Home » News » Liberty + Leadership Podcast – Will Weatherford on Principled Leadership

Liberty + Leadership Podcast – Will Weatherford on Principled Leadership


This week, another exceptional TFAS alumnus joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: Will Weatherford ’02, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and current managing partner of Weatherford Capital.

In this week’s episode, Roger and Will discuss his meteoric rise to becoming the youngest presiding officer of any state legislative chamber in the United States, the ever-changing relationship between government and business, and leading Tampa Bay’s efforts in its winning bid to host the Super Bowl.

The Liberty + Leadership Podcast is hosted by TFAS President Roger Ream and produced by kglobal. If you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast@TFAS.org.


Episode Transcript

The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity.

Roger Ream [00:00:00] Hello and welcome. I’m Roger Ream and this is the Liberty and Leadership podcast, a conversation with TFAS alumni who are making a real impact in politics, public policy, government, business, philanthropy, law and the media. Today, I’m excited to welcome a very special guest to Liberty and Leadership. Will Weatherford, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Will served four consecutive terms in the House of Representatives and was during his time as Speaker of the House, the youngest Presiding Officer of any state legislative chamber in the United States.

Roger Ream [00:00:38] In addition to Will’s robust political career, he is also noteworthy as a business leader. He’s worked in a number of investment roles, most notably as Managing Partner of Weatherford Capital, a family owned growth equity firm. When Will isn’t busy working he’s involved in his community, helping to develop future leaders. He’s one of TFAS’s most accomplished alumni and someone I’m certain you’ll enjoy hearing from. Will, thanks for joining me.

Will Weatherford [00:01:08] Thank you, Roger. It’s an honor to be on and great to see you again.

Roger Ream [00:01:11] Always a pleasure. Now, Will let me just ask you a few things about your TFAS experience. You attended a program of ours in 2002 while a student, I think at Jacksonville, Florida. Tell me a little bit about that experience in our Business Institute back then.

Will Weatherford [00:01:28] Absolutely. Well, you know, interestingly enough, the president of my university at Jacksonville University was a former admiral, Rear Admiral Harlow. And I was on student government, pretty active in student government, and we had a friendship. And he had told me about this program, the Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C. and I was always kind of interested in the political world and policy, and D.C. was always intriguing. And he encouraged me to apply, which I did and I was really excited because I got accepted.

Will Weatherford [00:01:56] Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to go. There’s a cost associated with the program, and I think the Fund actually provided a partial scholarship for me. But I grew up in a family of nine kids. We didn’t have a lot of resources. And I went back to Admiral Harlow and I said, Mr. President, I’m really honored that you submitted my name here, but I actually can’t afford to go. And he said, okay, well, you know, no worries. You know, maybe we’ll do it next year. Didn’t kind of go into a lot of detail but showed some empathy.

Will Weatherford [00:02:28] It wasn’t a week later that he called me to his office and said, hey, you know, good news, we’re taking care of it for you. And I found out later he sent a letter out to some of the alumni of the university and said, we’ve got a young man here with promise and really wants to go to this program and can’t afford it. Would you guys chip in and help them do it? And I think like seven or eight families all wrote a check and funded it for me.

Will Weatherford [00:02:50] And so just a really unique way to be the benefit of that kind of charity and benevolence on the front end. And then to get to go to the Fund for American Studies and to have the opportunity to learn and be around some of the great minds that were there and just be exposed to a world that I was intrigued by but didn’t fully understand. But to be immersed in the way that I was, it was, as you’ve heard me say this, Roger, on many occasions, it changed the trajectory of my life. I’m not exactly sure where I was going before the Fund, but there’s no question in my mind my life went in a different direction after I walked away from The Fund for American Studies and my experience there.

Roger Ream [00:03:30] Oh, that’s wonderful to hear. You’ll be pleased to know that our board went through a strategic planning process about a year ago, and the outcome of it was a commitment to really increase the scholarship support for outstanding students with great potential, like you. We gave a record number of full scholarships out this year and lots of partial scholarships because we want to make sure that we don’t miss the next Will Weatherford because he may not come from a school where generous alumni and college president worked hard to get them here. So we’re working hard to make sure that we get every student we accept to who needs to come and can afford it.

