Top 10 Things Learned on the Campaign Trail

May 23, 2019
Top 10 Things Learned on the Campaign Trail

  1. Melvin’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

This breakfast/lunch spot is in Our State’s list of top food places for good reason! I had not been to Elizabethtown, NC before—and so glad I did! Grab a bag of burgers (cash only, friends!) on the way to Jones Lake State Park-also a gem in this great state!  Pro tip: great place to take your kids who think everything should be tailored to them—watch how they react to a limited menu!

  1. Fayetteville Woodpeckers

To know me for more than 5 minutes is to know that I adore baseball. The team formerly known as the Generals is now the Woodpeckers, affiliated with the Houston Astros. The brand new stadium is first class, and one family outing that is reasonably priced. Extra credit for taking your photo with the monument in Fayetteville to the location of Babe Ruth’s first home run!

Photo Credit: St. Andrews University, a branch of Webber International University
  1. St. Andrews University

This college was started by the Presbyterian Church and has been a catalyst in the Scotland County region. Their equestrian program and facilities are a top draw, and the innovative education happening here is going to continue. If your high schooler is looking at the big schools (UNC, NCSU, Duke), don’t overlook how powerful an education can be at a school with fewer than 1000 students on campus.  They’re working hard at coming back from Hurricane Florence flooding and I’m excited for the outlook.

  1. Robeson County farmers are figuring it out.

All you ever hear about Lumberton and Robeson County is that it’s one of the poorest counties in the country. But wake up, there are some really innovative things happening here with small farmers. Hemp is the new cash crop, and raising goats and sheep for meat is outpacing beef cattle. I loved touring these farms—and was really intrigued by the fully organic farm raising green goods for UNC-Pembroke and its broadening international student cadre. Fascinating!

  1. Door-knocking still works.

It’s Realtor® 101. When you’re getting started—you have to wear out the shoe leather and get to know people, face to face.  Exactly like campaigning.  Honestly, I didn’t expect people in 2019 to come to the door but they sure did.  99% of them were friendly and gracious.  I also have learned how to speak nicely to Skybell/Nest/Ring doorbells (they’re always watching!).

  1. Some support is unexpected.

There were people that I thought would be right there with me through thick or thin, who were scarce as hens’ teeth on the hardest days. And then there were the others who showed up out of nowhere to cheer for me and make sure that I knew the support was there. I don’t know how or why these folks selected me as their champion but I’ll be forever grateful for the kindness and the hard work.

  1. Can’t control others’ messages or choices.

I was raised from day one not to say ugly or hurtful things about others. Had I done so, I would have been sent out to pull a switch! So it definitely hurt when the guns were turned on me, full bore.  When lies and half-truths and snide comments became the tool. It hurt even more since it was coming from strangers who do not know me and who did not try to know me. I have to wonder how much damage social media has done to our innate humanity, when things are said behind a keyboard which certainly would be unacceptable in person.  I reminded myself daily that I know WHO I am and WHOSE I am, and that was enough to let me remember that they chose poorly—not I.

  1. You can learn a lot in loneliness.

I’m a classic INTJ who enjoys other people (in limited quantities). I had no idea how lonely a campaign could be.  I was out of my real estate business so that I could focus on being 100% vested in the primary campaign, so I was ‘out’ of real estate conversations.  I was out of my speaking business, which led to a huge drought of selfies and conversations with event attendees-interactions that I didn’t even realize were so valuable until I no longer had them.  A lot of tears were shed, a lot of prayers said, a lot of self-doubt bubbled up and then had to be tamped down, and I grew at least 4 more layers of skin. Turns out that talking to yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

  1. Stay on message.

It’s easy to just start talking, and many of us do just that without even thinking about who is listening or what they are assuming about what you’re saying. However, you have to remember that the average adult attention span has dropped to the 3.7 second range (shorter than a goldfish, thankyouverymuch), so you have to focus on a couple of key items and just those things. This was something really hard for me, as someone who does pay attention and does the research and enjoys an energetic round of Trivial Pursuit! Realtors® do this all the time—rambling about other things when the client at hand just wants to know the price or the time frame or something else more direct.

  1. Some risks pay off, some don’t. At least not how you may have expected.

This was such a huge risk. I gave up an unknown number of real estate deals, from people who probably would have called me but chose to call someone else instead. I gave up a prestigious volunteer position in the National Association of Realtors, which is attained not by begging but by hard work. I gave up a huge amount in speaking fees and also damaged some relationships by breaking contracts for events out of the area. I’m still reeling from the losses, in addition to the loss in the primary race.  Will that risk pay off? I don’t know—it’s a long term question, not short term.  All I can say is that it may be a while before the payoff exposes itself. As of now, I’m counting on the virtue of hard work and the grace of professionals to give me a chance again.

  1. Rediscovering old friendships is the nicest perk of all.

I almost forgot one of the coolest moments.  At a candidate debate in Monroe, I told an anecdote about my time at Governor’s School (a North Carolina program started in the 1960s to encourage academically gifted high schoolers in their journeys).  At the end, the Union County DA came up to me, and it was someone from that same year, with whom I had not spoken in some 27 years (Jonathan Perry).  What a blessing to reconnect! That’s the main lesson I took away—at least right now, at one week later.  It’s all been a blessing, with more to be unpacked as I go.

~ Leigh 


REALTOR®. Author. Coach. Keynote speaker. Leigh Brown is laser-focused on inspiring people to be better, strive for more, and to take the reins and lead!

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