Political Fundraising

For political candidates, it’s easy enough for them to know where they stand on most issues. That’s why they run for office to begin with. Candidates know why they want to hold office and what areas their expertise will benefit. The biggest barrier to elected office is often the hardest to overcome – it comes down to money. Money gives a campaign a fighting chance to spread its message and let voters know your political platform. Without money, a campaign simply cannot properly implement a campaign strategy.

Fundraising is one of the most important aspects of campaign planning. Even in the off-years for elections, raising funds is an ongoing priority. Many Political Action Committees and other 501c4 organizations raise and spend funds year-round. Getting a message out costs money, and the earlier a campaign receives funds, the easier it is to plan and pool resources.

Many Independent candidates may or may not have financial support when they decide to run for office. Because groups and corporations often plan their giving straight down the party line, if a candidate is a liberal-leaning Independent, the money will likely go to their Democrat opponent instead. The same holds true on the right side of the political spectrum. Independent candidates have to work harder for their money and set their platform in stone. This is why it is so critical for them to take measures to ensure that they are able to raise sufficient funds to finance their campaigns. Independents need to be able to fund an extensive PR campaign to get their name out there, and familiarize voters with their platform and how it differs from established political parties.

Why Do People Donate to Political Campaigns?

People give money to political campaigns for many reasons, but the top reason isn’t charitable. Political campaign donations aren’t tax-deductible, so appealing to people’s ideals, hopes, and dreams is a main reason people give to political campaigns.

• They believe in a candidate or party.
• They know the person who is asking for donations, and trust their judgement.
• A campaign has immediate needs to counteract their opponent, legislation, or other forces that can influence the outcome of an election.
• They were asked for money, and couldn’t find a good reason to say “no.”

The fundraising aspect of a political campaign must be taken seriously. Fundraising is not about begging, it’s about selling your candidate. Donors need to know that the work you do is important, and by asking them for funds to implement your ideas, you’re letting them participate in a part of the political process.

Who Contributes to Political Campaigns?

People and organizations across the country regularly fund political campaigns, hoping that their support will put the candidate they like in office. According to the Washington Post, nearly half of President Obama’s support in his re-election campaign came from small donors, individuals who gave $200 or less. In contrast, Mitt Romney’s small donor base was just 9% of his fundraising in 2011, with the 2/3’s of his campaign’s funds coming from high-income donors willing to give him the maximum ($2500) allowed by law.

Individual Donors

When a candidate runs for office, they often start their fundraising efforts by pooling their resources and network of family and friends. These are the people most likely to know and believe in the candidate’s skills and potential, and include:

• Immediate family and extended family members
• Personal friends
• Old friends from college
• Social clubs and church friends
• Co-workers
• Businesses
• Family friends
• Donors that have given to the party the candidate belongs to in the past.
and anyone that a candidate is on friendly terms with that believes in your candidate’s skills and character.

Special Interest Groups

Special interest groups support candidates that will promote or preserve policies that benefit their members or the people they represent. make no mistake about it, these types of donations come with expectations. Independent candidates have a more difficult time raising money from these groups, because they often seek to increase their influence by aligning with a specific political party. Groups that are considered special interests often tend to give late in the campaign, because they want to back the winner, not place their bets and waste valuable resources backing an early favorite.

Special interest groups include:
• Labor unions
• Chambers of Commerce
• Professional associations
• Political Action Committees (PACs)
• Industry lists
• Businesses

Oppositional Type Donors

Some political donors vow to support a worthy opponent of a candidate they simply do not like. They are not “pro” but “anti” in terms of giving. For example, the Koch brothers promised millions of dollars to President Obama’s political opponent in 2012. It’s important to remember that this category of donor does not actually like your candidate, but simply do not want to see the opposition elected. These donors do not find mud-slinging distasteful, and often give money to candidates as well as PACs that focus on the dirtiest aspect of campaigns. Basically, they have an ax to grind, and they’re disgruntled enough to be willing to invest cold, hard cash to air the opponent’s dirty laundry.

There are plenty of reasons that donors choose to support political campaigns, but the fundraising staff is the team that needs to be able to craft messaging to reach each of these categories. Don’t overlook the power of in-person fundraising, town hall venues, and other community events as a jumping off point to start reaching a new demographic. Fundraisers often find that their strength is not only in monetary numbers, but in the volume of supporters. The more supporters your candidate converts, the easier it will be to ask for support. Fundraising goes hand in hand with campaigning. Just remember that if you don’t ask, you cannot receive.


