US President Barack Obama urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing “moderate” rebels in Syria in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to latest efforts to end the war. Major powers agreed on Friday to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria but the deal…
Cover Photo Credit: Syria Freedom/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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By Mario Moussa and Derek Newberry
As we get ready to watch the second presidential debate, you might be scratching your head about a tale of two countries.
In Trump’s telling, America is a nation in decline that needs a turnaround.
Clinton sees a leading world power that should continue on the positive trajectory created under the Obama administration.
As business school professors who specialize in the human side of organizations, there is one thing – that many may find surprising – each candidate needs during this next debate: a story.
At this point, you might be thinking that elections are really all about pocketbook issues and politicians’ stories are just a bunch of fluff.
We have a different point of view: hard-nosed policies and strategies are worthless without a good story. Whether people realize it or not, they think in stories. The best communicators know this and make the most of it.
Storytelling: The Crucial Leadership Skill
A famous experiment by two psychologists in the 1940s showed subjects a short clip of two triangles and a circle moving around, and asked them to describe what they saw.
Where some described a bully terrorizing two children and a jealous father protecting his daughter, others saw different dramas.
The imagined scenarios differed, but what they had in common was that nearly all of the subjects told a story about the shapes without any prompting.
Why are stories so pervasive?
Because they are how people make sense of their environment and get along with co-workers or fellow citizens.
The most brilliant policy can fall flat if it is not communicated with a strong narrative that makes it real and compelling for the people who are supposed to implement it.
Far from fluff, good story-telling is a crucial leadership skill for motivating commitment and moving a strategy from abstract idea to action.
Hence the importance of the two recent political conventions.
Like an annual corporate retreat, their purpose is not only to explain a specific policy platform but also to tell a story that motivates and guides those who need to carry it out.
In this respect, we think Clinton right now is in a stronger position as she goes into his next debate.
She does three things especially well.
And the next time you need to get your point across, you should remember them:
In any good story, the audience should empathize with the main characters.
According to screenwriter Robert McKee, the key to creating empathy is to portray a character who is overcoming a struggle.
This can make even an unsympathetic person relatable.
Steve Jobs wasn’t known for his humility, but his story about returning to Apple after having been pushed out is one we can all root for.
Trump has been focused on communicating his greatness, but not on talking about overcoming hardships to get there.
Just recently, he stumbled again by referring to the jobs he has created as one of his “sacrifices.”
Clinton creates empathy by acknowledging that she struggles with the “public” part of public service – that is, the aspect of it that involves public speaking.
She deftly turns this weakness into a strength by recounting how she pushes through it because she cares deeply about the service part.
Paint a Picture
If you boil any rom-com movie down to its most basic elements, they are all pretty much the same: beginning, middle, and end.
In other words, every story starts with a typical everyday situation, which is then disrupted by some new or unusual event, which sets in motion of series of actions that lead to a resolution and a return to normalcy.
So what separates a classic like Annie Hall from a flop like Gigli? The difference is in the detail.
Good stories use vivid imagery to make abstract ideas feel real and bring the audience along.
On this count, Trump misses the mark. When his family talks, their speeches provide a great opportunity to show the candidate’s lighter side.
While the Trump clan mentions plenty of great qualities, their speeches are light on anecdotes that would help us visualize how he lives these values in his everyday life.
By giving details about Hillary’s personal life, such as how she met Bill or how she stays connected to Chelsea while on the road, the Clintons paint a more compelling picture of the Democratic candidate’s values.
Make the Audience Your Hero
As speaking coach Nick Morgan reminds us, every story has a hero and when you need other people to help you get things done, you are likely to get more buy-in if you put them in the starring role.
Think of how rockstar Bono has driven support for his ONE campaign by imploring: “We can be the generation that ends poverty.”
This is why Trump’s declaration that “I alone can fix” the political system is perhaps the weakest moment of his debate.
Clinton, by contrast, hits on the theme of becoming “stronger together,” making voters the heroes of her campaign’s story.
Far from fluff, stories are a critical execution tool.
On the campaign trail, they help leaders communicate strategy, rally support and guide implementation.
Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who headed up communications for the George W. Bush campaigns, once said that the successful candidate is the one who tells the better story.
So far, by this measure, we think Clinton is pulling away from her opponent.
