Three lessons from Bernie San­ders

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - DAVE FULLER

Re­cently I wrote an ar­ti­cle about three things you could learn from Don­ald Trump. Those three things were: take more hol­i­days; be quicker to fire and play to win. Just like Trump him­self, the re­sponse to that ar­ti­cle was po­lar­iz­ing. On one hand, I had peo­ple thank­ing me for the in­sight and on the other hand subscriber­s dropped off my mail­ing list. One fel­low even went so far as to sug­gest that he be­lieved that no ed­u­ca­tion was ever wasted, how­ever in my case, he would make an ex­cep­tion.

All laugh­ter aside, it got me think­ing about what busi­ness lead­ers might learn from Bernie San­ders.

At age 77, San­ders is one of the front run­ners for the Demo­cratic Party nom­i­na­tion for the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion tak­ing place next fall. He cap­tured the at­ten­tion of the world in his run for the nom­i­na­tion in 2016 when he nar­rowly lost to Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Like his pol­i­tics or not, there are a few things that ev­ery busi­ness leader could learn from San­ders.

Here are my top three ob­ser­va­tions of what San­ders does well.

1. Never give up. San­ders didn’t be­come the sen­sa­tion he is now overnight. In fact, San­ders is a loser in the sense that he lost more elec­tions than he won dur­ing the first cou­ple decades of his ca­reer as a politi­cian.

In fact, San­ders lost five elec­tions for gov­er­nor and sen­a­tor be­fore he won his first elec­tion as a mayor in 1980. San­ders ran again for the

se­nate in 1988 and lost again be­fore win­ning.

What can we learn from this? In busi­ness, we might have to try sev­eral times be­fore we be­come suc­cess­ful in our ca­reer as an en­tre­pre­neur. Fail­ure is a bit­ter pill to swal­low.

How­ever, if we con­tinue to learn from our losses, we usu­ally can suc­ceed as San­ders has demon­strated.

We need to be­lieve that we have some­thing valu­able to of­fer and to per­se­vere in our en­deav­ors un­til we achieve our dreams. Re­mem­ber that Edi­son failed in 10,000 ex­per­i­ments be­fore he suc­ceeded in build­ing the light bulb.

For all we know, San­ders might have had to tweak his mes­sage 10,000 times be­fore he got it right.

2. Brand­ing works. San­ders has done a phe­nom­e­nal job of branded brand­ing him­self in or­der to cre­ate a sen­sa­tion that his fol­low­ers want to be part of.

San­ders has fol­lowed the keys to brand­ing suc­cess by dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing him­self from his com­pe­ti­tion, know­ing his au­di­ence and un­der­stand­ing the mes­sages that he needs to de­liver that will evoke loy­alty.

How ef­fec­tive is your busi­ness in build­ing a brand that your fol­low­ers love?

Too of­ten or­ga­ni­za­tions are un­clear about what they stand for, what they are try­ing to achieve and the key mes­sages that will get their ideal pa­trons to flock to them.

San­ders has clar­ity about what his mes­sage is and his cam­paign re­peats those mantras to com­mu­ni­cate his brand to his sup­port­ers.

3. Be con­sis­tent. Love or hate what San­ders stands for, you have to ad­mit that his so­cial and eco­nomic stands have been con­sis­tent over the 50 years of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

While many politi­cians tend to change their mes­sages to cater to tell the elec­torate what they want to hear, San­ders has re­mained con­sis­tent for decades.

Con­sis­tency in busi­ness is key to our suc­cess. We need to be able to pro­vide con­sis­tency in the re­li­a­bil­ity of our prod­ucts, ser­vice and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to give our stake­hold­ers a foun­da­tion that they can rely on.

Bar­ring a stum­ble by es­tab­lish­ment fron­trun­ner Joe Bi­den, the chances of San­ders win­ning the demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion will be sim­i­lar to his last round.

As lead­ers in our or­ga­ni­za­tions, we need to not only be aware of other lead­er­ship styles, but con­scious of the over­ar­ch­ing trends in tech­nol­ogy, so­ci­ety, eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics that could have an in­flu­ence on our busi­nesses. To sur­vive in the fu­ture, we need to be ready to learn from the past and from those around us who are more cre­atively suc­cess­ful than we are at run­ning or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-win­ning busi­ness coach and the au­thor of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email your rant about Bernie San­ders or Don­ald Trump to [email protected]­i­ty­our­selfhealth­y.com.

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