Have you ever heard somebody give a speech and said to yourself, “They really spent too much time practicing that!” I’m fairly confident I can’t answer that question in the affirmative.
Recently I had the opportunity to give a high school commencement address and I was given 15-17 minutes to talk. I’ve been to a lot of these kinds of speeches and only a few have stuck in my mind as memorable…at least in a good way…so I wanted to make sure every word mattered.
I’ll fully admit to some serious procrastination in starting the writing process. It wasn’t until about 24 hours before I was set to deliver the speech that I got started. However, 12 of the next 24 hours went into drafting, honing and practicing the remarks I’d spend 15 minutes delivering.
In the end, I was very happy with how it turned out and so grateful I spent every minute on the speech that I did. The audience feedback was fantastic and I walked away proud of what I’d done.
Before we get to the interview I want to say thank you to y’all that have reached out in the last couple weeks with feedback on the podcast! I love hearing from y’all and it’s been incredibly encouraging to hear about the ways the show is having an impact.
I want to give a special shout-out to Tyler from Arkansas who just recently won his election to be a Justice of the Peace. Tyler has been listening to the podcast since about the time we put out our 8th Episode. The other day he messaged me and said, “Raz, I’ve listened to your podcast for a while now. It convinced me that I could run for office, so I did. Because of the tips you provided in your podcast, I was able to beat a 16-year incumbent. Thank you!” I just had to know more about what happened to Tyler and I got on the phone and had a great time talking about the campaign. The craziest thing about the race is that it came down to winning by 14 votes. That’s tight! I couldn’t be prouder of what Tyler did and I hope y’all will give me a shout to share your stories as well!
As a candidate, you are a leader of your campaign and you’re seeking a much larger leadership role through elected office. Now is your time to demonstrate to those around you that you can lead well. If you can’t pass the leadership test on the campaign trail, why should I believe that you’ll suddenly transmogrify into an awesome leader upon winning the election?!
The first place to set the tone for your leadership within the campaign is by setting the pace and tone. You shouldn’t expect anyone on your team to be more focused, work more hours or invest more heavily in the campaign than you. If you want honesty and transparency to be key values within your future public administration, show yourself to be honest and transparent within your campaign and to your team.
And once you’re setting the pace for the team, don’t be a jackass and beat people over the head with how much harder you’re working than they are! Of course, you’re working more hours than anybody else. It’s YOUR campaign!! There are plenty of constructive ways to deal with team members who are slacking. Comparing their work to yours is one important way NOT to do that.
I’m not just talking about someone who actually makes a conscious decision to manage their campaign. That’s a fairly rare occurrence. The bigger problem is candidates who ACT as their own campaign manager, even though they’ve given that role to someone else.
Campaigns are fast-paced and often brutal. The Military Genius Carl Von Clausewitz said that “politics is war by other means,” and he was completely right. As in war, concentrating decision making and execution authority in one person is a really bad idea. It stifles creativity, paralyzes the team and creates huge informational blind spots. In war, this gets people killed. In campaigns, you lose.
Within your campaign, you should cultivate a culture of decentralized command. Clearly delegate responsibility for decisions and actions within your team. Train them well and trust them to execute. Seek their counsel and don’t waste anxiety on their small mistakes.
By building this type of organization, you’ll be freer to do what a candidate is supposed to do: talk to voters and donors. Virtually everything else should be off your plate. Worrying about the walk lists for Saturday or whether you have enough of the right sizes of t-shirts for the next volunteer shift isn’t your job. Getting wrapped up in your campaign manager or field director’s field of fire will only cloud your mind and push you off your game.