Running for Office? Your Image and Brand matter to Voters.



Your Image and Brand — An Interview with Sylvie di Giusto and Jay Townsend

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jay Townsend, Political Consultant and Campaign Strategist, who has served as a speechwriter, debate coach, poll taker, scriptwriter, strategist, print and advertising specialist in four presidential campaigns, scores of U.S. Senate, Gubernatorial and Congressional races, and a myriad of County Executive, Mayoral, legislative and judicial contests.

Watch the video below from Jay Townsend’s Youtube Channel, which includes more than 250 free videos on the art of political electioneering that will help candidates who are running for office better navigate the minefields of political discourse. The videos make the sometimes complicated aspects of political campaigns simple and easy to understand. Or, read the transcription of our conversation below.


Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (00:03): I’m Jay Townsend. I’m here today to introduce a great friend of mine in this world with whom I will soon celebrate a decade of friendship. Her name is Sylvie di Giusto. She is the bestselling author of a book called “The Image of Leadership.” She is one of the world’s foremost experts on branding, marketing, creating a great public image, and the all-important topic of how to make a good impression with all that you need. I would also say that Sylvie is kind of a kindred spirit in that we both share an insatiable intellectual curiosity just about everything. And it is to Sylvie that I would also pay one of the highest compliments I could pay any human being. Every time I talked to Sylvie, I learned something I did not know. Sylvie, that’s a compliment.

So recently, Sylvie penned an article, and I want to make sure I get the title of this correct. Sylvie, you penned an article titled “How to influence voters and the importance of first impressions in politics.” There’s a lot of terrific information in that piece, and I know from attending some of your webinars and seminars that you’ve kind of packaged what you do to help people create a great brand and a great image into something you call the A B C D Es. And I wonder if you could kind of dive into that, and then we’ll kind of go through them one by one for the benefit of the candidates who watch this YouTube channel.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (01:54): Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me here. I want to give one compliment back before we get started. Not only am I lucky to be in your area of influence and have learned so many things from you throughout the past years, you have always been my advisor and the first person to call if I had any questions, but in particular, questions related to politics. But I’m the extra lucky one because I can also call you a friend. So thank you very much for inviting me, and thank you for this conversation about a topic both of us are very, very passionate about.

How voters make rapid-fire decisions

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (02:30): And, as you mentioned, I help leaders, professionals, and individuals to understand how they are perceived by the world and how people instantly make major decisions about them. So before we walk into the A B C D E, I want everybody to understand those decisions that we make have nothing to do with the fact if we are good human beings or bad human beings, if we want to make them or not. We automatically make them in our brains, in our huge unconscious mind that is filled with past experiences, emotions, a lot of unconscious biases that we carry in us. 

And it happens on the backside of our mind without us really noticing. But once we know that those things happen and why they happen, we can better control them. And this is where the A B C D E framework comes in. So as a candidate, if you are running for an office, no matter if it’s for a small local office or a very important nationwide office, the principles are always the same.

How your appearance matters when running for an office

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto  (03:44): The A stands for your “appearance.” Like it or not, people just look at you. We are human beings that think in visual pictures. Our brain is actually quite lazy. It doesn’t like to work. So it takes a shortcut through our eyes. That’s why we are visual creatures. And that visual appearance that you give off to potential voters that includes first the suit you are born in—your body image. Are you tall? Are you short? Are you overweight? Are you underweight? Do you take care of your body? And then, what does your clothing say about you? The style that you have, the fit, the quality, the brands that you wear. And to be very clear, there is no one size fits all formula. We have seen very often in politics that you don’t have to follow the old-fashioned rules anymore. As suit is a suit and that is what a politician has to wear. It’s rather the outside perspective that you need to take and define, who are my potential voters, and what would they like to see on me? And then it’s your accessories, your hair, your makeup, your shoes, the entire visual picture that you create. But to be very clear, looking good is great, but it is not enough. And there have been a lot of examples in the political scene in the past that looking good at alone doesn’t really work, but it’s a beginning. It’s the start of a journey you take potential voters on.

