Count Your Blessings: LI Grad New Missouri Speaker Pro Tem
Thomas Bingham & Carol Wehe
November 22, 2017
Count Your Blessings: LI Grad New Missouri Speaker Pro Tem
Every day conservatives fight to gain control of Congress to stop the radical left agenda. It is imperative to elect principled conservatives to office at every level of government. That's why, at a time when we're supposed to count our blessings, I give thanks for representatives like Elijah Haahr in Missouri, and the many other principled conservative Leadership Institute (LI) graduates already in office who work to make our country a better place. Elijah realized the importance of putting conservatives into office early on. "Raised in a conservative family, I started volunteering on political campaigns at the age of 10,” Elijah said. Twenty years later, at just 30 years old, Elijah ran for and won his first campaign. He decided to run for an open seat in the Missouri House of Representatives, District 134 in 2012. After winning his primary with more than 20% of the vote, he went on to win the general election against James Owen. Now, at 35, he still holds his elected seat, is an active member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, and just this fall was elected to be the next Speaker of the House starting in January 2019. Why is it important that Elijah Haahr is so successful at winning elections and being an effective representative? It's not easy. To be an effective candidate, he had to learn how to campaign, fundraise, develop his message, and anticipate negative coverage. As the new Speaker Pro Tem, Elijah Haahr said he greatly benefited from Leadership Institute trainings and his experience working on campaigns. “My parents discovered the Leadership Institute, and I attended several LI courses as a teenager,” Elijah said. “The lessons learned on running and winning campaigns, along with the philosophical foundation LI provided, I still use in my campaigns and political work today." Not only was Elijah a student at Leadership Institute as a teenager, he took LI's Future Candidate School in 2009, just three years before he ran and won in 2012. Future Candidate School is a four-day boot camp which prepares conservatives to run for office. Students at Future Candidate School learn how to get involved, drive support for an issue or candidate, organize activists in large or small groups for maximum impact, communicate more effectively, use the media to help advance an issue, build personal leadership skills, abilities, and confidence. Elijah Haahr is not the only Leadership Institute graduate to get elected to public office. More than 36 Leadership Institute graduates are serving members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. And 504 Leadership Institute graduates are members of State Legislatures, along with Elijah. So, while you're finding leaders, family, and friends to be thankful for this week, you can also consider taking the same leap Elijah did to learn how to effectively campaign and then to run and win public office. The next Future Candidate School will be held December 5-8, 2017. To register for the Future Candidate School click here. Join me in congratulating Elijah Haahr on his new role as Speaker of the House in January 2019, and in giving thanks this Thanksgiving for the hardworking conservatives willing to serve as elected leaders.
David and Goliath - Student Activist in Michigan Fights University and Wins
Cheyenne Plott
November 16, 2017
David and Goliath - Student Activist in Michigan Fights University and Wins
If there was ever a David and Goliath story played out in student activism today, it is the story of Angela Little, former President of the Students for Life chapter at Eastern Michigan University. Most college students in their final year are focused on the job hunt, finding a career, and tying up loose ends in their coursework. In her final year, however, Angela stepped up to the role of President during an ongoing lawsuit the Students for Life chapter filed against Eastern Michigan University. Born and raised in a Christian home in Michigan, Angela always had a strong belief in the sanctity of life. When a friend of hers helped establish the Students for Life group at EMU during her freshmen year, Angela jumped in immediately. Angela started out by helping her friend pass out flyers and promote events on campus, and she soon became heavily involved. The Students for Life chapter wanted to bring the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) to campus. The GAP is a portable, visual display which draws parallels between abortion in the 21st century and historical genocide. When the Students for Life chapter applied to receive funding for the project, however, the university declined to provide it. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented the Students for Life group in the lawsuit, the university considered the project too “biased” and “controversial” to fund despite the fact that a substantial portion of annual student fees are intended to fund student organization activities and programming. Law #41 of Morton's Laws of the Public Policy Process states: “In moments of crisis, the initiative passes to those who are best prepared.” In this case, the initiative passed to Angela as she assumed the role of President. She turned to the Leadership Institute for help. The Leadership Institute invited Angela to attend the 5-day Student Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA where she learned how to petition and how to conduct interviews in the press. Between the ongoing lawsuit and an increase in the number of campus events they hosted, the Students for Life chapter was garnering media attention, and it was in these moments that Angela utilized her interview training. Angela's LI training was not only a beneficial experience but connected her with other conservative student activists across the country. She was encouraged during the training to hear what other pro-life groups were doing on their campuses. The ideas and friendships shared during this training were a source of support when she went back to EMU's campus. After a lengthy legal battle, the Students for Life chapter won the case and the university revised its funding by-laws. The small pro-life student group came out victorious over the university's liberal bias and soon swelled in membership. Angela recognizes that her student activism experience “would not have been the same” without her LI training and the connections she made there. She now shares her story in her professional life with students who will soon be going off to face similar battles. Angela teaches math and science at a private Christian high school. There, she's able to share her story with her students and encourage them in preparation for college. “Life's going to be hard when you get to college,” she tells them. She encourages them saying: “You need to stand up for your beliefs because if you don't, who else will?” Angela's story proves that even a small student group, mighty in principle, can triumph over the giant of liberal bias in the university setting.