Will Weatherford [00:04:12] Wow. That’s really great. I think it’s important. You know, for the kids who really want to be there and be there for the right reasons and are willing to invest their time and effort finding ways to help them meet that that shortfall in resources is great. So Roger, I commend you for making that a priority.

Roger Ream [00:04:28] And if you would, tell me a little bit about that experience that summer you interned, you were a business major, as I recall.

Will Weatherford [00:04:37] I was, yeah.

Roger Ream [00:04:37] In the business program. But you did get exposure to politics at the same time.

Will Weatherford [00:04:42] I did. I did. I mean, I had, you know, just a tremendous experience in the classroom. Some of the professors, some I think may still be around, were just, you know, incredibly impactful, learned a lot about myself. We did a personality test and spent an entire month or two going through that. So it was a great self-discovery process as well as just getting the underpinnings of public policy and how decisions were made in a government structure.

Will Weatherford [00:05:10] But one of the more interesting things I also did was my internship and I had the ability to work for Boeing. And there was a lady at Boeing by the name of Roselee Roberts, and Roselee was the Head of Government Relations for Boeing at the time. And I mean, you can imagine Boeing had at the time and probably still does one of the largest lobbying presences on the Hill. And so I would have to say at that time, in 1999 or 2000, I guess, they probably had 50 to 60 lobbyists just representing all the different interests that they had, you know, contracting defense, you name it, aerospace.

Will Weatherford [00:05:46] And to be exposed to that and to go right across the bridge there in Rosslyn and work on a daily basis with someone who is accomplished as Roselee, who took me under her wing. I went to meetings at the White House with her, went to meetings on the Hill, had lunches, dinners, really became a family friend. Roselee passed away recently. And I had a nice conversation with her husband, Art, about just the impact she had on my life.

Will Weatherford [00:06:12] But it was an incredible experience and to make it even a little bit better Roger and sweeter. Not only was the experience incredible and transformational, I think I was one of the few people who had an internship here that year that was paid. And I was scared to tell some of my colleagues this, but they were paying me like $15 an hour to show up and shadow the Head of Government Relations. And I’m a poor kid who couldn’t even afford to go to the Fund, so I thought I was rich. I mean, that summer was the best summer of my life because I actually had money in my pocket to do things, that I never had money to do when I was back at school. And it was on so many fronts. Transformational and just educational. I just learned a ton.

Roger Ream [00:06:53] Well, then, shortly after completing the program and graduating and after trying your hand in some things, you decided that you got the political bug, I guess, or you were persuaded. Your arm got twisted and you ran for office in Florida and were elected to the House of Representatives. What was your decision? Kind of the factor there on deciding to do that, to take the plunge.

Will Weatherford [00:07:20] Yeah. I mean, it was a unique set of circumstances. I was working as an investor, an analyst for an investment firm in the real estate world and an incoming Speaker of the House by the name of Allan Bense, called me and asked me if I would effectively be his body guy and he wanted a young person he could trust. And I played college football with his son. I was three years older than his son and we became friendly because he knew I was interested in the political process. I took the job and worked for him for two years and at the age of 26 I’m on my way out of finish wrapping up, working for him and my home district that I grew up in in Pasco County, Florida, became open because the gentleman who represented that district got appointed by Jeb Bush to a public service commission seat which regulates the utilities.

Will Weatherford [00:08:05] Long story short, the election was six weeks away and the ballots had already been printed. And there was this obscure statute in Florida that said if the ballots have been printed and they’ve already gone out with someone’s name on it and they’re removed from the ballot. The only thing you can really do is have the local party pick its successor. Pick a successor for that candidate. And effectively you have to run under the name of the other person. I was the first person in Florida history elected under someone else’s name. And when you went to vote in November of 2006, you voted for Ken Littlefield, but they gave you a little note that said if you vote for Ken Littlefield, you’re actually voting for Will Weatherford. And that’s how I came into office.

Roger Ream [00:08:49] And you went on to great success. I mean, it was amazing. You know, I remember very well when we got word that you had been elected the Speaker of the Florida House, the youngest Speaker of a State House in the country. Can you help explain what led to that meteoric rise?

