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They call it “retail politics”—talking directly with voters, interacting with supporters, skipping the filter of the media, social and otherwise.

It’s going out of fashion in some quarters, but in local campaigns, you still see candidates attending small gatherings, greeting people at commuter stations and grocery stores, even ringing doorbells for a chat on the front porch.

In our own businesses, not unlike in politics, we look for faster, easier ways to reach more people in less time. And yet. That direct contact with customers, prospects, and referral sources is so valuable. When we do it well.

There’s a lesson for all of us from Mallory McMorrow, the Michigan State Senator you may remember from her impassioned response to being slammed as a “groomer.” 

McMorrow tells her fellow Democrats to get out and talk to people. Politico was there when she offered door-knocking advice at the Hoosier Hospitality Dinner. 

“Find something on peoples’ porches that you like and compliment it.” For her, it’s “ceramic ducks that people in Michigan put on their porches and they dress them up in different outfits depending on the season. I’m obsessed with them.”

“’We talk about that for 20 minutes,’ she explained. ‘And then they ask for a yard sign.’”

And, importantly, McMorrow warned against spewing political scripts and talking points at those voters. “Be you,” she said. “ Be authentic. Be real.”

The take-away for us …

Focusing on them first and being real are the keys whether you’re talking about an upcoming election, the service you offer, or the new position you’re hoping to land.

Standing on someone’s front porch, standing up at a networking event, or on the phone with a hot prospect, you’ll be more successful if you make it about them first. And then, when you speak about yourself, be you.

The question for you …

When you talk about the important work you do (or even the work that may not seem that momentous😉) do you deliver a canned spiel? Do you say the same things you’ve said dozens of times to who-knows-how-many people?

Or do you focus on them, skip the script, and be real?

And while we’re learning lessons from the news …

People are still talking about last week’s Capitol Hill testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, the young woman who’d been part of the Trump administration. Of course, some of that talk is about what she had to say about January 6 and the lead-up to it.

Inevitably, there’s also conversation about how she said it. The way she looked, sitting there in front of the House Select Committee and a worldwide TV and online audience. And the way she spoke.

I was struck by this comment from national security expert David Priess, the author, professor, and former CIA agent.

On The Bulwark podcast, Priess described Hutchinson as “highly credible for two reasons.” One is corroborating texts and phone call records along with the fact that she was literally “in the room where it happened” for much of what she described.  

And there’s something else at work here, as Priess explained.

“She presented with clarity, with poise, with confidence, in a way that people who are decades older and much more experienced don’t do.”

Now Priess has trained intelligence officers to give briefings to senior officials like, say, the President of the United States. That can be stressful!

“She was up there with the best of them,’ Priess said, “in terms of stammering or stuttering or breaking down or showing any sign that she was not credible. She presented herself very well.”

I was fascinated to hear Priess almost pooh-pooh his own analysis, insisting the first reason is better than the second.

He also acknowledged that the way Hutchinson presented herself “actually does matter for real human beings, because of our psychology.”

The take-away for us …

Assuming your clients, prospects, and referral partners are also real human beings, how you present yourself, your ideas, and your work actually does matter. A lot.

A big reason Cassidy Hutchinson made the splash she did was that clarity, poise, and confidence we saw and heard as she testified.

The question for you …

When you talk about yourself and your work in a sales meeting, at a conference, in a voice mail message what impression are you creating?

Does how you say it support what you say?

The way you speak and the way you look … do they amplify your message or undercut it?

One last note …

There was a time, not all that long ago, when all the analysis of congressional hearings, state senate sessions, and even rubber-chicken political dinners would have been conversations about men.

I’m delighted to see these two women—and you can add Congresswoman Liz Chaney—being acknowledged for their substance, their style, and their fortitude.

And I’m curious how you’ll respond to the challenge I’ve laid out.