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Main Episode:


Bonus Content:

Hear more about how Ron Suskind and Paul O'Neill met and how the book The Price of Loyalty came to be:


Welcome to Episode #57 of Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture.

ron suskind

Our guest today is Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and investigative reporter.

Ron has been a contributor for The New York Times Magazine and Esquire. Ron was the Wall Street Journal’s senior national affairs reporter from 1993 until his departure in 2000…  

Ron is the best-selling author of six books on topics ranging from terrorism to autism — his 2004 book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill is why we’re talking today. We're also commemorating what would have been Paul's 86th birthday this past Saturday.

In the episode, Ron discusses his decades-long relationship with the late Paul H. O'Neill, Sr., what he learned about his leadership and principles, and how that can (and does) apply to healthcare  — with our host, Mark Graban.

Also check out the bonus episode, where Ron shares more of the story about meeting O'Neill and writing the book.

Topics and questions include:

  • In a Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, you said Paul was “the king of facts” - tell us what you meant by that and how you learned that.
  • Was it difficult for O'Neill to shift from being a CEO to being part of President Bush's cabinet?
  • How much did you talk about healthcare with him? "Endlessly."
  • Why was O'Neill a "skunk at a garden party"?
  • O'Neill influenced many healthcare CEOs (as we've interviewed in this series) -- why aren't more leaders on board with his approach?
  • During the virtual memorial service, you stated that Paul’s mark would endure… why is that and what qualities?


"[Paul O'Neill] is just a champion of rigor of fact-based. What do the facts show? Is there evidence here? Is there evidence upon which we can rely independently that everyone says, 'Yes, that is indisputable.' Paul just lives for that.""The core issue for Paul: good process creates good outcomes. So, and right now, what I see here, here, here, and there is bad process, right? Process that could be improved. By studying the flaws, by studying the places it's broken, repairing them, changing the way we do what we do, everyone will be better off. ""Paul would rail against the legalism and the legal structures that often push us in all of the wrong directions. 'Just think of the civil suits. That's going to be the cost of doing the right thing. Just put that in your model and assume that that's something that you'll have to pay to be better.""Paul was ferocious. He's like, no, no, no, no, no covering your tuchus here. You know, we can be better. We can do better. We can all do better."

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Mark Graban (2s):
Welcome to Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture. This podcast, and our firm, is all about helping you and your organization. Achieve habitual excellence, via one unifying focus, one value based structure and one performance system. In other words, it's about helping you capture dramatically more value through achieving perfect care and perfect safety for patients and staff. To learn more about value capture and our services visit Well, hi everybody. Welcome to Habitual Excellence. I'm Mark Graban and we're joined today.

Mark Graban (42s):
Our guest is Ron Suskind. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and investigative reporter. Ron through his career has been previously contributor to the New York Times Magazine and to Esquire. He was the Wall Street Journal senior national affairs reporter from 1993 until 2000. And he is the bestselling author of six books on topics ranging from terrorism to autism and his 2004 book titled The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill is why we're talking today. So first off, Ron, thank you for joining us here today. How are you?

Ron Suskind (1m 17s):
Great, good to be with you, Mark, you and your gang. This will be fun.

Mark Graban (1m 21s):
Yeah. So, you know, if people were wondering at the beginning why you are here, the, the end of the subtitle of your book, I think made that very clear. And you, you mentioned, you know, facts and truth and data in that interview with Terry Gross. You said Paul was the king of facts and, and in the interview, I mean, you know, she was asking questions sort of asking him to speculate. He wouldn't do it. I mean, I remember a couple of points in that interview where his answer was basically, I don't know, you'd have to ask so-and-so, but you know, so the, this phrase, you know, "the king of facts," and I was wondering if you could just sort of elaborate a little bit on, on that label of him.