Will Weatherford [00:09:08] It was a lot of luck and maybe some providence involved. When I got in, I was only 26, so I was by far the youngest person in my class or cohort. Florida has term limits and so I always joke around. There’s a friend of mine named Phil Handy who promoted the Eighties Enough Campaign in Florida, which created term limits at the state of Florida. And without Phil Handy, I certainly am never running for office, and I’m probably never the Speaker of the House on top of that, because those two seats just didn’t change hands very often.

Will Weatherford [00:09:38] But with term limits came this era of constantly changing. And if you think about it in the context of if you’re a leadership organization and every two years the CEO has to be changed, which is effectively how it works in Florida. What kind of systems and process would you put in place to create continuity so that there’s a smooth transfer of power from year to year or biannually?

Will Weatherford [00:10:00] And so as I got elected, on one hand, I was the youngest person in the room. But on the other hand, I had worked for the Speaker of the House for two years prior to that. So I actually understood how the place functioned and worked. So while everybody else is trying to figure out how the computer system works and how to file a bill. I understood intimately not just how the place operated, but also the issues in the public policy. And it kind of gave me an advantage.

Will Weatherford [00:10:24] So pretty quickly, some of the older members were looking to me for advice and counsel on how to get things done in the process. And, you know, just like anything else, you lead by serving. And so I tried to help other people be successful. And as we started thinking through, you know, who the next Speaker of the House was going to be, you know, some members of my class really encouraged me to step up to the plate and consider it. And I did. And, you know, just an incredible honor to be able to do that. And, you know, in transparency, I was young. I was turning 30 when I got sworn in. I didn’t have it all figured out. I didn’t know everything. There was a lot of blind spots, I think.

Will Weatherford [00:11:05] But if you have a good foundation and if your principles are rooted into the ground, you’re able to bring in problems that you’ve never seen before and put them to a filtration system and align them next to your principles and say, okay, well, I’d never heard of this problem before. I’m unaware of this dynamic, but I have principles I can look to that can help me make a decision. It’s almost like, you know, effectively having a true north in your decision making and that really is what saved me, because an experience can be a challenge in politics, but you can make up for it with having strong principles.

Roger Ream [00:11:38] That’s wonderful. I know you dealt with a lot of very, very challenging issues, including health care reform that was taking place at the federal level and impacting the states pension reform and other issues. Let me ask you something about term limits. They worked for you in a way, as you described. Of Course, after a short tenure as a Speaker, it was time for you to leave. On balance, do you think term limits create a healthier legislative and political situation for a state or is it losing talent so often a difficult thing?

Will Weatherford [00:12:15] I do think on a net-net basis it’s positive. Eight years is probably a little short. I think, you know, if you were trying to create the perfect term, limited system, you’d probably have a ten or 12 year term limit. Eight years just comes and goes pretty quickly. The reason I like it is it creates a shot clock. And if there’s no term limit, if you don’t get something done, in Congress as an example, there’s this kind of this thought like, well, we’ll get them next time. You know, we’ll come back next year.

Will Weatherford [00:12:47] With term limits there is no next time you have a finite period of time to get things done. A Speaker of the House, you’re only Speaker for two years. So it’s one full term. And so I knew, in fact, the day that I got sworn in, I gave every member of my caucus actually not just my caucus, both Republicans and Democrats, a countdown clock that counted down until the end of the last day of our last session. And the idea was that time is finite. We’re not going to solve every problem in the world. And we’ve got to prioritize what we’re going to do and accomplish. And so I think term limits break the inertia and forces states to be more productive from a policymaking perspective and the states that don’t have term limits. You may have more experienced legislators, but they’re not. The sense of urgency is just not there. So I would take that tradeoff, I guess, the lack of experience for having a sense of urgency to solve problems.

Roger Ream [00:13:45] Well, fast forwarding, but staying with politics for a minute. Florida is viewed by many people as a model of growth and progress. You did less to close down your economy with COVID. You have, you know, encouraged business growth in many ways. I’m told by a previous guest on this program that has just relocated from Washington, D.C. to Miami that much of the investment world is moving down that way from New York, Chicago and elsewhere. What is the secret about Florida other than sunshine and nice weather that’s attractive? Is it the result of political decisions and the structure there?