Avoiding Business Politics Can Derail Career Success

Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success

Authors: Rick Brandon Ph.D. and Marty Seldman Ph.D.

Survival of the Savvy was on my bookshelf about a month before I had the privilege of meeting the author, Rick Brandon, at a leadership conference in San Francisco where we both were speaking. Our talks were at different times so I was able to attend Rick’s presentation.

That was when I realized how important this book could be to all the women I work with who are sometimes underestimated, overlooked, and denied proper recognition for their accomplishments because they abhor and avoid anything associated with the word politics. If this sounds like you, you are not alone.

Survival of the fittest! That is what it feels like in the work world sometimes. I know how tough it can be. I have worked in business since the mid 1980’s where I have witnessed political games of all sorts – power struggles, back biting, turf wars, and blind ambition.

Reading the book you will learn that the stereotypical image of the term ‘political’, that usually is thought of as overly political and at time unethical behaviors are definitely not what the authors are recommending.

Survival of the Savvy describes the political style continuum that ranges from the less political type who believe hard work, facts, and good ideas are enough to the overly political individuals driven by self-interest.

Brandon and Seldman suggest a high integrity middle ground (aka ethical and more palatable,) approach to politics that even the most politically averse can employ. They call it the green light/safe travel zone. This vital balance is neither too political nor politically naive.

Power and politics are not dirty words. You can promote yourself with integrity. These are important messages in the book for all women in business and especially for those in the traditionally less political career tracks who want to advance to leadership positions – women in science, R&D, Information Technology, engineering, and other technical fields.

The authors successfully help readers, who hate the thought of workplace politics, reframe how they think about power and politics. They offer useful and practical advice even for the political novice.

The further you advance, the more vulnerable you are if you remain politically naive. The authors claim in their experience ethical political skills are a leadership competency.

If you want to get ahead, but are so opposed to the concept of politics and to any of the ideas in the book the day will come when your subject matter and expert technical status are no longer good enough for you to advance. Your career will plateau. Shunning even high integrity, ethical politics can mean you are destined to succeed only in a job in the ranks below management and leadership. If you do progress into management you are at risk to derail in all but the most non-political cultures.

Reading and applying the information in the book is not easy but worthwhile for all who want to land the top jobs and earn the income they deserve. If you feel frustrated or have plateaued in your career advancement, it may be a political blind spot and reading this book can help.

Although not a book written specifically for women, the authors offer ‘political’ success strategies especially relevant for women.


Understanding the Rise and Sprawl of Political Islam

Within a post 9/11 society, political Islam is seen as a virulent force that threatens national security. In a response, Western governments have taken extreme political and militaristic action seeking to cripple the political ideology’s domestic and international expansion. Unfortunately, however, there has been little progress in this department. Still, for a small but increasing minority of Muslims, the West and its imperial intermeddling within Islamic Middle Eastern affairs (i.e. Israel-Palestine) is categorically reprehensible. Using this as a point of departure, serious acts of terrorism have been committed supposedly in the name of ‘jihad’.

The most iconic representative of political Islam is without doubt the late founder al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. For nearly two decades, the Islamist figurehead has been synonymous with a militant form of Occidentalism, and has been named as the main orchestrator behind the 9/11 bombings. Based upon these charges, many believe that the timely assassination of this ‘evil man’ by US military forces was both just and necessary. However, bin Laden’s death does very little to ameliorate the social and political preconditions of radical Islamism itself. With or without Osama bin Laden, this religio-political attitude will continue to be embraced by certain Muslims who are vindictively antipathetic towards the West. Under these circumstances, the age old argument of attacking symptoms but evading the disease is rather apt.

