Game Change

I wrote yesterday that Game Change is possibly my favorite read of the summer. Whatever your political views, the 2008 presidential election cycle was high drama and full of compelling stories. The authors focus on four campaigns (Obama, Clinton, Edwards, McCain), providing all kinds of interesting background.

There are, undoubtedly, numerous reasons why Obama won. But as I was reading two aspects of Obama’s campaign stood out to me again and again:

  1. The Obamans (as the authors refer to the campaign) had a motto: no-drama-obama. They knew stuff would come up, they new their opponents would hit them hard, but throughout the whole thing Obama was about at straight-line as you can be. Very few ups and downs, very few emotional outbursts, and a lot of methodical, rational decision-making. Clinton on the other hand: wildly emotional, a roller coaster of highs and lows. McCain: wanted as little information provided to him as possible (Obama on the other hand puts baseball nerds to shame with the amount of information he processes)…as a result McCain was all over the place, following his gut instincts to the bitter end. Edwards, well, you can only imagine the drama there.
  2. The other fascinating thing to me was this: Clinton, Edwards, and McCain all had one person on their team who was highly competent and extremely dysfunctional. Extremely. (You could argue that Hillary had two of these people in her camp if you include her husband). Each of these people caused fissures on their team that proved, in the end, to be fatal. Obama had some personalities on his team too. But, the Obamans got caught up in the historical nature of the campaign (you might say they remained focused on the mission) and that kept some of the personality and ego issues to a minimum.

Fascinating stuff and a lot of implications for leaders: keep things steady and focused and choose your team well!

Summer Reading, Part II

  1. On Some Faraway Beach The Life and Times of Brian Eno: A little too fanboyish to be a great biography, but still an interesting read about one of the most influential music producers of the last 40 years (Bowie, Taking Heads, U2, Coldplay)
  2. A Hologram For The King: Eggers’ attempt to tell a story of the financial crisis…some parts hit and some miss. Where he hits Eggers continues to be one of my favorite writers, but where he misses it just feels like he’s trying way too hard.
  3. Game Change: Absolutely fascinating…my favorite read this summer…more on this one tomorrow.
  4. Why Holiness Matters: Also more on this one soon…check out Tyler’s blog
  5. Bob Dylan in America: Historians’s take on different eras of Dylan’s work…interesting connection to other artists like Aaron Copland.