Ron Suskind (2m 5s):
Yeah. I mean, I think one of the reasons that I've said since the book came out in a January 20th, 2004, I had a great run, you know, whatever month and a half at the top of the times bestseller list, drove events really framed the Bush administration, the Bush-Cheney administration set the tables for many events and understandings that would follow, frankly, even to this day, Paul was just fall is just a dream subject for a book because the man is just, just a champion of rigor of fact-based.

Ron Suskind (2m 46s):
What do the facts show? Is there evidence here? Is there evidence upon which we can rely independently that everyone says, yes, that is indisputable. I see it. You see, it's a vase, it's a pot, it's a wheel of a car. It can be agreed upon that. This is evidence that is not in dispute. This is what we know. Here's how we know here's what the data shows, you know, here's the thing that lives outside of the, the competing opinions of men and women and Paul just, he lives for that.

Ron Suskind (3m 30s):
He just, and so, so I could spend this year and this time with a person who's divining rod as to evidence, I mean, just so beautifully precise in discovery, you know, how do we know that we don't, here's how we know it. Well, it's cost of this. That's what reporters do too. And Paul, of course that's what Paula Neil did.

Ron Suskind (4m 10s):
I mean, he was, people would come in with all sorts of notions of this or that, or posits sort of notions while I was like, okay, well, what is it? We can rely on that. We can know, all right, what is it that can be proven? What is it that will live in an independent place, kind of soundness empirically that, that we'll have guidance. Then we can all rely on that shared place. Cause that's, I think what evidence, what facts do they give you a place to gather? Okay. That we know, okay, this, we wonder about it may be where we're going.

Ron Suskind (4m 54s):
You may be the outcome that is yet uncertain, but, but having a foundation of fact is, is the O'Neill was the only real way.

Mark Graban (5m 5s):
I mean, that was the only real way when he was CEO of Alcoa. And I imagine it must have been a challenging transition to go from being the CEO of a corporation, to being a cabinet member. Even though you say, you know, you make it sound like he had a lot of autonomy over treasury, but now he's part of a team part of George w bushes cabinet. And this, this rigor towards facts and knowledge probably came up both in economic matters and other discussions.

Ron Suskind (5m 35s):
Yeah. Yeah. What was interesting is that you see, well, what is fascinating about, about Paul's experience? And again, his widely, publicly known experiences is that there's a Paul actually, when he was working in the Bureau of the Budget under when the Johnson of the newly formed OMB under Richard Nixon and then deputy head of OMB, he and Frank Zarb. But you know, they, they ran the government on when Nixon was, you know, in Watergate, hell I mean, you know, Paul comes from a time when the respect for the known and knowable was central.

Ron Suskind (6m 16s):
I mean, there was never, you know, that's the way that's the way government was working in that earlier period. You know, then he arrives kind of decades later into a time where message and impression and, you know, projection where, where the reality-based had been for a family diminished. And, and he was again like a man from a past that had, that had been that had vanished saying, well, you can make this decision based on what I know, you know, let's find out what is normal.

Ron Suskind (7m 11s):
What's discover what we, we do now rely upon as the, the facts of the case. Many of those things along with the policy process had been largely subordinated to message the political mandate and to the idea that we, in our statements from the top, the great empire of America, we can create a reality with the things we say, and that reality will shape behavior and action. And in a way, create all sorts of new sets of facts for you back people.

Ron Suskind (7m 55s):
And that O'Neill thought was an irresponsible way to conduct something as important as the, the affairs of the world's greatest power. And, and that put them in conflict with many people in the administration. He was, he was ever the skunk at the garden party. I mean, Colin Powell was in his way too. They talked about that foreign and domestic, Secretary of State and Treasury they're the two senior roles, but they, they talked about being at one point when pal was about to go in front of the United Nations, he, Paul's already out of the administration at that point, just, they had known each other pal was actually worked as an intern at OMB, under Nixon.

