How Joe Scarborough Can Become President

This story originally appeared on Medium.

In order to win a national election in this country, you have to have a few things going in your favor. First, you must have an electable persona. It sounds cliche but it is true in today’s media-driven world. Look at candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore; super-smart guys who were personally flawed. Second, you must have the right message at the right time. Look no further than Barack Obama’s 2008 Hope/Change campaign theme. Third, you have to have a bit of good fortune. Bill Clinton was able to latch onto the “read my lips” gaffe from then-President George H. W. Bush to beat a wartime president, an almost unheard of feat in American politics. Finally, sometimes you just have to be good.

As a politico, I have been reviewing the 2016 field and I have an announcement to make. After campaigning for Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2012 for the Oval Office, I have found my “horse” for 2016: former Congressman and MSNBC star, Joe Scarborough. You might only know him as MSNBC’s Morning Joe, but I know him as a leader, a thinker, a strategist, and a bipartisan problem-solver.

Sure, Scarborough isn’t as sexy as Senators Ted Cruz orMarco Rubio or have the largess of Governor Chris Christie and hasn’t held elected office since 2001 after resigning to spend more time with his family and brushed aside calls from his Floridian friends to run again for various offices over the past 13 years. But that doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is what you bring to the table today.

So why, after six years of Barack Obama — who began his presidency with a 67 percent approval rating and who now sits around a 40 percent approval —  would a man who has a hit cable television program toss that aside for a far-fetched long-shot run at the Oval Office; a room that then-candidate George W. Bush said “turns pride into prayer”?

Because he can win.

In 2008, after eight years of the Bush presidency, America was searching for a change in politics. But that did not stop WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) from playing a huge role in the Republican nominating process. For the record, I am a WASP … but I don’t attend their parties.

In the 2008 Republican primaries, we saw that those who labeled themselves as “very conservative” came out in droves to support Mike Huckabee while independent voters showed loyalty to those who remained loyal to free-thinking ideas (see: McCain). Those two facts are not a surprise.

But this quote from Sen. McCain rings true to who Congressman Scarborough is as a thinker and a politician: “We share the common principles and values and ideas for the future of this country based on a fundamental conservative political philosophy, which has been my record.” Finally, on election day the national voter registration was 40 percent Republican to 51 percent Democrat. That was in 2008 when there was a historic wave in favor of massive change and McCain didn’t stand a chance.

Over four years and a massive legislative victory with the Affordable Care Act, the political landscape continued to change in favor of independent minds; even as WASPs were growing in power within the GOP.

What happened in 2012 with the GOP is likely to happen again in 2016: no single candidate is the early front-runner. For instance, in Iowa, my home state, the die-hard Evangelicals came out in force for Sen. Rick Santorum in President Obama’s re-election year, propelling him to a surprising victory. The challenge for the GOP then, as it is now, remains those three factors of electability, message, and good fortune. Sen. Santorum in Iowa had the right message and good fortune that Iowa is a fairly religious state. But that does not translate well the further East candidates go.

Iowa Caucus entrance data showed that for voters, when experience in government was important, votes went to Santorum. If business was important, you voted for Romney. 76 percent said the budget and economy were the most important issues and 54 percent called themselves somewhat conservative or moderate.

Put that together with what was learned in South Carolina that year and you can begin to see how a Scarborough candidacy could pan out. The South Carolina voters wanted an established candidate and split 54-44 for Gov. Romney in the general election, and sent their primary delegates to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Romney. While only 54 percent in Iowa called themselves somewhat conservative or moderate, 64 percent claimed that label in South Carolina. Therefore, what a candidate needs to have is government experience with a focus on business and the economy.

On election day 2012, national voter registration was 42 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat, a swing of 3 percent from just four years earlier. One last statistic to keep in mind, Iowa reports their voter registration to be 33 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 34 percent Independent.

The thing about all of these numbers is that they have continued to evolve. The latest Gallop poll about party identification says that Independents are more important than ever, making up 42 percent of the electorate. (Democrats make up 31 and Republicans 25 percent). Couple that with the “Yes she’s running,” and “No she’s not running,” rumors about Hillary Clinton and there is a perfect storm for someone with big, mainstram ideas to jump into the battle for the presidency.

The challenge Scarborough will face — aside from his name recognition problem — is that while he was a Congressman, he supported and sponsored some pieces of legislation that don’t have popular support in today’s America.

For instance he advocated the elimination of the federal Department of Education in the 1996 House Budget. He was also staunchly pro-life, supported U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, and was against raising the minimum wage from $5.15 in 1996. Of course, anyone can change over the course of 13 years and he will have to answer to these if in fact he decides to run.

But he can run. And he can win.

In his book, The Last Best Hope, he wrote, “We cannot claim the constitutional high ground in our efforts to fight the nationalization of health care and finance while demanding that Washington become entangled in gay marriage debates and OB-GYN issues.” Perhaps he is a conservative for the 21st Century.

He has the unique ability to listen and compromise to find real solutions. That’s what we need in an American leader and with Independent voices clamoring for real change, perhaps it is him they seek.

Focus on Working Together

Life Lesson Of The Week
Learn to work together. We can accomplish more together than we can alone.
-Anonymous’ Life Lesson

Focus On It
The world is better when we are working together. Our teams are better when we work together. Our relationships are better when we work together.

A lot of things go together with working together … like listening, friendship, kindness, and compassion.

But in the end, we are stronger together than apart. Make that part of your 2014 resolution — to work together.

Social Isn’t Just About Being Cool — It’s About Being Present

This post was first published at The Agency Post.

When I first started in the agency world, I learned very quickly how important being “present” meant for the company and the clients. There was a policy of “engage everything.” At first, I thought it was a waste of energy, but I have now come to believe that everyone deserves a response from a brand. Everyone.

I’m not talking about inspirational quotes about living life in the present. I’m talking about the need for a brand to be present. In that context, it means listening and interacting, even if it’s a lot of work.

Of course, this is something we all know already, right? Guess again.

As a New York City resident, I hear about a lot of great local food and dessert locations, and I do my best to try them out when I can. I had heard rave reviews about a local ice cream shop and decided to give it a try. The Big Gay Ice Cream company began as a food truck and has since expanded to two physical locations.

It did this because its growing fan base demanded it. But, through that growth, it also lost its human touch. On my first visit, the service was great. The second time, not so much. The staff was rude to my boyfriend and me on our anniversary.

That night, we both posted on Foursquare and sent the company a message, and to our surprise, one of our Foursquare negative reviews was liked by the company. And our message has gone unanswered.

On the flip side, I recently found a new coffee shop in Astoria by way of a street campaign inviting me into the store. It was old school. Free bagel? Sure! What I found at the New York City Bagel & Coffee House was not only great food, but also a friendly staff and an even friendlier owner.

On more than one occasion, the owner has come out to say “hi” and even takes the time to comment back on the company’s Facebook page. He has taken the time to listen and be present.

Now, I know I am not Peter Shankman (see his experience with being a respected customer and a bad one with US Airways), and this feedback will likely go unheeded, but the point to marketers in the social media space is simple:

Your “digital” customers matter as much as your physical ones.

  • 1 in 3 consumers prefer to contact brands on social media rather than the telephone.
  • Only 36 percent of consumers who make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.
  • 71 percent of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19 percent of customers who don’t get a response.
  • Being present with social-media marketing means building a program to handle, manage and resolve customer service issues. To be an agency that doesn’t believe in this does a disservice to your brand and the brands you champion.

A Facebook page is like a live 1-800 number. You would advise clients to answer their customer service lines, and I would advise clients to respond to as many people as possible on social channels.

Be present.

Newsletter: Work Together

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up below to get this each and every month!

As I write this, the government in the United States is still shut down. And let me be clear: I don’t care if you blame Republicans, Democrats, the Tea Party, or the President;  they are all failing us.

