All posts filed under “Quote

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Obama and the Presidency

Marc Andreessen had the opportunity to sit down with Barack Obama for a long chat a while back. There were a couple of really interesting insights that I wanted to highlight here.

One of the supposed questions about Barack Obama is based on the fact that he doesn’t have the executive experience that many recent Presidents have had, as a Governor or leading a major agency of some sort. Marc asked Obama about it, and here’s what he wrote:

We asked him directly, how concerned should we be that you haven’t had meaningful experience as an executive — as a manager and leader of people?

He said, watch how I run my campaign — you’ll see my leadership skills in action.

At the time, I wasn’t sure what to make of his answer — political campaigns are often very messy and chaotic, with a lot of turnover and flux; what conclusions could we possibly draw from one of those?

Well, as Marc wrote, the answer is pretty clear:

Well, as any political expert will tell you, it turns out that the Obama campaign has been one of the best organized and executed presidential campaigns in memory. Even Obama’s opponents concede that his campaign has been disciplined, methodical, and effective across the full spectrum of activities required to win — and with a minimum of the negative campaigning and attack ads that normally characterize a race like this, and with almost no staff turnover. By almost any measure, the Obama campaign has simply out-executed both the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

This speaks well to the Senator’s ability to run a campaign, but speaks even more to his ability to recruit and manage a top-notch group of campaign professionals and volunteers — another key leadership characteristic. When you compare this to the awe-inspiring discord, infighting, and staff turnover within both the Clinton and McCain campaigns up to this point — well, let’s just say it’s a very interesting data point.

Compare that to the NYTimes article on Hillary Clinton:

But even as Mrs. Clinton revived her fortunes last week with victories in Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas, the questions lingered about how she managed her campaign, with the internal sniping and second-guessing undermining her well-cultivated image as a steady-at-the-wheel chief executive surrounded by a phalanx of loyal and efficient aides.

“She hasn’t managed anything as complex as this before; that’s the problem with senators,” said James A. Thurber, a professor of government at American University who is an expert on presidential management. “She wasn’t as decisive as she should have been. And it’s a legitimate question to ask: Under great pressure from two different factions, can she make some hard decisions and move ahead? It seems to just fester. She doesn’t seem to know how to stop it or want to stop it.”

and

Still, interviews with campaign aides, associates and friends suggest that Mrs. Clinton, at least until February, was a detached manager. Juggling the demands of being a candidate, she paid little attention to detail, delegated decisions large and small and deferred to advisers on critical questions. Mrs. Clinton accepted or seemed unaware of the intense factionalism and feuding that often paralyzed her campaign and that prevented her aides from reaching consensus on basic questions like what states to fight in and how to go after Mr. Obama, of Illinois.

Mrs. Clinton showed a tendency toward an insular management style, relying on a coterie of aides who have worked for her for years, her aides and associates said. Her choice of lieutenants, and her insistence on staying with them even when friends urged her to shake things up, was blamed by some associates for the campaign’s woes. Again and again, the senator was portrayed as a manager who valued loyalty and familiarity over experience and expertise.

As I’ve written a couple of times before, he’s got my vote!

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Weekly round-up

Here is a weekend round-up of stuff I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. Hope you find it interesting.

  • Ever wanted to buy or at least ride a Segway? If you don’t want to ride one across the United States like these guys, maybe you should consider building one yourself. Some UMich engineering students built one for $1750 in two months. Check out the video here (complete with cheesy music):
  • Another cool YouTube video here. Someone takes apart a common “Intelligent Design” argument by showing that in fact, it’s quite reasonable to expect a theoretical box of clock parts to assemble into a clock. It’s fairly straightforward math-wise, using genetic algorithms. I learned and used the same technique back as an undergraduate to calculate optimal satellite orbits in order to conduct “fly-bys” of particular planets within particular windows. Good stuff.
  • Great quote here.

    “I suddenly understood with great clarity that nothing in life—except death itself—was ever going to kill me. No meeting could ever go that badly. No client would ever be that angry. No business error would ever bring me as close to the brink as I had already been.”

  • If you have to use Outlook, first of all, I’m sorry for you. But to help ease your pain, try out Xobni. (Inbox spelled backward.) It will revolutionize the way you work in Outlook.
  • These are great rules to live by: (from Scott Berkun)
    Rules.jpg
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Good quote

I found this great quote today from an ancient New York Times Magazine piece on Bill Parcels.

Don’t confuse routine with commitment.

I think I’m going to have to remember that in my rowing training. Just showing up because I’ve always shown up isn’t enough; I have to always push myself.