Ron Suskind (8m 47s):
They known each other for years, they talked about their roles of being, you know, the skunk at these garden parties. And Paul gave it a nice analogy. He's like, and it's almost like calling you. And I are like in these long boats and we're the ones jamming the oars. And that's the way both of them are in their reverse roles, foreign and domestic. But Paul says something interesting to Powell. He says, you know, but here's the thing, you know, as, as the boat moves downstream, if you remain in the boat you're of the boat, you know, even if you offer that, that, you know, opposing position contrary view and make sure they're here, that, you know, the only way to preserve your integrity is to get out of the boat.

Ron Suskind (9m 46s):
And Powell, years hence, would say, Paul really was wise to try to warn me of what was ahead. If I did not leap from the boat prior to me sitting in front of the United Nations, you know, where he, where pals said that where my, I, I ruined a big part of what I had built in my life, but when it gets right to the principles of O'Neill the truth, as best as you can know it and render it and express it, don't fear.

Ron Suskind (10m 35s):
It it's all we have.

Mark Graban (10m 37s):
Well, and all of that makes me think of healthcare. And after leaving treasury, you know, Mr. O'Neill was involved in a number of groups around Pittsburgh and, and, you know, with Paul O'Neill, Jr. And, and others, you know, he was the first non executive chairman of our firm Value Capture. And hearing him speak many times to healthcare audiences, Mr. O'Neill would speak uncomfortable truths about facts, data, about harm to patients, harm to healthcare providers. There are times where we're speaking those truths within healthcare circles could also make you a skunk at the garden party as you put it.

Mark Graban (11m 21s):
I mean, I'm, I'm curious, how much did you talk to Mr. O'Neill over the years or decades about health care and his observations and goals

Ron Suskind (11m 30s):
Endlessly! Honestly, I mean, you know, I mean, you know, obviously, you know, running the regional health care initiative in Pittsburgh and the Allegheny area and, you know, and all the speeches he's given, you know, he was often, he would often talk to me, he called me up and he's about to give a speech and we would riff on some lines. Paul was ferocious. He's like, no, no, no, no, no. Covering your, tuchus here. You know, we can be better. We can do better.

Ron Suskind (12m 10s):
You know, we all can be better. You know, right now we have a system in which a lot of people are not doing a lot of things that actually can make patient care. And the wellbeing of patients, you know, so much improved, you know what, look, humans are prone to error. You know, we never want to acknowledge that you have, especially in the medical establishment, you know, we were, you know, we wear that white coat, the God coat, we carry kind of a risk to them.

Ron Suskind (12m 55s):
Fallibility inside of that, there are all sorts of things that doctors are not doing, or that really would change the lives of patients. I mean, the errors, he would see errors once, once he dug into the data, then the amount of errors on people writing prescriptions. That was one of his big things, right? Error, error, error, you know, and doctors, I can't read it. Well, it must be that, oh, it wasn't that it was this next thing, you know, a patient is taking one medication. Who's going to acknowledge that, getting go away, you know, not washing your hands. Oh my God.

Ron Suskind (13m 36s):
You know, I mean, he just said, I am going to just keep going at the core issue for Paul, good process creates good outcomes, good process. So, and right now, what I see here, here, here, and there is bad process, right? Process that could be improved. And when it is improved and people stick with the improvements, the things that we know, cause by studying the flaws, by studying the places it's broken, repairing them, changing the way we do what we do, everyone will be better off.

Ron Suskind (14m 21s):
Wow. I mean, you know, I, I'm a buddy of Atul Gawande with this checklist. Paul proceeds Atul. You know, Paul's doing that basically and doing it in terms of let's change the process of what we do and how we do it. And the key is to look hard at ourselves and, and, and the, and the mistakes that we make, the oversights, the blind spots, the things we do out of habit that ends up actually showing enormous deleterious outcome. I mean, you know, when you look at what he did, when he got to Treasury, he did what he did Alcoa, you know, looking at how people get hurt, doing what they do.

