Life and Business Lessons Learned from Election 2016
PREFACE: I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not vote for Trump, nor did I support him as a candidate. I am vehemently opposed to the sexist, racist and disgusting comments that he has made.
Yesterday, I spent more time than I care to admit on social media. Trying to understand the viewpoints of friends, colleagues, and also reading the messages from their contacts and network. What I saw was a lot of people that could not understand how Trump could possibly have won (nor did I). I saw friends turning on friends for voting the way they did. I read a lot of messages of peoples life’s struggles that lead them to vote the way they did, and being attacked for it by their friends. Like many others, it saddened me deeply to see how divided we really are.
There was one comment that kept me up last night. It was that morals in western society should be universal. This person struggled to understand how someone with much different life challenges, economic struggles, and life situations could possibly have voted they way they did. After some deep thought on this through last night and early morning, I came to believe that this is one of the main reasons why people voted the way they did. Morals, views, perspectives, values, are not universal. They can’t be forced upon other people, and people can’t be shamed into voting the want you want.
I’m not qualified to get into an understanding of socioeconomics, but I can look at this election through the understanding of someone who has worked with clients across vast geographic and economic regions of North America, and an understanding of the buying behavior and challenges each client faces. What matters to them most and how they decide to make a purchase, is vastly different among geographic areas, industry and corporate cultures.
As a business owner, I believe the fundamental key to success is listening to your clients. We need to understand their challenges, how their challenges make them feel, and then work with them to deliver solutions solve their issues. One candidate approached the election as a business. First, he looked at his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — something that is taught in basics of business. Then he listened. I repeat, because it’s what we as business leaders and as people need to do more of: he listened. He listened to the struggles of the forgotten voter. He crafted a strategy and a plan to reach this voter to help solve their issues and challenges. He even put his game plan out for everyone to see – targeting the forgotten voter. Yet his opponent and media paid no attention, and even thought he was crazy. The media and his opponent kept focusing on isms and empty slogans. In the end, he won in spite of the sexist, racist and bigot comments. That is something that will be studied and dissected for generations to follow.
Alternatively, the other candidate, assumed the voter was going to vote for them because they had for the past 30 years. They did not visit these distressed areas during their campaign, even after losing these regions during the primaries. They did not listen to the challenges and issues facing this region and did not address their issues. As a result, they ended up losing these voters (their clients for the past 30 years), and ending up losing the election.
As a human being, this election has forced me to do some serious soul searching. As a business owner, it has reminded me how important every single client is to our overall and long-term success. The election has reminded me that we need to listen first and foremost, and work with our clients to deliver solutions to solve the issues they face. I truly hope we as a country can come together and understand the issues that face the forgotten many, understand their struggles, and deliver solutions to solve their issues. Because if we don’t, we as a country will not make any progress.
Thank you for reading.
President, Invenio IT