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Sunday, January 22 2017
A View of the Inauguration Address from the Podium Coaches

Although successful business people need to be effective communicators, being an exceptional orator in business, while helpful, is not a pre-requisite. Certainly, professional and polished speaking skills are more qualifying for politicians who require national and global advocates.

Successful business leaders communicate around strategies based on a clear mission, a future vision and guiding values. Broad goal statements are honed into actionable plans that functional teams implement. Inspection and accountability assure a thorough and successful outcome.

President Donald Trump, in his inaugural address, outlined the mission and vision of his administration. These policy themes were consistent with the pillars of his campaign messages and should become the cornerstone of policy construction.

Here are the goals stated in his inaugural address to which his policies will be forged by his cabinet and advisors.

On the domestic front, he stated the domestic needs and expectation of his constituency.

“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.” And, “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.  Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.” He also said, “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.” And, “We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

He follows with a similar statement of needs on trade and foreign affairs, “…Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.” And, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

On his approach to allies and enemies, "We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth."

His broad vision seeks to draw clear lines toward populism, open dialogue with global entities and a renewed interest toward R&D in science, medicine and space.

“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.”

He is not the polished orator like some of the past presidents. But, he does have a gift for framing his vision and mission in simple, repeatable sound bites that translate to a nationalistic brand that appeals to a broad swath of the country.  

Posted by: Charles Fellingham AT 12:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 11 2017
President Obama's Farewell Address - Elements of Presentation Style

President Obama's Farewell Address - Elements of Presentation Style

As a presentation skills coach with 30 years of speaking and teaching the subject, I must say that President Barack Obama will continue to be heralded as being among the most gifted, accomplished speakers in our lifetime and before. His sense of timing, cadence, animation and ownership of the content of his speeches will be his personal brand long after his transition to ‘former president’ status.  He will continue to be an example of excellence for students of public speaking, and all those interested in the subject. Whether you are on the right, left, middle or on the peripheral of the political spectrum, you must admit to his talent as an orator.

It is not the intent of this author or this posting to speak to the specific content of his farewell presentation. I will not add to the punditry any analysis of the success or failure of his vision, policy or actions. I will also refrain from measuring the magnitude or effects of the success or validity of his accomplishments. There are plenty of talking heads to debate those dynamics. Rather, it is my intent to discuss the elements of presentation style that President Obama exhibits so that our audience might learn and emulate.

The foundation for every top-of-game public speaker is to be genuine, authentic, natural, positive and an owner of their speech’s content with uncompromised belief in its value to the listeners. President Obama exhibits these attributes. His broad smile comes from a deep, self-actualized core and his steel-eyed gaze to his audience demonstrates the confidence and belief in his words and their founding.

Among the traits and attributes that make him exemplary are a low-and-slow delivery, full breadth of vocal dynamic expression, use of pauses and deliberate eye contact. Notice how he slightly lowers the brow while he speaks to give an authoritarian presence. His use of a power gestures just a second before the power phrase is a skill that only naturally gifted speakers use at that level.  Use of the teleprompter has always been his strength. President Obama’s teleprompter mastery sets the right pace for text exhibition. And coordinated flow and timing with his teleprompter engineers has been a case study of seamless execution.

There is one content element that I must mention. During his speech, he made a plea for fact and data based debate.  This was a message mainly to his progressive base but applies to all citizens joining political discourse. His statement that “…selective sorting of the facts is dishonest and self-defeating”, was a charge for a more learned citizenry. His tone showed his concern for the polarization of political thought and feeding frenzy in the social media troughs that support polarized political dogma. This has led to a public, on both sides of the rope line, that are adamant to stay on their right or left side and never meet in the middle. This he calls “the third threat to democracy”. His charge was to “admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making reasonable points”. I am confident that he is hopeful that this part of his message seeded the most value. The mantra of The Purple Podium is to ‘know, and be able to state, your opponent’s position better than your opponent’. So we acknowledge a call to educated, but still passionate discussion and debate.

During our presentation skills workshops, our coaches are often asked, “Are great speakers (such as Barack Obama) born with this skill or do they develop it?” Our answer is usually, “yes.” In the case of the President, both are resoundingly true.  True to the level that his achieved position in life, as the most powerful person on the planet, matched the talent and skill with which he delivers his messages.

Posted by: Charles Fellingham AT 09:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, January 08 2017
Effects of Trump Administration Immigration Actions

Immigration reform will be one of the most significant out-of-the-gate issues for the Trump Administration and the options available to the administration to navigate the shark infested political waters of what to do with the undocumented-among-us will play out in the early days as Congress discusses actions and effects of stricter border enforcement.