Ron Suskind (15m 8s):
That was his big ah-ha. You know, where he says, I don't want anyone to get hurt. Making this product aluminum. And people looked at him said, are you mad? It's aluminum, it's giant vats of aluminum cranes. And that the normative level of workplace injuries you were, we're good. We're below it. We're fine. He's like, no, no, we should just, no one should get hurt doing the thing we do here. And my God look at the changes that came from that. I mean, it's just one of the most beautiful stories in the American firmament.

Ron Suskind (15m 48s):
I mean, Paul, just going crazy. As soon as he gets to Alcoa on that score and someone gets killed in Australia because the crane hits them. Paul flies down there and says, well, why is the crane that way? Why swing that way? Let's fix that. Let's get all of our factories in 140 touches as well. We're going to fix that. Someone got killed because of the way the crane does that, that won't do that anymore. We'll make a new crane. What does this do? It not only saves wives maybe, and obviously keeps people being hurt.

Ron Suskind (16m 29s):
It allowed the people who work in Alcoa to say, this guy cares about me and my fortunes my life. I'm not just some widget here. And he's looking at well, you know, a lot of people get hurt doing this and whatever, that's the way it goes. He's caring about me. And all of a sudden that alone, that change creates an enormous burst of productivity at Alcoa, where people at the bottom of the factory floors or say are feeling different about themselves. And they're starting to act in a different way. And they're saying, you know, I'm valuable and you know, they do something stupid and why do we do it that way?

Ron Suskind (17m 16s):
This is a better way to do it. And that all of a sudden is making for five steps as opposed to 20 steps and productivity starts to explode inside of Alcoa and suddenly the making of aluminum gets to be profitable after all the years where everyone in aluminum and other similar industry, like there's no way you can make money the way they hope you make money on wall street or demand making sort to diversify and go with the shopping malls and whatever, whatever. And that was Paul because he says it matters.

Ron Suskind (17m 58s):
It matters that you do it in a way that is best, that we care about people. And it got to that key moment in the great O'Neill saga where all of the remaining executives at Alcoa after most had been fired after Paul had been there a short time and being a zealot about no, one's going to get hurt, making aluminum. They came in one after that, I said, Paul, you know, we think you're doing this because you want to lower work prison injuries. So there's so we can save money and there's more money in the bonus pool for you're fired.

Ron Suskind (18m 41s):
Okay. So finally the last group, the stragglers, and most of them as they reported to me, the remaining the survivors, because their wives had taken them aside after obviously colleagues had been ousted. And they're like, just go, Charlie, just say, just please help me understand what, what do you want? What am I doing that I could change? And they came in the last group who didn't want to relocate. And they said, so we think, we think you're doing this because we want to show the people actually work here.

Ron Suskind (19m 28s):
The zillions of that, we want to show them that we, we care about them is that, that was one of the great moments like you guys have come this far. I'll take you the last step, the key last step. And it's this, if you want to, if you want to show them, you care, you actually have to care. And that's the O'Neill story. So what are those principles there? I mean, those are the, these are the core O'Neill principles. You've got to be authentic.

Ron Suskind (20m 8s):
You actually have to care about them because, because that will make all the difference. And that's a beautiful point of O'Neill-ian clarity. I mean, there's so many folks who so deeply admired Paul in the world of health care. I knew many of them, all the leaders in health care in America, he's a Copernican character. One of them he helps us, helps us see, helps us think more deeply about the human engagement, about the fact that we are here to help people live lives of health and wholeness.

Ron Suskind (21m 3s):
And as long as possible, now we are a business. We know that, but we need to be guided by principles that are other than those, that shape short-term returns.

