LI Grad Spotlight: Joy Gjersvold and AnnMarie Adams
Matthew Hurtt
November 22, 2022
LI Grad Spotlight: Joy Gjersvold and AnnMarie Adams
Working-class Bremerton drives Kitsap County, Washington's Democratic politics. You may remember Bremerton from the Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which reversed a 9th Circuit decision prohibiting a high school football coach from praying on the field after football games. The free exercise of religion guaranteed in the 1st Amendment is part-and-parcel of a wide range of issues galvanizing parents to take back school boards across the country. Meet parents Joy Gjersvold, a military spouse, and her partner-in-crime, AnnMarie Adams, who have collectively attended a handful of Leadership Institute trainings and co-founded a Moms for Liberty chapter in Kitsap County. Gjersvold was featured in POLITICO coverage of Moms for Liberty's national conference in Tampa in July of this year, at which Leadership Institute training played a central role: The moms flocked to Tampa from all over the U.S., including Joy Gjersvold, who leads a Moms for Liberty chapter in Kitsap County, Washington. Like many others, Gjersvold was inspired to get more involved in education by the pandemic — the closing of schools in her area, a “lack of preparedness” to go virtual, masking and vaccination requirements for students and teachers. Gjersvold found out about Moms for Liberty through a Facebook post and last August founded a local offshoot in Kitsap, which spans five school districts in Western Washington. In the time since, the group has expanded to include an executive team and district “captains” — parents who keep everyone posted on education happenings in their district. The group sees about 12-20 people at their regular meetings, Gjersvold said. “It spoke to me,” Gjersvold said in an interview. “I realized, with a daughter who is still in high school, I had to do something.” …. Moms for Liberty is clearly inspiring parents to take action locally as the movement continues to expand. In Washington, for example, Gjersvold said there are 15 local school board seats up for reelection soon that the local Moms for Liberty group is targeting. “There are red voters — there are conservative voters — who know what is happening is wrong,” Gjersvold said. “We need to empower them to have a voice.” Joy and AnnMarie are using their unique skills to advance pro-parent policies in Washington. Dena Espenscheid, LI's Director of Grassroots Coalitions, writes: “Joy is using her crafting skills and imagination to find new ways to introduce liberty principles and GOTV messages to the parents in their area. Joy and AnnMarie made a GOTV Photobooth for a massive Trunk or Treat event in late October. They are also using their Trunk or Treat space as an official Moms for Liberty ballot drop-off location for secure voting.” These political newcomers are using “this kind of out-of-the-box thinking,” as Dena puts it, to engage voters on important issues. Great work, Joy and AnnMarie!
Get to Know Pro-Life Emily
Kirsten Holmberg
October 28, 2022
Get to Know Pro-Life Emily
Meet Emily Berning, Leadership Institute (LI) grad and faculty member. I recently talked with Emily to ask about her role as a pro-life woman and as the founder of Let Them Live. She shares how she got where she is today, her struggles, and advice for conservatives unsure of their next steps.What motivated you to get involved in conservative politics? I first became involved with the conservative movement in college. I had grown up in a conservative and pro-life household and college was really the first place that I started exploring my own personal beliefs on politics and culture. I am someone who is strong-willed and when I really believe in something, I put all my energy and effort into it. Many conservatives on college campuses prefer not to get involved or make noise about their beliefs for fear of being ostracized. But that's just not who I am. People who know me know that I am extremely passionate and vocal and will stand up for what I believe in. I believe in many conservative principles, especially the right to life. The crux of why I got involved in the first place is that I saw so many things wrong on my campus at Colorado State, in my state, and in our country specifically related to abortion. I felt motivated by my need to do something about it. There is too much at stake to leave to someone else the role that I am supposed to fill.As President and Co-Founder of Let Them Live, what inspired you to start your organization? I have always been pro-life and during college people started to know me as “Pro-Life Emily.” I lived and breathed (and still do) advocating for the pro-life stance and when I met my husband through the Leadership Institute, he noticed that in me. He said, “You should start a pro-life nonprofit.” Having no clue how to do that or what my mission would be was scary but slowly the pieces started coming together. I came up with the name Let Them Live on a late-night car ride to Indiana from Virginia and then our true mission came about two months after Nate and I got married. Nathan stumbled across a pro-life Facebook page one night and saw a comment from a woman who was asking for advice on how to talk her cousin out of getting an abortion. After messaging back and forth, he found out that it was a financial burden that was causing her to feel like abortion was her only choice. She lost her job, was evicted, and was living in her van outside in the December weather. Nathan and I knew we had to help her so we sent her all the money we had, $1250, so she could get back into her apartment, and then she canceled her abortion! It was at this point that we started to realize that we had found our mission. We knew there were probably more women with abortions scheduled because of financial burden (73% of women in the US have abortions because of finances according to Guttmacher Institute) and we wanted to help. We knew we didn't have enough money to keep doing it ourselves, so we started reaching out to our friends and family for help. Three-and-a-half years later and we have helped almost 500 moms cancel their abortions and our staff has grown from just the 2 of us to over 70 staff members and over 200 volunteers!As a former Leadership Institute (LI) Field Representative and current LI faculty, how has LI helped you with your career in pro-life activism? I love LI. I cannot say this enough. LI was my first job out of college, where I met my husband without whom I could not have started Let Them Live (LTL). LI is where I met some of my greatest friends and where we have been given so much support. LI has been an amazing partner for Nate and me and Let Them Live. From supporting me and covering costs for me to speak on college campuses to spread the word about LTL to having me guest lecture and share LTL with new LI grads, LI has given us the tools we need to grow. On top of that, most of the knowledge we used to build and grow LTL came from LI trainings. Thanks to LI we know how to properly cultivate and steward our donors, partake in media interviews, grow our teams, and ultimately be the absolute best we can be so we can continue to create jobs for people in the pro-life movement, help women, and save lives from abortion.What are your thoughts on the importance of speaking out about your beliefs? There is nothing more valuable than being vocal about your beliefs. We live in a world where people are encouraged to be part of the status quo and not rock the boat. But my advice is to rock that boat. Speak up. There are people depending on your voice. In my case, it is the most defenseless human beings and their mothers who need me to speak on their behalf.What are you most eager to do at Let Them Live now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned? I am obviously eager to just continue showing up for women and giving them the support they need. I am also really excited for our new campaign called “I Fund Life.” This is our new peer to peer fundraising project which allows our donors to continue supporting us by creating GoFundMe style campaigns for LTL and having their friends and family donate. This will help us to grow our donor pool and keep raising as much money as possible for our cause. With Let Them Live specifically, the money we raise goes to help women pay their rent, car payments, utility bills, etc., so that they can confidently choose life. We are 100% donor funded. Without donations, we can't support women, and if we can't support women, we can't save lives from abortion. We have some direct competition from organizations that raise money for abortions, and we want to outraise them and show them that we can tangibly support women in choosing life. I am especially eager to substantially increase our fundraising because women are turning to the abortion funding organizations to cover the cost of their travel or their abortion itself, but we want women to know that they don't have to have those abortions because we can walk alongside them. But it takes money to make those commitments!Do you have advice for others who want to get involved in the pro-life movement or a movement that matters to them? My advice is to just go for it. I think a lot of people have huge hearts for this work and this mission but they aren't sure about the impact they will make or they are afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone. My advice is to step out of your comfort zone. It's a hard place to be but there is nothing more worthwhile.You can learn more about being an effective pro-life advocate at LeadershipInstitute.org/ProLife. If you want to start your own conservative organization, read Morton's advice in The Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur and reach out to learn more at the Leadership Institute's Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur training.
