Knowing how to work with the giants in the media industry can make or break a career in politics. Working with them is one thing, but tricking them is a whole other game. This has been a strategy that has been used, being used, and possibly will still be used in the foreseeable future. Bill Stierle continues his story with Tom on how to reach the top of the glass mountain by tricking the giants. Bill and Tom lay out some of the strategies that previous Presidents have used to gain momentum and dominate the playing field in a subtle but precise way. They also tackle game-winning tactics as well as losing strategies.
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Tricking The Giant: The Glass Mountain
I’m excited to dive a little bit more into tricking the giant. We use that as a great metaphor. We talked about getting to the top of the glass mountain and that’s the next stage, especially for a lot of the Democratic candidates.
For those of you reading this episode, maybe you jumped at the beginning of this thing. We have a group of candidates that are looking to become the next President of the United States. We have an incumbent that is continuing down a path of messaging and trying to reinforce or double down on that messaging in order to get re-elected. A big challenge with that is it will create a little bit of steam or separation. He will see a boost in numbers because he’s repeating a consistent narrative of, “Here’s a reward that if you go with me, you’re not going to lose your 401(k). If you put the other people in charge, it’s going to be a mess. If you let these other ideas up instead of the one that you’ve already made a bet on, things are going to go south.”
That’s called a reward and there is anticipation to it. That raises dopamine inside the body and it creates moments of uncertainty, “I don’t know if we could get here. We’re not sure if we have the votes. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a payroll tax. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy Greenland.” All of those are language tactics that are not real to create the experience of dopamine inside the body as well as a separation or outrage from the opposite side. If you approach these things with compassion and empathy, they dissolve quickly. If you approach them with outrage, they’ll escalate and cause people to hunker in and double down on their vote. Even though the person hasn’t delivered on the person’s promises, there’s plenty of blame style language to go around about who didn’t get things to go the way he wanted it to.
The President’s classic cliché uncertainty quote is, “We’ll see what happens.”
It’s a calculated uncertainty narrative that many marketers and salespeople do to get the person to say, “It might go away. I might lose something on my 401(k).” Meanwhile, the 401(k) is not keeping up with the economy. It’s not doing the things that it was supposed to do. He’s most certainly not going to get a boost based on some imaginary policy or danger that he’s creating. He’s great at creating imaginary danger as well as imaginary optimism, “Let’s buy Greenland. That’s a good idea. How about if we buy Greenland? Greenland is melting. We’ll take over this thing. Here’s the money for this other country. We will buy this from you.” If a country is not in distress, they are not interested in selling. If they’re not interested in selling, then what happens is he’s created more anticipation and uncertainty. He’s created a reward that, “I am a leader that at least is doing something at providing a bold idea.” A bold idea is not a reward.
He has retreated to his comfort zone as a real estate business person. Maybe he has trouble achieving other things that he wants to because there’s the Democratic House, Republican Senate and maybe this land grab real estate deal is something he could have a victory on. It doesn’t seem like it’s getting any serious traction.
It wasn’t meant to. He pulled the curtain back a little bit and says, “It was just an idea.” It was an idea to both promote and take away. It’s the same thing that he was looking to do with running for the Presidency and say, “The best branding and marketing thing I could ever do for myself is to run for President and fail.”
He didn’t expect to win.
He would never admit to that but all of a sudden, he’s been in charge of the government. You think that you know stuff and all of a sudden, he’s in a completely different environment with all different kinds of people. He thinks that they could scale down bare-bones and get some things done or have global influence. He doesn’t know how to have a global influence. He knows how to get a real estate project done in Dubai or wherever. He knows how to get that done, build the building, promise things and bring a brand name to something. He knows how to do that.
Let’s talk about the next step for the opponents, the people who hope to unseat the President.
In our mythic tale, we had this character called the drummer that entered the forest of giants in pursuit of saving the princess being held captive on top of a glass mountain. As this drummer is going through this forest, he starts drumming and waking up the giants. The giants turn to him and say, “We’re going to eat you.” If Kamala Harris goes and says, “Teachers need a pay raise,” it terrifies people. What do you mean a pay raise? We’ve been working on getting the teachers and we got them down to a salary that we can starve them a little bit and they’re going to take it because they love teaching.
