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My 5 “Points of Persuasion” That Influence Me as a Georgia Lawmaker

For those of you that are in Georgia and have ANY sense of timing, you’d know that the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session is upon us. We convene on Jan. 8th, 2018 at 10:00 am, per our state Constitution. And we will meet up to forty (40) days per our constitution, although not consecutively. Sidenote: Did you know the Georgia constitution happens to be one of the longest in the nation behind Texas? That’s not a compliment folks….

Become a Citizen Lobbyist

Anyway, I am in my 4th term or 8th year as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. My! How time flies when you are having fu…..well, not having much fun since I am in the minority party. Although, that’s an upgrade because I used to be a member of the SUPER minority party until recently but I digress. During my time in the legislature, I have seen my law degree, my undergraduate communications degree AND my M.B.A. all serving me well in terms of persuasion with others. But it doesn’t take degrees to understand the art of persuasion when it comes to influencing your lawmakers. And let me take this personal point of privilege to STRONGLY encourage you to pester your lawmakers as much as you can and hold them accountable. But aside from that, don’t let the media tell you only paid lobbyists are the ones that persuade legislators. I assure you that is NOT the case. Citizen lobbyists are some of the most persuasive people I know. They are passionate. They are pithy (which is important). And most importantly, most of the time they are my constituents, which is of the highest priority for me.

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My 5 Persuasion Points

Anyway, I am in my 4th term or 8th year as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. My! How time flies when you are having fu…..well, not having much fun since I am in the minority party. Although, that’s an upgrade because I used to be a member of the SUPER minority party until recently but I digress. During my time in the legislature, I have seen my law degree, my undergraduate communications degree AND my M.B.A. all serving me well in terms of persuasion with others. But it doesn’t take degrees to understand the art of persuasion when it comes to influencing your lawmakers. And let me take this personal point of privilege to STRONGLY encourage you to pester your lawmakers as much as you can and hold them accountable. But aside from that, don’t let the media tell you only paid lobbyists are the ones that persuade legislators. I assure you that is NOT the case. Citizen lobbyists are some of the most persuasive people I know. They are passionate. They are pithy (which is important). And most importantly, most of the time they are my constituents, which is of the highest priority for me.

 

Point No. 1: Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I am looking for whole truths and not half truths or puffed up lies. There are competing interests on every piece of legislation so eventually the truth will get back to me. So, to avoid my rage and your embarrassment, just be upfront about the whole situation in the process. If you can accurately convey the pros and cons of your argument, you would have gained the respect of me as a legislator and as an attorney. I mean, attorneys…most of them anyway…like facts and knowing all of the arguments. So perhaps this is why I put the most emphasis on this persuasion point.

 

Point No. 2: Give me data.

I love data. You can lie about a number of things—-but numbers don’t lie and neither does the data and conclusions that come from those numbers. I am particularly a fan of charts and infograms. It helps me digest the millions of information I receive each session. So take that load of information, numbers and data and put it into a form that is easily digestible and distinguishable among the piles of paper that sit on my legislative desk everyday. But remember when you are giving out that data to refer to point no. #1. That’s important.

 

Point No. 3: Think about those I represent.

The majority of constituents I represent are middle age, African American females with 2.5 kids and a post graduate degree from DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. Relate your position to how it affects MY district specifically. If you can combine points number 1, 2 and 3 you have hit the jackpot as far as I am concerned! I know as a citizen lobbyist that can be a daunting task. Indeed, I know it would be hard to specify your argument based on 180 distinct House district—-but it goes a LONG way in persuading me. I need to know the impact on those I serve and it’s easier to get me to your position if you can tell me how it affect those 54,000 Georgians I serve.

 

Point No. 4: Advise where the bill is in the process.

Seriously, don’t talk to me about a bill that hasn’t even had a 2nd reader. Or hasn’t been assigned to committee. Or has been assigned to a committee I don’t serve on. Or has no chances of seeing the light of day. Why? We vote on thousands of pieces of legislation which means thousands more have been filed. I need to focus on the forest as opposed to the trees—specifically the forest that is ahead of me and not the trees behind me. It’s a waste of both of our time to discuss bills that are far on the horizon. In fact, I will forget what you told me by the time the bill becomes relevant anyway. It takes a little patience but prioritizing your arguments are the best way to get my full attention when I have a million other things on my mind. And I can talk competently about it when it is in my radio. And THAT is a win-win for all of us!