Meet Matthew Hurtt: Having Fun Saving the Country
Kirsten Holmberg
August 26, 2022
Meet Matthew Hurtt: Having Fun Saving the Country
“The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you're not having fun saving the country, you're doing it wrong.” Meet Matthew Hurtt, the Director of Professional Services at Leadership Institute. He is an internationally recognized fundraiser, organizer, writer, and public speaker. I interviewed Matthew to hear more about his background and draw on his vast political and fundraising experience. What motivated you to get involved in conservative politics? My parents were never politically inclined before I ran for office at age 19 in 2006. My interest in current events intersected with a local property issue that was affecting people in my church, and I decided to jump in head-first by running for local office. That interest stuck, and I remained very involved through college. I co-hosted a conservative talk radio show on 88.3 WMTS with my best friend, wrote editorials for the school newspaper, and was elected to Student Government. Off-campus, I worked alongside my elected state representative and senator and was a fixture in the state capitol before moving to Arlington to work at Leadership Institute in 2009. You currently serve as the Director of Professional Services at the Leadership Institute. Can you tell me more about your work? The Director of Professional Services oversees LI's Careers Training, ConservativeJobs.com, our Internship Program, and provides additional resources and support to LI's 250,000 trained activists across the country and across the globe. I tell people my role is the “switchboard” into the conservative movement. If you're looking for activist training, employment opportunities, and other movement resources, I'm your guy. What would you like our readers to know about Leadership Institute?Graduates of Leadership Institute training have an underutilized resource at your disposal – LI's vast network of other trained activists! I speak every day with people who benefit from that one introductory email to another LI-trained activist to help them advance their conservative policy, campaign, or professional goals. If you've taken LI training of any sort at any time, reach out to Leadership Institute and allow us to maximize your efforts.Before coming on as LI staff, you were a distinguished faculty member for LI. Why did you decide to teach for LI? What have been some of your favorite topics to talk about?I started teaching for LI almost by accident. When I worked as one of LI's Regional Field Coordinators in 2009, I began offering to help other departments and divisions teach their programming.I taught a Youth Leadership School at the University of Kentucky in August 2009 and a Campaign Management School during D.C.'s “Snowpocalypse” in December 2009. Once I left full-time employment with LI in early 2010, I continued to teach as guest faculty.My undergraduate degree actually includes a minor in secondary education. I wanted to be a high school history and civics teacher, but professors told me I'd hate the red tape and bureaucracy. Serving as guest faculty allowed me to scratch the itch to be in the classroom with almost no bureaucracy or red tape with an audience of students who truly wanted to learn.What is, in your opinion, the most valuable Political and Fundraising training, workshop, or school someone can take here at LI?I think the training that really has the most potential to produce the most generational benefit for conservatives is the brand-new Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur training.This training is designed to teach conservatives how to start your own nonprofit or issue advocacy organization.Our movement would greatly benefit from more organizational entrepreneurs who establish local, state-level, and even nationally oriented groups to advance conservative principles, and Leadership Institute training can point you in the right direction and empower you to launch your own organization.As the Communications Director of the Arlington GOP, what are you most looking forward to in the upcoming elections?I love crafting messages that excite our activists and get them off the couch. Conservatives don't win a lot of elections in Arlington, but our activists are engaged because I help drive a narrative that keeps them involved.Our 4,000-person email list always engages with our updates, and people turn out to our events because they read about them in our emails or across social media.We don't win a lot, but we certainly can't win if we don't show up. So, I really enjoy crafting messages that get our activists to show up.How has LI helped prepare you to serve as the Communications Director for the Arlington GOP?I think knowing LI's headquarters is within the boundaries of my local political engagement forces me to be a more effective activist; it allows me to test activism ideas because Leadership Institute is the incubator of conservative activism.To that end, I feel a certain responsibility to be the best and most effective activist I can be. I can't teach people about it in LI trainings if I haven't gone out and done it myself.Having managed numerous political campaigns, what would you tell a first-time campaign manager?Your candidate should be knocking on doors and raising money. If you outwork the other guy – especially in a small primary – you can win. Knock doors. Raise money. Spend that money effectively. Nothing else matters. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As a conservative activist in a community where 80% of my neighbors voted for Joe Biden, I tell people, “I'm the kid in the room full of horse manure, saying there's got to be a pony in here somewhere.” The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you're not having fun saving the country, you're doing it wrong.If you're interested in the Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur or any other Leadership Institute training, visit LeadershipInstitute.org/Training to explore your options.
Meet Rick Tyler: From the hospitality industry in Maine to Political Commentator & LI Trainer
Kirsten Holmberg and Jordan Deibler
July 27, 2022
Meet Rick Tyler: From the hospitality industry in Maine to Political Commentator & LI Trainer
Meet Rick Tyler, the Director of Core Schools at the Leadership Institute (LI). He is also a thought-provoking Political Analyst for the MSNBC Cable News Network offering a conservative perspective to unfolding political events. As a professional political strategist, Rick has helped hundreds of candidates prepare for the rigors of campaigning for public office. He is Co-Founder of Foundry Strategies, a strategic, communications firm specializing in helping candidates and campaigns hone their communications skills. Rick was the National Spokesperson for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. In the 2012 election cycle, Rick was a senior advisor and spokesman to the Winning Our Future PAC, a pro-Newt Gingrich for President Super PAC. Prior to joining the PAC, Rick was a key member of the former House Speaker's team for more than a decade serving as Gingrich's advisor and spokesperson. A gifted communicator, Rick has appeared thousands of times on national television news shows including MSNBC; Fox News Channel; CNN; CBS News; NBC News; ABC News; PBS; HBO; CNBC; CBN; Bloomberg News; BBC; CBC; RTE; and Al Jazeera. I interviewed Rick to hear more about his background and draw on his vast political experience. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background? I came out of the hospitality industry working in hotels and restaurants. I started my political career when I volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of the mother of one of the waitresses in a restaurant where I worked in coastal Maine. I've worked in politics ever since. I've worked on campaigns. For five years, I was the executive director of the Maine Republican Party. In that position, I engaged GOPAC to come to Maine and conduct political training for our House and Senate candidates. Soon after, I became a political trainer for GOPAC teaching all over the country. For more than a decade, I trained thousands of candidates and activists to win elections including three trips over six years to train California Republican Assembly members at the request of then-leader Kevin McCarthy. You were the national spokesman for Ted Cruz for President as well as a personal advisor and spokesman for Newt Gingrich. What motivated you to work for these men? In 1994, I was just getting started in politics, but it was Newt Gingrich who grabbed my attention when he organized the Republican Party with a Contract with America that led to the Republicans gaining the majority both in the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years. I followed him closely. When the opportunity came to meet his closest advisor, Joe Gaylord, I made clear my desire to work in what was then affectionately known as Newt-world. I had never met Senator Cruz when the call came asking me to work on his presidential campaign. But I soon met him, and we hit it off immediately. In Newt's case, I was motivated to work for him because he was a leader with a proven track-record having seized the speakership; in Cruz' case, because he had the potential of a future conservative leader. Are there any insightful stories that you can share from your time working on campaigns or with candidates? Everyone has a story. The key to developing a great candidate is telling their unique story that is relatable to voters. I have found that most candidates are bored by their own story because, well, it is their story. But people are fascinated with stories. Our stories connect us to the hearts of voters, not only getting them to like us. That will inoculate you as a candidate from criticism. We tend to defend people with whom we have made an emotional connection. Stories allow voters to know what the candidate is about and their character. This provides a solid foundation for putting their trust in that candidate. So, developing the candidate's story and personal brand is the most important part of a successful candidacy. You are the Director of Core Schools here at the Leadership Institute (LI). Tell us a bit about your position. My main goal as the Director of Core Schools was to create the Campaign Leadership College (CLC) as the most comprehensive course LI has ever offered. The purpose of the course is to develop campaign leaders who work at the senior level of campaigns for conservative candidates. For a candidate, being conservative is not enough. You must have experienced people to run a winning campaign. The CLC seeks to fill the current, severe shortage of trained conservative campaign managers and directors so that conservative candidates can have competent managers and directors to run their campaigns. What is, in your opinion, the most valuable Political and Fundraising training, workshop, or school someone can take here at LI? I think that all depends upon what your goals are. LI offers so many quality programs from the Youth Leadership School, to the Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur, to the Campaign Leadership College. However, I would say that everyone should take the public speaking course because even if you don't plan to become a public speaker, having the ability to communicate your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner will help you in any career goal. If you're interested in the Campaign Leadership College, Public Speaking Workshop, or any other Leadership Institute training, visit LeadershipInstitute.org/Training to explore your options.
