Carly Fiorina

The Messenger and the Message: Getting it Right- November 3, 2014

Carly Fiorina
November 03, 2014— Hooksett, New Hampshire
Unlocking Potential Project Training
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Fiorina gave this speech at Southern New Hampshire University.

One on the distinctions that I want to draw as we get started here, is between the democrats who engage in identity politics and republicans who are focused on unlocking everyone's potential. We are not focused on engaging women because women are better than men. We are not focused on engaging women because we think women are an identity group that only cares about certain issues. We're focused on engaging women because women are half the talent in this country. Women are half the potential in this country, because women per half the population in this country. And so if you want to solve problems, if you want to improve the state of your state, or your country, or your community, or your world, you have to engage all the potential that exists. That's why we have to reach out to every community. That's why we have to reinforce for people that we believe that every individual is capable of living a life of purpose, and dignity, and meaning. And it’s our principles that will unlock people's potential. It's not about men versus women. It's about men and women bringing everything they have to the table to make things better for their families, for their communities, for their state, for their nation.

I want to talk first about how are we going to say it. Because actually tone matters, tone matters. And for those of you who were man next door in the convention you may have heard me say that I got a fortune cookie, a fortune in a fortune cookie, and it said strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause. That was my fortune. There's a lot of truth to that. I got another fortune the other day and it said a calm demeanor and understanding attitude dissolve misunderstanding. Well that's true also. If you're engaged in a conversation that’s personal, that’s non-judgmental, that’s empathetic, that’s optimistic, people are gonna listen to you. They're gonna want to engage with you. If we engage in a way that's judgmental, bitter, angry, guess what? People don't wanna listen to that. They don't wanna get engaged with that. So our tone matters, I think.

So what we want to start with is how it is to engage with other voters. So let's talk about how to maximize that face time that you have, those interactions. How do we maximize it, how do we make an impact? None of this it you're going to hear is rocket science, all of it you have done before, you just may not have done it all that frequently politically, and you may not have realized when you were doing it how effective it was. All the data says people are sick of political ads. All the data says, actually, people are kinda sick of politicians. But one of the reasons they're sick of politics and political ads is how it sounds, and how does it sound? It’s just, A, it’s negative, but, B, it’s broadcasting to you. Right? They don't I mean it, it doesn't matter who you are, actually. Here's a bunch of [gibberish], done. Yes, okay. What sometimes when we call in a phone bank, or we show up at a door, we kinda sound the same way. Hi, and we go through our blurb. Hi, [makes noise]. Has any one of you ever had a salesman show up at your door, or their selling cookies, it doesn't matter what they're selling. How do you feel when it's like,” hi, I don't really care who you are but this is what I want to tell you, I'm gonna tell you as fast as I possibly can to hope you say yes”? It's not very effective. It’s particularly not effective when you're trying to persuade somebody to do something. So you gotta start by finding out who they are. Kelly gave this advice and she's so right. You start by finding out who they are, and how they're doing. Hi, I'm so and so, I'm here to talk about the election, what worries you?

I had a woman who said to me in one these classes, she said, you know Carly, I was talking, she was on the side of a soccer field, and she said, I introduced myself, hi I’m Sue, I'm a conservative Republican. And she said, you know nobody wanted to talk to me. I said, well don’t introduce yourself that way. The second you introduce yourself that way, everybody's back goes up. Right? Ooh, oh no, I'm gonna get into a political conversation. Ooh, maybe she's angry and resentful? I mean we do have something a brand problem, with some people, right? So don't go there. Hi, tell stories about yourself, just like Kelly said, ask questions. Find out what they think, find out what they're worried about. Maybe to the point of your question. Gee, I'm really disenchanted. I and high hopes for President Obama, but now I'm really disappointed. How long have you been feeling that way? Why do you think that? What's most disappointing to you? Every single one of those questions gives you a hook. Something you know they're worried about, that you can follow up on. Like I said this isn't rocket science, you do it all the time. When you ask your kids how their day was at school and they say, “Fine”. So then what do you do? You probe, you probe. That is how you try and get engaged. Same thing.

This third one, this third one is pretty important actually. If you want to engage in a relationship with someone, which is really what a persuasive conversation is. It's a relationship. You want to engage in a relationship, you don’t always tell somebody the answer. You’ve got to listen. So if you ask them a question, you’ve gotta give them the time to answer the question. The more they talk, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better relationship you can build. Don’t defend, when you first start out. Just hear what they have to say. As they roll out know, you republicans wanna take birth control away from us. Ask them why they think that? Don't jump in to defend immediately. Hear why they think that. You might be surprised what you learn. So the point of all this is spend a little bit of time getting to know them, getting to hear from them and listening to whoever it is you're talking to. Because, everything they say is a tool for you to continue the conversation. This makes sense? Probe.

Communicating. Again you know how to do this. Maybe you just have never done it in the political context. How do you interact with your kids when you're trying to solve a difficult issue? How do you interact with your spouse when you're trying to work your way through a disagreement? How do you interact with the people you work with when you're trying to solve a problem with them? This is what you do, this is what you do. Talk in their language, not yours. Use the words you heard. The best communication is when the other person receives it. I remember when my nephew was about two years old. He was having a walk with a little girl and, you know, let's face it, girls love to talk. From the time we’re two till the time where, you know, much older. And this little girl is talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, and of course Sam isn’t saying a thing, she doesn’t even stop for a breath, she doesn't ask him a question, she just talking at him. Finally as we’re down the road, he turns me, puts his hands in his ears, like this [demonstrates], and goes, “she keeps talking, but I'm not listening”. Well, we all do that sometimes. So, listen, speak in their language.

Interesting pointers here, with excited voters be active. They're excited, they're engaged. Great! Isn't it great? Don't we have a fantastic team? Don't you love Mary Linda? Isn’t this great? Good! What can we do to make sure that you come out and vote this year? If you've got someone who says, you know I really think republicans don't care about me, be calm, lower your intensity, and get into the facts. Okay, make sense? Again, common sense here.

This may be a useful thing to remember is you're going through this. Listening is really important, get clarity from them on what's bothering them most. Well I don't know if I can vote republican, because. Ask them what they want to see happen. I am absolutely convinced that eighty-five percent of Americans agree, on just about everything. Our politics is conducted with victory, all about 2 percent on the issues. So find the agreement, find the agreement, and then bring people along. Make sure they understand what you really believe, clarify your position. Because they're hearing a lotta junk out there. No actually, that isn’t at all what I believe. That isn’t at all what will happen in Washington if Scott Brown is our senator. That isn’t at all what a governor Havenstein would do. You may not be able to agree with them on everything, it’s okay. But you can find common ground and that's where you need to focus. My husband and I don't agree on everything, but we've managed to make it work for thirty-plus years.

And of course when you're talking to women the biggest one here, and we'll show you some data on this, is what pro-life versus pro-choice. All the data tells us women are willing to disagree on this subject. There's some single-issue voters in the Democratic Party who say that's it, I will never, ever, ever, ever, support a candidate who is pro-life. And there are some single-issue voters on our side as well. But most people are prepared to say, you know what? We don't have to agree on every single issue, as long as we agree on the ones that are most important to me. So don't feel as though you have to persuade someone on every single aspect, of our platform or what you believe. You just need to find enough common ground about what they care about. So if they care really a lot about national security, talk about that. If they care about a sensible step by step approach an immigration, talk about that. If they care about small business ownership in job creation, talk about that. Don't feel like you gotta get lined up on everything. And by the way, isn't that how you solve problems in life. When was the last time you agreed 100 percent with somebody? This in the end is what a substantive, impactful interaction is about.

Tell 'em, so I understand what is really important to you, is that we get our economy going again here in New Hampshire, and that we ensure that we have a strong national defense. So now you're playing back to people what you heard them tell you was important to them. We agree, we agree that ISIS has to be confronted and defeated. And we agree that the most important thing to get our economy again is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business and small business owners to grow their business. You know, I really like you, now that you know little bit more about our candidates and our party, I'd really like to ask you to go vote, to make a difference. Can I get you more information? Do we come back and talk another time? Would you be prepared to have this conversation with others? That's the end of the process. Not the beginning in the process. And through that process, what have you done? You’ve established a relationship with somebody. Maybe you already had a relationship with them, and now you're expanding that relationship into a political dialogue. And what we're gonna ask you to do is to have this kind of conversation three times with somebody, if you can get a commitment the first time. Well I don't know, I need some more information. Hey if you get on the first time, great. Then the goal is to make sure they follow through with their commitment.

What I think we're trying to do with this effort is focus on a couple things, and make progress. And of the things we're trying to focus on, is how do we engage folks who care about the issues to talk in a persuasive way with people they know, because it will help. Is it the only thing that will help? No. Is it a silver bullet? No. Will it fix everything tomorrow or by November? No. Will it solve every problem we have? No. But it will make a difference. Do not underestimate the impact and the power that each if you have with the folks you know. All up the data says this, I knew this when I led a huge organizations. I could talk all day long as a CEO but you know what had the biggest impact on the people who worked in my organizations? The people in the cubicle next door. The people they drank coffee with. The people they chatted with at home after work. It wasn't me. And it’s true of all of us, every single person is most influenced by people they know. So for all the problems we have with our party, you, every single one of you, have more impact than you know. And maybe more potential than you have realized to make a difference in an election. And that's what we're trying to tap into.