The official website of Carly Fiorina and Carly Fiorina Enterprises


January 15, 2019

Listen Banner4.jpg
By Example Episode Art Harper.jpg

Ep. 7: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Talks Tough Tradeoffs

January 15, 2019

Carly Fiorina sits down with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to talk about his new book, his view of leadership in public service, balance, and what truly makes someone a leader.

About this Episode:

Carly sat down with Prime Minister Harper Carly Fiorina sits down with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss:

  • The difference between listening to people and people pleasing

  • How to balance public opinion and public interest

  • Empathy and respecting those with other views

  • The difference between academic learning and real world knowledge

  • The lessons of failures

  • His new book

  • The world as it is now

Love the episode? Make sure to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. You can learn more about "By Example" by joining our email list at 

About the Guest:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper is a Canadian economist, entrepreneur, and retired politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Canada, from February 6, 2006, to November 4, 2015. Harper has served as the leader of the International Democrat Union since February 2018.

Although the original prognosis was that he had been killed in action, Justin survived thanks to risks taken by his fellow Marines and a courageous Navy Corpsman. In fact, when Corpsman Grant first rolled Justin over, he was no longer breathing. For his service in Iraq, Justin earned the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal.




Today’s example: not your everyday politician

Carly introduces us to today’s example: Prime Minister Stephen Harper [0:38]

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one of the few internationally-known politicians who has chosen to step down from a position of great power and influence when he didn’t have to

  • He is always talking about the bigger purpose he is trying to serve - not about himself

Going with the flow, Stephen Harper’s childhood, academic vs. experiential learning [2:48]

Leaders - especially in the political arena - can’t just reflect public opinion [2:48]

  • Leaders are ultimately there to serve the wider public interest and the people that their institutions represent, so you can’t ignore public opinion - but you can’t use that as your only guide

  • If you take a decision you know to be popular but wrong, know that the people will one day realize it is wrong - and they will not remember that it was popular

  • Understanding why people feel the way they do is critically important; as a leader, you have to practice empathy

Stephen Harper grew up in a middle class household, in which he got to know many different people with many different backgrounds [7:04]

  • Stephen Harper spent time with people from all different backgrounds: middle class professionals, people who lived in rural communities, those who were low-income

  • He realized that people have different experiences - and you don’t denigrate them for disagreeing with you based on those experiences

Some of our leaders get into trouble when they don’t afford appropriate respect to experiential learning [9:20]

  • Stephen Harper points out that the Western education system venerates academic learning but does not lift up practical learning and experience in the same way

  • Academic learning to the exclusion of practical learning can breed arrogance

  • You get leaders who are very one-dimensional with very low regard for people with more developed personalities, experience, and shrewdness

  • We’ve developed a very narrow view of personal development; we have not lifted up character development in the same way and many young people don’t know how to deal with failure, setbacks, or criticism

Optimism and concern, parallels in France, and stepping away from power [15:33]

 Stephen Harper shares why he is optimistic and concerned about the future [15:33]

  • At no point in human history have people been better off with more opportunities than we have today

  • However, we also have a lot of leaders of institutions with a lot of influence who are completely cut off from ordinary people; those people can’t wrap their minds around the very disruptive political movements - and therefore can’t design realistic responses to them

  • Stephen Harper also believes that many of us also don’t appreciate what we have; the media suggests we face levels of poverty, challenge, and deprivation that we simply don’t

  • We also don’t appreciate the freedom and democracy in our countries - things that previous generations have fought and died for

Carly and Stephen Harper discuss France, we see a similar dynamic [20:32]

  • In France, many policymakers are stunned by protests that are essentially saying: “You are talking about the end of the world and we spend our time talking about how to get to the end of the month”

  • While Stephen Harper believes that climate change is a serious, long-term challenge, he also recognizes that pursuing policies that make life harder ordinary citizens is not wise - and to do it on the basis that you are smarter and more moral is appalling

Stephen Harper chose to give up power in 2015 when he left his post as leader of the conservative party [24:29]

  • Stephen Harper had an unexpectedly strong position of his party - he was essentially the founder of the party, having united to parties to create the modern modern conservative party of Canada

  • He made the decision for two reasons:

    • He wanted to create a party that outlasted him as a person and would be able to consistently govern in the decades to come

    • When he and his wife got into politics in 2001, they promised that when they started to look at the downside, they would leave, never look back, and do something else with their lives

Stephen Harper’s definition of leadership and where you can learn more [31:37]

What Stephen Harper looks for in leaders [31:37]

“I have met people with very little education who are very shrewd, smart, wise. And I’ve met experts who are some of the most foolish people you could come across.”
— Prime Minister Stephen Harper
  • Stephen Harper looks for several things int eh people he wants to succeed him:

    • Mission bigger than themselves

    • Not simply the right motives, agenda, and skills or abilities - but people who have grown in their jobs

You can learn more about Stephen Harper’s perspective on leadership and culture in his new book [33:34]

  • Carly shares a little bit about about Stephen Harper’s new book: Right Here, Right Now - Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption [you can check it out here on Amazon]

  • You don’t have to agree with Stephen Harper’s politics to learn a lot from the way he talks about issues that confront all of us - and how to handle those issues in a rapidly changing environment



Listen Icons.png
Listen Icons2.png

SUBSCRIBE to By Example in your favorite podcast app.

NEW EPISODES are released weekly every Tuesday.

Listen Banner4.jpg


Join our email list for a chance to win a signed copy of Carly’s upcoming new book “Find Your Way.”