DC Summer Internships: What To Know
Dylan Craig
May 9, 2022
DC Summer Internships: What To Know
Every year, hordes of interns from around the country descend upon Washington, DC. Summer is the most popular season for internships, since it enables students to gain valuable professional experience without missing a semester of classes. More and more colleges now accept internship experience as valid credits that count towards graduation. Summer remains the most popular time of the year for internships. Many unique opportunities and challenges come with an internship in the nation's capital during the hottest months of the year. If you plan to intern this summer, or would like to, here are some things to know: Supply and Demand First and foremost, the classic law of supply and demand applies. A limited supply of available internships confronts a high demand for summer internships. Competition is much higher during the summer, so do not be discouraged if you don't get accepted to your dream internship. Often, if you re-apply for the same internship but for a fall or spring semester instead, you'll be accepted! One component of this higher demand, outside of the fact that you will not be missing classes, is that there's generally much more happening in the summer months. Despite relatively mild winters, the social scene in DC seems to completely shut down from October to April. It seems as if most people go to work, and then immediately return home afterward. In mid-April, when the temperatures become consistently warmer, the social scene in DC becomes significantly more active. This presents an abundance of networking opportunities. Networking Networking is important in any professional field, but it's exponentially more important in an industry where people-skills are in high demand, such as the political field. In DC, people tend to hire from within their own personal networks, rather than hiring interns based on their resumes. This means a well-developed personal network is crucial to your career advancement, and the abundance of social events over the summer provides an abundance of opportunities. You won't meet people if you do not put yourself out there and attend events with other like-minded individuals. However, the abundance of social events and opportunities is both a blessing and a (potential) curse. Many interns prioritize socializing over their work. This subtracts from their professional advancement. Those new to a professional environment (or those who've recently turned 21) are most vulnerable to the temptations of socializing. Constant networking can be a huge drain on financial resources. It can also easily subtract from the quality of your performance within the office. Work/life balance is crucial, and the abundance of social events over the summer can prevent you from receiving the full value of an internship. Reputation Congressional offices are rife with stories of hungover summer interns who were barely capable of any work in the mornings. If you develop a reputation as an intern who prioritizes socializing or partying over your work, you will dramatically shrink your future job prospects. It doesn't matter how adept or personable you are; it doesn't matter how big your network is. If you can't obtain a work/life balance, your prospects in DC will be narrowly limited. As a young burgeoning professional, your reputation will be worth its weight in gold. And DC is a town built on reputations. A Few Final Tips It's impossible to mention summer internships without mentioning DC's brutal humidity, which can make even a simple commute miserable. To counteract this heat, many office buildings overcompensate and crank up the A.C. to uncomfortable levels. While it may seem counterintuitive, layers are especially important in the summer. On especially brutal days, it's not uncommon for people to wear casual clothes on their commute and then change into professional attire once they arrive at the office. It's hard to understate how miserable it is to wear a black suit in 95-degree weather! Summer internships offer opportunities for both professional and personal development, especially since many offices ramp up their hiring in the fall. An impressive performance over the course of your summer internship can easily lead to a job offer if the timing is right. Beyond the professional context, DC offers endless opportunities for personal growth. Very few people who work/live in DC are actually from DC. This makes the city a fascinating melting pot of people from all over the country and world. Your internship will provide you with endless opportunities to meet lifelong friends, challenge your philosophical worldview, and expand your knowledge about yourself and your abilities. Good luck! If you're interested in more career advice, networking opportunities, and training, check out the Leadership Institute's career opportunities page.
How to Get Your Master’s Degree without the Leftist Slant
Ethan Madsen
May 5, 2022
How to Get Your Master’s Degree without the Leftist Slant
Your level of education often defines the opportunities available to you. The Monday after my graduation, I began working in an Amazon warehouse. During my initial training and orientation, senior management made it abundantly clear that the fast-track to promotion (a hot commodity considering the physical workload of the average employee) ran through the halls of higher education. Furthering your education while you balance an active professional life can be complicated when you're already well underway on your chosen career path. To further complicate things, you and I live in a world of political bias and rampant intolerance in academia. As a conservative, the idea of being constantly excluded on campus may be intimidating. The good news is, you have options when you're looking for that Master's degree. Today, I hope to help you overcome the limitations that an active work life and being a part of a philosophical minority can present as you look at graduate programs. Below, I will explore the opportunities provided by a few institutions known to be philosophically open, if not reliably conservative. 1. Hillsdale College School of Government Located in Washington, D.C., the Steve and Amy Van Andel School of Government is a graduate school run by Hillsdale College. The campus is within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and Union Station. The school's goal is to prepare its students to further the work of restoring constitutional self-government in the United States. The only program available is a Master of Arts (MA) in Government. Classes are offered in the evening, and Saturday seminars are provided to accommodate the working schedules of the attendees. The typical duration of the program is 2.5 to 3 years, and the average tuition and fees are $25,420. However, scholarships up to full tuition are readily available to accepted applicants.2. Liberty University Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a private evangelical university. It is known as a consistently conservative institution, with more than 87% of university employee's donations going to conservative candidates in the 2020 election, according to Leadership Institute's (LI) Campus Reform. The majority of the university's students attend virtually. As to the graduate programs offered, Liberty provides online tracks to obtain such degrees as: Juris Masters Master of Business Administration Master of Arts in: History Government Geography Military Operations The average tuition and fees for the graduate programs were $8,349 for the 2020-2021 academic year. For military service members, the price is reduced to $275-$300 per credit hour. 3. Purdue University Global Purdue Global is a public, non-profit university run by Purdue University. All courses are offered online, allowing for a personalized schedule. Purdue Global boasts of more than 25 areas of study, with degree options including the following: Master of Science in Legal Studies Master of Science in Management and Leadership Master of Science in Criminal Justice Master of Business AdministrationThe average cost of tuition and fees was $9,618 for in-state (Indiana) students and $10,674 for out-of-state students in the 2020-2021 academic year. For members of the military, Guard, Reserves, as well as veterans, tuition rates are cut by 14% to 30% per credit. Similarly, rates for military spouses are reduced by 10% per credit. 4. Texas Tech Texas Technical University is a public university in Lubbock, Texas. It is reliably conservative, with more than 58% of employee donations going to conservative candidates during the 2020 elections, according to Leadership Institute's Campus Reform. Texas Tech offers more than 100 master's degrees, 60 doctoral degrees, and 60 graduate certificate programs. Many options are available with in-person, online, and accelerated tracks to earn an MS, MA, MBA, PhD, or JD. For graduate programs, the average cost of in-state (Texas) tuition and fees was $9,350, or $17,530 for out-of-state. In comparison to the other universities on this list, Texas Tech provides more robust STEM training, as well as interdisciplinary degree options. 5. Baylor University Baylor University is a private Christian school located in Waco, Texas. It offers more than 100 post-graduate programs, with an average tuition of $36,936 during the 2020-2021 academic year. Apart from their in-person classes, Baylor offers a wide range of online programs. I've listed several here: MA in Journalism MSCS in Computer Science MBA in: General Cyber Security Executive Communication Global Trade and Supply Chain Management Marketing6. The Institute of World Politics The Institute of World Politics (IWP) is a graduate school located in Washington, D.C. It's focused on master's programs to equip leaders for national security, intelligence, and international affairs. The typical cost for a Master's degree is $67,600 for the full two year program, though IWP does grant scholarships and tuition discounts for military, military spouses, law enforcement, as well as federal government employees. Leadership Institute graduates can also get a $200 discount per credit hour. The Institute's mission shows a strong commitment to America's founding principles, reality-based foreign policy, and a solid sense of ethics. IWP offers several degrees, some in person in D.C. or VA, and others online. This includes a Master of Arts in: Statecraft and National Security Affairs Statecraft and International Affairs Strategic Intelligence StudiesNational Security Affairs Strategic and International Studies Statecraft and Strategy Are you interested in more university news? Visit Leadership Institute's Campus Reform website. If you'd like further help advancing your career, get advice and training with Leadership Institute's Career Team.