According to Christopher Hitchens, the main factor energising political Islam’s rise and sprawl is not Osama bin Laden, but the Islamic belief system itself. Within the eighth chapter of the Holy Qur’an, there is a passage that comprehensively delineates the right and duty of all Muslims to fatally persecute those whom fall under the rubrics of the ‘unbelieving’. This is accordingly the scriptural basis of jihadism. If this theory is correct – which it is most certainly not – then why do only a small minority of Muslims embrace this political persuasion? Well, put simply, contemporary political Islam has very little to do with the theology. Normatively speaking, its supporters are nearly always found within a very specific social, cultural and political context. This finding is well explicated by the American-Japanese political philosopher, Francis Fukuyama, who maintains that radical Islamism is more accurately understood through the prisms of modern identity politics. According to Fukuyama, globalisation is blurring the once apparent distinctions between the developed world and the Middle East. Under such conditions, the Islamic faith is being socially and geographically “deterritorialised”, namely through immigration and Western influences. As a consequence, the traditional Muslim identity has almost becomes untenable. This phenomenon is especially the case when the younger generation of Western Muslims are concerned. Without the everyday social and cultural cleavages found within traditional Islamic societies, young Muslims living within Western Europe and North America often feel divorced from their traditional ancestral ties. Concomitantly, such Muslims additionally feel ontologically estranged from the norms and values that are commonplace within their host nations. Under these inauspicious conditions, this generation of Western Muslims are extremely vulnerable to a sort of existential anxiety, whereby the proverbial question of “Who am I?” becomes subjectively difficult to ascertain. Fukuyama explains that political Islam and jihadism arises in response to this quest for identity, and provides a sense of belonging for anomic Western Muslims by positing statements such as:

“You are a member of a global Umma defined by adherence to a universal Islamic doctrine that has been stripped of all of its local customs, saints and traditions.”

This sociological interpretation explains the Western fraction of the global political Islamist movement. Here, European and North American Muslims – who feel socially, culturally and politically alienated from their secular, democratic host countries – readily embrace a doctrine that gives their personhood a meaningful raison d’être. This account elucidates the reasons why so many radical Muslims were originally non-Islamic in their daily behaviour. Oftentimes, these kinds of ‘secular Muslims’ were initially petty criminals who then became radicalised within the penal system. Records suggest that many were also alcohol or drug abusers before they became inspired political Islam. What these findings suggest is that with feelings of alienation and anomie, Western Muslims, just like any other social group, crave a sense of purposefulness within their lifeworlds. Based on these circumstances, political Islam provides the sufficient antidote to this existential crisis.

Whilst Fukuyama’s main thesis is certainly valid within Western contexts, it still fails to take into account that political Islam was originally a Middle Eastern reaction to the vices of Western imperialism. By stating that political Islam is mainly based on a sociologically-orientated need for a coherent self-identity, Fukuyama absolves the US and its allies of the political and economic oppression that it has continually inflicted upon Islamic societies. The United States and its questionable economic and militaristic support of the Israeli occupied territories is obviously the most pertinent case in point. This charge – coupled with other injustices such as the Iraq War – needs to be acknowledged if political Islam is to be understood in a global context.

Noam Chomsky states that the Islamist reaction to Western hegemonic forces is certainly not a recent phenomenon. In 1958, President Eisenhower stated – within an internal, underreported discussion – that hatred towards the US and its allies is exponentially growing within the Arab World. This attitude was not assumed by the autocratic governments of the region however, but by the actual people. After research was conducted that sought to suggest why this was the case, the US National Security Council observed that this hatred was based upon the assumption that the US and its allies (especially the UK and Israel) support brutal authoritarian regimes within the Middle East, North Africa and Indonesia principally because they want to control their lucrative oil reserves. Responding to this accusation, US representatives unashamedly claimed that this was wholly accurate and justifiable: if Western prosperity is to be effectuated, then building partnerships with Middle Eastern dictatorships with large supplies of natural recourses is essential. Because of the sheer frequency of these kinds of politico-economic arrangements within recent history, the West is often deemed to be complicit in the prevention of the democratization of the Arab World. Under these circumstances, the people living under these brutally repressive regimes have every right to be antagonistic towards the West.


Tip Sheet for Leaders on Politics

A leader is a decision maker who is goal oriented and visionary – a person who is able to inspire his/her team to see the vision of the organization and strive to keep the team focused on meeting the mission. Organizational politics and leadership are deeply linked. Politics is the way people resolve differences through discussion, negotiation, or compromise. Organizational politics, on the other hand, is the process and behavior in human interactions involving power and authority. In order to succeed in a political environment, leaders need to acknowledge the legalities of the organizational mission and strategize and implement with political sensitivity.

