The Bush Institute’s Podcast Talks Technology, Leadership, and ‘Strategery’

The Strategerist, hosted out of the Bush Institute's home on SMU's campus, features a wide range of both national and local figures. Season 1 recently wrapped, but listeners can expect an After Hours series—the most recent episode is on technology—and a second season coming out next month.

The George W. Bush Institute wants to know what happens when you cross the “43rd President, late night sketch comedy, and interesting conversation.”

The result, it says, is its podcast: The Strategerist.

Launched earlier this year, The Strategerist covers “leadership and compassion” from a wide range of prominent figures. Hosted by Andrew Kaufmann, the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s deputy director of external affairs, the podcast’s intent is to give newsmakers, experts, and figureheads a way to speak out on current happenings.

You might listen to Jan Langbein, the CEO of Dallas’ Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, delve into her journey to taking the helm of the safety center. There’s professional golfer and six-time PGA Tour winner Jimmy Walker, who played last year in the Bush Institute’s Warrior Open at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.

And of course, political figures are aplenty, with Congressman Will Hurd, former Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, and even President George W. Bush himself making appearances.

“Fascinating people walk through the door of the Bush Center nearly every day,” Kaufmann says. “It’s important to us that we add value to important conversations in and around Dallas, so it seemed a natural fit  to start a podcast that brought more people in to the opportunities we’re fortunate to be a part of.”

In this episode, Kauffman is interviewing Richard Casper, a former Marine who founded a nonprofit called Creativets, which provides combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury opportunities to use art, music, and creative writing to heal any unseen wounds of war. From left: Ioanna Papas, a producer; Kaufmann; Brittney Bain, director of communications and the episode’s cohost; and Casper. [Photo: Courtesy George W. Bush Center – Forum on Leadership]

The name The Strategerist was born from one of President Bush’s infamous phrases, “strategery.” In his podcast episode, President Bush explains that for almost two decades, he thought he came up with the term.

“Occasionally I would get my words mixed up, they call it a malapropism. So Laura and I took Lorne Michaels, the head of Saturday Night Live, to dinner and at one point he said, ‘We created the word strategery,'” President Bush explained. “I said, ‘No, you didn’t. I said it.’ And he said, ‘No, no. One of our great speech writers came up with the word and we basically stuck it on you.'”

But, although he realized it was originally used in an SNL sketch, President Bush said he’s honored the malaprop is part of the Bush Center.

And Kaufmann and his team draws on that same feeling each episode—having a sense of humor, to them, is one of the most important traits a leader can hold.

“Anecdotally, people are surprised by the name. They think that we’re a presidential center, so everything has to always be suit-and-tie formal,” he says. “But we feel strongly—and this comes from the very top—that it’s important to take issues very seriously… without taking yourself too seriously.”

Housed within Dallas’ Southern Methodist University campus, the Bush Institute defines itself as the “nonpartisan, public policy arm of the Bush Center.” Kaufmann says it was important to him and his team to be authentic to the culture of the Bush Center when curating the podcast. 

“We’re optimistic about the future of this country, in large part because of the work we do,” he says. “We see people working hard every day to make a better world for others in the communities and across the globe, and it’s an honor to share those stories and perspectives.”

Most recently, The Strategerist began an After Hours series that draws inspiration from season 1 of the podcast to discuss the role of technology on everyday life. Last week’s episode posed the question, “Has technology revolutionized our education system and job market for the good?” and Dallas Innovates gave it a listen to see what it had to say.

In response to a question about the slow world of policy and government and the fast world of technology-based companies—and whether them colliding is good or a bad thing—Kenneth Hersh, the president and CEO of the Bush Center, said, “I think it’s going to be the defining force, or dynamic, or conflict, whatever word you want to use, it’s going to be the defining element that will determine where the United States goes and where the world goes in the next 20 to 40 years.” 

And J.H. Cullum Clark, the director of the Bush Institute – SMU Economic Growth Initiative, weighed in on Dallas’ position as an economic force. “Places like Dallas and Houston are booming as much as they are because they are where the people are going.”

Kaufmann says he’s already recorded a few episodes for the next season of The Strategerist—listeners can expect national names like former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx, but also local figures like Byron Sanders, the CEO of Big Thought. 

Season two is expected to come out next month.

Lauren Hawkins contributed to this report.

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