fenster Show

Serial entrepreneur Jeff Fenster embarks on an extraordinary journey every week, delving into the stories of exceptional individuals who have defied the norms and blazed their own trails to achieve extraordinary success.

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Jeff Fenster

Founder, Everbowl

Jeff Fenster is an award winning entrepreneur, best selling author, podcast host and expert in relationship capital.

His entrepreneurial success is vast - ranging from a quick serve restaurant chain, payroll and HR company, digital marketing agency and a construction company. But no matter what venture Jeff pursues, he lives by the principle of putting people first.

He was named a Empact100 Showcase Top 100 Entrepreneur in 2013, 2019's Top 40 Executive Under 40 by the San Diego Business Journal, and a Top Entrepreneur to Watch for 2020 by Thrive Global.

Jeff’s acclaimed podcast, The Jeff Fenster Show, features successful entrepreneurs, celebrities and athletes sharing their insights and stories of success. Today, Jeff speaks around the country on entrepreneurial mindset, authentic networking and vertical integration.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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