The initial objectives of the Trump administration will be to provide strict enforcement of immigration laws and provide border closure to undocumented immigration.  The effects will be multifaceted. Fewer potential immigrants will want to make the dangerous trek through the Southern Americas as higher risk of success of entre will prove a deterrent. With increased risk comes increased fees imposed by an edgy underground network that facilitates transport of undocumented immigrants.

Fearful of a stronger deportation policy many will self-deport (as Mitt Romney phrased it) and return to the families that they have been supplementing financially from the US side of the border. Those choosing to leave will do so sooner than later as they would realize a strong border restricts movement to and from the US. They may choose a known destination in their home country as opposed to casting their fate to new policies governing employment and the shadow economy that may involve detention and removal.

To compliment an aggressive growth-strategy for the US economy President Trump would likely make more H-1B work visas available, allowing highly educated and high-wage talent to come into the country, which would create jobs and could even boost creation of Intellectual Property and technology enhancements. But he would restrict immigration for lower-wage, blue-collar jobs, satisfying a significant segment of the people that voted for Trump to drive change. With this, Trump would fulfill his commitment to his constituents while creating jobs in technology and other IP-based industries.

To ensure stronger enforcement of immigration laws on those businesses that employ undocumented immigrants, adoption of e-verify would serve as a firewall. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. E-Verify's most impressive features are its speed and accuracy. E-Verify is the only free, fast, online service of its kind that verifies employees' data against millions of government records and provides results within as little as three to five seconds. The effect of enactment of e-verify with its enforcement ‘teeth’ would change behavior of businesses that hire undocumented immigrants almost immediately.

Will fewer immigrants affect the US economy? To any informed observer, the answer seems an obvious “yes”. Illegal immigrants do pay state and local sales taxes.  Some even pay social security taxes through their employers. Some estimates place the value of these disappearing revenues to be $12 Billion. Fewer immigrants also translates to fewer expenditures for social services. The offset of revenue to expenditures is left for government budget offices and think tanks. Another positive effect will be wage increase for mid-level skilled workers. Economists of opposing political views agree the Arizona’s economy took a hit when large numbers of illegal immigrants left for Mexico and other border states, following a broad crackdown. But they also say the reduced competition for low-skilled jobs was a boon for some native-born construction and agricultural workers who got jobs or raises, and that the departures also saved the state money on education and health care. Whether those gains are worth the economic pain is the crux of the debate.

These considerations, and may others, will be front-and-center as the debate of dealing with immigration heats up. As Trump's strategy and tactics of his policy will be broadcast in 140 characters and on a variety of talking head shows, the interested public will be able to join the debate and energize the positive solutions that benefit the most. 

Posted by: Charles Fellingham AT 08:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 06 2017
Immigration Reform in the Trump Era: A Dose of Reality

Immigration Reform in the Trump Era: A Dose of Reality

The new administration has made broad and strong pronouncements about its desire to secure the border (build a wall), expel caustic illegal immigrants (gang and cartel members) and bolster the filters for acceptance of future immigrants. Since these tenants of immigration policy represent the pillars of the incoming administration’s campaign and victory platforms, expect the legislation to move quickly through the legislative chairs, albeit with much noise and rancor by the activated observers on both sides of the rope line.  Somewhere in between ‘send them back’ and ‘bring them all in’ lies the fertile ground from which future US immigration strategy, policy and action will consummate.

The ability to achieve legislative success and popular support will ultimately center on the question of what to do with 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living among us. Especially those 8 million who are productive contributors in the workforce. Of focus, will be the 66% of those undocumented adults who have resided in the US for a decade or so, who most certainly have family and community roots. We can expect some bi-partisan support for ‘securing the border’ and ‘expelling the gangs’, but a campaign to remove peaceful, productive human beings, who have come here to escape oppression and enjoy ‘a future’ ‘will be the largest challenge.

The Trump administration is positioning for, and hopeful of, a roaring economy with 4-5% GDP growth per year or better. Public works and private sector growth will demand a capable workforce and immigrants will be an important component to feed the labor beast needed to sustain such growth. Tearing hardworking, value-centered people from the economy will be counterproductive to the growth-strategy. And will create unnecessary distractions from the administrations focus on jobs and the economy. Unpopular actions will also become potent fuel to the next election cycle bonfire.

The realization of these concepts is drifting into administration planning and policy group discussions already, as evidenced by the shifting position statements of the incoming administration choir directors. The rhetoric has migrated from “send the undocumented out” to “we’ll see what we need to do” for those non-criminal undocumented people among us.    

The public will be watching with great interest, expecting promises of vetting of future immigrants and securing the border to be kept. Finding common ground in thought and act that protects the citizenry, promotes labor growth and projects a heartfelt society based the best of human values will be one of the first acts of the Trump and GOP majority ballet.  

Posted by: Charles Fellingham AT 06:44 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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