Dr. Mario Moussa and Dr. Derek Newberry are the authors of Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance. Dr. Moussa teaches in the Executive Programs at Wharton School of Executive Education. Dr. Newberry is a lecturer at the Wharton School. Connect with Dr. Moussa at www.moussaconsulting.com, and with Dr. Newberry via Twitter, @derekonewberry.Post Views: 329
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Wanting to be taken to the frontlines of the war in Syria? This might be your chance. A Russian tourism company is planning to offer trips to the war-torn country next year, according to various Russian media reports. Megapolis Ltd. has registered to use the trademark “Assad Tours,” named after the embattled Syrian dictator, and has… Read MorePost Views: 253
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If voters don’t like Trump or Clinton as presidential candidates, does that leave Green Party nominee Jill Stein as a viable option?
Not according to a poll released last Tuesday that gives Stein 2% of Texas voter support, the same percentage that supports Harambe, the gorilla shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 3-year-old boy fell into his closure. The same poll has Stein trailing Deez Nuts, the satirical
politician, who is actually 15-year-old Iowan Brady Olson.
Stranger yet, this is the second Public Policy Polling survey showing support for the dead gorilla who had 5% of the vote a few weeks ago over Stein, a Harvard-educated doctor. The political arena is really just a bizarre circus.
Continuing to walk the tightrope is Stein, the Green Party candidate who’s been loudly touted as a vaccine conspiracy nut by media and the public. Yet, she is still considered to be a serious candidate (well, at least by 2% of Texas voters polled).
So serious that on her own website, it says, Stein, who was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate, holds the current record for most votes ever received by a woman candidate for President of the United States in a general election.
She is a doctor with an Ivy League degree.
She isn’t Trump or Clinton.
She is not corrupt, at least that’s what she says. She also provides a choice for “disgruntled Bernie backers” who ideologically have more in common with the “progressive medical doctor than the neo-liberal Democratic nominee,” according to RT.
Snopes even stepped in earlier this month to debunk “myths” that Dr. Stein is anti-science and anti-vaccine. She is not the anti-vaccinating conspiracy theorist people have accused her to be.
“Dr. Stein’s stated position is that she ‘supports vaccinations’ and acknowledges that ‘we have a real compelling need for vaccinations,’ so it’s not true to say that she is on record as holding an anti-vaccination political position,” according to Snopes.
“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication,” Stein said.
“Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust,” Stein said. “And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.”
She mentions smallpox and polio, which are pretty old-school diseases.
What does she think about vaccines for more common illnesses such as influenza and pneumococcal?
Other media outlets have come to her defense as well saying, Stein, like many people, has ‘concerns’ about the effects of GMOs and pesticides.
But Stein’s vagueness also leads Snopes to add: “However, her somewhat equivocal statements surrounding that issue allow for a fair bit of leeway and interpretation — many others who proclaim to ‘support vaccinations’ in concept effectively undercut their positions by raising objections to the ‘vaccination process’ or the ‘vaccination industry.’”
It’s not that she opposes vaccines, it’s the terminology she uses to describe her position, which is consistent with a conspiracy theorist, according to an article in Patheos.
Nobody these days really comes right out and says they are “anti-vaxxers.”
“I received dozens of comments from Dr. Stein’s supporters cheering what they took to be a strong anti-vaccination message: They said her statements were, for them, proof of a government conspiracy covering up harm from vaccines, that we should stop vaccinating our children, or vaccinate for fewer diseases, or ignore vaccine schedules,” Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician who heads both the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said. “So the concern that she’s sowing vaccine distrust isn’t hypothetical or exaggerated, it’s very real and already happening.”
The Huffington Post has written several articles against Stein which say she is a peddler of fear and paranoia and a panderer to the fringe.
She also doesn’t have any political experience which people are quick to point out on social media.
In the comments section of this PBS article, some guy named Steve said: “Stein would never recommend that her patients go to a quack, why does she think that governing a country doesn’t take training and specific knowledge, too?”
Stein may at least be right when she called her opponents the “most disliked and untrusted candidates for president in our history.”
But with a national average of 3.6% of the vote, which isn’t enough to qualify her for the presidential debate in September, it’s going to be tough for her to do anything of note this election.
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Cover Photo Credit: Paul Stein/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 383
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