Will Weatherford [00:14:27] There’s no question people are moving with their feet. And, you know, this has always been a dynamic Florida has been a growth state for a very long time. And I think what we’ve seen in this COVID and post COVID era, this explosion of just population growth and resources and people bringing their businesses and things here seeking freedom. It’s not a new dynamic. I think there’s just more focus on it and it’s more pronounced. And it took 20 years to get here. And the Republicans took over the state legislature in the late nineties. Term limits really effectively allowed that to happen. We had a transformational governor elected in 1998 named Jeb Bush. And really that was the turning point of Florida.

Will Weatherford [00:15:14] So if you look at today, Governor DeSantis has taken this beachhead of freedom that we have created and taken it to greater heights and has certainly been an incredible spokesman for the importance of freedom. But if you really go back to its roots, it was a 20-year journey that started with Jeb Bush making Florida different. If I go back and look at my speeches, which I haven’t done in a long time, but I used to give speeches consistently. I traveled the state of Florida talking about making Florida a beachhead of freedom. That there was going to be a day where people would choose between living in states like California and New York, in places like Florida and Texas. And that was a more abstract concept ten years ago when I would give that speech.

Will Weatherford [00:15:56] It’s extremely clear today and I think what COVID did is sometimes explaining limited government is a complex thing to do. You start getting into taxes and regulatory constructs and you kind of lose people in the argument. But when you tell a parent in New York that your kid can’t go to school this year for a year, and they’re going to lose out on a year of learning because of a disease. The pandemic that has very little impact on children, that becomes very real, really fast. And what COVID did is it pronounced this opaque argument of limited government versus big government. And states like Florida that have been running themselves on a limited government construct all of a sudden looked so attractive. And I think that’s really what changed it and that’s why we’re getting so much attention. But it’s a runaway freight train at this point, meaning the trends have been going on for a long time. Now they’re accelerated. And I think if you look out ten years from now, they’ll be as pronounced. COVID was the most pivotal thing to happen to the state of Florida, probably since air conditioning.

Roger Ream [00:17:10] Returning to your career, you left office. You know, probably nice to take a break and take a deep breath. But you very quickly got involved in banking and finance. And now from everything I read and hear from others, you have a very successful Weatherford Capital Company that’s engaged. Tell us a little bit about your company.

Will Weatherford [00:17:32] I love politics and policy, but I felt like when I went into office, I felt very called to go in at that time. I also in 2014 very felt very called to come home. I had four children under the age of seven. As I mentioned earlier in the podcast. I don’t come from any resources, so my net worth was effectively zero when I came out of office and I felt like I needed to be a good husband and father and to provide for my family.

Will Weatherford [00:17:58] So I took a hiatus from the political world and launched a company called Weatherford Capital. And, you know, we’re a investment firm that effectively raises money. We have investors from all over the United States. Most of them are very wealthy families and family offices that are looking to diversify their investments. And we invest those in companies that have great leaders and are making some type of material change in the way that the world works in a positive way. I’ve always felt like politics is a bit downstream from culture and I can still have impact on my community, on my state and on my country by engaging in other activities that are changing the culture.

Will Weatherford [00:18:42] I did the Fund for American Studies as a culture changer in our country. You’re having impact on people like myself in my worldview and allowing me to go on and have a career in public service. There’s organizations like that, that I can be engaged in but I can also be engaged in helping make a profit, not just for my business and for my family but for all the companies that we serve. We have about 18 portfolio companies, we’re heavily invested actually in the government technology sector. So when you think about how government has been very slow to adopt good technology, there’s a big gap in trust. People don’t generally trust their government at the federal, state and even at the local level. So one of our concepts is if we can change the experience someone has with government and it could be as simple as when they make a payment to renew their tag for their car. Or if we can change the level of transparency that government has with regard to how it budgets and forecasts and spends money or if we can change what happens when someone calls 911 to a police agency. We have a company that we support that has reinvented the computer aided dispatching system for law enforcement.

