Last night I received a personal tour of the Clinton Presidential Library before then going on to give a speech as part of the Clinton School for Public Service speaker series. So here’s my first observation from my day in Little Rock.
We all need a slogan.
Every great political campaign has a great slogan, a rallying cry for its followers. However, the Clinton 1992 campaign had something else. It also had an internal slogan, something to remind everyone within the campaign where to focus their energy. Their internal slogan was, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
That slogan kept their focus. It ensured they would bring every issue back to what they viewed as their strongest suit.
Companies call this a mission statement. Though most companies fail to distill their mission down to something so crystal clear, and so their mission statements become onerous and useless.
If Clinton’s internal slogan had been, “It’s the economy and human rights and a fundamental belief that we should support our citizenry through safety nets in areas like healthcare and social security, stupid,” it would have failed utterly to drive anyone’s behavior. It might have made a nice plaque on a wall, but it would have done nothing to drive behavior.
Consider these made-up mission statements:
- Happily deliver low-cost, comfortable air travel.
- Do whatever it takes to kick the crap out of the competition.
- Make a customer’s day, every day.
These mission statements are concise, to the point. They direct behavior. They’re memorable. They do more than rest neatly on a plaque that no one reads and no one remembers. Mission statements should be like slogans.
Similarly, we should all have a slogan for living, a slogan that helps us be the person we want to be. My slogan is Be the Hero. When I am angry or disappointed, at myself or someone else or the world, I say my mission statement. And it works.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to follow my slogan. Perhaps for the particularly hard moments I should take a page from Clinton and make my slogan, “Be the hero, stupid.”