Following Focus Groups is not Leadership

Steve Jobs had an instinct for what would help people.  Focus groups didn’t help him decide to invent the Mac, iPod, iPhone or iPad, he innovated.  Bill Gates operated the same way.  These leaders believed in what they were doing, embraced risk, and didn’t waiver.  That’s what leaders do, they lead!  They get out front.  They are bold.  John Kennedy was bold and Ronald Reagan was bold.  They were leaders.


According to “The Wall Street Journal,” article about the 2012 election, “By January 2011 Mr. Obama’s advisers were holding focus groups twice a week, a former senior White House official said, and test-driving phrases and policies aimed at resonating with key voting groups.”  That isn’t leadership.  President Obama isn’t a leader.


The “Journal” article also reflected on Christmas day 2009 after the underwear bomber failed to blow up a plane to Detroit.  “When President Obama was undecided about whether to comment to the nation or not, his senior aids suggested that he not say anything because no one was hurt badly.  The president agreed and later took a beating for the decision and was livid.”  President Obama hasn’t lead.  Failing to lead, he is forever the community organizer, spending time campaigning to get Americans to complain to their congressmen.


The state of the nation under Obama is too much like it was under Jimmy Carter, focusing on negatives rather than getting things done.  Mr. Obama said in July that the mistake of his first years in office was his failure “to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”  He added in a CBS interview: “So, getting out of this town, spending more time with the American people, listening to them and also then being in a conversation with them about where do we go together as a country – I need to do a better job of that in my second term.”  That was almost precisely the text of President Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence Speech.”  Check it out for yourself.


Governor Romney’s experience is quite different.  He is a leader and a risk-taker who is unafraid to get out front and take responsibility.  He has a record of making things happen.  A record of success.  As a leader, he sets the tone.  Cut from the same cloth as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Mr. Romney doesn’t check with focus groups to see what will be popular. Like America was after Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, a Romney America will again be a positive and productive place.


© 2012 Steven M. Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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