Not a “Nice Event”: Lunch with Governor Snyder

Our Governor is a nerd. He speaks like one, too. There are no resounding cheers in this hall, no calls for his head either. He speaks openly and comfortably, just telling us how it is. And he’s right.

Governor Rick Snyder joined us at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to speak to the After 5 Intern Program, a consortium of the bright interns from across Detroit. Most of the Governor’s remarks focused on Michigan business benefiting from keeping young talent in instate and in Detroit specifically. “Michigan cannot succeed without Detroit.” He talked to us about being a part of something, about shaping our own city. He asked us if we wanted to be a part of something here or “Do you want to be another yuppie in Chicago?” I had never been asked so pointedly if I wanted to abandon a city rebuilding for one already built.

Being an informal guy, the Governor yielded the floor for Town Hall style questions.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “We’ll see. I haven’t announced my candidacy…” “…I’ve always planned on having three careers: one in the private sector, one in the public and one teaching…” He went on to describe that he planned to teach in his 60s. He is 54 now. We’ll see.

He went through a series of questions about leadership style and career advice.

“What is the most important quality of a leader?” “Integrity.” “Never take credit.” “Be an ambassador for your state.”

He received several questions asked about Medicaid Expansion in Michigan. The Governor said resoundingly that it was the right thing to do morally and economically and asked that we call upon our state legislators to “vote not vacation.” This was where we started the applause.

He closed with a summary of the resources available to us in Michigan as young professionals. And then he said, very pointedly, he hoped this wasn’t a “nice event”; he hoped we were challenged. It was at this point where I started reflecting on the subtle way he had challenged us: not just be a part of something, but to be something.

It’ wasn’t a nice event, but the jury is still out on what kind of yuppie I’ll be.

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