Benny's World

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Political Relationship Marketers and Managers-Presidential Candidates

Last night was another look at the Presidential candidates, except this time, up close with the American people as the questioners. This was the first debate that I can remember in awhile that I watched on a Friday night because it was so important to me to see how these men handle themselves in live in front of voters who were "leaners," meaning they weren't totally certain of the candidate's positions and dynamics beyond a podium or without their political base ralliers.

I was not disappointed in terms of dynamics. Both Senator Kerry and President Bush continued their positions and demeanor, which leads to discussion of the differences between the candidates; one who embraces relationship marketing, and the other, relationship management.

In my last post, I commented that I thought SenatorEdwards was more an effective relationship marketer and Cheney, a more effective relationship manager. For Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush, they are opposite of their running mates. It's well-known that John Kerry has always been a bit more reserved, and you can see his energy level can only sustain so long in front of people. Senator Kerry is an excellent podium debater, and he has maintained many good relationships over the years, or else he would not be one of the candidates today. On the other hand, George W. Bush was a cheerleader at Yale, but had little interest in developing close relationships with his fellow Cross & Bones members, who are more intellectual (and I don't think I want to know what else they engaged in either), but I don't know if that is completely true. President Bush absorbs energy from being around people who seem to be empathetic; I observed his fervor when engaging one-on-one in front of an audience, and had the ability to move around. John Kerry appears more deliberate in his pace, but he requires a little more time to respond to get his thoughts in order, as seen in debate #2, when reaching for words on the "pro-life" queries from the audience.

The Economist had a very interesting comment this week about the differences of the candidates in how they intend to handle the situation in Iraq. Here is a quote about they see Kerry:

For several months, Mr Kerry made little effort to show how his Iraq policy would differ from Mr Bush's. The most striking difference seemed to be his commitment to multilateral engagement, and his belief in the use of soft (ie, persuasive) power. In a speech on September 20th, however, he put a calculated distance between himself and the president, calling Mr Bush's mistakes in Iraq "colossal failures of judgment" and arguing that "if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight." He argued for more international collaboration, more support in training Iraqi security forces and clearer priorities for reconstruction efforts; he also claimed that the most important foreign-policy choice in November was between continued failure of the current admistration, but posited his proposed change of direction.

President Bush may be a good relationship marketer with the American people, but how well has he managed his relationships with our global partners? Last night he said he believed we can continue to depend on the UK, Poland, Australia, and South Korea for support, but essentially, we will spend all of the money it takes to win, and he thinks we can afford it. Good relationship marketers can promise, but they have to know what they can deliver. I'm not certain our president has a true grasp on how to manage expectations, other than it will cost a lot of money, trust him, and it will take a long time. Financiers who invest in companies or countries do not buy into this, other than the long term. It's my perception Kerry is looking at the longer term, but important not to promise too much, such as the "read my lips" he was put on the spot to do. Short term and long term goals should be planned and managed well. Unfortunately, many of the US populus think short-term when they have lost their jobs, have a new job, lost a child in the war, or perhaps, they have children going to war soon, if the current adminstration continues "to stay the course."

Although I identify at times with the President's gregariousness and his ability to make people like him through humor (I often do that myself in times of stress), the war and our lackluster economic conditions at home are no laughing matter, and I don't think humor can make up for the lack of information we need to make an informed decision. I perceive Senator Kerry can manage relationships better. He displayed more gravitas than
his opponent (see how the President interrupted Charles Gibson during debate #2 in frustration). Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, I place my trust in you in smoothing out a lot of ruffled feathers at home and abroad.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Political Relationship Marketers and Managers-VP Candidates

Jack Edwards asked his dad, JRE after Tuesday's debate?"Which one is Cheney?"

Tuesday night's debate was fascinating theater between Senator John R. Edwards and Vice-President Richard B. Cheney. Both men are running mates, but with similar backgrounds from being in working class families. I believe Mr. Cheney's dad worked in Wyoming, a right-to-work state, in high school, and met his soul mate, the to-be Mrs. Lynne Cheney. In attending public universities (after attending a private university for a short time) for their education, both of the VP candidates' spouses are well-educated (e.g. Mrs. Cheney has a history Ph.D from Wisconsin, wheras Mrs. Edwards' background will be mentioned later).

Beyond those similarities, the two possess very different levels of aspirations, experiences, and philosophies. VP Cheney has spent most of his time in government service, with many executive positions within 3-4 administrations, and as a Congressman and a Senator. RBC has worked for Donald Rumsfeld (Nixon) in the late 60s and early 70's, and as chief of staff for Gerald Ford, Secretary of Defense for Bush 41, but now VP for Bush 43. RBC has also worked in big business--Halliburton, growing that big business from 40,000 employees to over 107,000 in 1998, most of them overseas, so he knows what it means to outsource, but at the same time, one could argue spreading democracy. Cheney has worked in small business before finishing college, but my understanding is that he was not directly responsible for running it or for budgets, or marketing. This is not to demean his leadership at Halliburton, but as we all know, the CEO is just the overall accountible head, who doesn't run the day to day operations. He's always been the behind the scenes guy, and he claimed in the debate the other night that he supported the president, even if the President's policy hurt his gay daughter's opportunity to have partnership rights with her significant other, which is what the context was.

Sen. John Edwards was kind about mentioning RBCheney's family's support concerning their support for daughter Mary Cheney and her partnership's right to be with her partner; thus, it was clear that both debaters were more for States' rights on marriage.