It’s Not Just Who You Know, But Where You Go
Ben Woodward
October 31, 2017
It’s Not Just Who You Know, But Where You Go
Some people are social butterflies; they don't just know how to work a room, but where to be and when. Cities like Washington, D.C. have events going on all the time. Many of them are great opportunities to meet new people, learn, and get free food! But while there are a ton of great events going on, how do you know which ones are going to be the most useful? Obviously, you can't be everywhere at once and after a long, busy work week, going to a happy hour can be the last thing on your mind. Knowing what events are going on and which ones you should prioritize is an important skill. So what resources are available to you? Newsletters Do your research and identify which organizations exist in your field and whether they are based in your town/city. If they are, subscribe to their newsletters. Remember that when organizations hold events, they want high attendance. That means they'll be pushing their events by email. Don't worry; I know constant emails can get frustrating. Once you have identified the organizations that are providing useful opportunities, you can unsubscribe from the rest. I personally recommend ConservativeJobs.com, Americas Future Foundation, Heritage Job Bank, which were very helpful to me when I first moved to Washington, D.C. Social Media Within a few months of moving into a new field, you will discover events through Facebook invites. Even if that is not the case, you will most likely see the events others are going to and decide if they are of interest. As you meet new people, the number of invitations you receive will increase. In the early stages, make sure you ‘like' every organization that interests you and you will be notified of their events. Facebook will even show you event recommendations based on your interests. You can also follow an organization on Twitter to learn more about their events. When I'm asked if social media is essential to a person's career, I say yes. By not having social media you will likely be excluded from events by those who depend on it to organize their affairs. I recommend following organizations like the Leadership Institute, Young American's for Liberty, the Charles Koch Institute, and American's for Prosperity to begin with. Eventbrite Most of us have been invited to an event through Eventbrite, or have been forwarded to the site to book tickets. But Eventbrite is also an incredibly useful way to keep in touch with the events happening in your area of interest. Whether your location is your priority, price, or issue area, Eventbrite is a great way to know what's going on. When you go on Eventbrite, you can search by category and location. I recommend searching the “Government” category, which then gives you the chance to see events from Federal, to policy, or party political. Many of these events are career focused. Friends and Coworkers I saved the best until last. Word of mouth. Ultimately, no website is going to know your interests and your ambitions better than your friends and colleagues. Make it known you want to go to more events and get to know more people in your career area. By doing so, you are far more likely to be invited to events as and when your friends discover them. In many ways, you'll find you have a team of people searching out good events for you just by the nature of being in a social group. Make sure you return the favor and invite others to events too, and then people will feel more inclined to assist. Remember, even if you are an outgoing person who makes connections easily, you still have to put in some work to hunt down events and grow your network within the movement. Happy hunting!
Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
Abbey Lee
October 25, 2017
Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
“Politics is a shaping part of culture. It's where we determine what's good, what's true, what's just, what's right, what's moral, and it's where we determine what's beyond the pale and acceptable.” On October 4, Terry Schilling visited the members of the Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast to speak frankly about progress in the social conservative movement. Terry, the Executive Director of the American Principles Project, has worked in many areas of the nonprofit world, including communications, development, and grassroots. An Illinois native, he has worked with several state and local candidates, among them his father, Rep. Bobby Schilling. Addressing the attendees, he spoke from experience in the work he has dedicated to the cause. He has witnessed how abortion has become more and more acceptable in American culture simply because it has been made legal. Terry urges those who stand for traditional, conservative values to support and invest in those causes. “Social conservatives are in danger of losing everything, and it's because we've abdicated our duty and responsibility to invest in politics,” Terry said. For too long, the right has merely defended themselves against attacks from the left. Social conservatives must do more than educate themselves and vote. It is their duty to play offense and invest in the future of the conservative movement to maintain the traditional values held dear. He parts with impactful words, saying, “Not only can we win, but we must win in politics because the future of America depends on it.” Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast hosts conservative speakers and attendees for breakfast on the first Wednesday of each month. To become a breakfast club member, visit this link.
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Kate Lipman
October 16, 2017
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Picture the scenario; you are an intern or junior staffer in the elevator of your work building, and a Vice President walks in… what do you do? Do you burst into tears, fall on your knees and beg for a job? Or do you seize the moment and deliver your elevator pitch? This brief but persuasive 20-second pitch is your chance to engage a potential employer in conversation in a confident but respectful way. By using this opportunity correctly, you can make a strong impression and turn them into a lasting connection. Here are some tips for your elevator pitch. Be natural. If you try to hero worship them, they won't take you seriously. Likewise, if you deliver the speech like you've been practicing it in the mirror, they won't take you seriously. Be respectful but confident. If you want a job working for them somewhere down the line, you have to earn their respect. A great way to do this is to bring up a topic of mutual interest. Perhaps you saw them speak, or read one of their articles. Draw from that to start a conversation. Instead of “Wow it's amazing to meet you, I'm a huge fan of… and I've always wanted to work there.” Try “Hi… my name is… and I work at… I attended your recent talk on… and you made some really interesting points.” Don't ask them for anything. Most executives are experienced enough to separate those legitimately interested in them and their organizations from the users simply trying to find their next job or promotion. Just like with any networking opportunity, the goal is to establish a relationship and then you can work on turning them into a connection. Be genuine and show a legitimate interest in them. By getting their business card, you can follow up and ask them for coffee later. Instead of: “I saw that there's a vacancy at… I'd like to apply; would you give the recruiter my resume?” Try: “How did you come to work in…? I am interested in pursuing a career in this field and would value any advice you have.” Let them talk. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. By letting someone talk about himself or herself, you are demonstrating a legitimate interest in them and allowing the conversation to flow naturally rather than simply pitching yourself. The disadvantage of this can be that by letting them do all the talking, you don't get the chance to impress. Try to establish a connection with what they're saying and something you have accomplished. For example, if they talk about public policy, try to contribute to the conversation and offer an informed opinion. Instead of: “That's interesting… yes… I understand.” Try: “That's a good point; I have recently been working on a similar project to…” Swap business cards and follow up. If possible, you should aim to swap business cards at the end of the conversation. Remember, it is more important to get their business card than it is to give them yours. By getting their card, you give yourself the opportunity to follow up and turn a chance encounter into a real connection. Instead of: “Here is my business card, if you're free for coffee sometime I'd love to learn more.” Try: “Do you have a business card on you? I would be very interested to follow up with you can continue this conversation at your convenience.” When chance encounters occur with your role models, it can be a daunting experience. If you show confidence, sell yourself, and show a legitimate interest, you will be able to use the opportunity to secure a lasting connection.
Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Capitalist Lunatic Farmer Fights Big Gov't
Abbey Lee
September 21, 2017
Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Capitalist Lunatic Farmer Fights Big Gov't
The first Wednesday of September, conservatives from all backgrounds gathered to hear Joel Salatin. Joel, a self-proclaimed Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer, offered a refreshing perspective at the September Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast. He shared stories about his own issues with government intervention as a small-scale Virginia farmer. “Food, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are in common.” Often, conservatives and libertarians focus on individualism, but Joel, co-owner of Polyface Farm, argues that food freedom and the danger of government intervention in small farms and businesses is of concern to us all. He shared one story about a time when friends and neighbors urged Joel to create and sell what he called “Polyface hot pockets” or meat pies made from livestock on his farm. When the inspectors discovered he didn't have a bathroom in the industrial kitchen designed to make the hot pockets, he was told he couldn't sell them at all. Joel explains, “Whenever a regulatory context is prejudicial against ‘small,' it is a bad regulation.” He has a product, and consumers who are willing to buy the product, but government regulations halt progress in its tracks by forcing him -- a small business owner -- to build a $30,000 bathroom. Joel witnesses firsthand how regulations discourage entrepreneurial spirit and keep consumer-desired products out of the market. Watch Joel's entire talk here and join us at our next breakfast with Terry Schilling, the executive director of American Principles Project, on October 4.
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
Ben Woodward
September 18, 2017
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
If you're searching for a job and finding the process difficult, I'm willing to bet that the prospect of competing job offers would be a dream come true. Let's be honest, it's hardly a bad situation to find yourself in. When the situation arose for me, I regret how I handled it. Fresh out of university, I was desperate to get a job in the UK Parliament. When I successfully got to the final round of interviews I was excited. My instincts told me the interview had been a big success. We even bonded over our mutual love of F1 racing. After being told to expect a decision within a week, I was contacted at the same time by a friend offering me a different opportunity. With my heart set on Parliament, I waited. Four weeks later I received the dreaded email telling me that I had been unsuccessful. The alternative opportunity my friend had sent me was now being advertised. Thankfully I got the job. But I made a bad first impression by failing to be honest and talk to both parties. Here is what you should do if you're ever caught in this position. Get yourself a written job offer. The job offer is not technically made until it's formally written out. If you're given a verbal job offer, thank them and tell them how excited you are at the prospect of working for them. Then ask them to put the offer in an email. Explain the situation. Once you have the written offer, be honest. Tell them that you are very excited about the opportunity but that you have another interview scheduled and would like time to weigh up your options. If they tell you they need an answer urgently then you'll have to decide whether it is worth the risk. My advice is to take the job offer if it's an opportunity you think you would still enjoy and benefit from. If you have more time, explain the situation to your other potential employer. You may find that the interview for the next job helps make your decision before you have to discuss other offers. You will likely get a sense of your success, whether the organization is somewhere you want to work, and whether you think the other offer provides a better opportunity. If you find that your instincts were right, and you do want to work at the second organization, tell them. At the end of your interview, be honest and explain that they are your preferred choice however you have another offer pending and see whether they can commit to a decision in a shorter amount of time. One last thing... It's not an easy situation to find yourself in. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether the risk is worth compromising your current offer. By taking these steps and being honest and respectful to the competing employers, you can help mitigate the risks and hopefully give yourself the time you need to secure both offers.