Will Weatherford [00:19:48] We have all these different things that we can invest in that we think help bridge trust back into government. Because if you look at the societies that break down, one of the first things that breaks down is people’s ability to trust the government and the leaders. If we can help build that back and make a profit at the same time, all the better. We’re looking for ways to empower consumers and govtech insurance, financial technology and things of that sort are areas that we specialize in. It’s been a lot of fun because I find it extremely rewarding to help build a company, make it successful, see it hire thousands of people, make money at the end and also make a positive contribution to society at the same time.

Roger Ream [00:20:31] Yeah, it’s wonderful. Congratulations on your success. You mentioned Florida being a beachhead of freedom, I imagine with your business now, you face a lot of federal regulation and SEC rules and all sorts of different agencies that monitor and require things of you. Do you have to devote a lot of man hours to dealing with all that when you’re in your business?

Will Weatherford [00:21:00] Yeah, we do. A lot of the rule. What’s happened is finances changed. You know, like, I mean, just within private equity, there’s a hundred different types of private equity firms and what they do and how they operate, the types of assets they buy are different. Same thing with venture capital. And we have a very old and archaic regulatory system and construct. And, you know, as you know, it’s not easy to get anything through Congress. And so the solutions are quite simple to take some of the regulatory nature out of it. But I’m not optimistic we’ll see a lot of movement there. Honestly, it’s a nuisance and it’s expensive. You have to hire Chief Compliance Officers. So it just forces us to spend more money. So it doesn’t affect our business. We’ve got about $1,000,000,000 of assets under management, so we’re large enough to where we can navigate that cost. But if you’re starting from scratch or if you’re running a much smaller firm, that regulatory burden can be much greater. And so it’s an inhibitor to capital being raised and deployed because it stops from the smaller groups from being able to get into the business.

Roger Ream [00:22:10] Do you find similarities or parallels to leading a private sector company, Weatherford Capital, to being Speaker of the House. Does it require some of the same things of you in terms of leadership?

Will Weatherford [00:22:24] I think so. I mean, you know, you either be yourself as a managing partner, which is my title now or as speaker. You either think you’re there to be served or to serve. So, you know, you can always tell in a leadership organization what kind of culture they have pretty quickly. And it usually starts at the top and so as the leader, do you view your role as to be there to serve the people you work with, to make them as effective, as efficient and as productive as possible? Or do you view them to obey orders and to do what they’re told? And, you know, I think for companies that have that kind of, you know, top down, edict oriented structure, they don’t work as well. They ultimately fail. And nobody has any fun working at those organizations. And so I try to spend a lot of my time making sure we have a high quality culture where people’s opinions are respected, where people are empowered. There was a book I read years ago called Turn the Ship Around that was about a famous captain of a submarine. And he changed the way that people communicated so that people didn’t come and say, hey, is it okay if I do this to change the language to, hey, I’m going to do this unless you tell me I can’t. It changes the ownership. Who has ownership of this business? Who has ownership of decision making? And I believe that whether you’re Speaker of the House or President of the United States or CEO of a company, your job is to make very clear who has ownership of decision making and to empower people as long as they’ve earned the right to make those decisions. And if people can’t live up to that or consistently making mistakes or should themselves be untrustworthy, you can deal with it. But as long as they are, empower them and view your role as being there to serve them and to help them achieve their greatest heights professionally. So I think there is a lot of symmetry there and I think I learned a lot because the dynamics of a legislative chamber in 120 people and they all have their own agenda and trying to navigate how to lead that group certainly prepared me for the business that I’m in today. And, you know, just understanding people, too. We’re all complex and everybody has certain goals and aspirations and trying to make sure that you’re prioritizing other people’s goals and not just your own.

Roger Ream [00:24:46] Yeah, I share that perspective and I think, you know, the bottom up kind of organization where you allow people who have very special, specialized knowledge of their responsibilities, their area, you know, you empower them and you get better results than if everything is sent down from on top by elites who think they know everything. So that’s no surprise that you’ve been successful in both capacities and in government and the private sector. This summer for instance, we have close to 300 college students in our programs, a lot more in our high school programs. I do like to ask our guests in these podcasts for advice they might pass along when it comes to leadership as well as in terms of looking back to when you were just coming out of college and trying to figure out what to do with your life. What would you say to young people who have been leaders on campus and want to make a difference in the world as to how to begin when they come out of school? What kind of direction they should take or how they should determine what direction to take in their lives.

