Introduction to Barack, Inc.: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign
- WHO AMONG US EVER FULLY BELIEVED THAT A CINDERELLA CANDIDATE COULD SOAR OUT OF ILLINOIS OBSCURITY AND BECOME THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, CONFOUNDING DOZENS OF WORLD-RENOWNED POLITICOS IN THE PROCESS? YET BARACK OBAMA MANAGED TO BEAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AT ITS OWN GAME WITH DISCIPLINE, ORGANIZATION, AND MASSIVE FUNDRAISING.
From his cooler-than-cool leadership style to his use of Internet-based social technologies to his basic message of change, Barack Obama showed businesspeople that they have a lot to learn from a savvy politician.
In the flush of Obama’s triumph, we need to recall his initial hurdles, all seemingly insurmountable. Here was a truly exotic presidential hopeful—a stranger with a Muslim-sounding name, an African father, a white American mother, a Hawaiian childhood, a Harvard law degree, and a political resume of perhaps 25 words or less. As he put it in his victory speech, “I was never the likeliest candidate for office.”
All sorts of moves, from tried-and-true tactics to cutting-edge strategies, turned Obama’s candidacy from improbable to inevitable. He assembled a first-class team of staffers who ran a nearly flawless campaign; he attracted tens of thousands of volunteers, many of them so dedicated that they left their jobs or dropped out of school to work on his election; and he collected an unprecedented amount of money, both from small contributors and big traditional donors. But we were especially riveted by the campaign’s prodigious use of social networking. That’s a subject we have studied in depth, and Barack Obama is tuned to our wavelength. He turned a 50-state presidential campaign into one enormous online community. His networking inspired millions of people across the United States to join a national crusade, pooling their skills, time, and dollars to achieve a decisive victory. As a result, American (and perhaps world) politics will never be the same.
We believe Obama’s political pioneering set a brilliant standard for any business seeking to prosper in the Web 2.0 world of the 21st century. Hence this book: Obama’s campaign saga annotated for business use.
We combined our own observations with those of a diverse group of media whose expertise was on display during this long, dramatic campaign. We interviewed Obama supporters, collected an array of superb reports from a variety of sources, and paid close heed to the blogosphere’s unprecedented election coverage—the latter a concatenation of diverse views and voices ranging from Politico to Twitter that did much to make 2008 a turning point in politics. Our goal was to tease out the relevance of this historic campaign to business leaders everywhere.
Let’s get started.