Politics in the workplace shouldn’t be about negative behaviors or undesired actions. It is about understanding the environment of the organization – it is a tool to help to make better decisions. There are four major steps that can be used to strategize decisions politically. The first step is by assessing the political feasibility, which assesses the acceptability and the operational capacity. The second step is mapping the political landscape. This can be done through defining the organizational strengths, weakness, motivations, resources, values, and trade-offs. The third step is to perform political costs and benefits analysis by evaluating costs and benefits. The fourth step is to actually make the decision.

Politics is a tool to assess the operational capacity and to balance diverse views of interested parties. It is power and should be used to implement decisions with political sensitivity. The following is a list of tips for leaders on workplace politics:

1. Understand the political relationship by defining the politics in the organization first

2. Identify the benefits of politics and develop a political map

3. Implement decisions and policies with political sensitivity

4. Acquire political responsibility

5. Be professional and responsible

6. Have personal and legal responsibility

7. Use political favors to accept policy

8. Increase power over decisions

9. Use political environment to access future decision-making

10. Assess operational capacity

11. Assess value and substantive worth

12. Map the political landscape to assess the organizational strengths and weaknesses

13. Understand the resources, incentives, and exchanges.

14. Develop your arguments and prepare in advance

15. Know how to use the formal rules

16. Take advantage of information opportunities

17. Negotiate, compromise, and adapt

18. Balance diverse views of interested parties

19. Advance the goals of stakeholders

20. Work within the scope of authority and meet ethical guidelines


Politics – The Ugliest Fascination on Earth

No matter where you live, politics probably plays a part in your day to day life. You might not immediately deal with political issues, but you can be sure that politics plays a part in what you do! Whether it is office politics deciding who gets that raise you’ve been hoping for; city politics determining where you are allowed to park downtown; county politics dictating your quarterly property tax or even nationwide politics deciding how your schools are funded, politics plays a part in your daily life.

It is important then that you understand what politics really is. Politics, at its core, is defined by Wikipedia as the process by which groups of people make decisions. At its core, politics sounds quite simple. What makes it complicated are the individuals involved in making the decisions. Because human beings are not perfect, the political system is never going to be perfect. This is something that most people don’t understand about politics. You can put all of the pomp and circumstance into politics that you want, in the end; it is more about human beings getting their way than about the process itself.

It has been said quite often that politics is a dirty business. In the United States Congress, for example, politics has taken on an air of hatred and manipulation. Many citizens of the United States feel that they are left out of the process of politics and that their elected representatives are more interested in scoring personal points than in working toward the betterment of their states and districts. In the last few decades special interest groups have taken on an entirely new role and lobbyists have become particularly vilified.

This disillusion toward politics is nothing new. Plato-the famous Greek philosopher-believed that all political systems were corrupt at their cores and that societies leaders should be chosen from an elite group of individuals who were began leadership training at birth. Aristotle argued that man is inherently political and that personal and political ethics are often the same thing.

One of the most famous political philosophers, Machiavelli advised that leaders of politics be brutal and manipulative and do whatever they could to retain their power. Machiavelli is studied today and his work is considered to be one of the leading authorities on how to behave in politics. Is it any wonder then, that the political systems of so many nations look corrupt?

The heart of politics is good: it is how laws are made and how individuals are judged by the societies that surround them. Without politics, nobody would know what was allowed and what was not allowed when they left the house. Unfortunately, many people view politics as a way to get ahead or to gain some sort of power over the people they live and work with. It is because of these “bad eggs” that politics has become regarded as an evil and ugly business.


Friendship and Politics – Can They Mix?

Making new friends can be a tricky process. When we first meet someone new, we often get the advice to stick to very safe small talk conversations. We are told that we should never discuss controversial topics such as religion or politics with people we have just met. Either of these two topics can result in a bitter argument if both people are passionate about their differing points of view. You can easily destroy all chances at a friendship if you discuss controversial topics too soon.

Is it always true that we should never bring up the topic of politics with someone we have just met? Is it possible to develop a good friendship or romance with a person if you hate their political beliefs? What if you are attracted to someone, but you hate their politics? Should you limit your friendships and relationships to people who share your political views?

Today in many countries, politics has become very intense, and differing political views can spark an intense argument.