Seize the Internal Promotion
Ben Woodward
August 28, 2017
Seize the Internal Promotion
If you work at a smaller organization, your next promotion doesn't entirely depend on your performance. At a small organization, you may have to wait for a vacancy to arise – or create your own position from nothing. There's one thing you can be sure of though, if you don't ask, you don't get. When you hear the whisperings you've been waiting for, and the person one step above you in the chain of command is about to move on to their next opportunity, how do you approach the situation? There's a lot to think about. Has that person announced it yet? Who else will be applying? How are you going to pitch yourself as their successor? Don't rely on others to recognize you. If you don't ask, you don't get! To ensure you are in prime position, think about the following five angles. Who is hiring for the role? The difficulty with applying for promotion is that there has always been a tier of seniority between you and your potential new boss. This means that your access to them was limited, but now you're asking this person to take a big chance on you. Find out about the person hiring, what do their employees think of them? What qualities do they value most in their team? Answering these questions will give you the framework to prepare your pitch. Who will recommend you? Whether or not you know the individual hiring for the position, asking for recommendations is essential. If the staffer hiring is senior in your department it is likely they will already be aware of your work. However, it never hurts to remind them through people they trust. If you are applying for a different department, the manager will be far more likely to choose you over employees he knows well if he has heard recommendations for you from respected colleagues. What's your case? Just like with any job application you should have a clear understanding of the role you will be performing and why your previous accomplishments make you a prime candidate. Study the job description carefully and prepare a formal written application for the job. Request a formal meeting. This is your opportunity to sit down with the hiring manager and discuss the role seriously. This is not your chance to ask for any special favors, but to sit down and seriously explain that you would like to be considered for the role and to hand over your formal application. Remember that just because you work at the organization you are not entitled to the role. You should be prepared to interview at a later date. What's your pitch? If you are invited to interview for the position following your formal application, remember to treat it as you would any other interview. Your advantage however is your in-depth understanding of the organization and all of the respected colleagues who can vouch for you. Be confident in what you've achieved, what you plan to achieve, and you can score that well-earned promotion!
LI Graduate Makes a Difference for D.C. Kids
Autumn Campbell
August 25, 2017
LI Graduate Makes a Difference for D.C. Kids
Ashley Carter set the bar high in 2016. As the only Republican D.C. elected last year, she is also the only Republican woman elected to this at-large seat in D.C. history. Ashley's passion for her community combined with her upbeat personality set her on track to win last election season. Ashley Carter is a long-time graduate of the Leadership Institute. I followed up with Ashley after she took LI's TV Workshop, On-camera. Since she won the election, Ashley has addressed educational issues through her three-pronged approach: (1) Raise the graduation rate; (2) Push for more career training and technical education resources; and (3) Add more trained volunteers and nonprofit resources to the classroom. School choice is a priority for Ashley. Over the next four years, Ashley plans to push for excellence in education through more school voucher opportunities. Ashley credits her success to listening to the members of her community. “It's less about party and more about the community,” Ashley says. If implementing conservative education policy isn't enough, Ashley stays active through her volunteer work, training for a half marathon, and serving as Director of Coalitions at the Independent Women's Forum. Ashley offered advice to conservative activists: “You're going to face adversity, but you just need to keep going. Had I stopped, I wouldn't be where I am today.” While Ashley continues the conservative fight for Washington, D.C.'s education, what's her challenge to fellow conservatives? “Don't shy away from your beliefs!” This is an update on LI's August 24, 2016 blog post. Read this blog post here. The Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, working with more than 1,876 conservative student groups, and helping employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 188,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Dr. William Murphy -- When LI Grads Succeed, Conservatism Succeeds
Ben Woodward
August 23, 2017
Dr. William Murphy -- When LI Grads Succeed, Conservatism Succeeds
Often in politics, there are doers, and there are thinkers. The doers knock on doors, build organizations, and lobby for their movement. The thinkers research and compose policy proposals; they're academics who shape the way we see the world. Both are assets to the conservative movement, and both are necessary to succeed. Dr. William Murphy encompasses both qualities. A Professor at the New England Institute of Technology, Dr. Murphy specializes in U.S. foreign policy and national security. He is a veteran, Harvard graduate, former President at Peak Performance Technology Partners, and was Finance Director at Bateman for Congress in 1992 where he first met Leadership Institute President, Morton Blackwell. But it's his next project that's potentially his most exciting yet! After discussing his plans with Morton, Dr. Murphy intends to establish an advocacy based organization which will campaign to make Congress more efficient at requesting information from the executive branch. Good Government Now will promote four key proposals for strengthening legislative oversight and investigative capabilities: Rule of information requests and subpoenas, create inherent contempt enforcement procedures, resurrect and reinvigorate criminal contempt enforcement, and increase civil contempt enforcement statute. Dr. Murphy says that the Leadership Institute has been invaluable in his career. Not only through the skills he has learned in the many trainings he attended, such as LI's Television and Digital Communications Workshops, and Fundraising Training, but also because he can network with LI's expert faculty who have provided him with the guidance to succeed. “I have benefitted immeasurably from LI's outstanding training programs. LI's presidential transition support operations, as well as the excellent coaching and career services it offers, are invaluable resources." Besides the army, Dr. Murphy says that there is no organization he feels such loyalty for than LI. “Everyone there is unselfish and dedicated to the cause,” he said. The Leadership Institute is proud to call Dr. William Murphy a graduate. Countless successes have been won by the Leadership Institute's 189,476 graduates. Some have been elected to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, others work for the Administration, lead nonprofits, and are winning for conservatism across the world. When LI graduates succeed, the conservative movement succeeds. Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,878 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 189,476 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.
