"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."
If my memory serves me right, Ernest Hemingway wrote that the hardest thing, when starting a book, is to write the first sentence. So his remedy was to keep it as simple as possible.
By coincidence one of my favorite books about management and leadership is "The Power of Simplicity" by Jack Trout. It's about cutting through the nonsense and the clutter that any executive faces each and every day of his working life. Figure out what is truly essential and discard everything else.
Steve Jobs, when he came back to Apple (and I wish he could come back once more!) went on a rampage to delete, delete, delete all the dysfunctional products that Apple was producing and trying to sell at the time. Most of these projects were still-borne, at a terrible loss to both Apple's balance sheet and reputation.
Jobs narrowed it down to four product categories - a desktop for regular people, a desktop for professionals, a laptop for regular people and a laptop for professionals.
Most politicians I have met over the course of my career as a political consultant have way too many plans and ideas and issues whirring around in their heads. And their teams tend to make things even more complicated.
Everything is important, everything is a priority!
A good friend of mine, a university professor, pointed this out to me when I was in my early twenties and going though a list of my personal goals and priorities. It was this and that and more.
He said there could only be one priority. Not many. If there are many, there is no priority - it's a list of random thoughts. It's a good start to have a list, but then you have strike all but the few ideas that are most aligned with your goals.
I believe in this very strongly.
Every 6 months or so, I write down what it is that I actually want to get done in the next quarter, year, three years, five years. And then I figure out what on that list is truly essential. Everything else must go.
As anyone in politics would tell you - there are a million distractions.
Everyone is pulling a politician in a different direction. Their advisors, the media, the bureaucrats, the opposition, the polling, the man on the street. It's much worse than what any corporate CEO experiences.
This book of course is not about how to manage your time and achieve results, once elected. It's about getting elected in the first place. But getting elected and staying in office are both about having a strategy and maintaining its focus.
If I preach simplicity, I must also practice simplicity.
So let me be very clear about what I want to do for my readers with this book.
Since planning this book I've had the singular goal of writing a book that any political candidate, anywhere in the democratic world, could pick up and find it useful, practical. I want to help them realize their political ambitions.
It makes no difference if they are running for office for the first time, or they're seasoned professionals, career politicians. If they are just starting out or have reached high office as a government minister or - in the U.S. - a cabinet secretary.
It should not matter what level of politics - local or national - they are on at the time. It could be someone just entering politics, or someone trying to take it to the next level. This book has to be a page-turner for all of these people.
I make two omissions.
This is not a book for Presidents or Prime Ministers or candidates for the highest possible offices.
That is a different ball game. My audience is someone running for parliament, the local legislature, or a political office of any kind except the very top job.
It shouldn't matter if they are from Europe, the