In spite of this, the advice to avoid all discussion of politics with people that you don’t know very well is not always necessary.

For example, you might find yourself at a political convention surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know, yet you would have a good chance of having great political discussions with anyone of them. It’s very possible that most of the people you meet at such an event will love having political conversations with you.

There’s another time you might want to bring up politics right away, even when you don’t know how the other person will react. You might be one of those people who takes politics so seriously that you don’t want to get to know a person slowly and only later find out that their political beliefs don’t match your own.

In such a case, you might prefer to have your political discussions right away so that you decide whether or not you want to invest more time in this person.

Most of us are not that extremely passionate about our politics, yet politics still has the potential to break up relationships, especially in the early stages.

That’s why we are usually advised to stay away from discussing politics until we know a person better.

Many people who have very strong political opinions also dislike any people who have a differing point of view. They are not willing to be tolerant of people with other political views. This makes it very difficult to make bonds of friendship or love if the other person has different political beliefs.

Still, some people have managed to create successful friendships and marriages even though both people have differing political views. How do they manage this? It’s more likely that people with differing political viewpoints can make a successful friendship if neither of them are very passionate about politics.

Before you decide to bring up the topic of politics with a person you don’t know well, ask yourself how you will react if it turns out that their point of view is the opposite of your own. Then ask yourself whether you think it’s worth the risk.

In some cases, people with very different political opinions manage to stay good friends or even have happy marriages because they actually enjoy having passionate arguments about politics. They have enough respect for each other that they can overlook their differences. In other cases, friends with different points of view simply decide to avoid any political discussions altogether.


The Law of Attraction Meets Politics and Religion

We live in a physical world often polarized by politics and religion. At best, we politely avoid these two topics. At worst, we start wars and spill blood. In this article, I will take a look at how the law of attraction affects these touchy subjects. Then I will suggest some strategies and tactics for “living in the world but not of it” as Jesus said.

The Law of Attraction

I am assuming that you, the reader, are familiar with the law of attraction. Remember that the law of attraction brings together objects and experiences of like vibrational level. Individuals and groups of people with a common tribal consciousness will attract experiences that are in sync with their vibrational levels. What you put out is what you get back.


The ideal of political leadership is service to the community as a whole. In reality, politics involves a heavy dose of self-interest as well as making endless compromises in order to make the machine called government work. Conflict and violent confrontation are part of the vibrational level that politics has typically occupied. This has been true across cultures throughout history.

It is not to say that the forms of government have not evolved to some degree along with our consciousness. The modern democracies that exist today avoid violent confrontation at least within their own structures. You don’t see bloody coups and civil wars occurring in most modern democracies. Most modern democracies still exist, however, at a vibrational level of violent conflict and confrontation. You can see this evidenced by the continual wars being fought by these entities.

If you want to measure the vibrational level of a government, you need only look at the overall vibrational level of the tribe that it governs. While there are clearly great variations in the vibrational level within the population, there is an overall set point for the group. This set point explains the failure inherent in trying to install a modern democracy by force in a culture that is not ready for it. You only need to look at the Middle East to see this situation.

Politics will continue to change to reflect the growth in consciousness levels. We will always have those evolved individuals that are light posts for change along the way. I am referring to those catalysts such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Countless other unnamed evolved beings are working behind the scenes to make political evolution happen.


Looking at the dictionary, at the definition of religion, I see two possibilities. A more comprehensive definition is “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” I would include for our purposes any philosophy or doctrine that someone seeks to have imposed on others because they believe that they are right, and others are wrong. This definition, then, includes atheism. You could even include some forms of politics although I keep politics and religion separated here.

With religion, the ideal is again service to the tribe, but the overall reality is often an attitude of self-interest and self-preservation. Usually, but not always, the prevailing religion practiced by a given tribe is a vibrational notch up from its government but not very far above it. For instance, you won’t have a tyrannical government co-existing well with a prevailing compassionate religious viewpoint. An example of this is the Dalai Lama being sent into exile.

Like politics, religion is evolving to keep pace with the gradual evolution of the tribal consciousness. There are new spiritual organizations that have sprung up over the last 150 years that support New Thought beliefs like the law of attraction. Existing religious organizations are evolving based on tribal consciousness evolution. Even the Vatican makes changes, as evidenced by the Second Vatican Council.

