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Leadership: How Obama Does It

It was widely reported that the Barack Obama for President campaign raised an astonishing $32.5 Million in the second quarter. I am not surprised and here’s a little story as to one of the reasons why. A month or two ago, my friend Dave answered the phone of a colleague. Since the colleague was not around, Dave asked if he could take a message. What was that message? “Tell him Senator Obama called to say thank you.”

It was widely reported that the Barack Obama for President campaign raised an astonishing $32.5 Million in the second quarter. I am not surprised and here’s a little story as to one of the reasons why. A month or two ago, my friend Dave answered the phone of a colleague. Since the colleague was not around, Dave asked if he could take a message. What was that message? “Tell him Senator Obama called to say thank you.”

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Dave was stunned. Now I don’t know how much this fellow contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign but I have heard about people who received a call from the senator after having contributed as little as $100. Obama knows that this type of outreach pays back big time because the person who gets the call tells his or her friends, who tell their friends, etc. Soon, that $100 is multiplied exponentially. The result? $32.5 million in the space of three months.

We all know that Obama has charisma and writes soaring oratory that he then delivers beautifully. But he gets all the interpersonal stuff right, too. He seems to have a real instinct for it. It seems effortless. That’s the way it’s supposed to look. I would bet, however, that the Obama Show is as effortless as an Olympic downhill event. So how does he do it?

1.It’s accepted as a best practice. A decision was made early on that this type of communication had the potential to put Obama’s fundraising in hyper-drive.

2. There’s a budget for it. Time and resources are expended.

3.It’s recognized as a differentiator that gives Obama an edge over the other candidates.

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4.There is a system in place to make it happen. It’s not haphazard. Calling to say “Thank-you” and other high-touch outreach is part of the DNA of the Obama campaign.

5.It’s delivered with warmth and sincerity by the candidate, himself. Ordinary citizens — who form most of the electorate — feel valued. When’s the last time you felt valued by a politician?

Oh, and lest I forget, my friend Dave’s colleague also contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. You guessed it: No call.

I don’t know if Obama will eventually get the nomination or not. But what I do know is he has set the bar very high. This is powerful stuff.

Don’t you wish Microsoft, Apple or other vendors who keep us on hold for the honor of buying their products would take a page from Barack Obama?

Ruth Sherman • Ruth Sherman Associates, LLC • Greenwich, CT • ruth@ruthsherman.comwww.ruthsherman.com

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About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World

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