By Jim Whitt
A few years ago I spoke to a group of postal workers in New Jersey and I have to tell you it was one tough audience. It was a little like speaking at the Sopranos family reunion. This is not a slight against New Jersey. It‘s home to some great people but it’s no place for the thin-skinned.
I was reminded of this when I saw a video on YouTube of a press conference featuring an exchange between a reporter and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie the other day.
Reporter: “Governor, do you think this sort of confrontational tone can increase your odds in getting this through the Legislature?”
Governor: “You must be the thinnest-skinned guy in America. If you think that’s a confrontational tone, then you should really see me when I’m pissed.”
The governor then explained in detail his position and how it differed from his opponents. He didn’t deny being confrontational nor did he apologize. My favorite line was, “But the fact of the matter is, this is who I am, and this is who the people elected.”
It is a rare thing for anyone in politics to actually say, “This is who I am,” and then actually be who they say they are. In fact, it is a rare thing for anyone. You have to be really comfortable with who you are to be who you really are — even when others may disagree with you or not even like you.
By actual count I have spoken to over 20,000 postal workers and lived to tell about it. Seriously, most of them were great audiences. In fact, I learned a valuable lesson when I was speaking to Postal Service audiences. Each attendee was required to complete an evaluation of me and my presentation. No matter how positive the evaluations were there were always a few who didn’t like me or what I had to say and said so on the evaluation form. Imagine that. At first that bothered me, but the Postal Service kept hiring me to speak so I must have done something right.
To be a professional provoker I have to provoke people. If I have not made you at least slightly uncomfortable with anything I’ve written or said or done I’m not doing my job. After all, this is who I am.
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