Acceptance and Appreciation

One small step for law of attraction student to take towards the subjects of politics and religion is the giant step of acceptance. You must accept that everyone is at their own stage in the spiritual journey. Their journey is not your journey. Their politics and religion don’t have to be your politics and religion. Acceptance doesn’t mean that that you agree with them or that they are right. Acceptance just means that you are not pushing against them in an angry or emotional way.

You can even learn to appreciate the products of politics. The roads your drive on and the schools that educated you are there because of the government. There are many people working hard behind the scenes to make sure your life runs smoothly. There are soldiers and civil service employees working around the clock. Learn to appreciate them and what they do for you even though you think they should do things differently.

Religion has brought us a tradition of wonderful teachers, even if they have been mistreated and misunderstood. Their underlying messages stand as a testament to the power of truth. Religion, including atheism, is also a ladder of spiritual progression for people at many different levels of spiritual growth. You wouldn’t want to knock the ladder out from beneath someone, would you?

Exposing Yourself to the Media

The section heading can be taken in different ways. What I mean is watching a lot of pre-programmed political or religious media that is trying to sell you on thinking in a certain direction. Even news programs or articles that appear to be unbiased are appealing to your built-in human bias to focus on the negative aspects of things. Popular fiction often has underlying political and moral themes. The serious law of attraction student avoids getting sucked into what the media wants them to believe. Be aware and always think for yourself.

Try to balance your life by continually exposing yourself to positive teachings from the masters. At very least, be aware of what you feed your mind. Peace and unconditional love to you.


Politics Is Not Optional: The Case of the Weakened Boss

The three biggest mistakes I’ve made as an executive coach in the past decade have one thing in common: organizational politics. In each case, I failed to sufficiently prepare the leaders I was coaching for power moves at senior levels that could-and did-affect them.

Here’s the thing. Few people would call me naive. I’m biologically wired to see what could go wrong and warn people about it. I’m also fascinated by the darkest guides to power and influence (e.g. Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power). However, with these three leaders, I missed key dynamics to which they were also blind, and it ended up costing them.

In this post, I share one of those stories. My intent is two-fold: first, to demonstrate that in organizations politics is not optional; and, second, to illustrate the level of acumen required to navigate politics skillfully.

Case 1: The Weakened Boss

Linda was a highly successful senior manager with an amazing network at her company. When I met her, she had recently been brought onto a senior team in order to introduce a new business model, one more suited to the radically new market dynamics. Many of her colleagues were not enthusiastic about this business model. Some, in fact, were bitterly opposed to it. They had earned their stripes and had success in the prior business model. What did this new person think she was doing trying to change things?

Fortunately, Linda was aware of these political dynamics and open to my guidance. We worked on shifting her relationships with her peers by having new conversations with them. Instead of pushing or judging them, her practice was to get curious about their concerns and perspectives, ask questions, slow down, and listen. Over a period of months, this worked fairly well. Linda’s colleagues appreciated her new approach, particularly her sincere intention to put herself in their shoes. As a result, although Linda’s task of shifting the team’s business model was still challenging, there now was some light at the end of the tunnel. To use terms I introduced in Practice Greatness, a few key relationships shifted from Negative to Neutral/Respectful. Not an amazing outcome, but a step in the right direction.

This was a good example of tuning into political dynamics. Linda and I were neither naive nor cynical. Instead, we looked soberly and realistically at the people around her-particularly their interests and concerns-and assessed what it would take to make things better.

Unfortunately, I missed a different political dynamic. This related to her boss, Sam. Like Linda, Sam was well-respected at senior levels of the company. Indeed, he was often called on to fix big messy problems-and appeared to enjoy this. He also seemed to have a good idea of how to succeed politically-specifically, which mistakes were “fireable offenses” and which were not. On the other hand, my own first impression of him was relatively negative. He was late to our first meeting, seemed preoccupied with his thoughts, and couldn’t stop talking. I remember feeling frustrated by the conversation and his lack of presence. In my gut, I sensed that this was not a very skilled leader. Unfortunately, I did not ask the next logical question: what does his lack of executive presence suggest about his political power in the company? In fact, the question never occurred to me. I trusted what I had heard about his reputational power more than I trusted my own experience of him in the moment.

