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Trump for President?

While not clear if it’s out of general interest, to make polite conversation, or born from an immense fear of such an event coming to pass, there is no doubt that the question I have been asked most in recent days isn’t “What did Santa leave you?” but rather “Can Donald Trump really become President?” As those participating in the conversation further consider Trump’s platform the line of questioning invariably turns to “what is wrong with America?”

In terms of his ability to win, Tom Jensen, Director, Public Policy Polling, said it best, “I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure until we actually start doing some voting!” But despite continuing to maintain his status as frontrunner, I am confident that we need not fear either Donald Trump taking up residency in the White House, or that America in general, is in as great a state of peril as indicated support for his candidacy might suggest.

No one, perhaps not even Trump himself, knows for sure what his intentions were when he entered this race, and for sure it will end unsuccessfully, at least as it relates to winning the ultimate prize. By dominating the media coverage surrounding it however, he has certainly filled his insatiable taste for attention.

Every election I have been involved in has been described as “the most important” in our lifetime, sure to bring with it sweeping changes that will drastically effect our day to day lives, and long term success as a nation. Yet for most, it’s hard to tell much difference from one Administration to the next. What does seem a constant, however, is the inability for most lawmakers to rise above partisan politics, bring forth worthwhile policy ideas, or effectuate any meaningful change, and the negative feelings this conjures up about them from the public.

So, despite his outlandish ideas, hateful rhetoric and bombastic personality, is it any wonder that a man who has successfully navigated the highest echelons of corporate America as well as the WWE, and whose holdings have included luxury high rises, casinos and office buildings as well as the most recognized beauty pageants, has once again captured the imagination of Americans across the country?

Since entering the race, and throughout his public life, Donald Trump has deftly found ways to flaunt his billionaire lifestyle while also connecting with the masses residing on Main Street USA. If we are to believe the whole world is a stage, Trump has found ways time and time again to steal the spotlight, this quixotic race to serve in the most powerful position on the planet being his command performance.

Donald Trump is indeed a master showman, undoubtedly benefiting fromtrump the “born every minute” types that have yet to seriously contemplate what Trump is really saying. Some of those supporters might never wake up to reality, but most others will, especially as they continue to see that there are alternatives. Of course, those alternatives are perhaps more frightening than Donald Trump.

Through all of this, I have no doubt that these questions will continue to come, at least for the next few weeks, and, with an end in sight, I welcome them. More than these though, I look forward to next year’s questions, and drastically changed tone, as they relate to President Obama turning over the keys to the White House to his successor, whomever he, or she, may be.

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It’s Not Just What You Say

This Washington Post article provides a good look at the imagery and science behind President Obama’s Oval Office Address on efforts  to protect the US from terrorists and to ultimately defeat ISIS.

There is no doubt President Obama chose his words very carefully, and his ability to articulate his thoughts clearly and concisely puts him in a league of his own among former holders of that office.

How he delivered his words is just as important, and provides important lessons for anyone that finds themselves speaking publicly.

When working with our clients on shaping the delivery of a message many things are taken into consideration, perhaps most importantly the comfort of our clients in different environments. Often times it’s not what is said that matters, but how it’s said.

Location, attire and audience are all important factors in helping a client craft and deliver the message properly.

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Global Irish Economic Forum

2015-11-20 15.39.08 Continuing to sift through the business cards, notes and other material I took away from last week’s Global Irish Economic Forum, I remain awestruck at the quality and content of the conversations that took place, and the enormous desire by nearly all who assembled for the two days at Dublin Castle, to continue towards more fully engaging the Global Irish, no matter what corner of the world they may now find themselves in.

Similar to the Global Irish Civic Forum, and the Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum, both of which I had the pleasure of attending earlier this year, this fourth Global Irish Economic Forum, or #GIEF2015 for social media enthusiasts, brought together a diverse lineup of individuals who have not only already given greatly, but as evidenced by their generosity of time, enthusiasm and input, are willing to give even more to make sure that Ireland’s greatest days lie ahead.

As the name would suggest, the agenda for GIEF2015 focused heavily on Ireland’s economic recovery, jobs creation, foreign direct investment and support for their flourishing startup communities. Noted figures from throughout the Irish Diaspora spoke up, a cross section of successful business and thought leaders in a variety of industries now residing in every corner of the globe, but still with a commitment to what, no matter how long they’ve been away, most will always refer to as ‘home’.

