Archive for July, 2016

Thank You Melania

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

An interesting thing happened during Melania Trump’s convention speech a few days ago. She channeled Michele Obama, verbatim from her 2008 speech to the Democratic convention. Well, at least the speech writer selected material germane to the circumstances.

Then a surprise happened. It blew up into a big deal, precisely because of how the campaign chose to handle it, or more appropriately, not to handle it.

Okay, so it was a stupid and egregious oversight that the speech wasn’t vetted thoroughly and redundantly. But the negativity could have been mitigated if the campaign had simply stood up and fessed up. A mistake was made. Simple message. But instead of coming clean, they engaged in a series of indignant denials by various players, each of which sounded more absurd in the face of the nearly perfect word-for-word matching video segments from the respective speeches.

Nearly two days later, the campaign came clean. Blamed it on a staffer. Almost immediately, the story lost much of its steam, again reinforcing the power of disclosure. Which raises a question. How can a presidential campaign, ostensibly staffed by the best and brightest get it so wrong? Look no further than the undisciplined temptation to deny, deny, deny. Easy, but dumb mistake to make.

So I want to thank Melania for providing a learning moment for us all. By all objective standards, she did a very nice job, by the way. To make a live speech in a giant, noisy venue with millions of people watching, is nerve racking for the most polished of presenters. Melania was very poised. But still, she did use some of Michele Obama’s words.

So thank you Melania, for helping us to see that while it is easy to rush to denial, honesty again proves to be the best policy. As I often share in my executive coaching, do not fall prey to the “easy no” when the “hard yes” is the better choice.

It’s The Crazy Time Again

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Well I wish I could say that it snuck up on me, but unfortunately its been going on for two years already. The Presidential Campaign. With the conventions underway (or soon to be), crazy time is squarely upon us. It makes me envious of the British Parliamentary approach, one whereby they can replace the prime minister in the time it takes to vote on a referendum, Brexit stage right.

I remember writing in this blog in 2008 with great anticipation on the election of Barack Obama. Our country had just elected a black man with a Muslim name who spoke forcefully and inspirationally about change. Because he looked and sounded so different than all who came before him, it was not naivete that led so many of us to believe that the change was just around the corner.

I, like so many others am still waiting.

It is not completely Obama’s fault that so little of the change he promised actually arrived in the way he promised it. We have a ridiculously broken and partisan political system, with our elected officials more concerned about re-election, and thus endless fund-raising, than governing. Much of the civility is gone, and it seemed to get worse with Obama as President, which I can’t help but think comes back to that being different thing I mentioned. Still, he was either unwilling or unable to do anything to make it better.

Adding to this gridlock is our two party system and the primary processes where the hard core of the respective parties carry disproportionate influence, resulting in the choice of candidates like we have in this go-around. Donald and Hillary. Really?

I can’t think of a single parent that I know, present or past, that would allow their children to speak to others the way that Trump has over the last two years. Yet each time he did so, seemingly sinking to new depths, he won another primary contest. He served up the red meat in big chunks and the dogs ate it up.

Contrasted with Hillary. So measured. So calculating. So political. So hated on the right. So why does it feel like nothing is going to change. Again.

So it’s six months and counting. Another opportunity for the people to speak…through the Electoral College. Another opportunity for our country to come closer to living into the ideals it promises. Another opportunity for change. You holding your breath?