Awe-struck by Frank Luntz
We were guided into a nearly full-size replica of the Oval Office where every detail of the furniture, walls, carpeting and the chachkies on the desk were perfect. Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress was even hanging next to the shower.
Welcome to the Frank Luntz VIP ride through his 6000 square foot house in West Los Angeles.
There was another room, another replica. This one was a small town America street corner newsstand, called “Frank’s.” It had long, wide racks filled with among other publications, Life Magazines going back decades, chronicling America’s and the world’s most influential events. I was instructed to rub the small figurine head of Winston Churchill and a wall slid open. Another room of political posters from America and around the world appeared. There was another room of famous signed documents that changed societies. Another unexpected room. Another. And another. It was all so jaw-dropping that you needed a pulley to reset your mandible.
Frank Luntz holds the coveted title for being like no one you have ever met before.
The most inspiring masterclass on Communication, all in two hours.
The celebrated pollster, one-time Fox News commentator, strategist for Republican political campaigns, had been introduced to me through USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Dean, Willow Bay. Frank invited me and 25 of my students, current and alums, to his home for what turned out to be a Masters' master class on Communication. Without parallel, in my seven years teaching Masters students at USC Annenberg, he was the most dynamic outside person to ever engage my students. The man proved not only his knowledge and abilities, but also his talent as a teacher to deliver lessons no one present will ever forget. The whole evening’s package was the kind of encounter you read about in novels or see in films and say, “Oh, that kind experience would never happen in real life.”
A majority of Democrats in the room.
The room was a vast majority Democrats. But once Frank began, it didn’t make a difference. Also, I was so proud in front of the international students in the room for them to see Americans interacting with one another in this respectful, polite and civil way, across the divide, with no animosity. This is the way America should be.
Unexpected critical thinking exercises.
Frank threw me in with the students, as now one of his students. I sat at his feet to learn. His methodologies were completely original and captivating. He provoked debate among us, motivating the group to pose societal questions to one another, concluding in answers that no one knew were rolling around in our brains. At one point he led an exercise where we had to create an ongoing stream of thought about an issue, one person after the other, while following the next progressive letter of the alphabet, using our first word of the sentence beginning with that letter. All of these were exercises designed for us to immediately think on our feet substantially and creatively.
The 9-point takeaway.
Here are 9 points that those of us in the house agreed upon during the next few days, were the most important takeaways:
- Nothing is more important in any encounter than the human factor, recognizing and honoring each other’s humanity, though we may hold different opinions.
- Respect brings people together and pride separates.
- Listening, but more importantly learning from who you're listening to.
- In a debate with someone from the opposing party, keep calm, smile and regardless if they're shouting or yelling at least you'll understand how they think. (I couldn’t help but think how Kellyanne Conway is the absolute master of this skill.)
- Mutual respect is the best strategy for an intellectual conversation with someone from the opposite party. With that, it will foster a healthy, successful outcome and friendship.
- When asking a question, try to say "and" instead of "but" to make the question more open, without hostility and posing a threat.
- Having an impact is more important than having an idea.
- Know the importance of negative space and silence, punctuating your communication.
- Be succinct
The Frank and Gary collaboration.
Frank and I are getting together at 3pm tomorrow to plan how we will co-teach a class next spring. This Democrat is so excited to collaborate and teach with that Republican.
The Red Table
Jumping into the interaction between generations? Or into the tension between two sides of an issue be it business or nonprofit? Or between two departments? Or between any parties on different sides of the table? Do you want the two sides to collaborate with an audience and produce creative solutions to solve the tension..... all in 120 minutes? That's right, 120 minutes that can change everything. Then talk to me about the Red Table.