Will Weatherford [00:25:56] Yeah. I mean, I think the first thing is to be flexible, meaning you never know where the next opportunity is going to come from. And so if you tell yourself a story and your identity is too wrapped up in a story, you’ve told yourself about what your future is going to look like, then sometimes it puts blinders on you and you’re unable to see opportunities. I took a job working in real estate as a investment analyst and was not even contemplating going into politics. Loved my TFAS experience, felt like it was exciting but had gone in a different direction professionally. But when the door got knocked on and there was an opportunity to go work in the process, it was not part of the plan. And similarly, when I got a phone call from Marco Rubio in 2006 and said, hey, tomorrow Jeb Bush is appointing Ken Littlefield to the Public Service Commission, would you like to run for office? You’ve got my support if you do. That was not part of the plan. I’d never contemplated running for office at that point. So having an element of flexibility in your life that allows for when some unique opportunity comes to your door that you’re able to open it and explore it. That’s really important. I think sometimes we get very rigid in our decision making and we think we know what’s best and most of the time we don’t. And a lot of the best things that have ever happened in my life were providential and things that God allowed me to do that I could have never dreamt for myself. And so that’s one. I think another one is that you have to believe in something. And I feel that not just the current generation, but the last few generations, mine included, is a little unrooted and we’re kind of building our houses on sand. You know, from a faith perspective, from a policy and political perspective, people are not taking the time to actually think through what they believe. And having really rooted principles of life. I’m going to live my life by these principles. And what are they and how do I put those parameters in place and how do I live it out? But then also not being so rigid that sometimes you can change your mind. And that’s the other thing. I think we’re also becoming very tribal. So it’s like there’s a difference between having your own principles but then following someone else’s blindly. And I worry about our political parties because of the tribal nature that they become. We’re becoming  cult of personality based parties where we adhere to a certain person and what they think and we’re not thinking for ourselves. So it’s easier to do it if you have strong principles for your life at the onset and you take the time to think through what those are. But it’s also understanding that you’ve got to be wise enough to know that you don’t have all the answers and have the ability to change your mind. And I think those are two things that are missing in our society today.

Roger Ream [00:28:59] That’s very sound advice and advice I know you’ve shared with our students when you spoke at our closing ceremony a few years ago. And I might echo some of that when I speak to the students at the end of this summer because it is so sound. You’ve lived that way and it’s shown in what you’ve done in your community while you’re focusing on building a very successful business, raising a family, a large family, you’ve also been engaged in the community, which is really a bedrock of, I think, American exceptionalism. And what sets this country apart is that kind of active work as volunteers, as people who are engaged with solving problems. If I could talk a little bit about that. I have to start, of course, with you chairing the effort to bring the Super Bowl to Tampa and a very successful Super Bowl it was for Tampa. How did you get involved in that? I know you played football in college and you served in politics. But that must have been a wonderful experience.

