Guest Writer: Lessons Learned from Politics by Radhia Benalia

Guest Writer: Lessons Learned from Politics by Radhia Benalia

Dear Reader,

As per my previous announcement this month, I will start hosting guest writers on my blog to share some experiences, knowledge and perspective that are worth shedding light on.

In this context, my first guest writer is Mrs. Radhia Benalia, the Deputy General Manager of CMCS Lebanon, a 2009 candidate for the BC Liberals for the constituency in Canada, an avid public speaker and translator with strong knowledge in project management. Her article is shedding light on her political experience when she ran for office in Canada in 2009. To get to know her better check: LinkedIn || Blog || Pinterest || Twitter

Enjoy the read!

Afif

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Lessons Learned from Politics

In 2009, I was nominated as the candidate for the BC Liberals for the constituency of Surrey-Whalley in beautiful British Columbia. A unique experience. The election campaign happened “fast and furious” as I was nominated a few weeks only before elections. Fact is: I have done, seen, and lived the unanticipated, and these are the lessons learned I wanted to share:

Lesson 1:

If you ever think of going into politics, I’ll say you better keep pristine records. The other camp will cheerfully cut you to pieces and feed you to the dogs if they have anything on you. Even speeding tickets. Don’t break the law; don’t even lie about your résumé. You know what they can do with that!

Lesson 2:

Practice public speaking. Tirelessly. I was fortunate enough to have been teaching public speaking for a few years, and I surely had the chance to practice, and for a “rookie”, I did pretty well in debates and speeches, so I’m more than grateful for what I had learnt prior to my entrance into politics.

Lesson 3:

Hire a campaign manager that has the guts to tell you off and criticize you. Mine did repeatedly. He made me work 3 shifts and got me to talk about things I never thought I would a hundred miles an hour. Besides, he took care of me, chased me around every day of the campaign with a pack of vitamins, and made sure I ate well. My campaign manager was more important than I was for the campaign, and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Lesson 4:

Lose weight or wear those braces before you are nominated. What I mean to say is if anything makes you extremely uncomfortable about your looks, then remedy to that before you see yourself on camera and become devastated. You’ll see a lot of yourself everywhere. Every day.

Lesson 5:

Choose a campaign photo you’re comfortable with.  You’ll be seeing the photo on billboards, posters, and even on TV; take the time to choose. Three years later, I still am glad I wasn’t forced into making a quick choice.

Oh, and about comfort, make sure you have a few pairs of very comfortable shoes. Trust me: The investment is worthy.

Lesson 6:

If you don’t have enough good people around you, don’t do it.

I was extremely lucky. My team was wonderful. Everyone worked so hard, and they were known for being one of the most supportive campaign teams ever.  I couldn’t have done it without them either.

Lesson 7:

Walk tall.

You‘ll be criticized over and over again, and then some. You’ll take heat, and it’s not going to be pretty. Candidates are criticized by journalists, constituents, and even by people who endorse them. Listen objectively, learn, and work on improving yourself. Do not waste time feeling resentment. It is useless.

Lesson 8:

Make yourself available to your constituents. Listen with heart. During the campaign I was “summoned” to a meeting with a group of citizens who were irate about the way the party I represented handled a safety issue in the area. I wasn’t the decision maker, but lobbied for the concerned constituents, and they knew I cared. It feels good to remember that I did not let those people down.

Lesson 9:

Learn about the history of your party and your constituency, and fill in any gaps you might have. You’ll be asked about things that happened when you weren’t even born and will be sentenced to political disgrace if you do not have the answers. I was once asked about a constituent allegedly abused by the police. I hadn’t heard. Trust me, I didn’t look good then.

Lesson 10:

Nothing is off the record with journalists. When my signs were vandalized during the campaign, I had a journalist make me think four times over an interview that I wasn’t on camera anymore in an attempt to “elicit” what she wanted me to reveal. My team had warned me, and fortunately, I didn’t beep a word.

Lesson 11:

Keep your family close. Do not let your campaign team become the “middle-man”.  Always make sure your children know where to reach you. Listen closely to your spouse, and do not make any major decisions about your career without your family. They will be part of every bit of it. My family stood by me every minute of it, and I do thank them for that.

Lesson 12:

Be ready to move on whatever happens. Your life does not stop on ballot night. Whether you make the seat or not, there is much more to think about , work for and live for.

Lesson 13:

Read the numbers well. I was glad to find out that I had gotten more votes than my incumbent opponent did the first time he ran. Definitely what many considered a huge success, especially considering all the circumstances surrounding my nomination.

In Conclusion

I hope this was helpful. However, I’d like to say that the biggest lesson I have learnt from my political experience is not to enter politics unless it is for wanting to make a change, a good one. It is only then that it can be rewarding.

Being a public figure and submitting yourself to scrutiny is definitely not a bed of roses. It takes a toll on your health, personal life, and even your freedom. If you’re doing it for the power or for the money, then DON’T. It is just not worth any part of it.

