How American politics went batshit crazy
It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
CEO/Co-Founder of Axios; Former CEO/Co-Founder of Politico; adviser, fan of The Information
Reproduced from a Pew Research Political Polarization report; Graphic: Axios Visuals
Lots of great feedback to our post on The Axios Way — some lessons learned starting two media companies. There were requests for us to expand it to cover tricks/techniques that apply to all organizations, not just media startups.
Why it matters: Thanks to the explosion of technology and social media in particular, every industry — and most jobs — are changing faster than ever. This requires a new set of strategies to thrive in this era of transparency, distraction and disruption.
Market manically. For all the whining about technology, you can reach more people, more frequently, with more precision than at any point in humanity.
Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public.
Over communicate. In our short-attention-span world, full of cluttered and distracted minds, every leader and manager needs to explain what they're doing and why they're doing it every week, if not every day.
Speak like a human. What the hell is the difference between "mission" and "values"? Who the hell really cares? What all employees — millennials in particular — want to know is what you're doing and why you're doing it. So just say it that way. (We're in the process of doing just this, and it's been very clarifying).
Force-multiply. It's not just that hiring someone better than you makes you better. It encourages that person to do the same. Soon, you have a talent factory. But many leaders/managers are too insecure to hire others who might outshine them. So they hire middling talent, trained to do the same. Soon you have the hot mess of mediocrity with no easy fix.
The tech wolf is at your door. Your job, your company and your industry face imminent threat from new technologies or robots. This threat will worsen.
Heed red flags. Bad values are cancer, and it spreads. We look for killer talent with humility, and never compromise on either half.
President Trump, with at least two years of full Republican control of government at the national and state levels, has systematically damaged or destroyed his relationship with — well, almost every group or individual essential to success.
This has left him on an island inhabited by a shrinking band of true-believer voters, who can help win an election, but can do nothing to help him exploit the power he's wasting:
Trump started with a pretty clean slate but has methodically alienated:
And who's happy?
Be smart: The presidency is a lonely job. But Trump is unusually isolated because he thinks he needs no one besides himself. As one of his most ardent defenders told me: "He's just not as good as he thinks he is. And no one can tell him."
President Donald Trump returns to the White House Monday after his vacation in Bedminster, NJ (Alex Brandon / AP).
According to an executive who was involved in today's decision to disband President Trump's top outside business board, the CEOs decided they "couldn't justify the capital they were spending, hoping that this guy can function in a somewhat mature and statesmanlike way."
Trump used a tweet to preemptively shut down his top two business councils as soon as word leaked about the coming snub by the members of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, chaired by Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman.
The executive told me: "Everyone knew, going in, that this was the way the guy was. They were just hoping that if he got the right people and decisionmaking processes in place, he could grow into the job. He proved he has no capability to do that." Yesterday's presser about Charlottesville was the last straw.
Why it matters … Axios CEO Jim VandeHei just told Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC: "Today is an awful day for the presidency – an awful day. … Hedid have those business leaders, who he needs: He's about to do tax reform! He's about to ask them to spend money, to spend political capital, to spend time to go get tax reform done."
Here are some of the lessons learned creating Axios six months ago, and Politico a decade before:
Sound smart: The one management super-power I would wish for all is this: the self-confidence and judgement to hire people, with killer talent and awesome values, who want your job and can do it better. Do this and the next person they hire will do the same and your company will crush it. Don't do this, and you will have a hot mess of mediocrity. This is the Roy Schwartz Rule — and it's damn good one!
Go deeper ... The Axios Manifesto.
Here's one of the most intriguing — and consequential — theories circulating inside the White House:
The theory was described to us in a series of private chats with high-ranking officials:
Be smart: One of the biggest dangers to Trump's reign is that if Mueller acts or public support plummets, he suddenly could be lonely in his own White House.
Evan Vucci / AP
Presidential power over a party or Congress comes from enough lawmakers needing, fearing or genuinely liking them. Donald Trump has none of this.
Almost four months into office, Trump has been unable to gain leverage over his party, especially in the Senate, much less Congress as a whole.
Read more ... N.Y. Times front page, above fold, "Senate G.O.P. Is Edging Back From President," by Jennifer Steinhauer ... WashPost A1, at fold, "Senate GOP wrestling with agenda full of peril," by Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell.
A quick rundown of President Trump's first three months in office. Day 100 is on Saturday, April 29.
Top CEOs have a new First Customer. With President Trump taking a hands-on approach to negotiations, here are five tips for surviving and thriving — based on conversations with executives, aides and friends who have battled Trump in private and found some success.
Then sit back and pray he doesn't whack you with a Saturday morning tweet.