How your behavior matters when running for an office

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto  (05:31): Because, at one point, you’re going to B for “behave.” You are attitude, for example, is it positive? Is it negative? How do you approach your potential voters? Your attitude speaks louder than any words that you can ever say. It leaves your mouth before words leave your mouth, right? And people react to your attitude emotionally. That being said, what about the level of your emotional intelligence? How self-aware are you? Are you in control of your emotions? Do you have emotional balance? And how do you react if something triggers your emotions? How are you able to read a room? How are you able to read the emotions of your potential voters? And then simple business et skills. Do you shake hands at events? Do you look people in the eyes, or are you down on your phone? Do you let them walk out of an elevator first or last? How do you behave in interactions?

How your communication matters when running for an office

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (06:33): And then, at one point, you’re going to say something, right? And it’s about communication, what you say and how you say it. So the C for “communication.” Your voice is a very powerful tool. It’s like an instrument that you play at every single event you are at. But we never learn how to play that instrument. So what are you doing to improve your voice capacities? And then you’re going to say something. We know, for example, that the first eleven words in every conversation are the most important ones. How are you starting your speeches? How do you greet potential voters at the events? What are the first words coming out of your mouth? Because they set a tone. But be very careful. Communication is not just about speaking.

Very often, we speak without saying words with our bodies, for example. Your body language, your facial expressions, those are all sub-information that we add to our words. And if they are different, voters just feel uncomfortable. You are behaving in a certain way, but you are saying something different, right? And the most important part of communication is actually not speaking. It is listening. Are you an active listener? Or do you just go out to your events with your message in mind, which is important, and you want to share that message with potential voters, but you actually don’t listen to them and their questions and react to their questions with the right answers? So the A, B, C is kind of the basic formula that you need to take into conservation, but I added the D. And why that?

How your digital footprint matters when running for an office

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (08:37): Because especially in politics, most often nowadays, we don’t make that first impression anymore in person. We make it in some sort of digital way. So the D is for your “digital footprint.” Yes, you might still walk from door to door and knock at doors and find your potential voters and have the opportunity to talk with them, but most often you don’t have that opportunity anymore. We send out emails, for example. And those emails do not just impact the potential voters you sent them to. They might forward them and forward them and forward them. And your email footprint ends up in inboxes you don’t even know. Quite possibly in the inbox of your competitor, for example, the person you run against. And then your website. What does your website say about you? When they google your name, what do they actually find about you and Google besides your website? And what do they find, for example, on social media? And make no mistake, especially as somebody in the public service and as a politician, they do not differentiate between the private person that you are and the politician that you are. Because if there are two things that don’t belong together, it’s the internet and private. So what assumptions do they make based on the digital footprint that you leave behind—either consciously or unconsciously?

How your environment matters when running for an office

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (09:47): And then, last but not least, the E stands for your “environment.” It should actually stand for “everything” because it’s everything that surrounds you. Potential voters also take into consideration who are the other people you hang out with. Who is on your campaign team? What about your family? Your family is part of that campaign team too. What do they post on social media, for example? How do they look like? How do they behave? Your office, if you give an insight into your campaign office, the car that you drive, the vacation you went on. We have seen many, many, many occasions in the past where potential voters all press took out a piece of information—totally out of context—and made it a big topic because it actually didn’t happen in your control (your A B C D E); it happens in somebody else’s control around you. So your entire environment matters too. So that was a very quick run-through the A B C D E.

Why a suit is not always the best idea when running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (11:12): So we’ll just summarize for a second. A is the appearance, B your behavior, C your communication skills, D is your digital footprint, E is the environment around you. Now, I will interject here and say that it isn’t just one of these that the political candidate has to get right; they have to get all of them right. And Sylvie, I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the campaigns I’ve been involved with and pull out certain instances and kind of fire a question at you. Because in the infancy of my career, which started 40 years ago, every candidate, most of whom were men, wore a suit. It didn’t matter where they were. If they were at a plant gate, they wore a suit. If they were speaking, they wore a suit. If they were going door to door, they wore a suit. The female candidates, which were few and far between 40 years ago, but if they were there, they dressed up. Now it’s not so much anymore. And I think the starkest example I saw this last year was a campaign in Pennsylvania where the democratic candidate wore shorts in a sweatshirt at many campaign appearances. The republican candidate always wore a suit with a red tie—he lost. The guy that looked a little disheveled won. Now, the defined conventional wisdom is that they would be so starkly different in their attire, but I wonder if you can address why it worked for the guy who wasn’t wearing a suit.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (13:17): Well, first of all, the rules 40 years ago don’t apply today anymore, right? Today, not just politicians but also organizations have the challenge that while we had guidelines and strict rules that helped us to look professional back then, nowadays, we don’t have those guidelines anymore. Nobody tells us we really what casual looks like. We just make those choices ourselves. But to come back to that very amazing example that you shared, there are always two things I want you to take into consideration when it comes to your visual appearance. First, how does it impact yourself and your confidence? You have to stick true to yourself. If wearing a suit all the time sounds horrible to you, then don’t do it because it’ll impact your self-confidence, your self-esteem, and voters will instantly feel that. If you don’t feel confident about yourself, why should they feel confident that you can help them with the issues that they hope you to solve?

However, the second group after yourself you have to take into consideration is your audience, your potential voters. What do they want? They want to feel that you are one of them; that you understand their lives; that you understand their issues; that you understand the circumstances that they live in. Now, there is no statistic for how people dress in Pennsylvania, but if we follow our gut feeling, what do you think? Will you see more people in Pennsylvania wearing a suit every single day or something rather casual? So he did a very smart thing that might change in the future, the more responsible he becomes and the more his audience changes, right? But for that specific campaign, what he did is he signalized visually, “I’m one of you. I understand your issues. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal, and I’m higher than you, or I’m better than you. I’m dressing up because I have to represent you somewhere else.” He made himself one of them. And as we see, it was very successful.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (15:37): Yeah, I can’t argue with his success. But he did have, “I’m one of you working-class people myself. I have lived in tough areas.” He made it a point to go to counties that he did not think he would win. And his dress kind of became his brand, “the everyday kind of guy” who had more in common with them than the fellow who moved there from New Jersey to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania. And voila, that race was not even close.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (16:19): So here’s the mistake that we often make. We think that this is an unconscious choice. He just doesn’t care, right? He has more important things to do. I believe that this was a very conscious choice. Here’s an example from the corporate market. We all know Mark Zuckerberg for his sweaters and flip-flops, and a rather casual style. But here’s the reality. Whenever Mark Zuckerberg needs money, he thinks a suit is a very good idea. And so his style might also change now, given his potential new role, but he is very, very conscious about the choices that he made, and they led him to success.

Why you cannot lose your temper when running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (17:12): Let’s talk about the B, the behavior. I counsel candidates that I work with to be very conscious of their temper. Every candidate is going to have a bad day. You are going to have some terrible days because we’re all human, and we make mistakes, including candidates. There are going to be days when they’re frustrated with their staff. There are going to be days when somebody didn’t perform like they should have, days when they’re late. And I tell candidates to find a way to keep the steam from spouting off in the wrong place. If that means you need to exercise, if that means you need to go to church on Sunday for some religious input or something, you have to get rest, and you must be calm on all occasions because everybody has one of these [cell phones.] Now, in the minute you are in public, you are on camera—somewhere, or somebody is recording what you say. It takes forever to convince people that you’re a really decent person, but one fatal blow-up in front of a staff member, or on stage, or at a reporter — you can blow it all in one minute. And I’m going to use this example, a candidate in Arizona this year who made it a habit of every public appearance that she made, she either picked a fight with a reporter or threatened a reporter, or told members of the press that their life would be hell when she was elected governor. And she was expected to win. And voila, surprise, she lost. And I have to believe that some of this behavior that she engaged in was off-putting, if not scary, to the people who saw her do it.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (19:32): Absolutely. Everything you just said is so valuable, and then I would like to add another perspective to it. And that is that your voters are also very emotional. We would like to think that they make all decisions rational, that they really compare us one-to-one on the facts and figures with other candidates. But the reality is that the conscious part of your mind only takes up five percent. The other ninety-five percent are all subconscious areas where we follow our gut feeling. While we would like them to behave like Spock, they actually behave like Homer Simpson all the time. And so if you take that into consideration, then you know that emotional balance between you as a candidate and the voters is very, very important. And you will receive what you plant. If you plant that you are emotionally imbalanced, there are people who will value that, and you will find some voters. But what kind of people? They are emotionally imbalanced too, because they understand your language, not just the words that you say also how you say it, and that’s why you attract them. But if I ask you, do you really want to work with emotionally imbalanced voters supporting you, you will probably say no. That’s why it’s so important that you control your own emotions, that you enter every situation with empathy, that you don’t react in the way they react towards you, right? Emotional balance is, in particular in your area, incredibly important. Because we as voters want to be led by somebody who has control over his, her or their emotions. And we also know that they are doing something we actually don’t understand. We give them our voice, we give them our vote, but whatever they do afterward is actually, is unknown to us how they do it. And so we just trust our gut feelings by finding a candidate where we say, this is the person I trust, and I’m going to vote. But the reality, most of them afterward move on anyway.

How leakage can distract your voters when running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (22:11): You mentioned communication. I spend a lot of time with clients that I have helping them craft their words. I find that words used properly that appeal to the emotional sense of voters of empathy, of compassion, of a forward-looking view as opposed to spewing hate make all the difference in the world. But you mentioned in what you said that communication is more than words. It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it and the way you act when you say it. There’s sometimes a difference between what someone is saying and the way they’re behaving. That creates confusion among voters who see them because what they’re saying does not conform to how they’re behaving.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie d Giusto (23:25): We call it leakage. People don’t really know what is off. It’s not that they look at you and say, “oh, that’s his or her body language, and this is what they say,” but there is some sort of leakage, and it makes people unconsciously nervous. Something is just off. We can’t really grab it, but something is off in what is just happening. And why is it important to you? You want to avoid distraction for any price. The moment they are distracted by something, they are not listening to your message anymore. They are subconsciously thinking about the body is off right now. And you always want to be so clear, so concise, so short, and so simple with your words that they understand what you are about. And so if you distract with something like your body language or your facial expressions or any other leakage that might happen, you are not doing yourself a favor because they are distracted.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (24:31): I think I’ve worked with probably 350 people through the years with the words, and every conversation I ever had with a candidate is, what do you hope to accomplish if you get the job? What difference do you want to make? And it goes against the grain because there are some in this profession that say, I’ll tell you exactly what to say, and you just do and say what I said. And here’s the problem I have with that: If a candidate is saying something they only halfheartedly believe, they’ll never be able to say it with any passion. They will not be able to say it with any authenticity, and voters will figure it out that they really don’t believe what they are saying. And it will ruin a campaign.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (25:26): Absolutely. Because the only option is if you are not saying what you want to say because it’s in you, you have to memorize it, right? Memorize the word somebody else gave you. And we notice that. We subconsciously notice that. We might not put a pin on memorizing, but there is something off; there is leakage. It’s a very great example of leakage that you just shared.

Why you need to own, control and build your digital footprint running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (25:54): I’m very interested in some things that you might share about your digital footprint. And I have what I call a “horror story” about this one. About a year and a half ago, I was working in a US Senate campaign, just getting off the ground. The candidate had delegated to a couple of people in his headquarters the job of putting up posts on social media and so on. And he said, please check in with them once a week or so, and make sure this is being done correctly.

And one day, I noticed some Facebook posts with grainy pictures and graphics that weren’t properly put on the page. And during the meeting, I said to the campaign staff, who’s doing these graphics for you? They said, well, we’re relying on a volunteer. And I said, you need to fire this volunteer because this volunteer is making your candidate look like doodoo. Because when their digital footprint looks like slop, people will assume that this guy is slop. They objected to what I said, but it wasn’t very long after that that I noticed the candidate completely changed his staff and started insisting on good-looking graphics. But it was a point, that this is not a place to scamp. If the picture you’re using is awful, my God, go get some help and get somebody who knows what they’re doing because this may be the only impression you make with some of the voters. But digital media is more than Facebook. It’s now Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, what am I missing? Instagram.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (27:54): And there will be many more coming. So the first piece of advice that I would share with you. Even if you do not plan to be active on all those platforms, you need to own your name on the internet. Meaning you need to go on those platforms and instantly sign up. And in the best case, with the same name that you can own on Instagram, on TikTok, on YouTube, even if you don’t plan to use those channels. Because if you don’t own your name, somebody else could. Every single day, I could just sign up on Twitter and create a “Jay Townsend account,” and you couldn’t even find out who is behind it. So if one of your opponents or somebody who is not meaning well to you grabs your name, or even accidentally is not even aware that you exist, and then a horror story happens on the other end, you are in trouble.

