Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

August 22, 2012

Why Mitt Romney Made a Mistake Not Hiring Me To Make Him President.

Mitt Romney is a good guy.  He’s made smart decisions over the years that have made him incredibly rich.  He has morals.  He has raised a strong family.  But unless he does something radical he is not going to be the next President of the United States. Regardless of the political direction you lean, the political delegate math just does not add up in his favor.  He can’t get enough of the right votes in the right states, like Florida or Ohio.

I could have fixed that for him.

There isn’t much that Romney needs help with.  He has smart people around him.  One-on-one, he and Ann are wonderfully warm people.  You get the sense that they care about you personally.  So why isn’t he connecting with the rest of Americans who could use his solid business skills to turn around the economy?

That was the question posed to us by political consultants and lobbyists not too long ago. Could we take our skills transforming a company and transform a campaign?  Could we take the EDGY framework that allowed businesses to dominate their competitors in an industry and apply it to the unwieldy nonsense of politics.  Could we help Romney?

Naturally, I said, “Yes”

But then disclosed that we were already engaged as strategists to another political party.  So, our conversation ended and we left without making Romney the next President of the United States.  Which, for us, is rather sad.  Because we like a challenge.  The bigger the better.

But instead of moping about it, I thought we should air our playbook. Officially, we aren’t strategists for Romney.  He shouldn’t give a hill-of-beans about what we have to say — that is unless he wants to boost his odds of becoming President.  It’s possible.  He just needs to change his storyline.  And fast.

Here’s what we would do differently, Mr. Romney:

Voters want to see blood and tears.

That’s what you are missing.  You won’t let yourself bleed in public.

Let me sum it up in another way.  Focus on being more emotionally intelligent.  How did you feel when your wife was sick with multiple sclerosis?  Were you afraid that we were going to lose her?  Did you ever shed a tear sitting by your wife’s bedside holding her hand, watching over her as she fell asleep?  Did you ever wonder if she might never wake back up?

That had to tear your heart out.  Watching your wife being broken by illness had to move you deeply.  Why can’t you share that?  Not the scripted bullshit your PR team wants to hand you.  Just talk to us about love and devotion and never leaving her side. We’ll get your back.  But you have to be brave enough to talk about things that are precious to you.  Not money. Not success.  Love.

Which brings us to another important issue.

Quit pretending you’re not rich.

You are rich.  Loaded.  Set for life.  And there is nothing wrong with that — at all.   Except how you are handling it right now.  Stand up in front of a microphone and tell Americans: “I made hundreds of millions of dollars.  And I did it all by myself.  No handouts.  No easy street.  I am running for President to help every American have that same opportunity.”

Talk about the difference a few words can make.  What’s the response from your opponent?  There isn’t a good rebuttal, is there?  By doing what you are doing now and avoiding the issue, you sound pretentious and uncaring.  You have amazing managerial skills.  You turned around the Olympics and you helped build several billion dollar brands, like Staples.  Can you explain that to us in words that we understand?

Can you tell us that you have flaws and problems and deficiencies but that you know really well how to manage financial success — how to start with nothing and turn it into success and happiness and a lifestyle of security?  Voters of any political party want that.

Rise above the poop throwing.

The political theatre is starting to look like a cage of baboons throwing handfuls of poop at each other.  Your opponent delivers a cheap shot and your handlers tell you that you need to go right back at him with the same type of strategy.  It just makes you look like a 3rd Grader. Rise above the silly “Obamaloney” monikers. And tell the PACs that are backing you that you only want a civil discussion.  You only want to attack the political ideas of your opponent.  The “birther” crap and Tea Party zealotry are just distractions.

No one likes a bully.  If you would stop responding tit-for-tat your opponent would look like a bully.  His “likability” numbers would drop and you would emerge as a wounded warrior on the path to liberate millions of Americans from their financial problems.  We fight for warriors.  Monkey business?  Well that we just find appalling.  Enough already.

Show some dignity.

You’re religious. So are most of us.

Talk about your beliefs.  You are Mormon.  A devoted member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Some of us are Catholics or Protestants or Buddhists.  We believe in a higher being.   Even Atheists and Agnostics have something they believe in.  Why aren’t you talking about your beliefs?  Are you embarrassed by them?  I hope not.  You shouldn’t be.

Your handlers are telling you that the Southern Baptists don’t like your religion.  They call it a cult.  So to win them over you are shutting up.  But that’s where your polling experts have it wrong.

It’s not about religion.  It’s about belief.  Stand up on stage and tell us your beliefs: “Where I worship may be different than where you worship, but my beliefs drive me to be a better man.  Just like your beliefs do.”  Say that.

We’ll start believing you.

Stop playing it safe.

Your opponent isn’t going to lose because people don’t like him.  His “likability” numbers are way ahead of you.  Now, you could change that if you actually did the handful of things I addressed above.  But the hard reality is that you shouldn’t be playing the “elect me because you like me” game any way.  It doesn’t play to your strengths. People love to hate the rich guy.

So give us a bold idea. Just one!  And you can’t use the words “repeal” or “unshackle” or “roll back” in your grand proposal.  By the way, your 59 point plan for economic prosperity is a joke.  Do you really believe in any of that? It looks like you lined up 47 different consultants and had them use every Republican buzzword possible — to win votes, from people who would already be voting for you.

Enough. Talk about the 3 things you would do to help the “average” person find their way again. No handouts.  No cuts.  A big vision.  Big opportunities.

You didn’t get to be as successful as you are being a wimp. Now is the time to “man up.”  You can poke holes at “hope and change” all day.  But there’s a reason why people voted for that.  That’s what they really want.  And need.

At the end of the day, it’s your decision.

You can follow the “wisdom” of polls — saying just enough to suggest change without being bold enough to leave yourself exposed.  But Americans, we are a nation of fighters, and we want to see a hero emerge.  A leader who is not afraid to lose it all by going “all in”.

Why not be that guy?

Best of luck, sir.  I think you’ll need it.  This is going to be close election.  Which is rather sad, considering you have the potential to win decisively.

You’re just listening to the wrong people.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.