What I Saw: My Journey to the Leadership Institute
January 7, 2022
What I Saw: My Journey to the Leadership Institute
In early September, I found myself driving down the New Jersey turnpike towards Virginia. My car was loaded with suits, toiletries, and most important, my collection of tattered G.K. Chesterton books. I was unusually stressed, not just because I was surrounded by the turnpike's notoriously aggressive drivers, but because I was on my way to start a fall internship at the Leadership Institute (LI). Like anyone who's starting a new job or internship, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. I was somewhat familiar with LI, having taken their (excellent) Youth Leadership School, but accepting an internship there had been a spur-of-the-moment decision. Eventually, I pulled into the driveway of LI's intern house and started my journey. Four months later, I'm beyond blessed to be working here at LI full-time. As an intern who transitioned into a full-time role, I've become intimately familiar with LI. The fifth-floor coffee maker is by far the best. Kirsten Holmberg, our Deputy Director of Political and Fundraising Training, always has a bowl of gourmet sweets on her desk. There's a faucet in the third-floor Men's restroom that randomly runs scalding water, so always be careful. But most important, I've become familiar with LI as an institution, and what exactly this organization does. The year 2021 was a great year for me (except for the fact that I got blown out in my Fantasy Football playoffs), and it was an even better year for LI. In 2021, the Leadership Institute (LI) prepared 18,195 trainees - from college students to campaign managers - to advance and act on their conservative principles. Each week, LI provided an average of 57 hours of live training, boosting the conservative movement towards electoral successes in 2022 and beyond. My journey with LI started when my friend invited me to attend LI's Youth Leadership Workshop (YLW), a three-hour training that equipped 1,606 young conservatives last year with tactics and tools they can use to advance conservatism on campus and beyond. After I attended the Youth Leadership Workshop, I was hooked and wanted to learn more. Being a conservative student on a heavily left-wing campus just outside of Seattle was extremely intimidating, but the YLW sparked an epiphany in me. Remaining quiet meant that I was letting the radicals on my campus win. Remaining quiet is exactly what they were hoping I would do. This epiphany motivated me to take the LI's two-day Youth Leadership School (YLS), an intensive 29-hour training that extensively expands upon the content taught in that first three-hour workshop I took. It teaches young conservatives how they can win. In 2021, 532 student leaders were trained in the YLS. Sixty-four YLS grads organized efforts for conservative candidates across the country, enabling candidates to capture the youth vote and drive a youthful image that has become increasingly important in elections.Some Youth Leadership School graduates eventually become interns at LI, like me!Over the course of 2021, 32 interns came through LI, including 11 in my fall class. We came from all over the country, from the urban megalopolis of NYC, to rural Georgia. Despite coming from different regions and cultures, we became incredibly tight knit. I've made lifelong friends and I know many of us will be attending each other's weddings. One highlight of the internship was our Book Club, where we read a classic work of conservative literature each week. From Hayek to Goldwater, LI interns collectively read more than 45,600 pages of conservative literature. My personal favorite was Douglas Hyde's Dedication and Leadership, which I'd highly recommend to newer conservatives.I'm currently in the External Affairs division, but my time at LI started as an intern in the Career Resources department. Helping fellow conservative jobseekers was important to me during my internship. My supervisor went out of his way to train me how to help others secure employment and jumpstart their careers. Ultimately, I was able to use what he taught me to land my own full-time position here at LI! In 2021, LI released an updated version of ConservativeJobs.com. The website attracted more than 33,800 unique visitors in 2021 and helped job-seekers streamline their job searches. On top of that, LI's careers team also met one-on-one with 451 conservatives for personal career consultations, offering conservatives customized advice and guidance to help them navigate the often-turbulent job market. While I lived in the intern house, one topic that continually came up during our conversations, other than whether the North or the South had better food, was the dramatic growth of Critical Race Theory within the halls of our schools. 2021 was the year when the encroachment of divisive left-wing ideology into every aspect of American society, even into the classrooms of our children, was made abundantly clear to conservatives. Unfortunately, many school boards are now used as social engineering tools instead of focusing on preparing our children for higher education and the workforce. Parents knew that they couldn't simply stand by. Thanks to the generosity of LI's donors, LI supported these parents through the creation of the on-demand School Board Campaign Training, which more than 1,500 concerned citizens have registered to take. This training provides parents with the skills to wage and win successful campaigns for their local school board, where they can help protect the integrity of their children's education. LI also offers other on-demand courses, a diverse array of training that educates conservatives on both principles and practice. The History of the Constitution and Conservative 101 on-demand trainings both had more than 1,000 registrants this year. Many also took the Social Media Bootcamp, where they learned how to translate their conservative principles into action. It's not just parents who are standing up for education, college students are too. Being openly conservative on a college campus is a difficult task. I attended college in Washington State, just outside of Seattle. Though I was surrounded by gorgeous mountains and enchanting evergreen forests, I was also surrounded by leftist students who lacked any tolerance for even the slightest differing opinions. Once, when I was reading Ronald Reagan's diary on campus, I was so afraid of being confronted by these leftists I replaced the book sleeve with a sleeve from one of my Harry Potter books, just so I could read in peace. LI's Campus Leadership Program (CLP) directly supports conservative students like me, who feel as if they must remain undercover. Thanks to LI's generous donors, LI gives students the resources and training they need to speak up and restore balance on American campuses. LI's CLP program now includes more than 2,000 active student groups. In 2021, CLP added 816 new student groups and newly identified more than 96,900 conservative students. With CLP's support, conservative students were able to put on 2,583 public events on their campuses; each event promoted conservative ideas and values to students. Just a few decades ago, the average college campus was a bastion of intellectual openness, a place where students of all political stripes could freely discuss their beliefs without any fear of judgment or retaliation. Now, campus institutions are saturated with left-wing bias.This left-wing bias is exactly what motivates the Leadership Institute's Campus Reform (CRO), a team of journalists who identify and expose left-wing bias on America's campuses. CRO uses a nationwide network of investigative student reporters to expose these institutional left-wing biases, restoring integrity to American campuses in the process.In 2021, local and national television programs featured LI's Campus Reform students, staff, and stories 994 times.Online, the Campus Reform stories and YouTube channel garnered 27.2 million views over 2021. Campus Reform's popularity is a testament to the fact that America's conservative students have had enough. Unfortunately, what is happening on our college campuses is just a microcosm of what is happening across the country. From Alaska to Alabama, and everywhere in-between, institutions are slowly being captured by left-wing bias. Thankfully, conservatives are standing up for their rights. The effort to safeguard America's principles is a multi-faceted effort, and that's why LI offers a diverse array of political trainings, both online and in-person. While I was an intern, I was granted free access to these trainings, and I can attest to the fact that they are a huge tool in the toolbelt of the conservative movement. In 2021, the Leadership Institute (LI) expanded the number of trainings offered, ultimately training more than 18,195 conservatives. LI now has 51 different trainings available. Each one equips conservatives with a range of skills necessary to make a difference in communities across America. For selfish reasons, I wish LI had a training on how to meet conservative women in a heavily liberal region, but given that there are more pressing issues at hand, I doubt that training will be created anytime soon! Currently, three US senators and 27 members of the House of Representatives are graduates of LI's political trainings. Having met some of the motivated individuals attending these trainings, I'd bet my entire savings account that this number will only increase. As the midterms approach, and as liberal politicians continue to lurch even further leftward, it's more important than ever to become involved. If you are motivated in 2022 to use your talents for conservative activism either on campus or in your community, visit LI's website for the complete list of 2022 trainings available. Thanks to LI's generous donors, they are low-cost or no-cost, and can be found here: LeadershipInstitute.org/Training.
Disney Fan and California Girl, Madison Marks-Noble helps college students have a voice on campus
Alyssa Jones
December 1, 2021
Disney Fan and California Girl, Madison Marks-Noble helps college students have a voice on campus
Meet California girl Madison Marks-Noble. A Disney lover and fervent conservative activist, Madison loves to encourage college students and give them the resources and network to find their voices on campus. Madison is from Fresno, California. She graduated from San Diego State University. Madison is the Leadership Institute (LI) Regional Field Coordinator for California and Hawaii. She shows selflessness in her work and wants students to become humble leaders. How does your job fulfill you?I get to make an impact in my community and my state. Many see California as a lost cause, but there are young people fighting for conservative principles every day on campus. Traveling around this beautiful state is also a great perk! Outside of the Leadership Institute, what are some things that you enjoy?A few things I enjoy are true crime podcasts and anything Disney. Everyone is so drawn to true crime, and I have hopped on the bandwagon! It passes the time on my long drives to various parts of the state. Disneyland is special to me because some of my best memories are from childhood family trips to Disneyland. My dad and I had always loved the park's history and how magical a place it is. I have been an annual pass holder since 2017, and it is a great escape from stress!As a Leadership Institute Regional Field Coordinator (RFC), you work with students daily who are where you were just a few years ago. How do you use your position not just to give resources, but to inspire them as young conservatives? It's great for students to host speakers and fun activism events, but honestly, the most important things I can do as an RFC are empower them and give them confidence. A lot of conservative students in college feel alone. When they bring up their politics on campus, it can result in rejection. Without visible conservative peers, some students start to censor themselves. I want students in LI's network to leave college knowing they have a voice and that they matter to the conservative movement. They should move into their career - in whatever field they choose - empowered with leadership abilities they learned working with their campus groups.How has the Leadership Institute impacted your life?The Leadership Institute gave me my first job after college - as a field representative and now as an RFC helping college students. I had zero political connections or experience, and LI gave me the chance to work hard and work my way up. Working here has also taught me how important it is to be movement-minded. In politics, it's very easy to get caught up in what "you" do and "your" accomplishments, but LI is not here to self-promote. As Morton says, "build a movement, not an empire." I keep that in mind constantly. Do you think what you have learned at the Leadership Institute will help you in other areas of life?I've learned that you can apply almost any skill regarding grassroots organizing to anything you do. Recruitment and being a people person are valuable skills for any job or position in life. Problem-solving is useful. When students consult with me about an issue in their club or with the school administration, my mind is trained to think outside the box to find solutions to a multitude of problems. Public speaking is also very useful, and while I've had tons of public speaking experience throughout my life, I can never practice too much.So, absolutely. I've gained many invaluable skills. Are you a college student in California or Hawaii? Contact Madison for help. You can find more information about getting help on your campus at LeadershipInstitute.org/Campus.