Dress for Success
Annamarie Rienzi
August 14, 2017
Dress for Success
On Monday, August 7, more than 30 women came to the Leadership Institute (LI) to network, shop, and learn how to dress for success. Partnering with the Independent Women's Forum and the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, LI gathered enough professional clothing for each attendee to take home at least one outfit. In addition, attendees heard from Sonya Gavankar, former Miss D.C., and multimedia host and content creator. Her lecture was filled with great tips and tricks to help young ladies navigate professional fashion without being overwhelmed. She broke down a lot of misconceptions about office fashion choices and entertained the audience with her anecdotes. Here are three key lessons learned about professional dressing for women. Be honest with yourself about what looks good on you. Sometimes what you think looks good may not, in fact, be the most flattering. Wearing tight clothes runs the risk of not being taken seriously in the workplace. Whereas wearing baggy clothes runs the risk of looking sloppy. You should find clothes which are work appropriate and also give you confidence. While shopping, surround yourself with friends who are honest and frank with you. Take turns trying on new work outfits and giving feedback. You don't have to sacrifice personal style to look professional. As long as your clothes are work appropriate, certain liberties can be taken to tailor clothes to your style. An excellent example of this is to dress professionally but look for ways to incorporate a splash of color into your outfit. This may be an accessory or wearing a brightly colored jacket. Don't dress for work how you'd dress for the weekend. Dress codes are more relaxed at organizations than they used to be, which means there's some ambiguity about what women can wear. Because you never know when a meeting may be sprung on you, make sure you don't overstep the boundary between smart casual and casual. If in doubt, look for a female executive at your organization who you admire, and who dresses well. Use her for inspiration. Attendees were grateful to hear Gavankar's advice. They were especially thankful for her time as she stayed during the “shopping” period and reviewed the ladies' outfit choices as they tried on clothes. The unclaimed clothes were donated to the not-for-profit organization, Dress for Success, which provides professional development and attire to women.
How to Communicate With Your Liberal Friends and Neighbors – Without Alienating Them
Autumn Campbell
August 3, 2017
How to Communicate With Your Liberal Friends and Neighbors – Without Alienating Them
We've all been there. We've been unfriended on Facebook during the 2016 election cycle, forced into an awkward political discussion over Thanksgiving dinner, or attacked on Twitter for making a political comment. Yes, the current political climate is hostile; but there is a way to communicate effectively without losing all of your friends. Keep your point clear and concise. Rambling will get you nowhere in a heated discussion. Instead, stay clear-headed and stay on the topic at hand. Use personal stories and experiences. Many you converse with will find it hard to argue against your personal experience. Tie your experience in with why you believe what you believe. You can then back up your experience with facts and statistics. Meet emotion with emotion. Do not shy away from empathy. You can stand your ground while being empathetic to the concerns of the other person. Although these three steps seem simple, you'll be surprised at how calm and level-headed you'll feel at the end of the conversation. Who knows? Your friend may even see your point of view! Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,868 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 187,207 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.
The Walls Have Ears
Ben Woodward
July 31, 2017
The Walls Have Ears
You may be surprised to learn that the number of staff working each day to advance the conservative movement is small. In Washington, D.C., it's a few thousand at most. This is great for your career! Working in the small DC conservative movement, it is easy to get to know the influential players who can support your career advancement. But reputations are made very quickly, and for those less savvy who don't mature quickly, simple mistakes can be destructive. One of the worst mistakes anyone can make in Washington, D.C. is to bad mouth their boss or their organization. You can avoid these three common mistakes. Speaking badly of your employer on social media It is surprising how frequently profe ssionals will speak negatively of their bosses on social media. Remember that not only will this be seen by colleagues, and very likely your employers, but your future employers will read your social media. Ranting about your boss today could risk alienating your potential boss tomorrow. After all, no one wants to hire someone who may badmouth them in future. Speaking badly of your employer during an interview “What did you like least about your last job?” We've all been asked this question during an interview, and I have struggled to answer. By falling into the trap of badmouthing your former boss, you convince the interviewer that they may be the next target of your public scorning or worst case scenario, your last boss may hear about it. Instead, you should answer the question by saying: “While there were many aspects of my previous job which I enjoyed such as…, I would have liked to have had more of an opportunity to… which is why I have applied for this job.” Speaking badly of your employer during networking events We've all been there. It's been a rough day, perhaps you have been frustrated by your supervisor, but there is a time and a place to complain about your work, and it's not at networking events. You run the risk of alienating conservatives who may know your boss. In the worst case scenario, your comments could get back to your employer, and your career will suffer. So what should you do instead? There is a time and a place to address your concerns at work. So instead of complaining about your boss, consider how you can constructively approach the situation. Ask for a private meeting Never criticize your boss in front of colleagues. It will damage their authority in front of the team and is more likely to frustrate them than anything. Have your conversation in private if you believe your boss should be taking a different approach to a project. Know what you want to say Consider writing down your specific concerns and what you want to say in advance. Structure your feedback positively, instead of “I don't agree with your decision…” say “I think we could consider approaching the project this way…” If your boss agrees with you, then great! If not, respect their decision. Ultimately it's their call. Ask a mentor If you find you do need to express serious concerns about your employer, find someone you can trust to give you sound advice and keep it confidential. This person is perhaps a close friend or family member, or another professional who exercises sound judgment. Use them to guide you in your decision making. Know your organization's procedures In the worst case scenario, where you feel mistreated, figure out your organization's formal complaints process and use it. Your relationship with your employers, past and present, can be a positive one if you maintain your professionalism. By keeping your employers on your side, you can rely on strong references, potentially great mentors, and a support base for your career in the conservative movement.
