What Have You Done Today to Win Iowa?

I’m reading David Plouffe’s book The Audacity to Win. If you haven’t read it yet, Plouffe was Obama’s campaign manager in his race to the White House, and the book is a fascinating chronicle of the journey. While I still have a few chapters left (I think I know how it ends), I’ve read enough to know the book is a must for anyone in hot pursuit of a BHAG, or big hairy audacious goal. For me, it was another reminder of the supreme power of focus. But not just any kind of focus. The burn-all-your-ships kind that Gary Vaynerchuk says you “bleed out of your f-ing eyeballs.”

There are many lessons in The Audacity to Win that are applicable well beyond (and regardless of) politics, but there’s one in particular that stuck with me. At the beginning of the campaign, when the Democratic nomination was expected to be a shoo-in for Hillary Clinton, the Obama team decided that Iowa was a make-or-break caucus. They literally threw everything into victory there, figuring that losing the state early in the game would be an insurmountable defeat.

That’s the background, but here’s the point: Once the strategy became “Iowa or bust”, Obama’s staff became laser-focused and coordinated. Plouffe would begin every meeting, every conference call, and presumably every email with one question: What have you done today to win Iowa? Sure enough, they won the state and….well…we all know what happens next.

I’ve written a lot about the discovery of your personal brand. This is because you have to know what you’re about before you can even think about successfully taking action. However, once you have it down, it’s up to you to “bleed out your f-ing eyeballs” to achieve your goals. So today, and every day, think about what you want more than anything else. Think about your personal “Iowa”, then get up in the morning (and go to bed at night) asking yourself what you’ve done that day to win it.

(This article was orginally written as a guest post for the Personal Branding Blog.)

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