Mark Graban (21m 27s):
And so Paul thankfully did influence many executives in healthcare. I've interviewed a good number of those CEOs, you know, here in this podcast series to talk about that direct influence and mentoring from Paul O'Neill, I got a message the other day from somebody at a group in Michigan, a group called the Michigan Lean Consortium, which includes a number of people from healthcare organizations. And somebody on the board of this group had just read the book that we had published with some of the transcripts of some of Paul's speeches for healthcare audiences and, and the, and this guy said, and I'm going to pose this question to you, Ron, it's maybe not easy to answer, but I'll throw it at you anyway.

Mark Graban (22m 7s):
So this guy Joe was saying that he thought Paul O'Neill cracked the code with safety. What I can't understand is why the rest of us haven't followed that path of full reporting, accountability and working to take, you know, to not focus on just the bottom line arguments. Why, what could we do to help influence others? Is that, what, what is there, is there a path to that?

Ron Suskind (22m 36s):
One of the difficulties we face is that we're living within a set of structures and processes that Paul talked a lot about. And he and I talked a lot about that, that rewards a certain cluster or group of incentives serves to diminish others. I mean, you know, Paul used to talk about big giant sectors of the world and the economy in which, which in which processes broken. When I look at so many of these issues, I say, if we were able to alter the incentives and that's, that's a big part of what government does a big part of what I think all manner of human progress does in shaping the ways in which we kind of act and move and live our lives, the rules that govern that you end up having essentially a different way in which the world works right now, we have short-term incentives and very little longitudinal accountability in many areas of our life, both the public and private sectors.

Ron Suskind (23m 56s):
Paul and I talked a lot about that. He was a big believer in stretching out the systems of accountability, having real consequences connected to them. And, and when I look at the focus on the bottom line, you see many folks who essentially say, you know, that's what wins the day. We're under pressure to meet the measure of that yardstick. And we respond to that pressure. When I think of how the world could look different.

Ron Suskind (24m 37s):
And, and this is something we talked about is just to, is just to say, what we're going to think about here is we're going to think about how you and your institution manages itself over five years. So we're not going to have the return on investment, you know, occur by the hour or a day. And you'd be being part of that as a manager of the large entity to get your rewards, we're going to stretch it out so that the actions have consequences as do the improvements in terms of the core issues of care.

Ron Suskind (25m 24s):
For instance, as to, as to people really knowing that here is why things didn't work out, you should know that that's not something that should be hidden. This is why we are not able to meet our, our charge. Our, you know, our mandate in caring for you here is what we'll do about that. Here is how we get better. Here's how we are better than we were, because we have continuous improvement based on a rigor and embrace of the truest things that we can discover.

Ron Suskind (26m 10s):
Do you trust us more? Now then you did, when we didn't act this way. And we talk about the loss of trust in institutions of all kinds in a public and private, what surprise to anyone about that? I mean, really, you know, we're living in a moment again, another like Paul and I talking to him, this is what talked about, we're in it. I mean, and it's a time of habit by virtue of that, you know, an enormous democratization of information and of knowledge.

Ron Suskind (26m 56s):
It's there at the touch of a finger, to anyone with a device, all human knowledge there for you. All right. Well, that's creating a lot of habits in terms of the way power is arrayed, how it's expressed top and bottom people having strength from knowledge that they didn't have people knowing what's notable at all levels. I mean, my God, you know, it's very Gutenberg like before, before Gutenberg who had the truth, the priests, the Nobles, they told everyone what's true and they're done. Then all of a sudden people are reading for themselves and it cost 150 years of religious wars.

Ron Suskind (27m 41s):
But nonetheless, you know, we're in a moment like that now. And Paul in a way is a person who lived as best. He could that future that had not yet arrived and was arriving toward the end of his life. He was, he was that he was, he was a guy saying, what is knowable? Let's talk about that. Let's have that be our starting point. And how can we learn more?