It would be unfair, and unwise, to single out particular participants, for every contribution, every voice, was meaningful, and truly seemed to matter to Ministers Flanagan and Deenihan, whose portfolios include responsibility for overseeing affairs related to harnessing the energy of the Global Irish. Taoiseach Enda Kenny was also listening intently, closing out his participation by referring to the proceedings not as an end but rather the ‘start of the next phase.’

However, I’d also be doing a disservice to the entirety of GIEF 2015 if I didn’t mention the enthusiasm of one speaker. Her message was clear: if Ireland is going to build a truly world class workforce we should encourage more complete learning, and that “perceptions and mindsets have to change” when it comes to coding and participation in other tech-centric activities. These words didn’t come from an academic, a CEO, or a government leader, but Ireland’s very own 11 year old Lauren Boyle, recently recognized as the European Digital Girl of the Year. With Laura’s words and confidence came the undeniable reality that Ireland’s future is bright indeed!

Even with the fullness of the speaking agenda, I hold steadfast to the belief that the networking portions of GIEF 2015 will prove to hold the most relevance. The introductions, findings of common backgrounds, realizations that in order to achieve our shared goals we must overcome the same hurdles, and most importantly, commitment to stay in touch, will continue to bear fruit well into the future.

I am thankful to have received an invitation and grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile event.


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Memories of September 11

Every year as September 11 approaches it seems that there is new footage from that terrible day. I am probably one of the few individuals from Northern New Jersey that, at the time, wasn’t personally connected to someone that was killed, and, away from home with limited access to regular news and internet, I was somewhat insulated from the initial bombardment of heartbreaking images in the hours and days that immediately followed.

However, each new video, photograph, or memory shared of that day brings it all back, reminders of those that lost their lives simply because they showed up for work. While a beautiful new building stands majestically in place of the Twin Towers, a symbol of victory over those that attacked us, there is no doubt that all of our lives changed in some way that day.

On this fourteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I decided to start my day in the City of Paterson at their annual remembrance service. Similar in format to those happening across New Jersey, this one had special meaning to me because of the participation of the Paterson Fire Department, whose members I have been proud to work with as their union’s spokesperson, for more than 5 years. Miles away from the scene, many of these men that were on duty at the time, some finishing 24 hour shifts, suited back up and headed to the pile of debris where the Twin Towers stood just hours earlier.

They share the story of so many other brave men and women, not just from the tri-state area, but across the country, that descended upon New York City to participate in recovery efforts. While hope diminished quickly of finding any survivors, many worked for weeks in efforts to recover what was left of the deceased, to offer families that lost loved ones some piece of mind, giving of themselves to help make broken families as whole as possible.

While always remembering those that were lost, it is these memories, the heroic actions of so many firefighters, police officers, and other courageous volunteers that stood together in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, that I choose to remember.

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Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum- Why It Mattered

It was a pleasure to attend parts of last week’s Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

While I don’t hold public office, getting a chance to speak with elected officials from not only the U.S. but also Canada, UK and Australia gave me even gr

eater insight into the Global Irish which will serve me well with both efforts on behalf of the clients I represent and in my role as President of Irish Network USA.

Of special significance for me was the attendance of two members of the New Jersey Legislature, both of whom I have great respect for. Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblyman Tim Eustace took time out of their busy schedules to attend this Forum, not just for the “craic”, but also to be part of the meaningful discussions that took place with their counterparts from across the globe.

What I heard, first during their time speaking on the floor of the Dail, a rare honor accorded to very few foreign elected officials, and then throughout other parts of the program, reminded me again that connecting with each other online is valuable, but there is no substitute for a face to face connection.

In addition to their “Irishness”, all of the participants, regardless of political party, have a passion for the work they do, and put remarkable efforts towards making the communities they serve stronger and even better. From jobs creation to educational opportunities, those in attendance were reminded again that there is much more that unites us than divides us, and often came back to the realization that there is something in their DNA, a passion for helping others, a desire to give just a little bit more, that gives them a particular focus and drive to do their jobs.

The compassion in their hearts, and deep understanding of the suffering of generations past, also brought them back to the current global crisis that is bring us disturbing images of great suffering among Syrian refugees forced to leave their homes in hopes that something better is waiting for them. How can the lessons of the Irish Diaspora be applied to helping these poor families who have lost so much, and likely face years, if not generations, of difficulty in being forced to assimilate into a new culture?

Were all of the problems and issues these lawmakers face on behalf of their constituents solved? Absolutely not. But meaningful conversation leads to meaningful solutions, and all in attendance have returned home, with more than they started with when the gavel was brought down to convene the Forum. Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the Global Irish Unit outdid themselves again, and deserve great credit for bringing this wonderful event to Dublin.

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