Virginia Elections: Calls to Action Produce Results

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Virginia Elections: Calls To Action Produce Results on Saturday, November 11, 2018.

The first commandment for any salesperson is to ask for the order or, as the bible advises us, “Seek and ye shall find.” Vivid evidence of the value of this advice comes from the dramatically unexpected results in this week’s Virginia elections.

MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow summed up the scope of drama:

So, in Virginia, they`ve got a state senate and a state house…The House of Delegates, 66 Republicans and 34 Democrats heading into last night. That means Republicans would have to lose 16 seats they currently hold to their Democratic opponents for the Democrats to take control. The last time they – 16 seats, come on, that`s ridiculous. Last time Democrats picked up more than one seat in the House of Delegates in a single election was a decade ago.

In this week’s final tally, the Democratic Party won 15 seats!

Ms. Maddow gave much of the credit for those results to a grassroots organization of young political activists called “Run for Something” which encourages, recruits and supports millennials who have never run for office to throw their hats into the ring, and then she added:

It’s easy to remember the mission, right? The idea was to run for something at the local level or at the state level. Start as small as you feel you need to. They supported ten candidates last night for the Virginia House, six of them won.

One the six was a transgender person (the first ever elected in the nation), a 33-year-old woman named Danica Roem, whose knee-buckling reaction to her surprise victory went viral on Twitter.

You have only to look at the “Run for Something” website to see how they operate. Their name, as well as their “mission,” is stated in big, bold black letters, all uppercase, on a white background, and says it all simply and directly. And they carry that same succinctness forward on their next screen, “HOW WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS, IN FOUR QUICK BULLET POINTS.”

Unfortunately, simplicity and directness are in chronically short supply in all forms of communication. Not just websites, but slideshows, emails, (see my prior Forbes post, “Presentations and Email”), speeches, interviews, meetings, and even conversations.

The point here is that, far too often, there is no clear point in communication. Think of the many times you have been involved in any of the exchanges above, and have said to yourself (or, if you can no longer contain yourself, to the other party or parties in the exchange), “What’s your point?” Or, as teenagers put it, “And your point is…?”

The point here is get to the point. Decide what you want to communicate and state it clearly and concisely. Run for—stand for something. Ask for the order.

Seek and ye shall find.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Virginia Elections: Calls To Action Produce Results on Saturday, November 11, 2018.