Dust the Covid-19 Rust off for Networking Events
Dylan Craig
November 13, 2021
Dust the Covid-19 Rust off for Networking Events
Well, it's currently mid-November and you and I are inching closer and closer to 2022. It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since the outbreak of Covid-19. At the time, I was a senior in college, counting down the days until graduation and looking forward to entering a sunny new phase of my life. I had my summer completely planned out. First, I'd walk down a beautiful lawn to accept my diploma, waving to my parents in the stands. Second, I'd enter a booming job market, and secure full-time employment somewhere. Third, I'd move to a new city, ideally one with a large population of singles, so I could make progress towards alleviating my grandmother's concerns of not having any great-grandchildren.Instead of walking across a lawn to my name being called by the dean, I saw my name flash across a laptop screen. Instead of a booming job market, I watched America's economy contract. Instead of moving to a new city and meeting a lovely young lady, I was cooped up in my bedroom, binge watching every James Bond movie released since 1963. Thankfully, things are getting much better. Graduation ceremonies are occurring in-person again. The economy is rebounding. I haven't made too much progress on meeting a special somebody, but that's a story for another time.The lockdowns have had a lingering impact on professional networking too.Going online for almost two years naturally complicated the process of networking events. Zoom is great, but it simply doesn't compare to in-person interaction. Let's be honest, many of us are rusty when it comes to social interaction in general. As you and I continue to rebound from Covid-19 and re-enter our offices, I have three tips that can help you shake off that networking rust.Set Yourself a Safe Drink LimitI get it, when you're nervous about interacting with total strangers, the idea of a drink sounds good. After all, it's called a social lubricant for a reason. However, if there's one thing that will severely damage your reputation among professional circles, it's being intoxicated at public events. Drinks are served at networking events for a reason, but it's shockingly common for people to go too far in their effort to loosen up. Don't be one of them!Don't HoverWhen you're in a room full of people you're not too familiar with, it can feel awkward to stand alone. You may be tempted to stand by the edge of a group and hover, making yourself seem like part of the group even though you're not actively engaging with the group. After all, hovering makes you blend in and eliminates the awkwardness of standing by yourself. The thing is, hovering doesn't benefit you. Those in the group will wonder why you're standing at the edge not saying a word. Hovering doesn't expand your network. Instead of hovering, join the conversation. The awkwardness will melt away once you enter the group and get a conversation flowing. Approach People Standing by ThemselvesAt any networking event, you'll see people who are standing by themselves. This presents an easy opportunity for you to network. It's much easier to approach and engage someone who isn't actively involved in a conversation. They're also usually self-conscious that they're standing by themselves and will be grateful you took the time to talk with them. You can more easily make a connection with someone when it's just you two chatting.For more tips on how to make the most of your networking or for help with your next career move, including free one-on-one career consultations and a list of job opportunities, subscribe to the Conservative Jobs newsletter and find more career opportunities at LeadershipInstitute.org/Career/.
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
Caleb Pascoe
October 19, 2021
How to be a Better Manager, a Conversation with Ben Woodward
I recently sat down with Ben Woodward at the Leadership Institute (LI) to discuss best management practices. Originally from the United Kingdom, Ben's track record of success at the Leadership Institute started when he joined LI as an intern during the summer of 2015.In Ben's five years at LI, he was promoted from intern, to Career Services Coordinator, to Deputy Director of Career Services, to his present role as Director of Communications Trainings. In his last few weeks at LI before starting a new position at Deloitte Insights & Solutions, Ben gave some important advice on how to be a great manager.Making the move from internship to management is a long track, but what are the biggest take-aways from your time as an intern, a career services coordinator, and a manager?You always learn how to be a manager even when you're not a manager.You observe bosses you have that are good and bosses that are bad. I learned some key things from different bosses that I had.When I was an intern, my supervisor had a real commitment to excellence. She taught me to pay attention to those small details that matter, and the importance of following the standards set by the organization.As a manager, one of the key things I learned was to set an example for your staff. If you're showing up late to work, your staff will start showing up late to work. If you start leaving early your staff will start leaving early. So, you've got to set the standards, because people will look to you for how they should behave.As I supervised more interns, I gradually learned a lot. Setting expectations early on is key. Also, learning what the author Kim Scott calls radical candor, which is being very honest in the feedback you give. You have to be kind, but honest. Being able to say, ‘here's what I liked about your project, here is what you should do differently.' Or, if there is time in an ideal world, you tell them what they should do differently, and you let them go away and fix those things for themselves.What recommendations do you have for people to overcome the fear of overseeing other people for the first time?Good managers do their subordinates no favors if they fail to be honest. You're their boss and their mentor, and your job is to get them up to the standards that the company expects of them.First time managers -- change your mindset about the nature of the work you are doing.As a manager, your job goes away from being the doer, and you now get things done through the people who work for you. Of course, there's a lot of work you still must do yourself, but where possible your mindset is now that you are accomplishing things through other people, and that's how you will be judged.How do you become a conductor and leader of the team you are managing so a project goes well?That's a big question. Let me tell you a few key things to start you on the right path.Identify what your team is good at and what your team is bad at. Be open minded about ideas, and the new innovative things that employees bring in, especially when they are new employees. They come in with fresh eyes, and they come up with their own ideas, where a manager may not see the possibilities.So, pivoting a little bit, what have you found in day-to-day life that has taught you do be a better manager? Observing my dad, for certain, was a big factor. He was self-employed and had a small business.He had two to three people working for him at any given time. I would get to observe him when I was younger, especially when I would go into his office and study, which I did frequently. I really enjoyed that, and I got to see how he worked as a manager.He was just brilliant because he was so calm even when I knew he was stressed. He was the epitome of a duck on water, calm and gliding on the top, even though he was franticly kicking underneath. That calming energy was instilled into his team, even when the going got rough. They knew that panicking was never going to be a productive activity.My dad was a calm, solutions-oriented person, and I really respect him for that.When you have an employee who has just flubbed the project, and maybe not even apologetic about it, how do you deal with a situation where you're trying to communicate that they have done something wrong and need to correct themselves?Number one, just as your staff should never surprise you, you should never surprise your staff. They should know the standards expected of them at all times.They should also know the strategic direction of the department you are running, and their role in it. Which means that they will know when they've flubbed it. If the employees don't know they have really messed up or that the standards haven't been met, then you really haven't done a good job setting the standards.I have always worked on the philosophy that you praise in public, and you criticize in private; and you should praise a lot more than you should criticize.If you are criticizing too much, you're a bad manager because your staff clearly can't do their jobs. Praise in public means that when someone does something good, you're sending all staff emails, and you're including the department head or the CEO.Praising in public is a big thing.There is absolutely no reason to criticize in public. I would suggest that when something goes wrong you bring it up right away. Don't wait. Explain what the problem is and why it's important. You want to be calm and in control of your emotions at all times. If there is a problem, you'll deal with it calmly and in a way that's professional. So, when things are going wrong, bring it up right away.Your first instinct should be performance improvement. Your staff are not disposable commodities; they're an investment, and the investment needs care.Just one more point; a good manager will plan for succession. Your staff should be so well trained and so effective that they should be able to function largely without you breathing down their neck. Most people, when they get promoted, are likely doing their bosses job in some way already. Too many managers let their egos get in the way, and they get defensive about the big juicy, high profile projects.A good manager will praise their staff constantly and will do so to leadership without seeking to take all the credit themselves. They'll look good because their staff looks good.Well on that note, Ben, thank you very much for taking the time today, and congratulations on moving on to a new position at Deloitte!Thank you! Very excited about the new challenge but will miss LI terribly. It's been a fantastic five years.If you would like to learn more about becoming a better manager, attend the Leadership Institute's online Management 101 training and sign up for more careers training at LeadershipInstitute.org/Training.
Your D.C. Internship: Three Tips from a Former Hill Intern
Dylan Craig
October 18, 2021
Your D.C. Internship: Three Tips from a Former Hill Intern
Back in the fall of 2019, I found myself blessed with the opportunity to accept an internship in the House of Representatives. At the time, I was attending college in the other Washington, the one with incessant rain (instead of incessant humidity) and towering evergreen trees (instead of towering marble monuments). Moving nearly 3,000 miles across the country into an unfamiliar city was daunting by itself; the stress of the move was only compounded by the fact I would be entering the nation's political frontlines during unprecedented political turmoil. In my first week, rumors of impending impeachment proceedings swirled through the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building. I quickly realized my internship in D.C. was much more than I had initially bargained for. Like many other interns in D.C, my first several weeks on the job were quite overwhelming. I had no option but to learn through trial and error. I fumbled important phone calls. I got lost in the belly of the Capitol building while giving a tour to a group of Air Force officers. One day, while waiting in line for coffee, I made small talk with the person behind me. After a cordial discussion over the improving performance of the Nationals, I asked him which Representative he worked for. He politely explained that he himself was a Representative.Despite these early slip-ups, and despite the abnormally politically charged environment of my internship, my time on Capitol Hill was easily one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. If given the chance to go back and do things over, I wouldn't do anything differently. However, one aspect of my experience did catch me off guard, an aspect which I wish I had been better prepared for. I didn't anticipate my internship to be a 24/7 experience. When you're interning in D.C., you're not done once you walk out of your office. If you hope to leverage your internship into a job, or if you hope to take full advantage of your time in D.C., you must take every opportunity that presents itself, both inside and outside of the office. There's your office internship, and then there's your D.C. internship. I hope these three tips on how to maximize your D.C. internship can help you as much as they would've helped me back in 2019. 1. Don't let your title limit youDon't be self-conscious as an intern. This was perhaps my biggest mistake. For most of my internship, I operated under the assumption that interns were inherently looked down upon due to their non-employed status, and this mindset sapped my confidence when it came to networking, both inside and outside of the office. Now that I've spent more time in D.C., I realize just how much that mindset was holding me back. Here's a fun game. Go to the website of your favorite think tank or congressional member. Randomly pick any staff member, then look at their LinkedIn. This person was almost certainly an intern at some point. Almost everyone in D.C. got their start as an intern. Almost nobody will look down on you as a lesser individual. They were in your shoes at some point. People in D.C. go out of their way to help interns grow, because they know exactly what it's like. Be proud of being an intern. 2. Expand your horizons beyond your immediate onesYou'll most likely become close with the interns you work with or live with. After all, proximity breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds friendship. However, I've seen many interns opt to stick to what's familiar and exclusively spend time with their co-interns or roommates. They unknowingly cut themselves off from meeting new people. This isn't to say that the bonds you form with interns in close proximity to you aren't legitimate or that they're inherently lesser, it's just that many people make the mistake of seeking security in familiarity and don't push themselves to meet new people. Thousands of interns work in D.C., and the odds are high you'll meet life-long friends if you put yourself out there.3. Network naturally When I was a new intern, I kept hearing people use the term “networking.” Of course, I knew what the concept was, but I wasn't quite sure how to apply it in practice. If you treat networking like a chore, rather than treating it as a fun opportunity to form authentic connections with people, you'll come across as stiff and be a poor networker in the process. It's immediately apparent when someone you're talking to is merely looking for transactional relationships that they can use to open up a job or to get closer to someone they're hoping to meet. It's also immediately apparent when someone you're talking to wants to form an authentic connection with you, not just for professional purposes, but also cares about you as a human being and takes genuine interest in the lives of others. Network naturally!For more tips on how to make the most of your internship or for help with your next career move, including free one-on-one career consultations and a list of job opportunities, subscribe to the Conservative Jobs newsletter and find more career opportunities at LeadershipInstitute.org/Career/.
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
Kirsten Holmberg
May 28, 2021
LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
“You and I may face hardships in this country, and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in.” – David Blair, Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PACMeet Leadership Institute (LI) faculty member and distinguished graduate, David Blair. I recently interviewed David to learn how he got interested in politics, his advice to young people, and his take on the current state of politics. He even announced a new little arrival on the way soon!Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am originally from Southern Illinois, where my family has lived for more than a hundred years. I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Leadership Institute in 2015 and am now the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and the President of my consulting firm, the Blair Group. I live in Sterling, Virginia, with my wife Hannah (whom I met at LI). We are about to welcome our first born into the world in June and are very excited to be first-time parents. Q: What motivated you to enter the political world?My motivations to enter politics really stem from my sense of right and wrong. When something seems like it's not right or unfair, I find myself feeling a great deal of moral indignation about the situation. Seeing how our government operates and the total failure of many of our elected officials, I almost couldn't help gravitating towards politics. I can't see something being done poorly, recklessly, or hypocritically and keep my mouth shut. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, but it is what drove me into politics and what drives me to work for the good guys every day. Can you tell me a little more about the work you do as the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and as President of the Blair Group, LLC?As Executive Director of CLPAC, I find talented, principled, and driven young people to act as Youth Coordinators on hotly contested election campaigns all over the country. Often in a very close race, a few thousand votes can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Candidates who employ our system of mass-based youth organizing (first pioneered by Morton Blackwell) find that they have a winning edge when it comes to the close races when compared to their colleagues who do not run serious youth efforts. In short, it is my job to find talent and make sure our coordinators win for the candidates we support. As President of the Blair Group, I act as a strategic consultant for candidates, non-profits, and for-profit companies who are interested in grassroots solutions for their causes. It is my firm belief that there is no better source of value in a campaign than a good grassroots movement. I work with my clients to earn media, contact voters, hold events, and gain support through true ground-up grassroots campaigns. I also am an active speaker on the virtues of grassroots organizing and mass-based youth organizing as a faculty member at the Leadership Institute. Your work focuses on mobilizing young people. What advice to you have for those who are just starting out in political work and campaigns?I have more advice for young people than I have space to write here. However, if I were to stress one thing to someone just starting out in politics, it would be to focus on the success of your principles. Don't let your ego, your vanity, or your pride get in the way of the greater mission. We are all working, or at least we should be, toward a cause greater than ourselves. Credit, fame, money, and all the things many young people see as “success” in politics amount to nothing if you aren't working tirelessly to make the world a better place than you found it. So don't get caught up in the number of twitter followers that you have; social media fame has its place, and we have some warriors out there, but you have to find where you add value to the movement and work at that with all of your heart. If it's hard, good. It should be. How has the Leadership Institute helped you prepare for the work you are currently doing? First as a student and now as a faculty member at LI, I've had such a fantastic opportunity to meet the next generation of conservative leaders in this country and abroad. When I speak to a class at LI or club on campus, I know I am speaking to a room full of tomorrow's leaders. My network has grown with solid, work-centered, movement conservatives whom I can call on to get the job done. When I need someone in a particular state for a tough job or for a Youth Coordinator on a campaign, I know I can look to the contacts I have made through LI to find the right connection. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As Americans, we have the unique ability to profoundly affect our government in every election held at the Federal, State, and local levels. Today the cost of political involvement is historically cheap when compared to our nation's forefathers. The Declaration of Independence was essentially a signed death warrant for the Founding Fathers. Yet, motivated by their love of liberty and love for this nation, they willingly lined up to sign. You and I may face hardships in this country and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in. Americans must not abandon the legacy of freedom and the sacrifices of so many who came before us because we find ourselves in difficult times. America was founded in difficult times, forged in them, and will continue to persevere despite them as long as there are good people willing to work hard and stay in the fight. Voting, volunteering, activism, and old-fashioned hard work are what will cure our current political woes. With COVID coming to an end and the overreaches of Liberal politicians on full display, conservatives have a profound opportunity to make massive gains in 2022. You and I can take this opportunity by the horns and show the American people once again that conservatism is the way to go, or we can allow the opportunity to pass and allow the hard-won gains of our ancestors to fall by the wayside. It's up to us.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
How to Let Your Employees Grow and Go
Sarah Morrison
April 20, 2021
How to Let Your Employees Grow and Go
Good employees make your workdays run smooth and help you anticipate the unexpected. But what happens when your good employees outgrow their roles? Or when their goals lead them on another path? When you face this intersection, make the difficult decision to help them grow toward their goals, even if it means they leave their current role. Here are three suggestions to help you build an environment where your employees can grow and eventually leave to pursue their career goals. 1. Provide the Tools Your Employees Require to GrowThis might seem like common sense, but to build an environment to help your employees grow, you must provide them with the tools to do their job. Give them ample opportunities to learn and grow. Encourage them to attend trainings and webinars to help develop their skill set. I send my employees to outside training, as well as to the Leadership Institute's more than 47 types of training (online, on-demand, and in-person). Many of these trainings are great ways to continue employee education.Don't forget to ask your employees about what they think will help them grow too! Open communication lines help.2. Open Communications About Career GoalsCommunication is a key to success. That's why you should know your employees' career goals beyond their current job goals. This knowledge will help you build an environment to help your employees grow.When you invest in your employees and help them pursue their goals, there is a greater chance they will invest in your organization. Here are a couple of examples you can use to pair your employees' personal goals with their current job goals:If you have staff who want to be writers, but their main jobs are organizing events, let them become creative in marketing those events through email, blog, and social media content creation.If you have staff who want to work on Capitol Hill, put them in charge of projects that interact with people who work on the Hill. That way they can network and develop their own contacts. 3. Plan for Employees' Future DepartureWhile it may seem strange to plan for your employees' departure, it is important to be prepared for when they outgrow their role. In their last couple weeks, make sure you have your outgoing employees draft a Standard Operating Procedure Manual for the functions of their current role. Have them include all tasks, projects, and resources required for someone to pick up where they left off.To make it easy for your employees to put together their manuals, ask them to draft directions for different tasks as they perform those tasks. This will make their last few weeks as productive as possible.