So you need to make sure that you own your name on the internet, no matter if you are planning to use all the social media platforms. The same is true for your website. You need to own your URL. Even if you are not ready to put a website on right now, the URL has to be yours. Because otherwise, somebody else could grab it and build a website.

And then second, you need to purposefully create an online footprint. Every single day, people are going to Google your name, and you cannot control that anymore. But what you can control is what they actually find. So the more strategically and purposefully you create the content and put it in front of them, the more unlikely they’ll find something that you don’t want them to see, which shouldn’t be out there in the first place anyway. But maybe you also have a long corporate career, and everything that they find out about right now is about that corporate career. Or you are a small business owner, and everything they find about you is your information as a business owner. So you need to very purposefully create content that lands on page one of Google so that when potential voters search for you, they instantly identify you and see that it is you and will check you out. And how do they do that? By your appearance, by your behavior, and by your communication, and your environment. Meaning appearance, what are the visuals that are out there? How do you look like in pictures? What is the quality of the pictures? Is it just a random selfie that you took? Or are you so established that even if you are at the beginning of your political career, you at least hired a professional photographer for a headshot for some lifestyle shots?

What are you wearing in those pictures? The principles apply offline and online. The same is true for your behavior. How are you emotionally balanced on the internet? If somebody attacks you on your Facebook page, how do you react to that? What are your business etiquette skills? How do you behave? What is your attitude? Do you showcase your attitude positively on social media or negatively? What are the words that you use? And while they might not hear our voice in text posts, we can hear it in between the lines. But maybe you also have videos where we can see you. So all the principles that apply to the A, B, C in real life, including the environment, also apply online. But there is one big difference. And the difference is that it’s accessible all the time. If you are in a room and, and you say something without really planning it through—in the moment you send it out loud, you know, oh, that was probably not the smartest way to say it—it’s gone. As long as it’s not captured with a phone or the press is there, it’s gone. It evaporates in the air. Not the same on the internet. Once you said something, it’s out there. And even if you go online ten minutes later and delete that post, chances are somebody took a screenshot, and chances are somebody can retrieve that post. So it’s out there forever. It doesn’t happen in the moment. It happens for eternity. And that is a big risk.

Why consistency is key if you are running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (32:45): In the last ten years, I’ve seen more careers ruined because of what someone tweeted or retweeted on Twitter. I’ve never seen someone lose an election because of something they didn’t tweet or post on Facebook. I’ve seen a lot of candidates lose because of something they did. And they can never escape it. They can’t hide it. The minute you post something, somebody has a copy of it. One of the things I would mention in passing is the popular social media outlets today may or may not be here in ten years. We’re going to evolve. TikTok was nowhere two or three years ago. And today, if you want to reach young voters, you have to be on TikTok. That’s the way it’s, so it’s important in politics to be where people are and your target demographic. And it’s important to some extent, Sylvie, I think to make sure that your branding is consistent. If you are using a headshot, that headshot needs to be on every single one. You need to look like the same person; otherwise, they’re not going to get the right kind of picture. If in one you look like you’re 30, and if another one there you are, it looks like 55 years old, they don’t get the proper picture of you. And it is one thing that I would emphasize about your logo, your branding, your slogan—that part of your brand needs to be on everything that you’re using.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (34:39): Remember that I said our brains are actually quite lazy; they don’t like to work. That’s why consistency is so important for the brains of your potential voters. They don’t want to take the time and compare you and say, is this the same person? Like it is here, it looks so different. Or even, is this the same person, I just saw an event here. He or she or they look 20 years younger, right? 

