The Nitty Gritty
Current Position: Founder and Principal, Cc: External Affairs, Inc.
How long I’ve been a member of America’s Future Foundation: 10 years, since just a few weeks after I moved to DC.
What I do, and why I love it: The company; I founded, Cc: External Affairs, works with corporations, trade associations and non-profits to build and grow external relationships and partnerships. I love it because, at the core of it, we get to connect great people together for hopefully transformative relationships. I would do this even if it wasn’t what I was getting paid to do – but to build a successful company around this is an accomplishment I am extremely proud of.
Invaluable skill I’ve learned: Recruiting and assembling talented teams to solve difficult problems. By 2020, 52 million Americans will be freelancers (twice what it is today). Putting together and inspiring talented teams –that work better together than apart, but increasingly may not work directly for you, I believe is a key skill of the 21st Century.
Most important moment in my career (so far): In 2011 I set out huge goals for the organization I worked for. I set the bar higher than any heights the organization had even come near in its nearly-40-year history. I was told these goals couldn’t be achieved and not even to try. I persevered and, with an extremely talented team, we shattered every record we set out to break. The results included holding events in all 50 state capitals, recruiting more than 500 state legislators, and raising $9+ million dollars-including putting nearly $2.5 million dollars in the bank. After that they went through some rocky times but that hard work is why the organization is here today and blossoming again.
Biggest career lesson I’ve learned: Don’t confuse inputs for outputs. One my first mentors in politics taught me this–just because you spend a lot of time on something doesn’t mean you are making real change. Just because you have a lot of meetings doesn’t mean you are getting things done.
I constantly ask myself these three questions on any project.
- Does this effort make an impact?
- Are there systems or processes we can put in place to make it more efficient?
- Is this best use of our talent and skill sets or should we outsource it?
What attracted me to politics? The opportunity to make the world a better place. If you are in it for another reason, please get out now.
How I formed my political beliefs: Growing up much of my life the son of single mother, I learned from her journey of rugged individualism and doing whatever it takes to make it. In the early days, she bartended at a hotel bar at night and then went back to work there as a chamber maid the next morning. Her example taught me to value hard work. Ensuring the opportunity (freedom) for people to advance themselves through hard work and determination is the principal driver for my political beliefs.
Opportunities I see for the movement: I think the biggest opportunity, and at same time the biggest challenge, is looking outside of our typical bubble/universe and working with others outside that bubble.
Developing strategies to move your impact beyond its current sphere into actual policy change, as well as creating societal and cultural change.
This could include partnering across party lines on issues where we have much to agree on (like criminal justice reform and education reform) or just altering your view to see organizations in the same sphere as partners rather than competitors. We can all accomplish more when we work together.
Most important trait to have to be successful in the movement: Work hard, be an agent of change, and be happy. If you are in a position where you can’t use all three–find a new job.
Why I think America’s Future Foundation is important: AFF is the community of the free market movement. While other groups do great work advancing the cause of freedom, only the America’s Future Foundation brings those folks together as a community. In an increasingly divisive and digital world, an organization that physically brings folks together and binds them together is vitally important.
Any advice for freedom fighters beginning their careers? Meet everyone you can, don’t take any relationship for granted, and take genuine interest in other people. We live in an incredible world where folks can quickly go from intern to White House staff.
If I were going on a Netflix binge, it would be…
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt –there is nothing about the show that isn’t happy. The world is often a very serious place and it is great to turn on a show that just makes you laugh.
Favorite Political Talking Head?
None. We need more quarterbacks and fewer Monday morning quarterbacks.
Favorite British Television Show?
Didn’t we fight a revolution to not have to watch that stuff? America’s vibrant free market television ecosystem makes much better television. The Brits can keep their Fawlty Towers and their state run television.
Any good commuter stories?
One of the best hires I was ever part of– happened partially during a metro and bus trip home about 8 years ago. I made the passionate case for a friend to join me working for an organization I had just joined. Today he is a Vice President there and one of the top people impacting public policy in America.
Most underrated movie of all time?
Juno, really almost anything involving Jason Reitman.
How about the most overrated?
I have never liked the movie Labyrinth-maybe it’s the David Bowie as an actor thing.