Today's LinkedIn Nugget

What I learned one day in a room full of 45 female politicos

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As mentioned earlier in this blog, I taught an hourlong (OK I went a few minutes over) LinkedIn session at The Women’s Campaign School at Yale University this past Saturday. I spent the entire day with them and learned new ideas and concepts that will last far longer!

I was the only male in the room, at least after the political science professor from a local university left; he brought some female students from his class to attend. (PS he is a new connection, a highly esteemed colleague of the founder of WCS, and in my conversation with him, my type of nurturing person; after all, he organized and supported his students to attend on a damp, dreary Saturday morning!).

So what did I learn? More than a few things:

  1. I was reminded (in a nice way) by the other speakers that the world is not fair to women, but I knew that, but not specifically from their POV. Many in the room were sensitized to new methods to reject, adapt, and adjust gender bias and its divisive politics today into positive forces in their campaigns.
  2. The female public speaking coach explained how women create scenarios and say things that make them vulnerable, like starting a sentence with “I just…”, or up-talking a comment as if they are uncertain.  Or “you know” intermingled in a strong statement. (Not only women, but men do this too…just listen to TV news analysts.)
  3. I heard stories how a campaign can expose, up-end, or overrun personal lives, and that a candidate must be prepared to remedy the issue first (get rehab, unlearn bad habits), and then weather campaign demands on themselves, their spouse, children, and other relatives. I was reminded of chapters on this subject in Michelle Obama’s autobiography and on what seems to be a realistic depiction on a fictional political family in the TV series “This Is Us.”
  4. It reinforced gender-neutral comments I like to make in my own sessions: look and be clearly approachable, be clear and correct in everything you say. Use “I” and power verbs. Fix mistakes quickly.
  5. You are never off duty. There was a story of a local elected official who was in the grocery store who callously handled a question from a constituent, and as a result of what must have been quite a few such fumbles, by distancing herself from constituents, this may have contributed to her losing her own next election.
  6. Problem solvers should run for office; those who shirk solving even minor issues should not seek office, as it’s inevitable to receive phone calls at odd hours to listen to complaints. In my town the mayor personally replies to all emails and remembers you when you later speak to him personally about the same topic. That’s a gift that takes much practice to make perfect; making a single voter feel personally connected to you is an oh-so rare skill these days.
  7. Be one step ahead just in case, with a Plan B, as something will always happen that you did not expect, so be ready to pivot confidently to convert good from bad. That’s also a gift that requires clairvoyant forethought. It emanates from experience, but applied “on the run.”
  8. Have a compelling message, the “why you” that I harp on in this blog all the time. Enough said on that, but the other two speakers also shared my perfect Vulcan mind-meld on this.
  9. Have a tribe around you. This is a big part of success in business and personal life, and on LinkedIn, and yes, in political campaigns. I certainly agree that we need to energize, enable, and delegate to great people to conduct some of the rally around us. It takes a lot of work to incent them to give up personal time and energy for you. Marinate them with your own special sauce: your vision, personal ideals, and thought leadership.
  10. And finally, (and I learned a lot more than 10 things!) speak with confidence and practice. Always enter the room smiling and greeting.

Bonus: one big take-away I always remind myself, especially after that day: be the ears on the other end of your voice: do I  believe what I am hearing from this person, do I identify with that person in some integral way, do I want this person to carry my needs and concerns as my representative?

This day-long class, in which I offered my hour’s thoughts, rewarded me in multiple higher ways to:

  • reopen my eyes to those who do not fit into a societal stereotypical “usual” molds,
  • honestly address those who do not initially believe what I want to impart,
  • stimulate those who never considered LinkedIn as remotely valuable in a campaign, and
  • thank those who invited me, copresented, and welcomed me in as a minority within their room.

If strangers’ heads are nodding as you speak to them, you are making an impact, male or female, Dem or Republican, LinkedIn “heathen” or believer. I left the room knowing I had the desired effect, received thank-you-I-have-my-work-cut-out-for-me emails and a few invitations to speak elsewhere to other groups.

Mission accomplished: I learned and I taught and believe we all benefit.

1 thought on “What I learned one day in a room full of 45 female politicos”

  1. Good post, Marc.
    I would like to speak there. Do they bring in different speech coaches or the same one each time?
    Is there a way to get an introduction?

    Thanks,
    Diane

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