Our brain likes to think in patterns, and you need to offer them a pattern, a consistency in the way you appear also online. So your brand needs to be consistent along all social media platforms. However, what you can still do is once you have defined your brand, you can adjust your messaging based on the audience you have on that platform. Not saying that you are a different person, but saying that on TikTok, what will bring you in front of a huge audience is probably simple videos, straightforward, talking into the camera, using encouraging motivating language, because that’s what the audience on TikTok wants to see.

But if you draft a LinkedIn post, you probably want to position yourself more as the in-depth expert there. Those are the topics I’m going to handle for you. Those are the areas I have identified that are wrong. And here are the solutions that I offer all of us to fix. While if you go on YouTube and you present yourself as an expert in front of a camera like we just do, then it’s probably more of a conversational style. Either you talk to the camera and explain a complex topic, or you invite somebody and discuss an issue with them. So while you have a consistent brand over all the platforms, it’s important to adjust the way you communicate on those platforms based on who you are trying to reach.

Why distraction is your worst enemy if you are running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (36:59): Very true. I want to mention something about the environment because it’s a topic of the press this week. For the last four days, I’ve been reading in the newspaper about Donald Trump having dinner with a couple of unsavory people. And it’s not a one-day story. This is now day five of controversy about the people he had dinner with in Florida. And it is relevant to something that you’ve mentioned that voters also tend to judge you by the company you keep. They judge you by your interaction with your family, your spouse, your children, your campaign staff, the way you treat other people. And it goes to the point that the camera’s always on. And in fact, in politics, nothing is a secret very long, including who you had dinner with last night.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (38:13): You are on stage 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. And so, the fantastic example that you just shared, two things come together here. First, yes, the environment matters, but what you are facing, especially with the press and media, is something we call “negativity bias.” Every single human has to some sort or to some level a bias in them that is called negativity bias. We rather see the things that are wrong than the things that are right. So, we get so caught up in that moment that we focus on the negative information we just received that we simply ignore everything going on around us. I’ll give you an example. If you are at an event, for example, at a conference, and you sit in the audience, or even if you are the speaker, if you as a politician on stage, you will not walk out and say, well, at today’s event everybody set up so straight and had such an amazing body language. But if you see one of the people in your audience just hanging in there, slouching—our eye and our brain are instantly drawn to that person because we carry negativity by us in us. And you will remember that person more than the other 200, 300, or 1000 people who actually were sitting up straight for you. So it’s the press that loves bad news; they love things like that. So they will instantly pick it up and make it a big topic.

I share another example. Years ago, a Governor ran for the second time in his state and, yes, got reelected and had a fantastic speech that evening when he got reelected. It was very emotional, it was very driven, and it was beautiful to listen to. Behind him on camera was his wife, and she somehow was distracted. She looked around. She talked to people. Obviously, we couldn’t hear what she was seeing. She started fumbling around with her hair. Then she fixed her bra at one point. She was just not in the moment while all eyes were on him—supposedly. What happened the next morning, the press was full of messages and information about her, not about the very important things that he said as he got reelected. Not about the promises that he made for his state; it was all about his wife. And in fact, they already went three steps further and questioned her ability, in case he would ever run as president, would she be a good first lady representing us this way? So you need to make sure that everybody on your campaign team, and I always include the family into that campaign team too, is on stage 365 days too. Your campaign can be easily ruined, not by just yourself, it can be ruined by somebody you hired for your social media. Somebody you are married to. Somebody you gave birth to. And they don’t even have to do this on purpose, but they need to understand that they are on your campaign team and that a lot of media and press is driven by negativity bias. So whatever they want to find, they’re going to find it.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (42:00): They will. This was a little before your time as a New Yorker, but I remember Rudy Giuliani’s first inaugural speech after he was elected mayor—I believe the year was 1993, is when he was elected, and he gave his inaugural speech in January. Nobody remembers a word that he said because he allowed his young son to stand on stage. And during Giuliani’s entire speech, the son stood next to him and made faces. And that’s all anyone will ever remember about Giuliani’s maiden speech in New York City. If your young son can’t behave himself, don’t put him in a place where everybody’s going to see it.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (42:58): And on top, I would also like to encourage you to think about that environment from the perspective you are responsible for them too. Because your actions also will have an impact on how we see them and how the world perceives them. You and I have studied intensively a politician who also ran as a Mayor for New York City in the past and, for whatever reason, decided to put out a tweet that shows half part of his body half-naked, not just once, twice, a third time. We both know he ended up in prison for a while for his activities. But I need you to look a little bit beyond this. This is just social media 101, right? We all know today, not a good idea, not ethical; just don’t do it. We know that, right? But look beyond that, that one tweet what impact it has on his wife and her career. Look at that one tweet on what impact it had on an entire campaign team that lost their job. And look at that tweet, what impact it has on his little son. I think back then, two years old or maybe a little bit younger, who quite frankly didn’t understand at this point what was happening. But who now, for the rest of his life, has to handle his father’s digital footprint? Every time they’re going to Google his son’s name in the future, his colleagues at school, his teachers, his neighbors, his friends, they will find his father’s footprint and not his first. So you also have a responsibility for your environment and the people that you invite to be part of that environment.

Final thoughts and advice for your candidates who are considering running for office

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (44:55): So very true. Let’s just imagine that you have been approached, and well, let’s start with this. If someone would like to work with you on all of this stuff that we have talked about, how do they get ahold of you?

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (45:23): Thank you very much for asking it. At any given time, they can go to my website,, which is not the easiest name to write and spell out. But I bet you will add it somewhere in the show notes or where you publish this or just Google speaker, coach, and first impressions. And if I don’t show up then, then there is either something wrong with my website, or you don’t have internet. But, at every single moment, I invite you to reach out if you need any help. I have learned from great coaches and advisors like you to serve this community of people who serve our country and to really appreciate that. I’m here to help. And if we need to work a little bit more on it than just a quick question, well, then let’s find a way.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (46:15): Okay, alright, we’ll make sure to do that. Now, final thoughts. Let’s say you’re approached by someone in, say, twenties, early thirties, and they say, tell me where to start to make sure that I leave a good impression on people that I meet. Parting thoughts?

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (46:41): Final thoughts. So, in corporate environments, I say, if you want to become the CEO of an organization one day, you have to start to appear, behave, and communicate like a CEO already today. Meaning, in your role, yes, it’s easy to say, just think of the next office I’m running, and the next office I’m running, and the next office I’m running. But what I want you to do instead is what is going to be the last office that you want to run for? Do you want a run as the president of the United States? Well, then, you have to keep that goal in mind already today, even if you are at the beginning. Because throughout your journey, you need to leave hints that you are capable of one day having that important role in that office. If you only think about the next step, you are limiting yourself, first of all, self-limiting beliefs, but you’re also limiting the opportunities that potential voters have out there to see a future president in you.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (47:56):
That is very sound advice.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (47:58): Thank you very much. Thank you. I learned a lot from experts like you in the past. And I value our friendship. I’m so grateful and blessed. But let’s just make it another decade.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (48:12): Sylvie, I want to thank you for your time today. You’ve been delightful, and hopefully, lots of people will benefit from what you’ve had to say.

Running for office, Sylvie di GiustoSylvie di Giusto (48:24): Thank you very much. It has been such a joy. Every moment with you is always a joy. But to speak about a topic we both are so passionate about is an extra joy. I know that all your candidates are in such amazing hands with your advice. And thank you for the opportunity to allow me to share a little bit of my area of expertise. Everybody who is running for office out there, thank you very much for your service. I know it’s not easy, and that is hard work, but we need passionate people like you to represent the average person like me in your office. Thank you.

Running for office, jay townsendJay Townsend (49:04):
Thank you. You have a wonderful day.

Contact Jay Townsend

Political Consultant | Campaign Strategist

  • Political Consulting; Candidate Training:
  • Developing a Compelling Campaign Message
  • Crafting Slogans Voters Remember
  • Producing Compelling Videos, Television and Radio Ads
  • Designing Persuasion Mail Voters Want to Read
  • Helping Candidates get what they want from TV, Radio and Newspaper Interviews
  • Debate Preparation
  • Helping Candidates Design Smart Campaign Strategies