Midnight Bolt to Memphis

DSC_0027

Sitting in the lobby with Will Drake and Vaughtreaux waiting on The General.

Bad moon rising. Fear stalks the campaign like a rabid mongoose.

Radio silence from Little Rock. Senior staff all advised him to quit last night. He overruled them.

There is a path to daylight but not with this staff, this message and so broke they can’t quit for a few days. Victory in Tennessee is the only slim hope. Our direct intervention at every level the only slim hope for that slim hope. Little hope for that.

The hog is in the tunnel. Driven there by The Fear. Never take counsel of your fears spake Stonewall Jackson. Smart man he.

Edwards here in the same hotel. His staff still riding the rush that accompanies the successful execution of an end around, Hail Mary, flea flicker, double lateral for a touchdown with double zeros on the clock. Their brutal comeuppance will come soon enough.

This thing is almost over. I needed to smell it up close. So, at midnight, the gauntlet was thrown down. Drake was rousted from his slumber and manhandled into the back seat of my truck.

But maybe it’s not over. And there is the rub.

I will soon tell my children that if they can find something that makes them feel this alive – they should do that thing to the exclusion of all other endeavors.

(2007)

The Power of Language and Images

In the course of making a film to celebrate ten years of this company “rising from the ashes” of bankruptcy, my team and I created what is essentially a video poem to illustrate the relationship between the town of Alton, Illinois and the company, Alton Steel.

This remains one of the favorite things we’ve ever created. Simple and powerful.

Unsolicited Advice: Backstabbers, Naysayers, Blame shifters

Whether you think you can Ford graphic

Having been a business and political consultant for 30 years means I’ve learned a few things about the kind of people you should have around you in your campaign. I’ve also learned a few things about the kinds of people you don’t want to have around you. If you have a team that includes a backstabber, a naysayer or a blame shifter on it then do yourself a favor and get rid of them now.

There is almost nothing worse on a campaign or a team than people who, through words or deeds, won’t accept responsibility or who are negative. Get rid of them.

Just this last year we consulted on a winning campaign where the power of positive thinking helped us time and time again. Early on, some people left the campaign after clashing with the leadership a few times on strategy and tactics. Of course, it might have also been because our first poll had us behind by 55-15. It felt bad at the time but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A positive, committed team turned that into a 54-46 victory in just six months. There were disagreements along the way but we had a forward-leaning posture, great team chemistry and strong leadership. That’s a winning combination in politics, in business and in life.

Two Men

My first political campaigns were in 1984. I worked for two men, Bart Gordon and Joe Haynes. Bart won a crowded primary to become a congressman in Tennessee’s 4th District. Joe Haynes defeated an incumbent Democratic state senator. The confidence they placed in me launched a career in electoral campaigns that has now touched almost all 50 states and around 600 campaigns. I represented Bart and Joe, along with my business partner John Rowley, until 2010 when they both retired from their respective offices to focus on their legal careers and families. They remain my friends even until today.

Bart Gordon and Fletch 1984 edited Phillip North LL 7 12 2012 147