Heather Hansen

Advocacy Wins – The Presidency

Want proof that advocacy wins? Look to history.

President Chester Arthur served as President from 1881-1885. He was rumored to have owned over 80 pairs of pants and he received four marriage proposals on his last day in office. His nickname was “Elegant Arthur”. For those who have asked whether my book, The Elegant Warrior, is for men, Arthur is proof that men are elegant.

He is also proof that facts tell, stories sell, but Advocacy wins. President Arthur was a lawyer before he became President. In fact, the majority of past US Presidents passed the bar before they became President. There were 25 of them, including  Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Filmore, Lincoln, FDR, Nixon, Clinton, Obama and, of course, Elegant Arthur. These men knew how to advocate, and advocacy certainly helped them win.

There’s a focus on storytelling lately, especially in business. In fact, many have written about Abraham Lincoln as a storyteller. Lincoln knew how to tell a story, but he didn’t stop there. Lincoln wasn’t just storytelling. He was advocating. 

Whether at trial or in his run for President, Lincoln didn’t just tell stories. He chose people (his staff, Generals, confidantes) Lawyers do this all the time at jury selection. He also asked questions, overcame objections, and objected when it was necessary. Lincoln collected evidence to use as proof. He built his credibility by setting expectations and meeting them, making promises and keeping them. When Lincoln was telling stories he used his body, his facial expressions and his tone of voice. These are the tools of a trial lawyer, and he used them to advocate for his clients in the courtroom and for himself on the campaign trail.  

No matter what you want to win–a customer, a client, a sale, an argument, someone’s attention, or the Presidency–you need to learn to advocate. That means making connections, using curiosity, and building credibility. It means story listening as much as story telling. When you go beyond storytelling and start advocating, you’ll start winning. Maybe you’ll even be our next President….. 

Heather Hansen

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