Big man on campus

September 17th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Despite the title, this post is not about being a 2nd year MBA student (although it is nice to start this school year feeling much more “in control” than last year). We had a visit from the real “big man” today–President Obama. obama
He spoke to the entire University of Maryland campus and community about his healthcare proposals.

I was really amazed by the showmanship and personal feeling of the event, despite the fact that there were thousands of people gathered in the stadium. President Obama personalized the entire message, so that every story was relevant to college life, parties, and drinking. He was introduced, in fact, by a UMD student who dealt with a major medical crisis during the last year. Her message was, in essence, “without my parents’ health plan, under which I will soon lose coverage, I would have been without means to pay for my condition.” Obama quickly referred back to the story she told, promising college students coverage under their parents’ plan until age 25.

He also told the story behind his rallying cry of “fired up–ready to go”. Although the story was told very casually, with lots of personal touches, by the time President Obama finished the speech, he was able to get the entire stadium (including me, the political skeptic) to chant the phrase with him.

There was one heckler during the speech, but the president was nonplussed. He continued speaking witht the same, eventone manner. The crowd began reacting to the heckler, but Obama told them “Don’t worry about him. We’re doing fine.” The distraction was then ignored while he was taken out of the stadium by security. It was a brilliant move by Obama. Not only was his problem solved, but he also came across as open-minded, patient, and considerate.

(I have some videos of the event, which I’ll hopefully figure out how to post very soon.)

In the end, I feel really grateful to be going to school so close to the nation’s capital, where I can take advantage of amazing opportunities like this. Going to b-school is not just about salary increase for me–I want to be using this time to learn and grow. And this was not only a boost to me political education. Obama is also an award-winning marketing communications manager, having won the Grand Prix marketing award at Cannes this year for his election campaign. Since I’m moving into a marketing position after school, I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of his marketing and PR success rub off on me.