It's perhaps fitting that Janet Reno lost her long battle with Parkinson's disease the same week as the U.S. Election, given her association with the U.S. political system. Famous for being the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General, Reno served eight eventful years under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. In the process, she became the longest-serving attorney general of the 20th century.
Early on in her tenure, she became known for being a bit of an intrapreneur unafraid of taking imitative, as she showed by authorizing the 1993 Waco raid of the Branch Davidian cult compound. She also led the Justice Department's pro-competition antitrust case against Microsoft, and infamously seized young Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez from his relatives in 2000.
Outspoken, Reno's words loomed large, and remembering her by way of some of her best quotes seems a fitting tribute. Here are some of her best:
- The good lawyer is the great salesman.
- Nothing can make me madder than lawyers who don't care about others.
- I was personally opposed to the death penalty, and yet I think I have probably asked for the death penalty more than most people in the United States.
- I'm not fancy. I'm what I appear to be.
- If somebody thinks I have an integrity problem, then the honest thing to do is to tell me what they think it is and let me address it.
On the United States:
- My earnest hope is that what we started in terms of building partnerships with communities across America will continue, that we will continue our efforts to reduce crime and violence.
- People have it so good in America that they get bored very easily. And when people get bored they start protesting things.
- I just try to do my best and make the best judgments I can.
- I made the decision. I'm accountable.
On Courage & Fear:
- It might be that some day I shall be drowned by the sea, or die of pneumonia from sleeping out at night, or be robbed and strangled by strangers. These things happen. Even so, I shall be ahead because of trusting the beach, the night and strangers.
- Haters are cowards. When confronted they often back down. We must resist haters.
- I made the decision long ago that to be afraid would be to diminish my life.
- Just remember, strength and courage. If you stand on principle, you'll never lose.
- Until the day I die, or until the day I can't think anymore, I want to be involved in the issues that I care about.
Which of the above inspires you the most? Hopefully one or more of these quotes is applicable to your life and business pursuits -- and can inspire you to break through barriers in the way that she did.