Using Snapchat As An Activist
Stephen Rowe
July 21, 2017
Using Snapchat As An Activist
More than 160 million people check Snapchat every day -- and seven out of 10 of them are under the age of 35. The popular mobile app first became known for users posting videos and pictures that “self-destruct” (disappear) after they're played. But there's more to Snapchat than that. Members of Congress, media companies from the Wall Street Journal to the Food Network, and media personalities like Bret Baier are all on it too. Here's how you can make the most of Snapchat as an activist. #1 Usegeofilters The next time you're thinking of flyers for your event, think of Snapchat geofilters too. Geofilters are custom designs (think stickers) that overlay on Snapchat photos. They're limited to a specific location, known as a “geo-fence.” Example geo-fences may be inside a sports stadium, at a wedding venue, or a political rally or other event. You can create your own on-demand geofilters for any event to help spread your message. When people post a photo or video to Snapchat inside your pre-set geo-fence, they'll see your filter as an option. When they select it, they're sharing their photo or video plus your filter with their friends. Starting at just $5, geofilters are often cheaper than the printing costs of flyers -- and have the potential to reach far more people. That $5 goes far: 20,000 square feet or half the size of an NFL football field. You can use free design programs like Canva to create your custom design. Geofilters must be 1080x1920 pixels and saved as a PNG, a common type of graphics file. It is best to place your filter in the top or bottom quarter of the screen so the filter does not block the original photo. Choose when and where you want your custom design to be active. Then submit your design to Snapchat at least 24 hours in advance. (You can submit your design here.) The next day, you can see data about how your filter performed. #2 Create your story Snapchat lets you create custom stories within a specific location (yes, the geo-fence again). That means that anyone using Snapchat inside the geo-fence can contribute to a group story. You can select friends within your desired location to contribute to your story, or you can set it up so that friends of friends can also join in and see the fun. This all happens free of charge. This means more publicity for your events, conferences, and more. Your next event can be full of attendees sharing their experiences with their friends and on the geofenced story. You can create up to three custom Stories of your own. You can post an unlimited number of times in stories created by others. To make your own custom Story, swipe right on the home screen then click the plus symbol in the top right of your screen. Then select Geofence and pick your desired location. #3 BONUS: Take LI's Online Training: Emerging Social Media Platforms Structured as fun, easy-to-understand introductions, the three days of LI's Emerging Social Media Platforms Workshop will get you up and running on new, popular social media platforms -- including Snapchat. Each day, you will complete "deep dive" into Instagram (Monday), Snapchat (Tuesday), and Facebook Live (Wednesday). You can check out the full agenda – and sign up – here. You will learn: • how to set up your account and choose from the different types of posts for Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Live; • the meaning common terms and acronyms, so you can maximize your presence; and • lessons learned from how campaigns, media companies, and conservative organizations are using each platform. Register for Emerging Social Media Platforms workshop.
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
Ben Woodward
July 2, 2017
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
When people think about blogs, they usually dismiss them as a prehistoric way of getting ideas into the public realm. Today many people prefer a 140-character tweet to a well thought out, self-published article that takes a lot of work to compose and publicize. However, when it comes to your career, demonstrating passion for your field is critical. Writing a blog, which is accessible to recruiters, could be what secures your next big opportunity. Here are 5 ways writing a blog can benefit your career. You can establish yourself as a thought leader Recruiters will expect to see that you have knowledge of your field and show an active interest. By writing a blog directly related to the professional area in which you want to progress, you can illustrate your interest and your ability to lead others. By communicating with readers in such a way that offers leadership, you are showing that you are a strong communicator and an innovative thinker. You can reach an audience directly Individuals who have not yet established themselves in their field do not interest most publishers. By writing your own blog, you cut out the intermediary and go directly to your chosen audience. When you write your blog, get your friends to share it, publish it on your social media and in relevant group chats, even tweet it to respected individuals in your field. That way you add validity to your work and show recruiters that readers respect your opinion. You have writing samples to show recruiters Good writers are in high demand, so not only will writing a blog refine your ability, but it will also give you examples of your writing you can show to recruiters. When you build your following and established people share your work, your blog posts gain validity as writing samples in job applications. In addition, by establishing a digital footprint you will have ‘Google Insurance.' This means that when a recruiter Googles your name they will see links to your blog. This shows you are engaged in the current trends of your industry and will significantly improve your likelihood of getting an interview. You can build a community of people interested in your field Building a following among your readers will get you noticed by others in your field. Taking an active role in the discussion will help you make connections. For example, if you are interested in foreign policy, blogging about it, and having your writing shared by those currently working in foreign affairs will get you noticed by potential recruiters. When you write a blog, remember to put links to your social media and personal website so readers and recruiters can find you easily. Your employer may value contributions Many employers in the conservative movement are looking for contributions to their websites and social media. By writing blog pieces you not only help your employer create content for their website and social media, but you also publish pieces through your organization which increases the validity of your writings. Successful workers take initiative. By writing a blog, you show employers you take an active interest in your work. If you have a significant following, use your blog to attract attention to your organization's successes. That way you can assist your employers beyond your day-to-day work. If you are interested in learning more about successful written communications for your career, please register for the Leadership Institute's Written Communications Workshop.