All of a sudden, they’re going to retire and no one’s going to go into the profession or they go in the profession for a couple of years and then bounced out of the profession. We struggle as human beings to set a clear mission and promote a vision and leadership to attain things. Kamala Harris, after her debate and fiery speech with Joe Biden, talking about her little girl. All of a sudden, her points are dropping off because she got the giant to carry her for a little bit. She forgot that there was a second or a third giant in this story to carry her to the next part of her experience.
There’s this big chasm between getting into the forest. You can’t just trick one giant and expect to get to the top of the glass mountain. You’ve got to trick multiple giants into carrying you all the way.
You got to get the media giant, labor giant, educational giant, social service giant and military giant to move. You’ve got to get all those different giants to carry you for a certain amount of distance. When Donald Trump was out doing his Iowa caucuses or whatever, there was this one gentleman that lost his son to an overdose and here he is on the national stage. The father said, “I lost my son to opioids and he committed suicide.” Donald Trump sounded compassionate. He sounded energetic but it gave him a moment to get that population that was in pain to carry him. He says, “You’re a good father. Your father would be proud of you for standing up for him. I’m going to do something about drugs. I’m going to do something about the healthcare system. It’s going to be better.” Immediately, Donald Trump gets carried by the media giant on that message. Meanwhile, he didn’t deliver one thing in that direction. In fact, it’s worse.There’s plenty of blame style language to go around for those who didn’t get things to go the way he or she wanted it to. Click To Tweet
Did he do that in 2016 when he gets the other Republican candidates at the time?
That’s correct. That’s how he did that. That’s a good one. Later on, there was a video of the father going like, “He did nothing for my son and the memory of my son. He did nothing with the drug companies. He promised it.” The father just did scary honesty, “I gave him that moment where he could talk to other people about my pain but not doing anything about the problem and the issue.” Donald Trump did give them a vision. He did give a little bit of mission. “I’m on a mission to do that,” but that’s not enough to get into the real election.
I wonder if there are enough people in the country who are going to heed that southern cliché. “Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me” type of thing. Are people going to be duped by him again?
Famously, President George Bush used that. The reason why he butchered it is because you could talk about that thing and you could use that to get re-elected. Your people are going to stay with you but the challenge has to do with the 20% that’s going to swing from one side to the next. That brings us to the next part of the story. The drummer has gotten carried by three different giants through this forest. If the politician is talking about policy, you’re going to get stuck in the forest. Don’t talk about policy anymore. Talk about vision, mission and leadership. That’s the thing that gets you through the forest.
When you get to the edge of the forest, there’s a desert there where a lot of the candidates are right now. The giant for his part took the drummer to the edge of the desert and sets the thing there. After, the drummer says, “Take me to the top of the glass mountain I see across this desert.” The giant goes, “There’s no way I’m going near that glass mountain.” He sets the drummer at the edge. The drummer takes his drum and starts walking across this desert. He’s walking for some time and Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker is in the desert. The other three are not as much but Joe Biden is getting tired in the desert right now.
When you mentioned that you have to start setting vision and I hear Joe Biden saying a lot when he’s asked about what he is going to do for America. He is stuck on, “I’m going to beat Donald Trump.” What’s the most important quality you need to have? The quality is to beat Donald Trump. That’s a goal but it’s not a vision.
No, it’s not. Let me be Joe Biden for a second and give some clean messaging here. “What I’m going to do for the country is I’m going to restore respect to the leadership and integrity to our country, and get the country working in a collaborative way to move forward. He’s not doing that but that’s what I’m going to do. He can’t even keep a cabinet member in place.” Notice how that messaging is true but the truth is after the vision. After, “I’m on a mission,” and not before.
What you’re saying is that he doesn’t know how to govern and put a team together without stating the fact that he doesn’t know how to do it. It’s different.