Advertisements

3 Elements of Mind Mapping

Image

Many have seen me use mind mapping in meetings, workshops, brainstorming sessions and even in project planning. Now what many don’t know is how and when to use mind maps. So I’m going to share with you some quick insights on its origin, usage and basic guidelines.

Origin

“Min-Map” as a term was made popular by Tony Buzan in Britain in the 1950s though the term itself was present before. Nevertheless, visual representation of information is not a novel idea, it dates back to the third century when Porphyry of Tyro, a philosopher, graphically represented Aristotle’s concepts. Back then they knew the value of graphical representation of ideas and it’s still valid till today…people retain graphical information more than textual.

Usage

If, like most people, you think that mind maps are a tool for brainstorming only…think again! It can be used in a multitude of ways..some of them are:

  • Note Taking
  • Project Planning
  • Cause-Effect Analyses
  • Root-Cause Analyses
  • Brainstorming
  • Evaluation
  • Creativity Enhancing
  • Concept Explanation
  • Listing of Related Items

Obviously the list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of where to start.

Guidelines

Now if you’re planning to do a mind map, here are few recommendations by Buzan himself (with personal amendments) to ensure you’re utilizing it well.

  • Start with a word or image at the center.
  • Use not only words but also images, diagrams, drawings or anything that helps in expressing.
  • Switch between Upper and lower cases when needed to stress on some main ideas.
  • Each word/item is to be put on a line by itself, they don’t like sharing the same line.
  • All items must be connected starting from central idea/word/image and growing outwards, no hanging fruits.
  • Draw thicker/longer lines for more “important” ideas.
  • Use different colors for branches, ideas..etc. to stress on differences.
  • Try out several small mind maps to find your style before you start using it for business or studying.

I hope the above helped a little bit and I wish you the best of luck in mapping your mind!

Blog Announcement

Dear Readers,

I hope you’re doing well. I am writing this post to inform you that there will be a new twist to my blog.

Starting this month, I will be hosting articles from guest writers who are subject matter experts, thinkers, philosophers, activists and creative minds to be shared with you. The aim is to spread some knowledge and inspiration. Not only that, but also to shed light on some of the individuals I believe are worth being put under the spotlight for who they are, what they know and what they’ve achieved.

Moreover, I will continue posting as usual with a special focus on an over-arching theme of “Simplification” or “Simplifying the Complex” as I believe our world is full of wonderful things that get lost in complexity …so my aim is bring it closer to you in a simplified version…hoping it would intrigue you to dig deeper if interested.

Stay tuned!

5 Dos & Don’ts of Leading Volunteers

Being a volunteer myself involved in leading volunteers, I get to reflect often on how things are done and how to improve.

It is without doubt that leading volunteers tends to be tricky as you’ll have to ensure motivation and commitment are high at all times. Moreover, you’ll need to take care of the feelings and aspirations of the volunteers, no matter how young or old they are.

So to make things simple, I am going to share with you 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts in managing and leading volunteers:

Dos:

  • Thank volunteers at every milestone, every good report, every job well done. There is no upper limit of how much you can thank them and how. It can range from a simple thank you email, a tap on the shoulder, to inviting them for a free dinner/lunch/get-away.
  • Give volunteers space to make decisions and have a say in what is being done. Barely anyone likes to do donkey work or to simply follow steps given, let the volunteer role be more demanding and challenging.
  • Lead by being a role model, show the way and be the first to step up for action. It takes people a very short time to realize preachers from doers.
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up… oh and did I say it’s important to follow up? You wont imagine how smooth things will go if you just remind people if they missed something ,follow up on tasks to be done and make sure things are progressing as planned. If you just sit there and expect volunteers to get things done without any follow up..at least at the beginning, then you’ll be surprised.
  • Be friendly, polite and respectful. Yes they may seem trivial, but so many times discussions, emails or meetings can become tense, issues urgent, stakes high…that you might lose your temper, say something mean, be a bit harsh or disrespectful. Once you do that..you know you’re going to lose some one from the team or lose their trust and respect to say the least.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t underestimate any volunteer’s abilities, knowledge, network or creativity. You’ll be surprised with how much people can do when you believe in them.
  • Don’t blame or criticize volunteers publicly. Keep morale high and respect of others to each other and to yourself, if you have something negative to say…say it one-to-one.
  • Don’t take all the credit. Give credit where credit belongs… if the team is doing a good job, you owe them the credit, not yourself.
  • Don’t be biased for personal reasons. Give work, credit or thanks for those who are doing work…not for those you like or you’re friends with.
  • Don’t keep information hidden to yourself. Sharing knowledge, experience, information, contacts ..etc. with your  team is key to show them you trust them and to empower them with what they need to lead…to become self-motivated and self-managed.

I hope those few things help you out! 🙂

Other Interesting Posts: