Politics and Business: Are you ready? Do you have a strategy?

New Hampshire has spoken and we are off to the races on the Presdential Election later this year. We will all be very tired of the campaigns, the rhetoric and, dare I say, the media by then! However, a real positive is that I think more people than ever will take interest and care about the outcome. Views will run hot on both sides of, and within, party lines!

We have always known that politics and business are intertwined. However, for a variety of reasons, we have lately come to understand just how deeply. Personally, I don’t see it as a bad thing, given we are a democratic society. My point is that if you too are in business or rely on it for your livelihood, it has never been more important to take this election seriously and vote! My point today is to be sure to base your vote on FACTS not rhetoric which seems to have taken over the political system! 

My pledge to myself is to do thorough homework this year. Frankly, I have not delved deep into candidates in the past, ashamed as I am to admit it, because it seemed like it was always “same old, same old”. Last time, the choices were pretty polarizing and it was an easy choice for me, although to be really honest, I didn’t like either choice for reasons I won’t hash through here!

Regardless of your views I think most of us learned an important lesson: don’t take someone’s word for it; validate it. Never again will I read a summary in the paper, listen to media interviews or candidate speeches as the main input to my decision.  Especially twitter or Facebook soundbites! We are not voting for who gets an Oscar!! From here on out, only facts will count in my book! To help me corral the facts  I am developing a spread sheet. Each (serious) candidate will be on there, regardless of party affiliation.

My goal is to track experience, outcomes of their experiences, their voting records, and learn who believes what and who means what they say! The way to do that in business is studying behavior. We use behavior-based interviewing and profiling to determine who to hire. It is predicated on the belief that past behavior is a better predictor of future behavior– why not apply the same concept to politics–it must certainly be more reliable than campaign promises or sound bites.

Each of us must pick what matters to us as criteria. Here are mine:

1) Stand on key issues that are likely to be voted on or considered in congress: For me these include health care, business policies for small and large businesses, fiscal policy and debt management, size of government, foreign trade, abortion, education, and foreign policy. I know what I believe is best and therefore looking for a candidate most aligned across those issues. Your issues might be different. I am looking to clarify more than their stand on an issue; I want to know their fundamental belief and whether that is consistent with mine–not just a popular position taken for the benefit of the polls. Track records of voting and personal lifestyle choices will reveal the alignment of the person with the philosophy far better than media reports, interviews, or social media soundbites.

2) Experience: I want an accomplished and proven leader who can coalesce a team (a Ronald Regan type leader), with a good education (but Ivy league doesn’t matter), has a track record in business and understands the fundamentals of economic policy (particularly debt management) from that perspective, has been a patriot, for whom this isn’t their first significant political rodeo and therefore has a political track record to be evaluated but is not a career “politician”, and has experience with foreign policy and diplomacy (which could be from a business perspective). Charisma is desirable but lower on my list–I would rather find someone who tells it like it is and then deals with it just as matter-of-factly. I am indifferent to race or gender. I prefer a Christian but willing to accept someone who believes in freedom of religion as declared in our Constitution. Evaluating each candidate against desired experience should be fairly easy (and likely disappointing) process. What are you looking for in a leader? Who could you point to that would be a good role model or profile of the desired leader?

3) The plan: One of the most important things I would like to see is the plan for how they expect to accomplish their agenda. If in step one above I find a candidate with similar values and interests, I also want to make sure they are proposing meaningful and achievable actions. Nothing gets done on a wing and a prayer–that is just rhetoric! Probe deeply regarding how something will be accomplished; if they don’t know now, chances are they never will.  

I encourage each of you, regardless of your political views, to do your homework. If we are all thorough in vetting candidates I am comfortable that we will find the best choice. This is an important election–time to put in our homework as American citizens! Where is Collin Powell when you need him?!!! If you would like to see my chart for evaluating candidates, email me at mreynolds@breakthroughmaster.com. Let me know what else you might add to your evaluation matrix.

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