If you say, “He doesn’t know how to do it,” and everybody on his side goes, “Yes, he does. It’s just that the media is hard on him. The fake media doesn’t give him a chance. He gets no credit for the positive things he does.” He’s giving all the negative things that he’s done as fodder for media. If he strung together three weeks apiece and two meaningful pieces of legislation, “Yes, cover that. I’ll be happy to cover that,” but regrettably, in our adversarial communication now, there’s one media group that creates the edge on one side. It doesn’t matter how successful Barack Obama was even in the face of all the obstacles that he was facing. It doesn’t matter of all the progress that he got met about equality among other things. They’re crossing this desert. This drummer is crossing the desert and the candidates are all crossing the desert now. The desert is, “How do you get to January and still be alive? February and still be a candidate? How do you get past 1%, 2% or 3%?”
If they don’t know how to get through the desert and get to the next task, they’re going to get stuck at this next part of the story. As the drummer is coming towards the glass mountain, he sees the glass mountain. He’s noticing that it’s made out of the sharp jagged edges that if you get to the glass mountain and you try to climb it, it has blood on it. There are skeletons hanging on it. There are bones over here, but as he’s climbing there, he hears these two people yelling. As he gets close to the glass mountain, he still hears these two people and all of a sudden, from a distance, he hears the following sentence, “This is my saddle.” He hears another person yelling, “No, this is my saddle,” and the other person says, “No, this is my saddle. I was here first.” The other person says, “No, you weren’t here first. I saw it first.” “No, you didn’t. I was here first.” As the drummer comes around the side of the mountain, he sees these two men screaming at each other, “It’s my saddle.” There’s a horse’s saddle sitting on the ground with no horse to be found.
The drummer walks up to them and goes, “What are you arguing about? Clearly there’s no horse here. Why are you arguing over the saddle?” Both of them look at him and go, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. This is a magic saddle. All one has to do is sit on it and think about where they’d like to be and the saddle magically takes them there but the point is, it’s my saddle.” The other guy goes, “No, it’s not. It’s my saddle.” The drummer listened to this for a little bit and says, “I have a solution for the two of you.” He goes and he picks up this white stick. He goes out 50 feet.
He sticks the white stick in the ground. The other two guys are watching him. He comes back and he says, “I can settle this for the two of you. You line up right over here and I’m going to say, ‘go’ and whoever gets to that saddle first, that’s the person whose saddle it is. Get ready and line-up.” The two guys lined up right there and he said, “Ready, go.” The two guys started sprinting towards this saddle. As they’re running there, the drummer jumps on the saddle wishes himself to the top of the glass mountain and has immediately transported himself there.
I’m going with this metaphor. The drummer was at the saddle at the finish line and he lured them away from it to run toward the saddle and as they have that test, he’s like, “I’m taking the saddle.”
He jumped on the saddle and goes to the top. Barack Obama did that saddle move twice.We struggle as human beings to set a clear mission and to promote a vision in leadership to attain things. Click To Tweet
Paint that picture for us, please. I would love to recollect or have that illuminated for me.
The first saddle move he did was, “We’re in Iraq right now but the real danger is Afghanistan. We got to go back to Afghanistan and finish what we’re doing there.” Immediately, the Republicans were caught flat-footed and as soon as he did that, the whole group of Americans go, “What are we doing in Iraq? We don’t belong in Iraq. We never belong to Iraq. Yes, I’ve made an agreement with that. How do we do that?” The military that was a part of that process is going like, “We had no business in Iraq. What do we go to Iraq for? We kill some people and a bunch of our comrades died but we had no business in Iraq. What are we doing in Iraq?” What happened is he got transported to the top of the glass mountain.
He exhibited leadership saying, “The Titanic is going down and you are re-arranging the deck chairs here. We need to steer the Titanic away from this iceberg.” That type of thing.
If the captain would have not put the Titanic in neutral, if the captain of the Titanic looked around and said, “Are there any ships near us?” He kept the engines running for as long as he could in the direction of that ship.
How smart that would have been rather than, “Let’s stop and assess the situation and take on more water.”
