Foxcroft Strategy Group founder and CEO Justin G. Cooper ’08 provided Fordham Law students insights into how his career led him to his current business during a lunchtime talk at the School on Oct. 16. Cooper is a former senior advisor to President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and his current business offers advisory services to CEOs and organizations.
Cooper launched Foxcroft four years ago after working for the Clintons for more than 15 years. His firm blends lessons learned from his time in politics, non-government organizations, and business. He and his team work with CEOs advising them on numerous internal and external activities of their organizations.
While Cooper’s current work shares an important connection with his previous work—namely, he tells powerful people what they need to hear. Cooper’s service is particularly important, he explained, because people working in organizations often share what they think the leader wants to hear or provide advice in a cautious or conservative manner.
Cooper also spoke about the need for CEOs, much like politicians, to avoid the temptation of embracing overly cautious leadership styles.
“If there’s one concept I learned in my previous experience that I share with my clients and practice myself, it’s ‘You’ve got to turn into it,’” Cooper said, noting this means you have to take ownership of your actions. “You can’t express caution after the fact,” he added.
Cooper joined the Clinton White House full time after serving two White House internships—first with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and later with the Oval Office. His duties have included everything from managing the president’s work and private matters to staffing meetings with world leaders to advising the president on financial and business matters.
After President Clinton finished his term in 2001, he asked Cooper to help him with post-presidential activities, including assisting with the Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, and the Clinton Family Foundation, and helping the president write three of his best-selling books. Cooper noted that he deferred his planned first year from Fordham to allow additional time to complete the president’s memoir, My Life.
Clinton later encouraged Cooper to attend law school for the same reasons he did—the opportunity to master a marketable skill and allow him the independence to take risks in pursuing his career path. Today, Cooper doesn’t practice law, but he does credit his time in Fordham Law for granting him the tools to succeed in his second career.
“The skills I learned here definitely help me with what I do now … whether it’s making a logical argument, improving my writing, debating people from any side of an issue, or thinking about ethical issues and the conflicts that arise in today’s society,” Cooper said during the hour-long Business Law Practitioners Series event. “I think those are all things, especially in the business world today, that are more important than ever.”
Cooper encouraged students not to think narrowly about their careers.
“Figure out what your skills are and what you like to do, and think big about them,” he shared. “Not enough people think big in this world.”