Colin Powell covers varied terrain in talk at McGuirk Arena

He likes to call Thomas Jefferson “JT.” He drives a corvette; when he gets pulled over he gets a salute and then a ticket. He enjoys hotdogs from vendor carts on Park Avenue, New York City, with or without security. The most shocking thing about Retired General Colin Powell, though, is that he still has to go through airport security just like everybody else, only he can’t get annoyed because he put the system in place. That makes him miss the days of his private plane, when he was Secretary of State under former president George W. Bush.

The evening spent with Colin Powell was not a dull speech about how to be a great leader. The entire McGuirk Arena, nearly filled to capacity, was captivated as he spoke. There were moments where the audience was thunderous with applause, and moments where the only sound to be heard was the Retired General.

“I definitely thought it was very powerful, he’s a great guy,” Livonia freshman Rachel Roe, who also got to meet Powell before his speech, said.   “He showed that somebody that can have as much power as he does is still a human being.”

Powell’s speech covered a wide array of topics, from how he has seen world change to howhow his grandkids try and get him on Twitter despite the fact that he doesn’t need a social networking site.

He brought real life experience to the speech; he recognized the man who cleaned his office when he was Secretary of State as a vital part of the workplace because without that person to clean his office, he couldn’t arrive the next day and meet some of the most important people in the world.

“Connect with the people you are around,” Powell intoned.

He once went down to the parking garage without his security, and wandered around. He wondered how the cars got parked in the order they did because they were two or three deep. He asked a minimum wage parking attendant, and he was told if you roll down your window, ask how it’s going, and are kind, you’ll get a number one parking spot.

He told the audience, “We are still the inspiration to the rest of the world.”

Powell said that he learned about leadership while he was in the Army. He remembers being told that he would know he was a good leader “if they follow you out of curiosity.”

The speech wasn’t all about leadership; filled with funny anecdotes and stories, he approached the question and answer forum with no holds barred.

He is never going to run for president because he never woke up with the passion to and would be lying if he said he did; besides, he added, he is 75 years old.

Powell also talked about North Korea at some length, saying their aggressive threats with nuclear weapons are best left ignored. North Korea will tell a lie in one hour, and in the next hour they’ll tell a different lie, he said.

He also gave support to the recent Army rule change allowing women as infantry, despite the awful living conditions and his own admittedly traditionalist views on the issue.

Cadet PFC Jeffery Jeger, from Orange County, CA, attending Michigan State University said it was an “I think he made some excellent points that it is our generation that is going to be inheriting the country and it has to step up and take leadership.”