Richard Haass

Council on Foreign Relations President

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How Do You Come up With Your Best Ideas?

I come up with all my best ideas, to the extent I have ideas that are good, walking. And whenever I'm writing, whenever I'm in a situation where I hit something of a wall or…

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What Is the Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

Some of the best things I learned when I was young [was] to really focus on my writing. Often you can't get into the meetings, but your memos can get into somebody else's inbox. Also,…

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How Do You Get Work Done While You Travel?

When I travel I actually see it as an opportunity to get certain kinds of work done. One is reading, I always keep a pile of things I want to read or thanks to Kindle…

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What Advice Would You Give a First-Time Manager?

For any first time manager, the most important thing is to first of all figure out what it is you're trying to do, and secondly there's always gotta be a connection between what you want…

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What's the Most Surprising Thing About Being a CEO?

I find the most surprising thing about leading an organization is that literally everything you do sends a message. You're never off duty. You're never offline. Might be what you wear. Might be your facial…

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What Do You Do When Team Members Fight?

Conflict per se isn't bad, there's probably creative tension and destructive tension. A degree of friction is good if it's the friction of ideas. What you really want to avoid as a leader or manager…

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If You Could Write a Letter to Your 21-Year-Old Self What Would You Say?

The letter I would write to my 21-year-old self is, do things for the experience. When you're young, don't worry about titles. If you can, to extend you can, don't worry about how much you…

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What Makes Your Blood Boil?

A couple of things get my blood going. One is when people attribute motives, so one they're assuming what the motives are, which often is wrong. I want people to judge what I say and…

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What Do You Hope People Get Out of Listening to Your Answers?

What I expect is that different people will get different things. Different people will come to this with their own set of questions, their own set of experiences. I'm not a great believer in one…

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What’s the Most Important Skill You Use That School Did Not Teach You?

The skill that I constantly try do is ask questions. I constantly want to push people to get a sense of what are their assumptions. Are they sure that their assumptions ought to be assumed?…

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How Do You Give a Great Presentation?

In Real Estate, there's three laws, location, location and location, and I think, when it comes to speaking, the three laws are preparation, preparation and preparation. What you want to do is prepare enough so…

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What Is Your Biggest Time-Saving Trick?

For me, my biggest time-saving trick is to think hard about what I do before I actually do it. So for me, the single best thing, whether it's a outline on paper or an outline…

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What Book Changed Your Life?

Probably the book that made the biggest difference to me, intellectually, was a book by an Australian academic who I got to know when I was a graduate student at Oxford. His name is Hedley…

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What's the Biggest Mistake New Bosses Make?

Too many first time managers think they've got to order. They think of top down, they think that they've got to always lead and they've got to push. Someone in the military once told me that…

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Tell Us About a Mistake You Made and What You Learned

In one of my first jobs working on the [Capitol] Hill I was writing statements for a senator. What I did was I wrote them in my voice initially, rather than thinking of what worked…

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When Does It Make Sense to Take a Pay Cut?

Taking a pay cut is a luxury that not everybody has, whether it's because of student debt or family responsibilities, or what have you. But if you have that luxury, if you have that cushion,…

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Is Micromanagement Always Bad?

If I ever write another management book, the title of it's going to be "Whoever Said You Never Needed to Micromanage Never Managed Anything". Micromanagement is at times important because you've got to worry about the…

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Who Do You Admire and Why?

Probably the best set of professional experiences I had in the workplace, when I worked for the 41st President, George Herbert Walker Bush. Both he and my immediate boss, Brent Scowcroft, who was the National…

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How Have Your Parents Affected You?

I was lucky in the sense that my parents gave me a great foundation, and we were neither really poor nor at all wealthy, so it allowed me to grow up in a world where…

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What's Your Biggest Regret So Far?

I don't think we have time to get into how many failures I had, and, quite honestly, failures are good in the sense that they can be extraordinary learning experiences. I love it in some…

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What Is the Most Important Soft Skill for a Manager?

I find it really important as a leader to be consistent. I never want to have the people who work with me, who work for me, to be on their heels not knowing who's going…

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How Do You Make a Positive First Impression on Your Team?

I think it was the old toothpaste commercial, or maybe it was the hair commercial, that you can only make a first impression once. What's important about first impressions is to be yourself, to not…

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How Hands-On Are You With New Projects?

I'm probably the most hands-on at the beginning of a process, at launch. That's when you've got to get the right people in the room. You've got to decide what your definition of success is, what…

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How Do You Manage Your Emails?

Email management is a challenge for all of us. It's a particular challenge for me in no small part because I get so many. The main thing to do on email is be a bit…

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Should Leaders Show Their Vulnerability?

I think it's important to show as a leader that you don't have all the answers, that you're human, that you have doubts, you have faults. That said, at times, you've got a job to…

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What Was the Worst Advice Someone Gave You?

I'm not sure I can say the worst piece of advice I've ever been given, but I've had bad bosses. You can learn, in some ways as much from your bad bosses as you can…

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"Had prominent and significant role in assisting the peace process in Northern Ireland"

Since 2003, Richard Haass has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States devoted to issues of foreign policy and international relations.

He has served as the senior Middle East advisor to President George H.W. Bush and as a principal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was also U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and the U.S. envoy to both the Cyprus and Northern Ireland peace talks.

A recipient of the State Department's Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Tipperary International Peace Award, Richard is also the author or editor of thirteen books on U.S. foreign policy and one book on management. His latest book is A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order, published in 2017 by Penguin Press. A Rhodes scholar, he holds the Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in New York.