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
Stephen Rowe
June 28, 2017
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
You may notice a pattern every time you scroll your newsfeed. It starts with a relevant update, then an advertisement, and it doesn't take long before a video starts auto-playing. The biggest question on people's minds when they see this pattern is, “How do I get my content to appear first in everyone else's newsfeed?” Here are three things you can start doing now: 1. Go Live Creating a video is one of the quickest ways to grow your online presence and spread your message. Between 2015 and 2016, video consumption on Facebook increased 800% (from 1 billion views to 8 billion views per day). Now that's a big boost. Making things even better, Facebook gives precedence to videos over other pieces of content. Facebook even sends push notifications when friends “go live.” It's very easy to use Facebook live. You just update your status as usual, click “Live Video”, make sure everything is ready in preview, and click “Go Live” (pro tip: get a stabilizer for your iPhone or camera and a microphone for less than $35). Even if you're camera-shy, Facebook Live can still be for you. You can create live Facebook polls very easily with free sites like MyLivePolls. Then ask your audience relevant questions and watch your engagement soar. Video is king. Start using it! 2. Great visuals = Great social media Almost no one will stop scrolling for a huge chunk of text. But an engaging image will get you everywhere! Your Facebook page posts should have high-quality photos. People love great visuals more than they care to read. You don't have to be a design expert to create compelling visual graphics. Check out Canva.com if you are new to the design world. It's a free and simple graphic design tool website. Learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at the Leadership Institute. The next Digital Creative Workshop: Design is just around the corner. 3. Posting frequency “How often should I post on Facebook?” You should post on Facebook as often as you have quality content. Just ensure your posts are spaced out at least an hour. If you have tons of content, then posting up to 15 times per day is a good thing. However, 95% of people don't have the quality content (or time) to post that much. Let your content dictate the frequency of your posting. Do your best to craft a content schedule and make it consistent. The marketplace will let you know if you're posting too much if you're getting poor engagement on your posts. If you're getting a solid number of likes, comments, and shares then try increasing how often you post. 4. BONUS: Check out the Leadership Institute's online Facebook for Activism training! If you liked the tips above, you will love this training. The Leadership Institute's Online Training: Facebook for Activism will show you how to use Facebook to build a movement around the candidate, campaign, or cause you're committed to. You will leave this training with strategies you can use to accomplish your goals, whether it's starting chapters, recruiting volunteers, building your meetings and events, or even just connecting your friends to each other. Specifically, you'll learn: how to prime your Facebook for success to activate people in your online community; best practices to create conten­t that your supporters will respond to and want to share; and a proven, five-step process to build relationships with your supporters. Learn more about Facebook for Activism here. Let me know what you think. Have you used any of the resources/tactics above? Leave a comment below.
I remember reciting my first speech
Autumn Campbell
May 25, 2017
I remember reciting my first speech
I remember reciting my first speech – “Respect the flag . . . “ – those are the only words I remember, maybe because that's the title. Although I don't remember the words, I do remember the feeling I had as a seven-year-old reciting the poem from memory in front of judges and others I didn't know. I was nervous. I had butterflies. And I knew I didn't want to mess up. I adjusted my sparkly Uncle Sam hat and waited for the judge's nod while my heart seemed to pound out of my chest. I drew a deep breath and began the poem. With shaky hands I held my props and waved my little flag at the appropriate time. And, I made it through. Whew! (Side note: I won at this particular competition. That is my claim to fame.) Maybe you're like me, and just reading about public speaking makes you nervous and sick to your stomach! Well, you're definitely not alone. In fact, public speaking is one of the most common fears. According to Toastmasters, fear of public speaking outranks the fear of death and loneliness! But I have great news! The Leadership Institute's Public Speaking Workshop and Advanced Public Speaking Workshop can help. LI has experienced faculty who can help you hone your speaking skills and give you personal feedback on your speech delivery. So overcome your childhood fear today! Register for the Leadership Institute's Public Speaking Workshop here. Or, register for the Leadership Institute's Advanced Public Speaking Workshop here.
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Ben Woodward
May 22, 2017
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Starting a new job is among the most daunting experiences in our professional lives. After all, you only get one chance at a first impression. As well as trying to wrap your head around your new responsibilities, learn the office culture, make friends, and demonstrate your ability, you're also trying to keep your feet on the ground and build a successful future for yourself. It is natural to want to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself, like a mouse among sleeping cats. This is a mistake! Here are five things you should do in your first week: Ask your supervisor (and employees) to lunch By asking your supervisor to lunch, you are showing your new boss that you are confident in your new role and you are serious about learning the ropes. I would advise you to keep this lunch just the two of you if possible, as other employees may dominate the conversation. It is also an effective way to get to know your supervisor on a one-to-one basis, outside of the formal office environment. It is important for them to get to know you. This is your chance to tell them what you want out of this job and where you would like to go in your career. If you're a manager, take your staff out to lunch, either in small groups, or one-to-one if possible. This is your chance to understand what makes these individuals tick, and establish what you expect from them. Introduce yourself to everybody in the office You will be spending lots of time with the people in your department and organization over the next few months and years. So be sure to take some time to introduce yourself to everybody in the kitchens, boardrooms, or even by visiting their workspace. Understanding the office culture is critical to success. You will likely need to collaborate with other departments on a multitude of projects, so make friends with them quickly to establish your relationship. Too many new employees fail to integrate themselves into the social side of a new office and get left out in the cold. Learn about all of the current and upcoming projects Fully brief yourself on all of the current projects in your department. Wherever possible, you should do your research, but do not be afraid to ask smart questions. It is in your colleagues' interests to help you succeed, as your work will affect theirs. Try to establish what other people are working on and where you can be of assistance, but also what scope you have for innovation. Every employer is different; some will let you pursue your projects, whereas others prefer a top-down approach. Learn about the location of your office Being successful at work requires you to be happy in your job, and comfortable in your environment. However moving to a new place, especially if you have moved away from home or college for the first time can make you feel isolated and unsettled. This is not conducive to success in your new job. Ensure that you learn the area quickly. Where are the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops? What activities are happening locally? With whom in your office do you share hobbies? This will help you to settle quickly into your new environment, and even take the lead in your office's social life. Reconnect with former colleagues It is easy when you start a new job to be swept up in your new professional life. As a keen networker, try to get into the habit of keeping in touch with your old colleagues quickly. You never know when you will need a referral, or when your new job requires a connection from your past. Remember to keep those professional relationships alive.
