Kickfannie Bold Leadership

by Julie Jakopic

70 days, $40k, and 2,243 people

Between mid-March and early June, I had the opportunity to have the experience of many of my clients by running for office. I ran in a 5-way primary to represent my district in the Virginia House of Delegates. In the 70 days between filing and the election, I raised over $40k and convinced more than 2000 people to vote for me. I lost the election by 436 votes and gained more experience than I could have ever imagined. From time to time, I’ll share those lessons here. Here are two of the most important business lessons I learned during the race.

Never make decisions for other people. To raise $40k in such a short period, I had to call on every relationship I had. I simply couldn’t afford to skip anyone. Not people I thought supported my opponents. Not even people who had just lost their jobs. Not even people I have had disagreements with in the past. More than once I was surprised by unexpected support. The business lesson here is don’t assume that someone isn’t your customer. Obviously you want to make sure you are targeting people who need what you do, but after that, never assume they don’t want to buy from you. Not because your product is more costly, not because you have a negative history; not because they buy from someone else, not for any reason. Not until they actually say “no.”

The more personal the communication, the more effective the communication. The best explanation for how my opponent won the primary is that he had enough funds for his team to reach twice as many people as I did. In 70 days, I was thrilled to have my volunteer field team and me reach close to 6,000 homes face-to-face. My opponent, however, had enough money to have a paid field team helping him reach 12,000. In the end, the most effective communication was face-to-face, because you can share ideas, get instant feedback, respond to the ideas of others, answer objections and build an actual relationship. In the business world, that is especially true for building customer relationships or sharing complex information.

In a world with a zillion communication channels including Skype, phone, texting, emailing, instant message, Facebook, Twitter, postal mail and so on, the rule is the more personal, the more effective. In a face-to-face conversation, words are only a small part of what we communicate. Our body movements and tone communicate important context for our words. We lose those body language cues when we are on the phone and can’t see each other. Then we lose tone when we go to text. For a quick note about running late, a text is perfect. For scheduling a meeting, email works. But for anything more complicated, aim for more personal. Face-to-face or Skype, when you can afford the time and/or technology. Phone over email. Text and email over Twitter. Spending more time upfront leads to more clarity, more effective communication and more results in less time overall.


About the Contributor

Julie Jakopic has been helping leaders succeed since she tutored her friends in math in third grade. Today, Julie’s on a mission to help build the new paradigm of business where leaders thrive at home and at work, lead from purpose and create profits and positive impact in the world. Julie founded iLead Strategies to help leaders and change agents across sectors transform their vision into reality.

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