Shortly after I finished my engagement with Linda, Sam left his role. Or, to put it more accurately, he was forced out. Why? Because his reputational power in the company was much less than I had assumed.

Once Sam was gone, Linda realized how vulnerable she was to the same thing happening to her. Indeed, when her new boss was hired, she decided to cast out the “old guard.” Even though Linda was no fan of the status quo, she was placed in the same category as her peers. She lost her job. Not only that, but she was tainted politically at her division’s highest levels by her association with Sam. Executives who ordinarily would have been happy to have Linda on their team passed her over. It was enormously frustrating. Although she ended up getting another job in the company, it took many months, sapped a lot of her energy, and evoked a great deal of shame.

I did not learn about these events until several months later. Hearing her describe them was painful for me. Not just because of the impact on her life and family, but because I could have helped prevent this. So after acknowledging the difficult experience she had been through, I apologized for not serving her as well as I could have.

In retrospect, here are five things I would do differently the next time:

    • Trust my gut. After sensing Sam’s weakness as a leader, ask the next logical question: what might this mean for his political power in the company? Is it possible that he is more vulnerable than I’ve been led to believe?


    • Raise the topic with Linda. Introduce my curiosity about Sam’s true political power and ask Linda to share her thoughts more fully. If necessary, encourage Linda to ask other trusted sources in the company for their take. This would allow us to form a more grounded assessment of Sam’s, and therefore Linda’s, risk of losing his job.


    • Explore different scenarios. Identify two to three different future scenarios and explore what Linda would do in each. One of these scenarios would be Sam losing his job. How might this impact Linda and the rest of the team?


    • Discuss Linda’s overall career. Expand beyond our agreed focus-how to succeed in her current job-and consider what options Linda would have in each of the alternative scenarios, including the scenario of Sam losing his job. What possibilities would exist for Linda’s career in each scenario? (This thought exercise, which I’ve used with many leaders, is useful because it forced us to confront the reality that the future is plural.)


  • Identify new actions to take. Given the possibilities explored in step four, what actions does this suggest Linda can take today? Strengthen alliances with pivotal executives? Differentiate herself politically from Sam-subtly, without appearing disloyal? Or perhaps line up a new job immediately, while her own reputational power is fully intact?

The ultimate lesson is this: politics is not optional. You cannot hide from it. You cannot wish it away. And there is little benefit to thinking you are “above it” or not wanting to “get your hands dirty.”

Here’s why: politics is ultimately about the interests and concerns of human beings. As long as there are human beings, there will be interests and concerns. And as long as there are interests and concerns, there will be politics.


Political Signs: Dos or Don’ts?

Political signage comes in many shapes, sizes and materials, from magnetics to your standard lawn signs. But do they actually work? By “working,” this means convincing people to vote for the candidate being represented. The answer is yes and no. Political signs work by optimizing name recognition, which is the bread and butter of campaigning. David Mayhew, a political scientist, says, “To be perceived at all is to be perceived favorably.” One of the most popular types of political signage is lawn signs, and a Vanderbilt University study indicates these signs work. One Vanderbilt study was simple: Put up four big signs for fictional Benn Griffin, school board candidate, near a middle school. Just three days afterward, a poll showed parents who drove by these signs were 10 percent likelier to vote for Griffin.

Political signs also work by encouraging voting in general. They may not always sway who the voter votes for, but they are fantastic Election Day reminders. Costas Panagopoulos, political scientist, found in a recent study that political signage results in a 3.6 percent higher voter turnout. Political signage also serves as a social cue, helping neighbors share pertinent information with each other. Sometimes this can work as an information shortcut. For example, two neighbors are friendly and one puts up a political sign, but the other isn’t interested in the election. When voting comes around, though, the less informed person may vote for his neighbor’s chosen candidate simply because he likes his neighbor.

Working the Polls (with Signs)

Campaign signs also let supporters showcase their opinions, thus upping political participation. Todd Makse, political scientist, says, “Yard signs constitute an important, symbolic aspect of what we might call an ordinary individual’s total campaign experience.” For political volunteers, yard signs also let people share how much hard work they’ve put into a campaign. Campaign signage can be especially effective with local elections because people are more involved, more educated and can make a bigger impact.

