Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An iSpeech To Change The World

A powerful and mysterious man steps in front of an audience of devoted followers, skeptics, and critics to deliver a speech that could change the world, create jobs, save industries, or all come crashing down around him. Both Steve Jobs and Barack Obama have big tasks today, and my advice for both of them is the same: manage expectations, show your work, be strong, and get a win.
Both speeches will anger some people, primarily for what they leave out. They will have features people won't expect. Some people will love it, no matter what, and others will hate it.
Apple's iPad, iTab, or whatever it ends up being called won't cure cancer (though ironically it might contribute to it). It might revolutionize the printing and journalism industries, though it might not. Jobs needs to tell us what it is and what it can be, but also what it is not. Whatever features it does not include (removable battery, forward facing camera) he should tell us why not. It should be evident what it does better than every device that has tried to do that task first, and he should hammer that point home and get a win.
The President needs to do the same thing. He is already getting based this week, especially from the Left, for a spending freeze very similar to that proposed by John McCain during the presidential debates. He's considered to be on the ropes after our new Republican/tea party overlord Scott Brown became the 41st senator. People are mad because they don't have jobs, the healthcare bill hasn't passed, the healthcare bill might pass, the government is spending too much money and running a deficit, they haven't received enough government money, etc. They will be mad at the things that are included, and mad if things like ending Don't Ask Don't Tell are not included after rumors said it would be. The president needs to lay out what can be accomplished in a way that makes it difficult for Congress not to work with him. He needs to show what he has done, and why he has not done more on other topics. He needs to seriously smack someone down and get a definite win in almost any arena. I almost hope a Republican does jeer him during the speech so that he can pull a "The Rock Obama." Nothing succeeds like success, and if the President wants to bring people back to his side he needs to take strong leadership on more issues.
Foreign policy probably will not be mentioned very much tonight, because jobs and the economy are first on people's minds. George H. W. Bush became a foreign policy focused president after facing domestic problems, and then became a one term president. If President Obama doesn't have wins in some arena he won't have the political capital for any arena, foreign or domestic.
Perhaps this time next year we'll all be watching and live-Tweeting President Obama's State of the Union on our iTab's, not able to imagine life without them. Perhaps Obama will also have approval ratings in the 70s after a wildly successful year continuing to bring us back from the depths of the Bush years. An Obama presidency in the abstract was as wonderful and open to possibility as the iTab has been for the past few months. People could imagine anything was possible. Delivering in the real world is a lot harder. But show what you have done, where it might still be possible to go, and how to get there and a lot more people will agree and help the process.

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