Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More lessons from "Smilin' Jack"

Last weekend was the 50th Anniversary celebration of Canada's only openly declared and still socialist political party.
In my last posting I suggested that there is much to learn from the rise of the NDP to official opposition status. So continuing that thought, let me direct you to an interesting article in MacLean's magazine this week. The article, The making of Jack Layton by John Geddes, is way more than I ever wanted to know about Jack, but I found parts interesting and useful.
The article shows that Layton is a natural leader type, going back to his school days and is obviously related to his family's entanglements in the world of politics. Layton grew up in Quebec, in the politically volatile time period of the rise of Quebec Nationalism. His activism put him on the periphery of groups involved in the October Crisis in 1970. He eventually came to Toronto and became a politician in the municipal arena. Two lessons in the article, first this story from the article:    
"In 1985, a barbed joke in a bar prompted him to rethink his political style. He went to meet one of his younger brothers, then doing graduate work at the University of Toronto, at a downtown pub. “He’s introducing me to his buddies, and one of them—he’s had several beers—says, ‘Oh, you’re Jack Layton. I thought your name was But Jack Layton. You know, you read in the paper, ‘The mayor proposes this, but Jack Layton,’ or, ‘They want to do this, but Jack Layton . . . ’ ” The jibe stung. “I was opposing things,” he says."
Lesson one: criticize yes, but offer constructive alternatives, Layton took that to heart. Lesson two: Layton lost in a bid to become Toronto mayor in 1991, and in a Federal election in 1993. Learn from losing, yes it sucks, but it is the market telling you that your message needs improvement. 

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