There’s no assessment. He lost vision and ability and go like, “I could stop, but let’s not stop. Let’s go towards the ship.” He stopped to see how much danger it was instead of going like, “We hit an iceberg. This could be problematic,” and start heading towards the ship that they could see at some distance about a mile or two.
There was the Carpathia ship they radioed as they were first picking people up. They had three hours before the thing went down. They could have gotten much closer and probably saved them. We got stuck in 1912 here, so let’s come back to 2019.
The second moment of a saddle movement that Barack Obama did was regarding the financial crisis. “How are we going to jolt this economy? How we’re going to bail out these banks? Here’s what the number’s going to be. I am going to lead with the number and I’m going to make that number definitive.” John McCain and the Republicans were following it because the reality was it was supposed to be $1 trillion. They came back and got the other $300 billion later to do it.
It took $1 trillion but Barack Obama changed the narrative while everybody else is arguing facts, “No, $700 billion isn’t enough. It’s got to be more. No, it is enough. That doesn’t matter.” He set the vision and people followed him out.
That’s the power of the saddle. Get on the saddle, think about where you want to be and get there.
Who is going to get on the, “I am going to prevent the Russians from ever meddling in another election again if I’m elected?” Who’s going to get on that saddle?
Simply say the sentence, “If I’m elected, we will tie down certainty in our electorate. We will have paper ballots if I’m elected.” One of the democratic candidates could say that right now. Why are they not saying it? Because they thought that they were going to have some fall back on this. No, there aren’t any fall back on this. Just say it and change when you get there, then you decide on which local level you’re going to do it. The states could get pissed off about this, “No, voting is for state’s rights.” Don’t do it. Don’t listen to them. At the federal level, “This needs to be addressed and this is how we’re going to address it. We are happy to collaborate with the states on an individual basis to help them from keeping the tampering going on.”
They make so much sense. I know states argue states’ rights and voting is a local thing, but Russia invading our country is a national thing.
If I’m going to purchase truth and if I am going to take truth out for a spin, I’ve got to know that my leadership has got to have a little bit of wobbling in it. At least, it’s got to be closer to it and don’t worry about being called on it. Don’t worry about stepping on those toes. Barack Obama didn’t worry about stepping on those toes. Instead, you are going to be able to have your doctor. Is that true? No. How is he going to say that you’re going to have your doctor all the time? You can’t have your doctor all the time because doctors changed state and doctors move our way. No, it’s not going to work for everyone. The intention of keeping your doctor and having a choice with your doctor is important in a health care exchange.Leadership and vision are not always in alignment with the truth or with facts. Click To Tweet
What you’re demonstrating here is that leadership and vision are not always in alignment with the truth or with facts. In order to become the candidate to rise above the crowd and get to the top of that glass mountain, you’ve got to set a vision despite the truth or facts. This is like John F. Kennedy saying in 1962, “We’re going to put a man on the moon and bring him safely back to Earth by the end of the decade.” He had no clue how to do it. I’ve been reading a book about the whole back story about this and nobody did. They had to figure it out.
You set the vision and you’re going to get to the top of the glass mountain. What is this glass mountain? This glass mountain is dangerous. It is Mitch McConnell’s cemetery of all of his political opponents. There was a picture that went out that some of his staff people put all these tombstones with all the names of all the political people that Mitch McConnell took down. It was this entire graveyard of his political opponents. One of the things that Mitch McConnell does and continues to do is grab the saddle away from people. He grabs the saddle and he takes it where he wants it, “President Barack Obama, you are not going to fill that seat. I am not going to let it go to a vote.” That’s grabbing the saddle.
Tell me how he could have battled this because he had no power.
He’s thinking is, “What would it be like if I’m going to set a precedent against this guy because chances are my gal is going to win next and then my gal’s got to work with this guy. You got to take the saddle away from him.” There are 2 or 3 messages that could be used here. I have to think about this a little bit deeper.
I’m putting you on the spot here and you’re fast on your feet.