When elected, these 536 people are sworn to work for the American people and time and time again, it comes as though you and I don’t matter. They live and work in their own world and this time around they don’t seem to understand that both sides are to blame.

But I don’t care about that.

Business (and government) are all about working together. Just last week, stories were abound about the reasons behind BlackBerry’s demise. I’ll summarize it for you: bad leadership who began to fight each other. They couldn’t decide what was best, so they just didn’t decide … and we all know how that has worked out for them.

In the case of the government, all three parties are to blame.

Republican-led House: They wouldn’t take their hatred of ObamaCare off the table.
Democrat-led Senate: They wouldn’t create a conference at the last minute to negotiate.
President: Said he won’t negotiate no matter what.

Everyone looks bad and there is no leadership. It is a war of words and words are not actions.

And the lesson for you?

Life and business is about working together. It’s about burying the hatchets of the past and leading forward.

A quote to end this lesson: “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — General George Patton”

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Steve Grand Says No To Fear

I like to consider myself an All American Boy. It’s tough to say that as a (nearly) 30-year-old, but it is still a great picture in my mind.

Steve Grand, a brand new face on the country music scene is an All American Boy. He is also gay. Not many people have made the transition from country music star to a gay country music star. But Steve seems to have understood he could not live as himself without actually being himself.

So, his major YouTube hit, All American Boy is all about being a gay All American Boy. It is his coming out.

Talk about abandoning fear. Sure, it is a risk. But life is not without risk. He just chose to take it on.

Screw fear. Bring on life.

Feeling at Home

I am not much of an interior decorator. In fact, I don’t think once in my life did I ever want to grow up and do that for a career.

That is likely the reason I never really felt at home in any place that I have lived since college. But Steve Adams Interior Design has completely changed that.

It is amazing how my home has changed because of his work.

Sure, I have a couch, a chair, a bedroom set, and matching towels, but it’s about the feeling the home gives me. I can relax. I can shut off. I can entertain. And I can feel good. I always thought it was funny when someone would say how much they loved a frame or a shelf … now I can understand a little bit. These handmade shelves in my living room make me smile every time I see them.

For the first time in my life, I feel at home; in my home.

Where do you feel most at home?

Newsletter: Creating Create Impressions

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up here to get it delivered to your mailbox each month

We make fast decisions. You have already decided whether you are going to read this or not, but I encourage you to read this … why?

Because we all make impressions, but we must work to ensure that the impressions we are making, especially the first ones, are great ones.


An amazing thing happens when you read: You get smarter. I love reading about history and the human condition. These topics give me all kinds of material for conversation.


Are you always talking? Perhaps it is time to sit back and listen. It is amazing what you can learn from the people around you if you stop talking, and listen. See what people are actually saying between the lines. Perhaps you’ll learn something new.


Nothing aggravates me more than someone who is in love with themselves. How many selfies can you really post on social media? I don’t care how famous you are, I don’t need to see your hustle face every time you post. It is more important to listen.


And as you learn and listen, then you can start to talk. As you talk (at the right moments), you will have people willing and ready to listen.

It’s all about creating the best content at the right moments.

Be authentic and honest, and above all, be the best you.

Winning Is Not An End

Sure, winning the Super Bowl for Joe Flacco was and will forever be an amazing experience. But what about all the experiences he has had along the way? The Pop Warner games, the high school Friday nights, and the losses all along the way.

For a guy like Joe Flacco, it has to have been about the journey. About trying to find ways to just get 1 percent better each time he went to the gym and stepped onto the field.

In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, the writer says, “But when beating the opponent takes precedence in the mind over performing as well as possible, enjoyment tends to disappear.” They are right. Andy Murray just won the Sony Open, and he had fun doing it. His attitude has changed to focus on getting better each time he practices and plays.

Now that he is doing that, the winning is taking care of itself.

It will be the same for you too. Focus on getting better, and the results will become natural.