“You gotta know the difference between reputation and character,” Dalton McGuinty told Ryerson students Wednesday. “Do what’s right.”
The former Ontario premier spoke about his expectations of 21st century leaders and what he learned in leadership from his time in politics — topics he said were in his new book, Making A Difference. He was on campus as the first speaker for the Social Ventures Zone’s SuperMentor series.
Reputation is who people think you are, while character is who you truly are, what you do when nobody is going to know what you did, he added.
McGuinty praised the many students in the crowd who were pursuing social ventures for their initiative, energy and entrepreneurial spirit. “I encourage you to find ways to persist,” he said.
One of those students in attendance was Barbara Lukasz, a fourth-year English major at Ryerson.
“It was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss,” she said. Lukasz is the co-founder of Be The Change Crowdfunding, an online platform that connects non-profits with funding and volunteers.
She said McGuinty’s talk reminded her of the challenges she faced with her startup.
“Despite all the ups and downs and the roller coaster you are sitting on, at the end of the day you gotta remember why you are doing it,” Lukasz said.
McGuinty also spoke about the importance of relationships with siblings and parents. and he shared several stories from his childhood.
His dad would often tell him and his nine brothers and sisters when they gathered around the table for dinner. “Nobody here is as smart as all of us, nobody here is as strong as all of us,” he said his dad would say. “I never forgot that.”
He spoke about why he is so committed to education and the importance of being optimistic.
For the majority of Ryerson students, McGuinty is the only premier other than the current leader, Kathleen Wynne, they can remember. His liberal government was in power from 2003 to 2013.
During his time as premier, he made changes that benefited university and college students. His government introduced the “30% Off Ontario Tuition” grant, according to his government biography.
“There’s no better way to kick off a series than with someone who’s a great speaker and a great inspiration,” said Helen Burstyn, a visiting professor who organized the talk.
Burstyn said she had to get McGuinty to speak when she found out about the timing of his McGuinty’s book release on Nov. 27. “I thought ‘What better way would there be to inspire our students?’” she said.
“I wanted people to get a bit more insight into what I did and why I did things,” McGuinty said on why he decided to write the book. He said he wanted to inspire young people to consider making a difference through politics.