I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it takes to select a strong CEO and being annoyed by robocalls from the different campaigns. On one such call, when asked what I’d do if given the choice between Clinton and Trump, my response was “move to Canada.” That apparently wasn’t what they were looking for.
Boards often have to select from a very small pool of CEO candidates, and they don’t get the “move to Canada” option. I thought it would be interesting to apply my recommended process for CEO selection, which is based roughly on simplified scientific method, to Clinton, Sanders and Trump. (Scientific method is a way to break down a complex problem into parts to reach the best solution through a proven and repeatable, but often complex, process.) I actually have no idea how this is going to end up and expect to piss off a few folks in the process.
I’ll close with my product of the week: a rather amazing new router I just put in my own house, which is kicking butt.
Following are the elements I’ve proposed using to figure out whether a CEO candidate — or in this case, a presidential candidate — can do the job:
- Leadership: This is the ability both to come up with a vision and get people to voluntarily follow that vision. It is not using a title to force folks to do what they don’t want to do, and it is very different from management.
- Love for Product: A lot of CEOs — and presidential candidates — love the idea of holding the title and don’t really care about what the company does. In the case of a nation, its government is about keeping citizens happy and safe. Everything else should be subordinated to those two things. So, the product of government is citizen happiness and safety.
- Good Financial Fundamentals: Companies and governments need to remain financially viable and provide a return to their investors. That means both living within a budget and finding ways to gain new sources of revenue that don’t damage the product.
- An understanding of marketing: In the case of a product, this means understanding demand generation. In the case of a nation, this means how to use marketing to drive critical initiatives and keep citizens happy.
- Breadth: Specialization doesn’t work for CEOs or presidents. The best ones have had some military, legal or management background (ideally running a state — but running a business could apply).
So let’s break it down:
- Leadership: Here Trump and Sanders seem to stand out. I’d give Sanders the edge because so much of his funding comes from individuals, but Trump has run a number of successful businesses. While not the most successful CEO, he is far from a failure — and you can’t be a successful CEO without good leadership skills.
Clinton has political skills but she doesn’t stand out as being good at getting people to follow her, either as a senator or a secretary of state. This is the second time she has run for office as the anointed candidate, and the first time she was beaten by a relative novice. She now is having difficulty with a late entry.
The current administration has showcased there is a clear difference between the vision part of leadership and the execution part. Head to head, Obama is stronger than Clinton — yet he clearly wasn’t strong enough, given the issues that arose with the military and overall execution, and that was true even when the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress.
- Love for Product, Not Job: Clinton stands out here but not in a good way. She really, really wants the job and clearly feels entitled to it. Sanders, again, has the deepest connection to the people and happiness, while Trump seems the most focused on safety, but both unfortunately appear to trade one off against the other.
Ronald Reagan probably came the closest to a president who seemed to get both aspects of government well, likely because he’d been a successful governor. However, Carter, who also was a governor, didn’t seem to get defense, which contributed to his failed presidency.
- Good Financial Fundamentals: Trump should have the edge as a successful CEO, but his proposed financial plan for the U.S. hasn’t gotten rave reviews. Sanders has even less background here, and his plan isn’t any more solid. Clinton’s plan looks more viable, and her husband’s administration was one of the most fiscally sound of any in the last several decades. So here I’d actually give Clinton the edge.
- Marketing: Here Trump wins hands down. The guy took out the anointed candidate with the biggest war chest, Jeb Bush, seemingly without even breathing hard and with the smallest budget in the pool. Trump is almost scary good here, and I doubt there is a candidate who has ever run who could match his inherent and apparently natural skills in creating demand for his brand. I’d compare him favorably to Steve Jobs, P.T. Barnum and Walt Disney.
- Breadth: Clinton has been an active first lady, an attorney, a senator, and secretary of state. In terms of relevant breadth, she leads the field. Trump is next by virtue of being CEO, and Sanders follows with the least apparent experience outside of the U.S. Senate. All of these candidates aren’t exactly young, meaning learning the skills they don’t have will be very difficult, and creating the hardest path for Sanders.
Wrapping Up: Who’s Best?
It likely will come down to where your values are. While I’ve provided a path to a solution, I know how confirmation bias works, so I’m not going to call a winner. Confirmation bias means that when you read this, you likely retained only the parts you agreed with, which probably validated the choice you already had made. That, by the way, is a really lousy way to choose anything — let alone a president.
Now, I expect those who don’t vote on party lines will use the following criteria:
If you want to stick it to the “establishment,” then either Sanders or Trump is your choice, with Trump favored. He is about as anti-establishment as we are ever going to get, and he is the strongest on defense (but that is offset by his lack of experience).
If you also want to stick it to the rich or are off-the-wall liberal, then Sanders is your favorite.
If you love Obama and really like the fact that Congress isn’t doing stuff — in other words, you’d like more of what we currently are not getting — then Clinton is your top choice (the Republicans dislike her more than Obama). She is likely the most fiscally viable as well (which, given she is a Democrat, probably doesn’t help her much at all).
Me, I’m still thinking of writing in Justin Trudeau.
I live on the Web, and I replace my primary router about every six months to make sure I have the latest security and the highest performance. I recently went looking for the best home router I could find, regardless of cost.
Based on a combination of reviews and performance, I walked away with the D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router which comes in two configurations: the more affordable DIR-885L/R, and the one I got — the DIR-895L/R.
This puppy screams on wired and wireless performance. It supports MU-MIMO, which makes it relatively future-proof for the near term (but doesn’t do a lot of good until we get more MU-MIMO phones, tablets and PCs). It has 4×4 data streams, so you have tons of WiFi headroom if you don’t saturate your network connection. It has a reasonably easy user interface, and it seems to have impressive range.
My first reaction was just how much faster my Internet performance was — I no longer experienced a huge lag. Video streaming got a ton better, and that was all with wired connections.
The difference with wireless was almost like night and day. Connections were faster and data throughput noticeably higher. At US$359, this was far from a cheap date. However, it was well worth the money, so the D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router is my product of the week. Oh, and it is the best looking router I’ve ever owned, which may be a selling point if you like red and don’t put your router in a closet.
You are missing one key ingredient.. character/integrity. The challenge is to figure out who has it.
Agreed, I’m afraid that in politics that is a very unusual attribute sadly.