Of the many ways to campaign, cost breakdown reveals that political signage is by far the most affordable when it comes to bang for your buck. Costs can vary with signage, but assuming a cost of $10 per sign and that each sign garners three votes (as per the Panagopoulos study), cost per vote equals just one dollar. According to Panagopoulos, door-to-door canvassing is $20 per vote, direct mail is $60 per vote and phone banks are $100 per vote.

Design Counts

Quality also makes a big difference. A well-designed sign will get more attention and votes than a poorly designed one. At a minimum, signs should have a first name, last name and position. Make the most of political signage by trusting the creation and printing to a superior signage business. The durability of a sign is also a factor, particularly in regions that are wet, snowy or windy during election season. The sign should be built to withstand the elements, including mud-slinging. IG Signs designs and constructs quality signs of all types and sizes. Contact them for all your signage needs, including political and election signs.


Political Signs: Dos or Don’ts?

We do not live in a totalitarian state. As members of a democratic society, we have a civic duty. Our government is held in check by “We the People.” In a democratic system of government, politics is just another aspect of daily living.

Spirituality is not an other-worldly affair. It is a principled worldview coupled with a system of practice that orients our whole being to the world in which we live.

Politics is not a distraction from spirituality, but one aspect of daily life with which spirituality is deeply concerned.

Saying that politics is a distraction from spirituality is like saying relationships or work are obstacles to spiritual practice. They aren’t obstacles, they are opportunities for our spirituality to be born into the world. Segregating politics and spirituality is an attempt to closet your spirituality-to shield it from things that push your buttons, rather than leaning into your struggles and learning to move beyond stress, fear, and anger.

We are not called to hide behind a vapid smile or to look the other way. Any spirituality that hides behind a distraction is not spirituality but a defense mechanism. It is spiritual bypassing, not spiritual practice. This is true regardless of whether our practice is rooted in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, or lacks religious affiliation altogether.

Gandhi once wrote: “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is… Indeed, religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. It is not less real because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality.”

A living spirituality is politically conscious and engaged, but not obsessed. And this is the catch.

It is hard to be mindful and politically engaged at the same time. It is difficult to watch the news or read the papers without getting wrapped up in it, especially in this day-and-age with a 24-hour news cycle and a controversial president that dominates every minute of that cycle.

Mindfulness and activism often feel mutually exclusive. But uniting the two is our path. We have to root our politics in mindfulness and silence. If we fail to do this, we will either neglect our civic responsibility, or our politics will be tainted with fear and aggression.

You can be present and centered while protesting or voicing concern-Dorthy Day, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Dalai Lama are perfect examples.

While the basic outline of spirituality remains unchanged, the terrain that path must traverse changes with each generation. And it is no accident that these great icons of mindful activism have come before us, showing us the way. They have outlined the path before us. Their activism is rooted in prayer and meditation.

Venturing into the realm of politics without tethering the mind to reality is the way of madness.

Meditation anchors the mind in the present moment. But it is not enough to sit every morning. Mindful activism is meditation in action. We have to bring the principles of meditation-letting go and returning to the simplicity of the present moment-into our daily life. In the presence of injustice, we often feel fear, anger, and aggression. But we must disown the fear, anger, and aggression, not the awareness of injustice, which is grounded in reality.

Politics devoid of compassion is just another way to vent resentment. And our body politic is already saturated with resentment. Prayer connects the mind and the heart, melting away resentment. William James wrote in Varieties of Religious Experience, “Religion is nothing if it be not the vital act by which the entire mind seeks to save itself by clinging to the principle from which it draws its life. This act is prayer.”

And the heart is the principle from which the mind draws life. But once again, it is not enough to pray only in the morning. We have to see aggression as a reminder to pray throughout the day. When we are afraid or angry, we have to pray for those that arouse our bitterness. We have pray for those in need. Prayer gets us out of our head, out of our self-centered mind. It awakens the spirit of selflessness and sanity.

Spirituality reminds us that it is our responsibility to be a voice of sanity, a light unto the world. I say that not with a condescending tone, but with an awareness that I too must work harder to bring mindfulness, compassion, and sanity into my politics. Politics is a sticky subject. It is easy to get caught up in politics. But the spiritual path always cuts through our obstacles. It never goes around them.

This is the path we in the era of Trump must trudge, and we must do it together.