Advice from Brazil’s leaders

Two of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time have both come from leaders of Brazil.

The first was broadcasted about a year ago on 60 Minutes when Steve Kroft profiled Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010. In that interview, Lula described the secret to his success:

“The success of an elected official is in the art of doing what is obvious, it is what everyone knows needs to be done but some insist on doing differently.”

That phrase now resonates with me daily.
“The art of doing the obvious.”

I came across the second quote came today while reading Nicholas Lemann’s profile of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff in the Dec 5 New Yorker.

Under Rouseff, the primary purpose of government is to reduce poverty, and she sees promoting general economic prosperity as a means to that end. As Rousseff put it via email, in response to a set of questions I posed through her staff, “The main aim of economic development must always be the improvement of living conditions. You cannot separate the two concepts. The creation and distribution of wealth increases living standards; likewise, increases in living conditions lead to economic prosperity.