Will Weatherford [00:30:06] It was a great ride. You know, it’s a community oriented event. You actually have to make a pitch to the NFL and the owners of the NFL for your city to win the bid. We actually bid for it and lost. And it was given to Los Angeles City instead of Tampa. But it was based on the idea that L.A. was building a new stadium. And what had happened was they were a little slow getting out of the gate on the stadium. And so it turned out they were concerned the stadium wouldn’t be ready in time for the Super Bowl. So they called us back a year after we lost the bid and they said, is your bid still good? And we said, absolutely it’s still good. And they said, great, we’re going to give you the Super Bowl because we’re not sure L.A. can be. And they pushed L.A. back a year. And so we, of course, were elated. That was before we knew we were getting Tom Brady. And then Tom Brady showed up to Tampa and everything changed. And, you know, it’s a good lesson in leadership. Always been fascinated by how one person can change a culture. And we see it all the time in politics. We see it all the time in business, how, you know, you pull out one CEO and you put another one and all of a sudden things are just working. And it’s like, how can how could one person change that? And it comes down to leadership and culture building. And Tom Brady showed up and people all of a sudden just believed in themselves. And so to be able to host the Super Bowl in Tampa, never expecting our team would actually play in that game. And then to see Tom Brady show up in town and us be the first team to ever host a Super Bowl with their team playing it and then to win, it was just a really special ride. It wasn’t without its complications. We were in the middle of a COVID year. There was there was a lot of concern about the spread of COVID. The vaccines had just come out when the Super Bowl was coming out. So it was not the easiest thing to navigate, but a really great outcome. It has a huge impact on your city. When you think about what are the events that can showcase a city the most, you know, globally, it’s like the Olympics, the World Cup, the Super Bowl. You know, those are the global events. I think more people watched the Super Bowl every year than any other event all year on television. And so it’s a big moment. It’s like your city kind of just hits the stage and you’ve got to make sure that when people see it, that it’s viewed positively and that they can see the benefits. So it was a ton of fun. I continuously look for ways like that, that I can give back, serve, lead. You know, I think I forever had this belief that you had to have your name on a ballot to be involved. And I’ve learned in this new chapter of life that you don’t actually have to run for something to give back. You can find ways to serve in a myriad of different ways. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six years and really enjoying it.

Roger Ream [00:32:57] That’s perfect. I agree so much of what you just said. I think that is the sentiment of David Jones, one of our key founders of this organization who grew up in a small town in West Virginia. And he’d like to tell us all the time that, you know, if you want to solve problems, you get the American Legion post to go out on a Saturday morning, clear a vacant lot and put bases down and a backstop. And you got a baseball field. I think a lot of young people early, you know, they may be naive, but they think they’ve got to come to Washington and find the answers here. But there’s so much we can do in our communities as volunteers, as people who are engaged like you are Will. So that’s a great way. And in fact, we’re coming up on our time. So I’ve got to wrap this up unfortunately. It’s been really empowering this discussion. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Thank you for your support of our organization. We’re grateful to the many times you’ve given back to us as well.

Will Weatherford [00:33:56] Such a pleasure. The Fund for American Studies has been such an incredible impact on my life, as have you been. And so I’m grateful for your friendship and everything that the Fund does.

Roger Ream [00:34:07] Good luck for continued success.

Roger Ream [00:34:09] Thank you for listening to the Liberty and Leadership podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe. Download liked or share the show on Apple, Spotify or YouTube or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, I ask you to rate and review it. And if you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast at TFAS@podcast.org. The Liberty and Leadership Podcast is produced at K Global Studios in Washington, DC. I’m your host Roger Ream and until next time show courage and things large and small.


About the Podcast

TFAS has reached more than 46,000 students and professionals through academic programs, fellowships and seminars. Representing more than 140 countries, TFAS alumni are courageous leaders throughout the world forging careers in politics, government, public policy, business, philanthropy, law and the media.

Join TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 as he reconnects with these outstanding alumni to share experiences, swap career stories, and find out what makes their leadership journey unique. With prominent congressmen, judges and journalists among the mix, each episode is sure to excite your interest in what makes TFAS special.

If you have a comment or question for the show, please email podcast@TFAS.org.

View future episodes and subscribe at TFAS.org/podcast.


Recent Posts


WATCH: Courageous Leaders: Challenging the Status Quo – 2024 Capitol Hill Lecture Series Videos

For the 12th year, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and the Office of Senator Rand Paul are pleased to co-host the Capitol Hill Lecture Series, an inspiring series of talks featuring courageous thought leaders who challenge the status quo to uncover the…

Mitch Daniels Isn’t Done Yet

This article by Jack Butler, Novak ’22, originally appeared in National Review. You can find the original article here. When last I checked in on former Indiana governor and former Purdue University president Mitch Daniels, I was a little disappointed.…

TFAS Summer Programs in Washington, D.C. Begin

This summer, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is buzzing with excitement as a dynamic new group of 275 students join its eight-week D.C. Academic Internship Programs in Washington, D.C. It’s a season of transformation, as these eager young leaders…