What T Swift Can Teach Us About Using Our Voices, Votes As Women Leaders
The first presidential debate in the run for the office of The President of The United States is over. In a little more than one month, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will (most likely) be voted into office.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed that you’re only one vote among the masses? You have a voice that really can be many times stronger than that vote. For inspiration just turn to a woman who may be an unlikely role model in this arena: Taylor Swift.
While she’s not in politics, when you look closely, the superstar (and smart business woman!) exhibits many of the traits we could all use to exert political influence. Swift is known for her ability to effectively express herself and communicate (in her case through music) and has people listening to what she has to say — and that influences the world around her. Here are five ways to amplify your voice like pop superstar Taylor Swift and influence the 2016 presidential election:
Share your real life experience.
Swift is known for using real life experiences as inspiration for her work. She is unafraid to talk about her personal life, like breakups, in her songs. That helps people to connect with her and gets them interested in figuring out what she is talking about.
If you want others to be interested in what you have to say, talk about your real life experiences. Open up about issues that are personal and important to you, such as gender equity, abortion, immigration, or gun control. You will be surprised at how many people will share the same story and your concerns. As Taylor Swift found out, sharing personal moments can be a winning strategy.
Speak-up when there is injustice.
Last year, in a letter to Apple, Swift disapproved of the company’s decision to not pay artists during an initial three-month free trial of Apple AAPL -1.72% Music and said she would withhold her album 1989 from the service. She felt it was unfair for Apple to use artists, particularly new and young artists, to grow its new streaming service without compensating them and asked the company to reconsider its policy. Hours after Swift publicly posted the letter, Apple announced it would change its policy and compensate artists for their music during the trial period.
(And no, you don’t have to be famous to make a difference. Olivia, a 12-year old from Brooklyn, wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton that went viral. Olivia wrote about her learning challenges and the unequal access people with disabilities like hers have to a great education. Hillary Clinton noticed, and the campaign shared it publicly on Twitter TWTR +21.42%. Olivia’s voice was heard by millions of people.)
Speaking-up makes an impact. Write to your representatives and to editors — share with them where you see instances of unfairness. Publish your thoughts online. Speaking-up is particularly important for women if they want to amplify their voices in the 2016 presidential election. Public officials receive two million more letters and calls from men than women each year, and more men than women donate to political campaigns. Your letters and calls mean something.
Crossover if your gut tells you.
Swift broke into the music scene as a country music artist. Not feeling limited by the genre and in defiance of her critics, she moved her style of music into pop. Her country-pop crossover was more than a success; it was genius. She is one of the most powerful women in the world and has over 78 million Twitter followers. Her 2015 1989 World Tour grossed a quarter of a billion dollars.
Crossing over can pay off. The Democratic and Republican parties are invented constructs that simplify the political process and, in most cases, the actual views people have on issues. This year’s election is far from simple — it is complicated, and there is no reason to pretend that it is not. Do not feel limited by the choice of presidential nominee that a party has made. Decide and support the individual who most aligns with your viewpoints and values regardless of his or her affiliation.
Engage with people and interact on social media.
A master at using social media platforms, Swift effectively interacts with her millions of fans and responds directly to many, sometimes sending them holiday gifts and inviting them to her house for parties.
Take advantage of this highly socialized world, and use it as an effective communication tool to share your thoughts. To be effective and influential, the communication needs to be a dialogue. Your thoughts and words on social media need to show that you are listening to others and see the communication as a two-way street. Diatribes or rants are not dialogues and are unproductive. Merely telling people what or who is wrong will harm you and your affiliations and not amplify your voice. For example, instead of complaining and making negative comment after negative comment about a nominee, offer a solution that helps to make things right.
Collaborate with other voices.
Swift collaborates with other artists for her albums and, as part of her 1989 tour, invited guests like Justin Timberlake, Wiz Khalifa, Mary J. Blige, Ellen DeGeneres, Mick Jagger, and the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team to be a part of the concert. She sees how having other influential voices on stage with her increases her exposure.
You do not have to work alone. Collaborating with others to voice a shared view can amplify your message. Public forums are a great resource, but women do not speak up as much as men in such situations. To illustrate, while just under half of town hall attendees are female, only 28% of women speak at these meetings. It is critical that as we approach the national conventions and presidential debates that people, particularly women, leverage their voices to speak-up in group settings to share their point of view and ask questions.
If you want to amplify your voice and make an impact on this year’s election, think about how Taylor Swift has made waves in the music business and how it extends to a business that is all of ours: the governance of the United States. Be real, speak-up, follow your values, and leverage the power of your voice and those of others.
This column originally ran in Forbes.
About the Author
A lawyer and strategist, Avery Clark helps individuals and organizations position and advocate for themselves to advance their priorities. She advises clients globally on career strategy and business owners, corporate leaders, and startup founders on thought leadership and organizational strategy, having worked in the public and private sectors, most recently at the University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security working on crisis management. The National Association for Women Lawyers recognized her for her work in policy and the advancement of women.