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Alabama State Treasurer Kay Ivey speaks at conference

Alabama State Treasurer Kay Ivey spoke to a conference of high school student council members at the First Baptist Church in Demopolis on Friday.

The conference was attended by student council members from host Demopolis High School, Linden High School, Marengo High School, Greene County High School, Livingston High School and George W. Carver High School of Montgomery.

“A lot of times, we all want to take, take, take,” DHS principal Dr. Isaac Espy Jr. told the delegates, “but you’re here because you want to serve, and you want to give. I admire that and respect that.

“We know folks on the football team and in school who just seem to be natural-born leaders. They seem to have that charisma and personality, and you may be quiet. You may not think that you’re a leader, but sometimes, leaders are not born; they’re developed. If you want to be a leader, you can be a leader.”

Ivey spoke to the conference about leadership, discussing what a leader is and what leaders do. She used the parable of the bramble bush found in the Bible in the book of Judges, Chapter 9, in which the trees were looking for a king and asked several different trees, but none would leave its fruit. Finally, they asked a bramble bush to be the king, and he accepted, but did what bramble bushes do: sat there and waved in the wind.

“When better men and women refuse to step up and say, ‘Count me in,’ and when better men and women refuse to join that person and say, ‘I don’t want to run, but I’ll help you,’” Ivey said, “the results are that you’re going to get bramble bushes to be your leader. It happens every time.

“When better men and women refuse to be informed and be the candidate or support the candidate of his choice, the ne’er-do-wells fill in the gap, and you’ve got the strong, loud voice of the minority ruling the day.”

Ivey also spoke on the importance of networking, breaking it down with a mnemonic using the letters in the word “network”: nametags, education and eye contact, thank-you notes, work the room, outfit (what you wear), Rolodex, keys to success. She said the keys to success were to drink, swear, steal and lie.

“Drink from the fountain of friendship,” she said, “and spread good cheer. Swear to do a better job tomorrow than you did today. Steal a few moments each week to do a good turn for another, expecting nothing in return. And then, lie — lie down at night, giving thanks to God almighty for the country we live in, pledging yourself to make it better.”

Ivey, a native of Camden in Wilcox County, is no stranger to speaking before student council conferences.

“I was asked to speak before the statewide conference a year ago, and some of the Black Belt leaders had heard that and asked me to come to their district,” Ivey said. “What a compliment! I was delighted.

“I come from this area, and people were kind enough to speak to me and kind enough to give me advice in my life. It’s my way of paying back.”

Ivey is said to be a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, and has begun

“We have clearly announced that we are focused on one office, and that is the office of governor as we seek to gather information about what the people are really looking for in the characteristics of their next leader,” she said. “I am so encouraged after visiting with people for over a year now, that we engaged a very fine pollster of national prominence and just did a poll.

“We will be releasing that poll in the next three weeks, and it reveals the characteristics the people of Alabama most want in their candidate of governor, and it will be a very inspiring poll that we will be proud to share.”