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What Alexander Hamilton Needed: The Legacy of EQ Emotional Intelligence

This coming Friday is my favorite holiday, July 4th. It is a truly remarkable moment in time when we had a group of amazing individuals, known as our founding fathers, get together and create the foundation for our wonderful nation. This is a day we should celebrate with joy as well as reverence.

But I do believe we have a misconception in our history books. Our true founding father is the guy on the $10 bill–Alexander Hamilton. In my view, he has never received his disserved recognition for shaping our country into what it is today.

Hamilton came from a small country in the Caribbean. He was raised by a single mother and was dirt poor. But his amazing talents allowed him to be sent to America and then George Washington noticed the impressive lad. He became his assistant in the revolutionary war and eventually, Secretary of the Treasury in George Washington’s administration.

Because of his background, Hamilton pushed for a meritocracy with the notion that anyone should be able to rise to the top. He also emphasized corporate America leading the way. He saw the need for big business and a centralized bank.

In direct contrast, his foe in the Washington administration was the guy on our nickel. Thomas Jefferson, a rich aristocrat from Virginia, believed in an agrarian society with farmers being more important than corporations, and pushed that for his agenda.

I hope it is obvious to you who won this ideological battle-It was Hamilton. Our America is his vision.

But why do we revere Jefferson and other founding fathers while few school children know about Alexander Hamilton?

The answer is emotional intelligence. Jefferson had it in vast amounts while Hamilton had little. Jefferson was seen as the man of the people, who never said a mean word in public. Hamilton, on the other hand, said what was on his mind, creating many enemies in his corner.

One enemy was Aaron Burr (vice president at the time under Jefferson), who shot Hamilton dead in a dual in 1802. The story is that Hamilton shot first, aiming his pistol above Burr to purposely miss, while Burr took dead aim and killed the great visionary.

This is a historic tale that should be told in all history books as a word of caution. Talent and skill is not enough. For you to be successful, in politics, business, or any area of your life, you must have emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

For every expert, there is a different definition. I would define emotional intelligence as the ability to make friends, the ability to make people feel good about themselves, and the ability to have people respect you.

I have seen emotional intelligence rocket individuals to success, time and time again. I have seen professors get promoted to V.P. because they would have scored off the charts on a likeability scale. I have seen graduate students get amazing jobs, not because they had the most talent or were the most skillful, but because they had the highest emotional intelligence.

I know you too have seen this happen in your field, time and time again.

While we teach basic knowledge in school, we also need to emphasize the skill of emotional intelligence, not only today but for the centuries to come.


Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a motivational and inspirational business speaker. He is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. He is the author of the Washington Post best selling business book, Full Throttle. Dr. Steinberg speaks to businesses about mental toughness and overcoming adversity. If you are interested in have him speak to your group, please contact You can see more about him at


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About Gregg Steinberg

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a performance psychology expert, best selling author, and inspirational keynote speaker on the various topics relating to individual and team performance. Google+ Profile Get in touch with Dr. Gregg

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