Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Sam Fox

Sam_Fox_officialThe Fulbright Commission in Belgium and Luxembourg recently interviewed former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Sam Fox. Q: How did you apply your extensive experience in the business world to your time as an ambassador? A: Well, of course, in every new adventure in life, all your previous life experience tends to come into play. But I’d say that I did learn some particular lessons from my business experience that I drew on as Ambassador. Good leadership is learned. It starts with picking the right individuals for each job and knowing how to manage the group as a team for the best results. Also, the value of research. There’s no substitute for knowledge in making wise decisions. It’s what you don’t know that bites you. So you do everything you can to minimize that. Lastly, the value of surrounding yourself with good people. That’s what a good manager does. I don’t care if you’re as smart as Albert Einstein and as energetic as a 10-year old, you can’t do it all. I love the quote from Charles de Gaulle: “The cemeteries are full of indispensable people.” A truly good manager is good because he surrounds himself or herself with truly good people. Q: What inspired you to make the shift from the business world to the diplomatic world? A: In the first place, President (George W.) Bush asked me. I love my country and I am certainly willing to serve my country when requested to do so. But second, the appointment meant even more to me than it might have meant to some other people because my parents came from Europe to make their home in America. My mother, as it turned out, actually sailed from Belgium on the Red Star Line. One evening I spoke at the Antwerp City Hall, the very city from which my mother had sailed. It was just so personally fulfilling, because it was as if history had come full circle. It meant so much to me to go back to Europe as a representative of the government of the United States. Further, I found the President’s request irresistible. Q: How did you first become connected to Belgium? A: President Bush chose me in 2006 to be the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium. Q: What do you miss most about Brussels? A: Our friends. Marilyn, and I have fallen in love with the Belgian people. They are so well-mannered, so civilized, so well-educated, and a delight to be around. We come back every year for a month in the fall and try to return in the spring or summer as well. Q: What is your favorite memory of your time served with the embassy? A: We were received very well by every Belgian person we met – what a delight. Q: What is your favorite type of Belgian beer? A: Any one of the over 500 brands will work very well – cheers! Q: Thank you for all your past support — What do you value most about the Fulbright program? What is it that has inspired you to give in the past? A: The comingling of our children and the comingling of the education our children receive.]]>