He would go after three words, respect, integrity and trust. He would pound integrity for about three months in the news cycle. Mitch McConnell is not in integrity with the Constitution. Mitch McConnell is breaking the Constitution. Mitch McConnell as a constitutionalist is affecting what can be done in future generations with a present. If Mitch McConnell sets this precedent, the need for integrity could choose not to be honored by other people in his position. He would go after integrity and pound that for about three months and then he would get to the top of the mountain and then Mitch would be under pressure and would take a hit. I would go right to Kentucky to his back door and nail him about, “This is what he’s doing. This is how this is working and mobilize it. “All you people that voted for him, this is what he’s doing.” I would go right after it and I would go after integrity. You could leak a little bit of fairness narrative in it and you could also work trust. We want to trust that our systems are going to stand up to people that want to get their needs met at the expense of the system.
Make it so that Mitch is getting his needs met at the expense of the Constitution and the American people.
I would tag it the same way. I would probably put a Joseph McCarthy tag on it and then you got it. It’s the same thing that Senator Joseph McCarthy tried to do with communist with his freedom of speech and his fear that he created with people. Mitch McConnell has no shame. You go right into the past narrative that got Joseph McCarthy thrown out, censured and everything like that. That is terrible. That’s the way I would have went. You still can go there because Mitch McConnell with the aluminum plant that’s taking a Russian oligarch’s money in his state. It meets Mitch McConnell’s needs to secure his senate seat but it’s not in alignment with a long-term play. They have an influence on that state.
Once they get one plant in and start doing that, all of a sudden, they got to spread their distribution out and disable the voting system then they can weaken it. It’s what they did in Russia too. They weakened the people’s ability to vote. They’re getting rid of the hundred drummers. They’re disempowering the hoard and the groups of people. Once the group of people gets high enough, it’s like, “We can’t just deny this.” China’s got that problem in Hong Kong. You mobilized 1.7 million. That’s problematic, so you better back off your tactics and your strategies of control.
It’s nice to see that there’s a solution or a method to attack somebody else stealing the saddle.
You can outsmart the two guys at the saddle easily but you got to set the stick far enough ahead, so they’re going and running after that. They were all going about, “How are we going to get out of this quagmire in Iraq that we just destabilize the region?” We made Iran happy about that because we destabilize one of their villains that they couldn’t get rid of for many years. We made the oil companies happy because they have access to all the oil in Iraq instead of the ones that they got from Kuwait through horizontal drilling. It’s difficult. Our drummer got to the top of the mountain and what we’re going to do for our readers is we’re going to meet the hag.
Is the hag at the top of the glass mountain?
Yes. When the drummer arrives there on the magic saddle, on the top of this mountain is large plain with a lake. There’s a small hut with smoke coming out of it and a forest at a little bit of the distance. It’s not the peak of a mountain but it’s like a plateau of the top of the glass mountain. There’s a little bit of respite at the top. There’s green and there’s a lake. At the beginning of the story, the drummer met a princess that was there, but he also remembered that the princess said, “My two other sisters flew back to the mountain.” She’s one of the three princesses up at the top of this mountain and now he’s up there. The sun is starting to set. He’s getting tired and hungry. He walks over and he knocks on the door. The door opens a little bit and inside the door, it’s dark, but he sees two eyeballs peeking out at him. One that’s bulging a little bit and the other ones smaller and a little bit recessed. It’s almost inviting him in.
He has met the hag. The hag asks him the question. “Are you here because someone sent you or are you here on your own accord?” This is an important statement that the hag makes. It’s important that the drummer answers this correctly because the hag is going to eat them if he doesn’t answer it correctly. He looks in and says, “I feel tired, I need some rest. I feel hungry. I need some food. Would you be willing to support me with some rest and some food?” She looks back at him and says, “We have a wise one, do we? I’ll give you someplace to rest and I’ll give you some food if you promise to do these three small tasks for me. If you do these and promised to do them to completion, I will give you food and I will give you rest.” He looks at her and says, “You have my word. I will commit to completing these tasks.” She opens up the door, gives him a place to sleep and some food to eat.Do not give an answer to someone else unless you give the person empathy. Click To Tweet
He falls asleep and that night goes the way that it is to sleep in a hut that has hag that you did not answer the question for because he did not answer her question. He gave an alternative answer. “Do not give an answer in the place of giving self-empathy. Do not give an answer to someone else unless you give the person empathy or even use empathy for yourself.” Let’s do a hag moment with Hillary Clinton and I’ll show you how this works politically. Here’s Hillary Clinton and here’s a supporter. The supporter says, “Those people are deplorables.” She goes, “Yes, deplorables.” That’s captured on video and goes viral.