Networking Essentials: Warming Connections
Emma Siu and Patricia Rausch
February 10, 2021
Networking Essentials: Warming Connections
With limited in-person events, you'll find many new barriers and obstacles to networking. Everyone faces one glaring challenge -- how to turn a cold connection into a warm one. When you cultivate your current network to connect you with new people, you'll find greater success than going it alone. What is a Cold Connection and why is it bad?A cold connection, or cold call, is an unsolicited request to connect or act when you don't already know the person or have common ground to work from. These attempts to connect can be off-putting to the receiver, who is more likely to decline or even ignore your connection, request, or ask because it feels “cold.” In order to warm yourself up to people, you should find a mutual connection to help with the introduction. This is where your network comes into play.Identify Your Current Network Stakeholders1. Who do I already know?Create a spreadsheet or database of everyone who you consider part of your personal network. This should include friends, current co-workers, past colleagues, mentors, etc. Include how you met, where they currently work, perhaps some of their past employment history, email address, phone number, address, birthday, social media accounts, and any other information you would find helpful to remember.2. Divide that list into two categoriesEveryone you are connected to in some way can be defined as part of your inner circle or your outer circle. Your inner circle is likely family and close friends who you go to for very personal advice and counsel. They're likely to have your best interests in mind, but may not always give the best advice. They also might not always be willing to mix business and pleasure. This is why you should have an outer circle too.Your outer circle contains your coworkers, friends, and colleagues at other organizations or businesses, bartenders at your regular happy hour spot, fellow Junior League members, etc. While you may not interact with them on a regular basis, these individuals, statistically, are more likely to connect you with other people than your inner circle ever will. You'll soon realize it is of mutual benefit to you and other members of your outer circle to enjoy a healthy reciprocation of IOUs and, as Morton Blackwell says, you should not keep a careful tally. Now that you have your network mapped out, let's work on that cold call.Three Ways to Turn a Cold Call into a Connection 1. Determine if the person you're trying to contact is a connection to someone in your network.The warmest connections will always come through your friends and network. Ask your friends to introduce you to people you want to connect with. An introduction increases your social credibility to new connections.If you are running a conference and you're looking for a speaker for a specific topic, you might learn that an executive at another organization would be perfect for it. Unfortunately, your attempt to send an unsolicited email will likely be met with silence. The smart networker will notice they have a former colleague who works at that organization and ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction.2. Build your reputation in mutual interest groups.Another way to warm a connection is to connect through mutual interests. Post in multiple online groups, comment on posts, and use relevant hashtags so your name becomes more familiar before you send a connection request.You may see a job opening on a company's website, but you want to know more before applying. Unfortunately, there isn't an email address listed, so you can't reach out to someone in the organization. You think you'll be clever and find someone who works there on Facebook and message them for more info but unbeknownst to you, they don't read messages in their “other” inbox and find it invasive when job seekers try to contact them in that way. Luckily, you know there are some standard industry Facebook groups and a few of the staff of that company are members, so you join too. When you start to engage in the conversation and interact with them, you end up bringing new people into your outer circle. You can then use this mutual group to get help from someone in your network. 3. Send a personal messageLastly, you can warm a cold connection when you send a personalized message along with your request -- especially on LinkedIn or by e-mail. Your message should emphasize the motivation behind the connection request and make the recipient feel special by emphasizing their skills or talents as well as the value you will provide them. Do your research to find out what that message should look like for each unique contact. You can note the exchange of industry knowledge, quality content, future introductions to people of interest, or even how they'll make a difference in a field they care about.You could be growing your small consulting business and come across a business you think would do well to pay for your services. Unfortunately, it happened by chance, and you don't know anyone who works there and don't know any groups to which the owner belongs. But what you do have is a knowledge of their industry. You know what you can do to help them, successes you've had with similar clients, how success would look for them, and the overall benefits they'll get from working with you. If you are able to truly tailor your initial contact request to them, you're much more likely to get a response. The TakeawayContinue to cultivate your existing network and always be courteous. The key to warm up a connection is to make connecting feel natural. Find common ground, connections, or interests.Make sure you continue to provide useful content, value, and quality conversations to your network. If you have a big ask, now or in the future, it will not feel like it is coming from a needy stranger, but from a helpful friend or connection.And remember, even if someone declines a request, make sure you thank them for their time. Courtesy can go a long way and leave a memorable and positive impression.
One Simple Tactic to Boost Your LinkedIn SEO Today
Emma Siu
February 5, 2021
One Simple Tactic to Boost Your LinkedIn SEO Today
The default URL for LinkedIn profiles is an unhelpful jumble of numbers and letters. You'll raise your online ranking and appear at the top of LinkedIn search results when you customize your LinkedIn URL. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a key role to get your content viewed online and outrank your competitors. SEO is what dictates how visible your profile is when searched, based on factors such as keywords and high-quality content. You will rank higher within LinkedIn Search (and Google) if you add your name as a keyword to your custom LinkedIn URL. This is especially valuable for people/brands with common names. When you rank higher it increases your visibility with important connections and recruiters. What is a good LinkedIn URL?Your URL should include your proper name. Avoid spaces or special characters. A safe bet is to type your name all in one word or separate out the name with a dash or underscore.Example: https://www.linkedin.com/in/Jon_DoeHow do I change my LinkedIn URL?Login and click on your profile icon located in the upper right-hand corner. Then select “View Profile.” On the upper right-hand side of your profile, select “Edit public profile and URL.” When clicked, this will open a new page in a separate tab. In the upper right-hand corner of the new page, under “Edit your custom URL,” select the blue pen icon, and type in your new LinkedIn URL.It's that simple. You're now easier to find online!
Top 6 Digital Skills Employers Look for in Employees
Emma Siu
January 7, 2021
Top 6 Digital Skills Employers Look for in Employees
Whether you are looking for a job or seeking a career change, these skills will help you become the most desirable potential employee in 2021. If you don't have these skills yet, don't worry. Leadership Institute offers a variety of courses to help you learn the skills you need to win.ProgrammingHTML, Python, Java, and SQL grow as more businesses need to improve their online presence. Just knowing the basics of one of these languages can show employers you can incorporate programming into your decision making.Data AnalyticsBeing able to take large quantities of data and transform it into meaning is invaluable. Employers look for individuals who can find trends in data and come up with actions based on the trends. The Leadership Institute offers an Introduction to Google Analytics course to help you get started.Social Media MarketingSocial media marketing goes beyond knowing how to use social media casually. This means understanding algorithms, the associated analytics tools, learning how to gain followers, as well as knowing how to create a high-quality post to send a message and gain attention.SEOSearch Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is how to direct people to your website and its resources. When you know how to boost your ranking and generate unpaid traffic to a site, you will be set up for success. UXUX, or User Experience, is how someone interacts with a website or app and how users feel while using your product. When you are skilled in user experience, you will be able to use tools such as heatmaps and analytics to determine how people are using a product/service. Understanding user experience is great, but being able to anticipate the problems or roadblocks a product/service might cause is invaluable.CommunicationBeing able to communicate with a team as well as customers is very important. Online communication mediums such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Slack, Meets, SMS, and Email are all important to cultivate relationships. When you know how to use these tools to connect with others, this will get you ahead of the game.
5 Actions to Ensure a Successful Career Strategy in 2021
Kelsey Mix
December 14, 2020
5 Actions to Ensure a Successful Career Strategy in 2021
1. Make a plan for one career-related activity in early 2021.This could be anything -- attend a Leadership Institute training, read a book related to career development you have been putting off, or spend 30 minutes to polish your LinkedIn profile. 2. Volunteer with a cause or organization that is important to you.This serves as an opportunity to give back to your community in a meaningful way. While in-person volunteering may look different this Christmas, there are still ways to get involved if you put in the time.Bonus, who knows who you may meet. These days, meeting new people is a challenge. Take this opportunity to engage with others outside of a professional environment. Maybe you will meet someone who could be a part of your professional network. 3. Set calendar reminders for early 2021 tasks. For example, set a reminder for early February to ping five contacts you have not spoken to in a while. A short email, not asking for anything. Simply reconnect and ask how their holiday was. 4. Find an accountability partner for your biggest 2021 career goals and make an action plan together. I am a big believer in accountability partners. Accountability partners are often referenced in the health, exercise, or money fields, but not in the career field.Find a partner and schedule a standing monthly call to discuss your progress at work. Review what went well, what you need to work on, and make sure your actions align with the strategies you set at the beginning of the year. 5. Write letters to a few people who have made a difference in your year. Write personalized handwritten notes sharing how grateful you are to have them in your life.It could be people on your team, a boss, or a mentor who helped you this year. Maybe they provided career advice or direction. Perhaps they connected you with someone who turned out to be meaningful for you professionally. Maybe they make zoom calls more enjoyable.Whoever they are, send them notes telling them you appreciate them.
How to Invite Someone to Interview or Speak
Emma Siu
December 9, 2020
How to Invite Someone to Interview or Speak
7 minute readWhether you ask someone to speak at an event, or ask someone for a podcast interview, it is important to know how to request someone's time. Showing due respect will help you Everyone likes compliments. Respectfully highlight their accomplishments and explain why they are the right person. Let them know the value they can bring to your audience and why you want their time. Good invitations are clear, easy to read, and contain all background information your guest needs to decide in your favor. Keep it short People do not have time to read essays. Keep to the point, and make sure you clearly ask for what you are looking for. A helpful hint: use a combination of bullet points and bold words to make it easier for your reader to get the gist of an email by quickly skimming it. Do not fear rejection You do not know if someone will reject your offer until you ask them. You may be surprised by the number of people who will accept your invitations. Dream big and send requests to people even if you think they are out of your reach. You never know who will say “yes.” Be persistent Cast a big net. Ask a wide variety of interesting people, and do not be afraid to follow up if there is no initial response. But remember, there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance. If someone politely declines, find another person to ask. Follow up If your potential speaker responds, always follow up. If the response is positive, thank them for accepting your request. “A prompt, generous letter of thanks can seal a commitment which otherwise might disappear when the going gets rough,” writes Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell in his Laws of the Public Policy Process.Ideally, you will send them a calendar reminder and follow up again at least twice before the event. If the response is negative, nevertheless send a thank you. Thank them for considering the request. Try to leave the interaction on a positive note. You may be able to find a win-win scenario in the future. Structure your requestDo not overthink it. Here is a simple structure to make sure you are concise while getting to the point: Greeting, introduce yourself and your cause, ask for what you want the interviewer to do, include details such as dates and topic points, include the value that the speaker/interviewer will bring, thank them for their consideration, and sign off.
4 Tips to Use in Your Next Online Meeting
Emma Siu
December 4, 2020
4 Tips to Use in Your Next Online Meeting
5 minute readLook like the professional you are while you participate in online meetings.Camera Location Whether you are using a separate webcam or the one built into your laptop, make sure the camera is at eye level.This may mean putting some boxes/books under your laptop, but it is worth it. A camera at eye level provides a flattering angle and is how your coworkers would view you if you were in the office. Lighting Make sure your face is well lit, and visible. The light should be behind your webcam aimed at your face. Ideally, your light will come from a window because natural light is the most flattering. You can also purchase a ring light for a more professional appearance. When purchasing a light, find one that changes the intensity of light and brightness. If you wear glasses that get the ring glare, a bar light is a great alternative that will reduce the glare on your glasses. If you do not have time to buy a light, you can always use floor lamps to get the desired effect. Background You want your background to be professional and not too distracting. Sit in front of a blank wall and make sure there are only simple things behind you. Remember to avoid a cluttered background, the focus should be you and not your background. Bookshelves, plants, and paintings are great ways to create a virtual office background. Remember Camera Etiquette When you are speaking, speak to your webcam, not to the screen. Put a sticky note behind your camera with some eyes drawn on to help you remember where to talk. Unless you have turned off your camera, you should always be sitting in a professional way. Avoid leaning on your hand or putting your head down on the table at all costs.
How to Win Your Next Job Interview
Emma Siu
November 12, 2020
How to Win Your Next Job Interview
10 minute readYou've already got the interview, now all you have to do is win your employer over. Here is a helpful guide to common interview questions, answers, and closers to help you succeed.1. Do your research.Research the company you are interviewing for thoroughly. Know the company mission statement, goals, successes, and even their pain points. Research your interviewer as well. This might tell you what kind of questions they could ask or give you the ability to connect on a personal level. Remember, your interviewers are human so it's important to get along well with them to show them you can fit well with their team. When you can imagine yourself working at an organization, the interviewer can too.2. Find the questions.The internet can be overwhelming with the amount of interview questions available. Make sure you find common interview questions as well as ones specific to your field. Here is a downloadable Question and Answer Guide with 8 popular interview questions. You should also have questions to ask the interviewer. Make sure to ask a closer question to quell any doubts your interviewer may have about you.3. Practice interviews.Find a few friends or family members to do practice interviews with you. Take this exercise seriously. Have your allies create their own questions for you, so you can get a sense of answering questions on the spot. If you get flustered by a question you can't answer, tell them: “That's a great question, let me give it some extra thought.” That way you can pause for a few seconds to give yourself more time to think up an answer. Practice in the same format as your interview (phone, Zoom, in-person, etc.) to help reduce your anxiety the day of your interview. Get your practice interviewer to give honest feedback afterwards. It can be hard to accept criticism, but it's best to hear it from a friend before your interview.4. Prepare your cheat sheet.Create a list of key points about you, important details of the organization, and your closing questions. If you have a phone or video interview, put your list in front of you, as well as paper to take notes on important things your potential employer says. In an in-person interview, you must memorize your key points. In addition, you should bring a copy of your cover letter, resume, and a pen and paper for any notes you may wish to write down.5. Present yourself well.Depending on the format of your interview, presentation can mean a lot of things. If you have a phone interview, dress nicely to put yourself in a professional mindset. If you have a video interview, make sure your background is professional. Find a blank wall or office type background. Remember to keep lighting in mind. Ring lights are great for lighting but not necessary: try plugging in lamps near your interview space so you can control the lighting. Make a test video to ensure you can be seen and heard correctly. If you have an in-person interview, make sure you are dressed well and are organized. In any interview your phone should be out of sight and on silent. Focus on the interviewer, smile, and ensure there will be no interruptions.6. Follow-up with your interviewer.Right after the interview, send an email thanking the interviewer for their time. Make sure you thank interviewers for the opportunity regardless of how the interview went. This is not only courteous, but will show interviewers your professionalism and dedication.
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