Tuesday, July 27, 2004

John Kerry, the maven candidate

John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, exhibits all the characteristics of a Maven. If you haven't had a chance, read chapter 2 and you will see how perfectly he fits into the descriptions. His qualities as a Maven serve both as his core strength and weakness. On the one hand, he is extremely thoughtful. The Maven's quality of being able to carefully analyze situations and come to considered opinions has served to create a complex voting record. This can be an advantage, but in an Evangelist-dominated era of sound bites, it can also work against him. The Republican side has taken full advantage of this by labeling Kerry a "waffler." In reality, these are simply qualities of an accomplished maven.

Kerry's faces a challenge which Mavens generally face: he seems aloof and does not connect with people when he speaks. Since presidential politics is so character and personality-based, this is a huge challenge for him. His wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, said in a recent interview that she advised him not to change who he is. If he tries to tell a joke or in other ways alter his style, it will come off as inauthentic. I couldn't agree more. Kerry has to be Kerry - his strength is his ability to think in a complex and nuanced way about the issues. This is one of the essential points of the book - know who you are and be that person. Trying on other hats will generally back fire. Another thought might be for him to cover one or two main issues per speech. Unlike an Evangelist, who can cover much ground, a Maven is dissatisfied with such an approach and wont be as effective. 

Kerry's choice of running mate complements his strengths. John Edwards, a Connector-Evangelist, has the natural charisma and ability to connect with people. We will cover the concept of balancing opposites in the "Power of 2" chapter. One of the challenge for Kerry/Edwards is that the voters will emotionally connect with Edwards more than they will Kerry.

Bill Clinton's speech on the first day of the Democratic Convention served to contrast very clearly a Connector-Evangelist's style as compared with a Maven. The audience were clearly enthralled by his speech. Clinton and Edwards will be revisited once the Connector and Evangelist chapters are published.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and I'll comment on it from time to time.


Anonymous said...

I've met Kerry a number of times (he lives 2 blocks up the street) and you are spot-on about his Maven-ness.

-- Mike Walker, Beacon Consultants Network

12:15 PM  

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