How To Sell Yourself

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Selling Yourself 19

I heard it about George Bush, father and son.
I heard it about Al Gore.
Each of those men apparently had no trouble being warm and
enjoyable to be with. They were even accused by those who knew
them of having wonderful senses of humor. But the rest of us
never saw those traits. They simply didn’t know how to be them-
selves in situations they felt required them to appear “presiden-
tial” rather than friendly.

Reagan mastered the art of being himself and that let us per-
ceive him as likable. Some people considered him to be “acting.”
That’s nonsense. He was having a great time being governor of
California and then president of the United States. He didn’t have
to act. He always seemed relaxed, comfortable, in control, and
confident. He was so likable that he made mincemeat out of two
opponents with far higher IQs than his. Higher IQs yes, but not
smart enough to know that if your message isn’t delivered well,
people won’t care about you, won’t pay attention to your message.

Ironically, had I proposed coaching to Dole, Gore, Bradley,
or George W. Bush, I’m certain he’d have fought me off saying,
“Look, you’re not going to make an actor out of me. The person
you see campaigning is the real me.” That’s more nonsense. They
never talked to the public the way they talked to a spouse, family,
a close friend, or a pet.

I shared a barber with George Bush. His name was Milton
Pitts and he cut Nixon’s hair, Ford’s, Reagan’s, and Bush’s. He
often talked about hairstyles for television appearances during
training programs I participated in at the U.S. Chamber of Com-
merce. Milt watched business leaders and association executives
improve dramatically as communicators.

One day when I was in his chair he said to me, “Arch, George
Bush is the nicest person I’ve ever met. He’s got a great sense of
humor. He’s caring. If he trusts you he’ll do anything in the world
for you. Can you help him?”

I told Milt I felt I could help anyone who wanted to improve as
a communicator. He said, “You write him a letter and give it to me
with a copy of your books and the next time he’s in my chair I’ll
hand them to him.” Now if you’d like a definition of networking,
that’s it!

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