That’s where before she said, “I view many of Trump’s supporters as a basket full of deplorables.” This must have happened before that.
It did. You can’t do it. You can’t get in a fight with a hag and think you’re going to win. She’ll eat you and Donald Trump did. The voters went and says, “I like some of the way he leads. I like his decision-making. I like that he has the confidence to fire people.” They don’t remember that’s a freaking reality show. That firing is a part of the design as if he’s such a great assessor of talent. If you think about all the people on The Apprentice, that’s not a great group of people. It’s not a hard group to fire because they’re so under-skilled, to begin with.
They all came from Central Casting, according to him.
What I’d like our readers to get a hold of is how is this drummer and how is Hillary Clinton has been best to respond to that hag question that was asked. If she would have responded compassionately, either for herself or for the person that was saying it, it would have worked much better for her. If she would have said compassionate sentences like, “I feel sad and disheartened when I hear people call names of a fellow American and that President Donald Trump has gone down the path of calling people names. It doesn’t meet my need for respect as a President to talk like that. Even though you’re calling these people deplorable, they are interested in his leadership and some of his ideas. I’m interested in you as well as them hearing how my ideas are going to make a difference.”
It would have never given them the attack narrative of labeling them. The Labeler-in-Chief labels everybody and she fell into that trap. She probably felt good at the moment that her supporters were labeling these other people but it bit her. The hag ate her.
She lost 750,000 votes with one statement of deplorable.
She lost in key states that she couldn’t afford to and that she only lost by five figures of votes.
In the next episode, we’re going to talk about the three tasks that the hag gives the drummer. The three tasks about how the current Democratic field is not dealing well. Most of the Democratic field is trying to climb the glass mountain by hand and they’re bleeding all the way. I listened to a speech from Tim Ryan where he’s talking about, “We bailed out GM and several years later, GM cost our state 170,000 jobs or whatever closing a plant.” We bailed them out to get a 6% boost in their stock market. Are you kidding me? We covered them. Instead of talking about integrity and solid relationship between business and government that needs to be established in the leadership. “Are we going to continue to allow our government and business to affect our voters? Are we going to protect our voters or not?” That was what he needed to say. He didn’t say any of that. He had a conviction but meanwhile, he’s arguing over the saddle and he’s trying to climb the glass mountain by hand.
It’s interesting how this metaphor is coming and communicating different things of the difference between truth, facts, vision and leadership. It is some different qualities that each of these people need and different communication skills they need to learn in order to go the distance.
If you think about the Republican field that was up against Donald Trump, they were doing the same thing the Democrats were doing, which was climbing the glass mountain by hand. Meanwhile, all he did was pick them off one at a time through a series of saddle narratives. He got them running after something instead of setting the course toward something. Lindsey Graham even went after Donald Trump too and all of a sudden, he’s gone like, “The hag’s in charge, so I’m going to follow the hag.”
He became completely subservient.
The same as Bill Barr. He’s in prick trouble too. He doesn’t care about his career. He’s always been the fixer. He’s always been the person to write it out, work behind the scenes, clean up people’s mess and play slow ball. He’s another hag version. If you would like to see the hags, it’s clear. It’s the Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Bill Barr series of tasks that the drummer’s going to be facing next.
Bill, I look forward to part three of tricking the giant and getting to the top of the glass mountain and now the hag. The potential pitfalls there and also the solution for how to rise to the top. We’ll talk to you next time.
Me too. Thanks, Tom.