Senator Bill Bradley on How We Can All Do Better

Record of Achievement

He has a record of achievement few can match:

  • Rhodes Scholar
  • Graduate of Princeton and Oxford
  • Olympic Gold Medalist
  • 2-time NBA Champion with the New York Knicks
  • Basketball Hall of Famer
  • Senator from New Jersey for 18 years
  • Presidential Candidate
  • Managing Director, Allen & Company
  • Host of American Voices on Satellite Radio
  • Author of seven books
  • Director serving on numerous charitable boards
  • And the list could go on and on.

I’m talking, of course, about Senator Bill Bradley.  Senator Bradley recently sat down with me to talk about a range of topics from his life growing up, his experiences as a pro basketball player, his life as a Senator, and the current issues facing our country. 

Senator Bradley’s latest book is titled We Can All Do Better.

Five words came to mind as I read the book, and we talked about them in the interview:

  1. Citizens.  It takes all of us to make a better country.  Citizen involvement is what spurred the greatest movements.  From abolitionists fighting to end slavery all the way to environmentalists cleaning up our air and water, the greatest changes occur when individuals get involved to make a difference.  These societal changes were not driven by the government.  They were driven by citizens.
  2. Compromise.  Compromise and negotiation is important.  Senator Bradley says, “It begins by giving respect to the other side.”
  3. Connecting.  I added this word to my list because I could see Senator Bradley’s ability to connect with people.  As a Senator, he always took time to meet with constituents whether through a table set up for commuters at the Port Authority or his famous four day beach walks.
  4. Competing.  To compete, as a country and as individuals, we must all be willing to adapt to change.
  5. Commitment.  We all need to commit to get involved, to vote and to help our country.  Success requires commitment on all levels.

In addition to his book, I enjoyed asking the Senator about his own life and success.  I definitely had to ask him about his unorthodox basketball training.  He grew up with no one to play with, and so he devised a clever way to practice basketball.  Practicing jumps with weights in his shoes, putting cardboard in his glasses so he could not look down, and dribbling through stacked chairs were some of the ways he was able to excel.

The Success of the Knicks

I also loved his answer to why the Knicks were so successful, winning two World Championships.  He pointed to two factors:

  1. The selflessness of the players
  2. The imagination of the team

He said, “One of us was only one point on a five point star and we realized that no one of us could be as good as all five of us playing unselfishly.”  What great advice for any team from a basketball court to the boardroom.  It made me think:  What if we were selfless as a team, relied on each other’s strengths and used our collective imagination?  What could be possible for your team at work?

As with any book with a strong point of view, I don’t agree with every point or solution Senator Bradley offers.  But, I like to study and read books from both sides of the political aisle.  And that’s the great thing about Senator Bradley.  He welcomes discussion and debate.  His goal is simply to get more people involved in that conversation.  To join the conversation, you can follow Senator Bradley on Twitter @BillBradley or use the hashtag #dobetter.  In election years, our country can appear divided.  Let’s all try to be respectful of the other side, and focus on a better future.  After all, we can all do better.


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