“The day after Jim Messina quit his job as White House deputy chief of staff last January, he caught a plane to Los Angeles, paid a brief visit to his girlfriend, and then commenced what may be the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken,” Joshua Green reports for Businessweek. “He was about to begin a new job as Barack Obama’s campaign manager, and being a diligent student with access to some very smart people, he arranged a rolling series of personal seminars with the CEOs and senior executives of companies that included Apple, Facebook, Zynga, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and DreamWorks.”
“In two long, private conversations, Steve Jobs tore into Messina for all the White House was doing wrong and what it ought to be doing differently, before going on to explain how the campaign could exploit technology in ways that hadn’t been possible before,” Green reports. “‘Last time you were programming to only a couple of channels,’ Jobs told him, meaning the Web and e-mail. ‘This time, you have to program content to a much wider variety of channels—Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Google—because people are segmented in a very different way than they were four years ago.’ When Obama declared for president, the iPhone hadn’t been released. Now, Jobs told him, mobile technology had to be central to the campaign’s effort. ‘He knew exactly where everything was going,’ Messina says. ‘He explained viral content and how our stuff could break out, how it had to be interesting and clean.'”
Green reports, “A certain awestruck tone surfaces when Messina talks about these encounters and what they taught him. At 42, he is tall and slightly stooped, with an innocent face, a flop of blonde hair, and a sheepdog friendliness made somewhat surreal by the arsenal of profanity he deploys when not speaking for the record. Messina, who’s from Denver, managed his first campaign as an undergraduate at the University of Montana and in the 20 years since has never lost a race. Before joining Obama in 2008, he alternated between running campaigns and working on Capitol Hill. He made his name as chief of staff to Senator Max Baucus of Montana, becoming known as ‘Baucus’s muscle’ for his skill as a behind-the-scenes enforcer… Messina is convinced that modern presidential campaigns are more like fast-growing tech companies than anything found in a history book and his own job like that of the executives who run them… Messina came to this insight through a relationship with someone keenly attuned to these changes and famous for having groomed two other young men to run a very large enterprise: Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. Messina considers him a mentor. ‘Jim and I met in the 2008 campaign and just hit it off on a personal basis,’ Schmidt says. ‘We became very good friends.’ …Last January, as Messina was beginning his new job, Schmidt stepped back from Google and Larry Page took over as CEO. Since then, Schmidt has become a kind of guru to Messina, an executive coach and kindred spirit.”
Much more in the full article, “Obama’s CEO: Jim Messina Has a President to Sell,” here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]