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2016 Presidential election thoughts

Hi Allen Media Strategies clients and staff…

We have clients and members of our own AMS team who cheered the unexpected election news last night…and others who were very disheartened by the outcome.

For me, last night when I went to bed at 3am, the TV talking heads were lamenting that “World financial markets are in turmoil; the Dow futures are down 600, and it’s getting worse.” It was tempting to lay awake worrying about how this could affect our business and livelihood.

With all the information immediately available at our fingertips, it’s natural to want to analyze what’s going on and how it will affect us. I know as a media/information guy, I often listen to the pundits on the TV and radio while I check the political sites on my phone or laptop – then toggle over to FB and Twitter to see what our friends are saying, then go back to the talking heads.

As I told someone earlier today, this “day after” reminds me of earlier times of change and uncertainty, and how back then I would be tempted to just sit and be consumed by “the story”. I remember the undecided presidential election of 2000 and how it sucked up tons of my time fretting over the “election that would never end”. I also remember the lethargic way I slogged through the week after 9/11. As I recall, I spent most of that September operating at about 50 percent capacity because I was so engrossed in the world changing around me and wondering how it would all affect my life and the lives of those I cared most about. Being “ tuned in” somehow felt safer than actually making decisions and taking action for myself.

You know what I’ve learned since then after wasting all that time? To focus on what I can control.

That’s why earlier this year, when devastating floods caused hundreds to lose their homes, tens of millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of lost lives in my native West Virginia, rather than be paralyzed by the sadness of the story, I along with many others jumped in to help. In four very intense days we put together a national TV telethon with the American Red Cross, WVVA TV and the West Virginia Broadcasters Association to raise funds and bring awareness to the flood victims. We did our part to help…and the world kept on turning.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s important to be both informed and civically engaged (that’s why we voted), especially in our media strategy business. At Allen Media Strategies we work hard at staying on top of media and marketing opportunities for our clients. But it doesn’t consume our lives. Just this past Saturday, I spent the day with my son-we went for a bike ride, got a haircut, I made him dinner…general Dad stuff. No screens allowed. It was a great day.

So, here’s what I’m going to do today and moving forward, and I hope you’ll consider too: Turn off the TV, close the political sites, limit your time on social, and focus instead on the one reality I’m absolutely sure of in these uncertain times:

The way we’re going to grow – both personally and professionally – is to wake up every day and ask ourselves, “What can I do today to provide more value to more people than I did yesterday?” Then go do that.

That’s what I committed to do this morning. No matter what the stock market does, no matter what politicians do or say on either side, I’m going to keep finding ways to add more value, more opportunities and more wins for our staff and our clients this week than I did last week. If you cheered the Trump win, provide more value. If you mourn the Clinton loss, dust yourself off and provide more value.

When we choose to act this way, our circle of influence grows, and the value we send out always finds its way back to us. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in my own personal and professional life. But that’s not even the most important outcome – what really matters is how we change inside. There’s a peace that comes from proving to yourself that external factors should never dictate your life and your potential. You…control…you.

And by the way, the U.S. markets opened this morning, and they are already moving back to equilibrium as I wrote this. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay there, and that’s not the point. Nothing a news anchor reports, a talk show host says or a politician does, good or bad, has more power over your life than the choices you make every day. Including the day after.

To your success!

Burke Allen
Allen Media Strategies