In The Arena


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Host Cathilea Robinett pursues her guests’ personal backstories to understand what they bring to public service. Their stories – personal and professional – help explain their devotion to serving In The Arena, with all that President Teddy Roosevelt described as the “triumph of high achievement” and when “the doer of deeds could have done them better” in service of “a worthy cause.” She speaks to an array of people, including elected and appointed officials, to glean how their values, passions, lived experiences, choices, and even eccentricities helped them live and work more productively, with a mix of courage, compassion and creativity.

Episode Date
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

On the heals of the 86th annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in Boston over the weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says mayors have what America wants. Garcetti, 47, has been testing the waters for a potential presidential bid in 2020.  Even if he doesn't run, he hopes other mayors will. As the chief executives of cities, Garcetti says mayors are "practical, results-oriented, inclusive and decent." In a veiled reference to the current administration, Garcetti laments the current climate, "We have a lot of division, we have a lot of impracticality, we have a lack of experience in government."

"You never win by talking," says Garecetti, 47, a fourth generation Angeleno and self-described accidental public servant, the "highest calling" he says is fundamentally about listening.

He says the mayor's job is to "knit together a narrative" that explains a city to itself.  Garcetti thinks technology can help if mayors strike the right balance, saying too many are either "future phobic" or "future passive." He views himself as "future guiding" as evidenced by the city's recent recognition for its use of data in planning and operations by Bloomberberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities, and Equipt to Innovate, a joint initiative of Governing and the non-profit Living Cities.

Jun 13, 2018
The most popular Roosevelt quote, explained.

On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave what would become one of the most widely quoted speeches of his career. In it, the nation's 26th president used his hyperbolic oratory to bear on the themes of leadership and loneliness.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood," Roosevelt said.

While most of the guests on this show will be public officials, our debut episode features humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson. He explores the context of the quote, which inspired the name of this podcast, and how it fits in Roosevelt's world view of power, persuasion and politics. 

"It's probably the most frequently quoted thing that Roosevelt ever said, and if you go into the boardrooms of major corporations or to the offices of CEOs and politicians, anywhere where there is some need for power to assert itself, you almost invariably find that quotation tacked to the wall," says Jenkinson. 

Jun 05, 2018

In a new podcast from Governing magazine, Cathiea Robinett interviews public officials who serve In The Arena today about courage, compassion and creativity in public leadership.  The debut season features conversations with:

  • Clay Jenkinson, Author, Educator, Roosevelt Scholar
  • Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, KY
  • Acquanetta Warren, Mayor of Fontana, CA
  • Themis Klarides, House Majority Leader (D), Connecticut
  • Kristen Cox, Executive Director, OMB, State of Utah
  • Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA

Episodes drop every Wednesday, beginning June 6.

Jun 01, 2018