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  • What Have You Done Today to Win Iowa?

    “Focus is bringing everything you have to what you want and cutting off everything else.”~ Mary Wells Lawrence, Advertising Legend

    I’m reading David Plouffe’s book The Audacity to Win. If you haven’t read it yet, Plouffe was Obama’s campaign manager in his race to the White House, and the book is a fascinating chronicle of the journey.

    Your personal audacious goal

    While I still have a few chapters left (I think I know how it ends), I’ve read enough to know the book is a must for anyone in hot pursuit of a BHAG, or big hairy audacious goal. For me, it was another reminder of the supreme power of focus. But not just any kind of focus. The burn-all-your-ships kind that Gary Vaynerchuk says you “bleed out of your f-ing eyeballs.”

    There are many lessons in The Audacity to Win that are applicable well beyond (and regardless of) politics, but there’s one in particular that stuck with me. At the beginning of the campaign, when the Democratic nomination was expected to be a shoo-in for Hillary Clinton, the Obama team decided that Iowa was a make-or-break caucus. They literally threw everything into victory there, figuring that losing the state early in the game would be an insurmountable defeat.

    Iowa or bust

    That’s the background, but here’s the point: Once the strategy became “Iowa or bust”, Obama’s staff became laser-focused and coordinated. Plouffe would begin every meeting, every conference call, and presumably every email with one question: What have you done today to win Iowa? Sure enough, they won the state and…well…we all know what happens next.

    On this blog, I’ve written a lot about the discovery of your personal brand. This is because you have to know what you’re about before you can even think about successfully taking action. However, once you have it down, it’s up to you to “bleed out your f-ing eyeballs” to achieve your goals. So today, and every day, think about what you want more than anything else. Think about your personal “Iowa”, and then get up in the morning (and go to bed at night) asking yourself what you’ve done that day to win it.


    Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at www.professionalstudio365.com and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington or via email at ebennington[at]msn[dot]com.

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