Llike VP Cheney, Sen. John Edwards was the son of a working class family. His dad was a mill worker, labor union card carrier; so is JRE's brother. Sen. Edwards, the first to attend college in his family, attended a private university (Clemson, Cheney's was Yale), but transferred and finished NCSU in 3 years; also graduated from UNC-Chapell Hill's law school, where he met his soul mate, Elizabeth. Sen Edwards spent most of his time with his family, raising children, being a soccer coach, and growing a successful law practice that went after big companies and insurance companies who represented employees who had repeatedly made mistakes and harmed or killed people. On the other hand, VP Cheney, who claimed to represent the small business man, criticized the senator for having an "S" corporation to gain advantage of paying less Medicare taxes. S corporations mean small business. John Edwards payed his taxes by the law available.

What kind of relationship marketing is Cheney doing by criticizing small business if is he supposed to be for small business? Who is the effective marketer of the two VPs? Is that their role? Pundits say they expect them to be the "attack dogs." Does the "attack dogs" mean do the dirty work to harm the momentum of their running mates? The concept could mean their job on the campaign is to clarify positions, or better yet, they are supposed to be advocates with some sharp criticisms that the top candidates dislike having creative attract negative attention to themselves since most people say they do not vote for a vice-president.

To define relationship marketing, let's look at a definition by Len Berry, professor at Texas A & M University, and a geniune gentleman scholar, whom I've been acquainted with for a few years, who has studied the service sectors for over a couple of decades:

Relationship marketing is attracting, mantaining, and in multi-service
organizations, enhancing customer relationships.

(Blogger's note: Due to the software, I cannot place quotation marks properly.)

Until Cheney got to the White House administration, he was not in multi-service organizations to promote it. Secretary Rumsfeld, who aspired to the WH at one time, and realized he could not, helped Cheney to the position of Chief of Staff for Ford. Amazing. Rumsfeld promoted his own guy, who then rose above him eventually. But Cheney carefully tended to those relationships, which means he was a better relationship manager. We hear that Cheney has "gravitas." But the term means this:

  • formality in bearing and appearance; "he behaved with great dignity."

If that is the case, where does President GW Bush fit into this picture? Did he show "gravitas" last Thursday?

I confess I have to be careful here because I am a Texan by birth and rearing. Despite his birth and schooling, GW is more Texan than one realizes, which is why NE'ners are turned off by his style. There are days I understand where he is coming from, and I am reminded that my job, it is a process, but yet I am e/intrepreneurial (like Edwards) to do the best with the resources you have and forge ahead.

You may wonder what's the difference between relationship marketing and management?

Relationship management is different in managing expectations, once you have marketed. Our president marketed better education, medicare reform, etc, then our citizens were some what disappointed what they discovered to be true. This is where our president couldn't deliver what he promised.

Senator Kerry will attempt to be gravitas about what he can deliver, and I think he is aware that his running mate, Senator Edwards, should be guarded in not to promise too much.

It's a difficult challenge. From me, be looking for more posts where Cheney and his corporate life, through public documents, display relationship management.

Little Jack, I have a few ideas.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Significance of the Number "11"

When I was 11, I had to endure one of the strangest years in my life. My parents were separated. I spent 3 months living with my mom and my sister in a hotel in which the room was more like an efficency apartment. My mom could not find a job, and we depended on her brother and what little my father gave to my mom for child support as he didn't tell the truth to the judge about his income. I was asked to give up a spot in my school, my boyfriend (who forgot about me while I was away as I could not call him or write him) and I performed poorly at my new school. Besides performing poorly, the only things I remember about that school was someone taking my pencil and denying it, and learning about leder songs of Schubert. My mother knew how lonely I felt, and she was desperately lonely herself, having no friends for support.

We went back to my father's house since my mother was unable to support us. She became ill of the mind, and later that year after turning 12, two officers came to our house to take my mother to a hospital. She was still in her housecoat, and they allowed her to put on shoes and a coat, but beyond that all of her rights were in the hands of the court. I cannot tell you what it means not to have a mother for periods of time, which continued for the next 25 years. My father owned a business and had no time to be a parent and had little interest in what we did as he was consumed with trying to succeed as a man. I know in my heart he loved us, but he had self-esteem issues of his own, which is why he took them out on my mother, and sometimes us verbally. My mother says the experience probably made me and my brother more determined to succeed. I graduated in November of my senior year of high school, and I went to college in another town the following January. I was bored, but more important, I wanted to get away from the hell of what was happening at home. A year later I came back, and went through college in my hometown. But I worked first, and took some time off from school.

In 1978, the first year I could vote, there were two candidates running for a congressional seat in my district as the congressman, George Mahon, retired. Those candidates were Kent Hance and George W. Bush. Kent Hance was my hometown's favorite son, and George W. Bush lived in Midland. I remember distinctly that I believed at the time as the media portrayed him, and as many of my fellow classmates did, that Mr. Bush was a carpetbagger with a lot of slick oil money from his dad. I cast my first vote for Kent Hance because I knew his work as statesman in Texas and he did good things for Lubbock. I didn't vote against George W. Bush, but I didn't want to vote for him either.

This morning I was watching C-SPAN, and I saw an interview with David Bossidy who just produced a film called "Celsius 41.11". It's a response to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit "9/11", but really more about deconstructing John Kerry. And it dawned on me the importance of the number of "11". It's about this election.

On Thursday night, I felt for the first time that I was really voting for John Kerry and not against George W. Bush. It was the John Kerry that John Edwards has been telling us that he knows. As I posted yesterday, John Kerry reported for duty, and I felt I was part of his troop. Now he has gained my trust.

Normally, I would not write something so personal. But after having a conversation with my best friend (whom I live with) and talking about how many of us who support Kerry and Edwards were taking Bush and his team's policies so personally, I thought and said to him, "My vote is personal."

My vote is very personal. It is most intimate thing I share with the American people. But I do it alone in the booth.