Morton's Daylily Offer to Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast Attendees
Morton C. Blackwell
April 3, 2017
Morton's Daylily Offer to Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast Attendees
Dear fellow conservative, You may know that I cross breed and raise daylilies and send hundreds of daylily plants each year to Leadership Institute donors who have requested them. Now I have a problem that I ask you to help me solve. Each spring I carefully cross pollinate my most lovely and interesting daylily flowers to produce new varieties. I harvest the mature seeds in August and plant them in trays to grow through the winter in my office windows until all danger of frost is past. Then I plant the seedlings outside in flower beds. A year later, the new plants bloom, and I can give really fine ones to LI donors with descriptions of their flowers. The problem I hope you will help me solve is that last August so many seeds germinated that I have many more seedlings than I have room to plant in my flower beds. I've filled with new seedlings all the available flower beds, and I have hundreds of healthy, extraordinary seedlings that will die if not planted soon. They are extraordinary because each seedling has a complex ancestry from decades of my serious crossbreeding program. Each seedling is a new variety, and I have no idea what colors or flower designs a seedling will produce. Of course, I could just discard all the extra seedlings, but I would really, really hate to do that. Almost all of them will produce very fine flowers, and some of them will be spectacular. Each spring, I go to my flower beds and note the characteristics of my new varieties which bloom for the first time. I can't say that it's as exciting as when I first held in my arms my newborn son and my grandchildren. But it's somewhat analogous. So to keep from destroying these products of my decades of efforts, I'm asking you, if you possibly can, to adopt some of my seedlings. Daylilies are mostly grown outside in yards, but they will do well inside in pots by windows that get plenty of sunshine. Outside they require virtually no care; inside they need only occasional watering when the soil gets dry. Will you adopt some of this year's seedlings? I've personally prepared sealed plastic bags, each containing four seedlings, and written instructions as to how to plant them outside or in pots. They should be taken now and planted as soon as possible. If you have a yard or have friends with yards who will take some, or if perhaps you'll decide to grow them inside in pots, please see my executive assistant, Cathy Graham, after the breakfast. They will be given away in packets of four seedlings each along with planting instructions. Then next year, when the plants first bloom, you or your friends will have the satisfaction of seeing the blooms of your unique, new varieties of daylilies. Above are two of the many different colors and elegant flower designs that my seedlings have produced. Please help some of these seedlings to survive. Cordially, Morton To take advantage of Morton Blackwell's daylily offer, sign up for the April 5, 2017 Wednesday Wakeup Club Breakfast and talk with Cathy Graham after the breakfast.
In Memory of Richard (
Morton C. Blackwell
June 14, 2016
In Memory of Richard ("Rick") E. Hendrix (1957-2016)
With great sadness, I report the passing of a friend, a colleague, a leader in the conservative movement, and a good and humble man. Rick Hendrix passed away yesterday, June 13, at Fairfax INOVA Hospital. He was surrounded by his loving family and friends. Rick worked as a direct mail fundraiser for more than three decades. Most know him as a founding partner of ClearWord Communications Group, a successful and effective high-dollar direct mail agency. For 10 years before that, from 1993 to 2003, Rick ran the direct mail program here at the Leadership Institute. He oversaw a more than tenfold increase in the Institute's donor base. Staff often joked that Rick could write in my voice even better than I could. For the last 23 years, Rick provided the copy for many of the Institute's monthly mailings. His work generated millions of dollars in donations that have made the Institute's many activities possible. Rick volunteered as a lecturer for almost all of the Institute's fundraising schools. Over the years, he taught thousands of conservatives how to build fundraising programs for their organizations. The entire conservative movement and our country benefitted greatly from Rick's generosity in sharing his time and talent. Rick was the director of the Direct Mail Track at Madison Down Under, a fundraising conference sponsored by the Fundraising Institute of Australia, and was a regular speaker at American University's Campaign Management Institute. He was a certified fundraising executive (CFRE) and a member of both the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He was active in Republican politics in Virginia and served as a member of the Electoral Board in Prince William County. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of my Conservative Leadership PAC. Rick is survived by his wife Taania and their three daughters, Emily, Laura, and Megan. Morton C. Blackwell President Leadership Institute