Ron Suskind (28m 21s):
And then those are the truths you can own together in the large concert. If people carrying forward, shared principles, you know, is it okay that these people die in a preventable, in a preventable fashion? No. Is it all right? That terrible diseases are born in cited institutions, medical institutions, because people are not washing their hands. What are you kidding me? They're busy. I know they're busy, the doctors, the nurses, but we're going to make it so that they have no way to not do this very basic thing that saves the lives of the people they're treating.

Ron Suskind (29m 15s):
Okay. Can we work on that? How about that? And you know, when Paul would rail against the legalism and the legal structures that often push us in all of the wrong directions? No, no. If we acknowledge that, oh boy, just think of the civil suits. Just, that's going to be the cost of doing the right thing. Just put that in your model and assume that that's something that, you know, you'll have to pay to be better.

Ron Suskind (30m 0s):
All of these, this is all wisdom and it gets to value. I mean, I see this in Paul, Jr. I see it in lots of folks who are of the ethic of, of a kind of rigor and a kind of clarity about how we can be our best, how we can improve, how we can say that I'm in the act being the very best I can. I can be to carry forward the principles that are central to the life of worth.

Ron Suskind (30m 46s):
That's our boy.

Mark Graban (30m 50s):
So when you're talking about principles, living on maybe a final question for you, Ron, you know, during the Memorial service for Paul last year, you, you talked about how, you know, his, his mark would endure that there was a legacy there. Y can you tell us why, why, why you think that is and what principles or qualities we'll, we'll carry forward?

Ron Suskind (31m 15s):
I, I think the principles that guided and illuminated Paul's life and that he got to employ in both the public and private sectors, which I think is important that it's not just in his role in government, but also in his role in business. And, and how similar is his actions and activities were really in, in both sectors. I think that, I think there's certain ideals.

Ron Suskind (32m 0s):
One is courage. Courageous guy says, look, I know what's right, and it's not really in dispute. It's not conditional. It's not matters of situational ethics or, or assessment. The certain things that I've just shown to be the right things to do, be truthful, be humble. Say, I don't know, I'm not going to be honest with the people around you work for you, we're with you, tell them, tell them things that, that show that, that you have no corner on, on all of the right things all the time, you know, humble.

Ron Suskind (33m 1s):
Yeah. That kind of humility tucked into that. I think what he did is he altered significantly the way people conducted themselves in American business. They still study O'Neill actions and examples of business schools around the country. And it is, he is cited as one of the key actors in the management of the government of the United States. I mean, truly, you know, there've been a lot of treasury secretaries. There've been a lot of senior officials of government, even presidents, but O'Neil's example for what he did during his time in government, early on.

Ron Suskind (33m 50s):
And then in his key, final role as treasury secretary, it's a signature moment of a nation ruled by laws are not met of the way government works furiously. And with a deep sense of, of professionalism to do the best it can do is to know everything it can know is to act with prudence and with, with, with all of the wisdom, it can acquire, just think about it.

Ron Suskind (34m 32s):
He's standing up to a sitting president during their actionable time. This is the red squad cross line during their term. And essentially he is saying, he's a whistleblower as treasury secretary. You said to him saying, I am not going to let this proceed without me stating clearly here is what it is.

Mark Graban (34m 58s):
That was his way. Going back to your analogy, I guess, of getting off the boat.

Ron Suskind (35m 5s):
Yeah. Well, you said it inside the building many, many times, and he saw they, they ignored him or steamrolled right over him steamrolled right over him. Yeah. I don't think he went out there to say, I'm going to say this publicly. And that will be some sort of, you know, particularly corrective. He, he, he felt that he should, that it was to trust truth. He was living in a place that was throwing out falsehoods often by the hour.

Ron Suskind (35m 46s):
And he's like, no, that's that gets you into trouble. I'm going to do what I know to do, which is to allow and embrace the idea of me being at the center of a big piece of non-fiction where my voice would be heard, where all the evidence will be freely examined again, not me, but, but Suskind and others who interviews hundreds of sources in that book, it was the central source, but everyone joined and we will have a record of this time.

