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John Kasich: Change from the Bottom Up, Not Top Down


Read more about John Kasich’s discussion with the Detroiter magazine on his views of the current political landscape.


“Time is running. The clock is winding down,” said John Kasich, former governor of Ohio and senior political commentator for CNN. “The question is, can we seize the moment to leave a legacy to live a life a little bigger than ourselves?”

On Thursday, May 30 at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference, Kasich took to Michigan’s Center Stage to offer his message of igniting change, however big or small, and regardless of status, title, or position. He cited the example of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl who, at age 15, began protesting climate change outside the Swedish parliament and has since become a climate activist, and Albert Lexie, a shoe shiner and friend of Kasich’s who was known for his charitable donations to hospitals.

“When you’re in a position to do something, you need to do it,” said Kasich, calling on the CEO community to carry a social responsibility.

“Can I prove to you that power comes from the bottom up, not the top down?” he asked. The Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage, conversations surrounding environmental awareness, and other moments in history prove the impact of change from the bottom up. There are those who brought about change in spite of heavy harassment — civil right leader, Martin Luther King Jr., voting and women’s rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Israeli politician and human rights activist, Natan Sharansky.

The son of blue-collar democrats from a small town near McKees Rocs, Pennsylvania, Kasich lives by the mantra that “every single person is special” and finding the answer to that eternal question — “what is my purpose in life?”

“No one cares when you are gone, but you can continue to make contributions and I would really encourage you as business leaders, CEOs, CFOs, other leaders in the company, make the business something more than just a profit. If you do it you’ll be successful.”

Following his keynote, Kasich was joined on stage by The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes to talk politics, the coming “job tsunami,” and more.

Key takeaways:

  • In the coming job tsunami, powered by industrial and technological change, “The single best way to bring about structured change is community colleges. They are like first responders,” Kasich said.
  • Companies are going to offer online skills that they require from employees. The talent pool will not have to obtain a 4-year degree. Skills training will be more individualized.
  • As a CNN commentator, Kasich said he tries to be fair when criticizing President Donald Trump.
  • There is a sense of disgruntlement from constituents when it comes to their political leadership. Politicians should put country over person and stand for principles even if they lose.

This session was sponsored by Comcast Business.