Archive for October, 2022

Lesson 636 Remembering Chancellor Tucker

Did you ever have the opportunity to work for a person who was also a truly remarkable human being? I did. He brought me on to his staff as the “communication guy,” but I never imagined how much I would learn about communication from him.

Whenever I was struggling with a project he would say, “come sit with me.” I quickly learned that sitting with him really meant collaboration. We would sit silently until one of us was motivated to say something. Words really mattered to him and so I would always take away substantive ideas about how to proceed.

One day he asked me to help promote the tennis center, a passion he shared with then trustee chair Bayard Friedman. Another time he asked me to help John Roach with a booster organization following the collapse of the Southwest Conference. I found that “sitting” and collaborating with Friedman and Roach worked just as well as it did with Tucker.

After publishing a few articles about institutional communication, I had a publisher approach me about writing a book. I asked Tucker’s administrative assistant to schedule some time to talk with him about it. He quickly said if you are asking for time off to write a book, the answer is NO! But if you are asking if I think you should write that book my answer is YES.” I followed by inviting other authors to “sit and collaborate” with me about finding find my own approach to writing books. Once again, sitting and collaborating worked.

One day he came down to my office and asked if I was happy. I said how nice it was that he came to check on how well I was doing. But he reacted by saying “if you’re happy it’s bad. That usually means we are in a crisis”. I could not bring myself to tell him that I was always terrified when we were facing a crisis. But I must admit that I did enjoy “sitting with him” to find our best approach and language.

I never wrote his speeches. But one time I caught him putting some notes on the back of an envelope. He then proceeded to reward his audience with truly profound remarks. Profound, brief, and almost poetic language was his amazing strength. I tried to emulate this, but eventually came to realize that no one really could.

I was Chancellor Tucker’s communication guy, but I learned more about my subject-matter from him than I ever imagined I would. He was a master communicator, inspiring leader, and a truly wonderful human being.

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Lesson 635 Biden’s Mistakes

  1. Leaving Afghanistan too quickly… a missed opportunity to brand himself as tough with compassion
  2. Not having a plan to protect the gains made by women and other U.S. supporters in Afghanistan
  3. Not visiting the Mexican border with his Vice President to deal face-to-face with his critics
  4. Not putting in place a clear pathway to citizenship for all immigrants
  5. Making the Pandemic and boosters his primary priority… causing him to miss other timely issues
  6. Not dealing with right-to-life exceptions soon enough… the consequences of repealing Roe v. Wade
  7. Relying too much on gas price reductions when food price increases became the big inflation issue
  8. Waiting too long to address Trump’s shortcomings head-on
  9. Looking too tired on TV… when his age was becoming a verbalized concern
  10. Failing to prepare a successor from his political party

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