Ron Suskind (36m 30s):
And it will come out in within a time in which this knowledge can actually shape action. You know, in a way he was looking at what he felt was the sound policy process and saying, I will be party to making that kind of a process happen across America because I trust the American people. Paul grew up with poor people. He knew poor people. He knew people from one edge of America. He was not a believer in the fact that that someone who has lots of education and fancy graduate degrees is innately more sensible or more wise or more intelligent in terms of the essential things than a person who is unlettered and not fortunate enough to be born on second base.

Ron Suskind (37m 33s):
And that's because he had lived it, it lived, it, it's so rare to have someone go from one to the other and one life, very rare. And that's why he says I'm gonna be party to a process in which the American people can know all that is knowable about this moment in which we're living. They deserve that they're the sovereign here. I and others where I'm living. We are public servants, public people with enormous power, hands on the levers, driving historic events and driving outcomes and the fortunes of many people in this country and abroad.

Ron Suskind (38m 26s):
But we are servants, the master or the people. They are the soft, they deserve to know everything they can, so they can be most informed, most aware, most apt, ready and empowered to know the best things to do on behalf of themselves and the nation in which they it's a lovely idea, isn't it? Yeah. It's fundamental to what makes America a unique player in the long history of human beings

Mark Graban (39m 9s):
And you described Paul O'Neill earlier as a man of another time, I'd like to think those principles are not behind us and that those principles are still part of creating a better future.

Ron Suskind (39m 23s):
You know, they sh they surely power will exercise his prerogatives to either disagree or discard. Some of those stated venerable principles that we know time. And again are the ones that save our tuck. All right, that's a power does. And, and the struggle is ever the betterment of man against all sorts of forces and often against our own selves and what we do for all sorts of reasons to get what we want.

Ron Suskind (40m 12s):
And the whole we're we're living in times. Now that there's, there's times where I'm saying, I actually feel glad that Paul is not here. When I see some of the things happening each and every day, I can just hear him on the phone at six in the morning. Did you read, did you say it happened today? You know, and then he would pause and he would speak in principle. That's what he did.

Ron Suskind (40m 53s):
So look, you know, here's the thing is that we find a way human beings find a way history of that is strong. At some point we say, I get it. And this is how we bend toward the sunlight as great a unison, multitude as, as is manageable and possible. We do it. We're good at it. You know, when we will, we do now in certain ways, sometimes we bend against often.

Ron Suskind (41m 33s):
We've been with, you know, the zigs and zags often it's, you know, two steps forward and one back and even one step forward, two back on the key issues of progress of human progress. But generally we move forward. And so it will remain. And I think Paul was a very optimistic man in that very same way, which is really what he did every day. He got up there to try to create the thing. And boy, he worked hard, man, alive up at five 30, working into the night, a believer in our ability to make the world a better place each of us in our own.

Ron Suskind (42m 26s):
And in countless ways, I think it's, that's a good summation of our guy on his birthday. We're very happy he was born and cut a wide weight across 80 plus years for the greater good, which is what he did

Mark Graban (42m 48s):
Well, Ron, thank you for sharing your recollections and reflections of, of somebody who you got to know very well and made a mark on you. So really appreciate you sharing wide-ranging thoughts and it's it's yeah, very helpful, very inspiring to hear, you know, the story of optimism that, that, that, that comes through the inspiration for, for those of us who try to carry on parts of his message or to carry on his, to carry the torch in, in ways that are constructive. That's, that's helpful fuel to, to keep going.

Mark Graban (43m 28s):
So I appreciate you. So thank you for sharing all that. Again, our guest today here has been Ron Suskind, journalist investigative reporter, author of the book with Paul O'Neill being the main source and subject of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, The White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill. Ron, thank you for helping us with, I think, education as, as listeners, myself included. So thank you.

Ron Suskind (43m 59s):
Happy birthday.

Mark Graban (43m 59s):
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