 

Point No. 5: What’s in it for you?

It’s an honest question and one I think, as a lawmaker, I am entitled to know. I don’t judge motives; only outcomes. However, knowing motives does allow me to determine how I process information coming from someone. If the answer is “because I am being paid by a client” or “this affects me personally”, fair enough! I am a lawyer. I have clients. I know what it means to have a duty to zealously represent a client. I’m not mad. But be honest. We are all humans so self-preservation is a thing…a real thing…a thing none of us should hide from. Now, some of my colleagues won’t appreciate the honesty but I do.

 

Conclusion

Where there you have it! My 5 points for how to personally persuade me, Dar’shun Kendrick, the State Representative from House District 93. I hope that this list will be helpful as we embark on the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session. It is my particular wish that each of you reading this blog post will put these skills to use and come visit me at the “velvet rope” outside Chambers.

 

Need more “hands on” training and expertise?

Then I have THE workshop for you, hosted by my private business Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC. Tickets are VERY limited so I hope you will join me, others and pitch expert A.C. Chan to learn more about the art of “pitching” and persuasion. The best part—I will be there since it’s my program so you can try your “pitch” out on me. You can’t get better beta testing than that so join me!

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Blacks in Tech Make History in the State of Georgia

A Super Proud Moment in My Life & for the state of Georgia

I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives since 2010. I have met diplomats, Presidents, and other high level officials, traveled to 8 different countries representing the state of Georgia and been a part of some great legislative changes to help the 9 million Georgians within this state. But I have NEVER had a prouder moment, outside of being elected by my constituents, than I had on Nov. 8th, 2017 at Atlanta City Hall. Over 150 attendees flooded Atlanta City Hall Old Chambers for a historic event in the state of Georgia: The 1st EVER Georgia Blacks in Tech Policy Conference, an intersection of technology and innovation and policy making and policy makers. Epic is an understatement. (Pictured above: Me and co-chair Rodney Sampson before event.)

The Vision Is Born

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So how did I come up with this event?

Well, I had an opportunity to attend a blacks in tech networking event in Atlanta in May of this year. I expected there to be up to 100 blacks in tech at the event. But when I entered the room, there had to be almost 1,000 blacks involved in tech! Imagine my shock and excitement at the same time. The purpose of the event was to talk about the Atlanta black tech scene and how to move forward for creating better opportunities. After I heard presentation after presentation, while the suggestions were good, I realized there was something that was missing: policy. To be honest, for whatever reason, policy seems to almost ALWAYS be missing from the conversation whenever an industry in the black community wants to discuss change. Something had to be done to underscore the importance of involving policy makers in tech change. Luckily, I had to the ability to do something about this. And so I set to work.

NOTE:

I had NO money, NO volunteers, NO co-chair, NO venue and NO way of knowing how I was going to pull this off in May of this year when I came up with this event so let me take the time to say THANK YOU to not only the planning committee, but each one of the sponsors that took a leap of faith to put their trust in me for this 1st time event.

 

Policy Meets Technology

No matter if you vote or who you voted for, policy affects us all….every last person in the United States and Georgia. So either you get in the game or you will find yourself only being able to talk about change without actually doing it. As it is often quoted in politics, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

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I was lucky to have been just featured in a Huffington Post article by Mr. Rodney Sampson, who is one of the most politically active technology personalities I know in Georgia. In this article, he listed 25 people best positioned to scale Atlanta’s growing inclusive technology ecosystem. I thought to myself that these individuals should form the Host committee for this historic event. No vetting necessary! I was off to a good start!

After some discussions with Rodney, he accepted my offer to become Co-Chair for this event. His participation was VITAL to it’s success. I can bring the policy makers to the table but if there is no tech credibility behind this venture in the black tech community, it’s dead on arrival. So what you ended up having for this event is a leader in state policy and a leader in tech joining forces for to advance the black tech ecosystem here in Georgia through policy. This conference was well on its way. So I booked Nov. 8th for use of the Georgia State Capitol House Chambers, appropriations room, South wing and 2 of its largest rooms. I was ready to go!

 

No pain, no gain

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Here is the ugly truth, pure D.K. style: There are those that were scared and did not want a bunch of black people at the State Capitol. Period. End of story. Nothing can change my mind about that. And they had a reason to be scared; there is POWER in numbers and 30% of Georgia is black. And we were coming with specific, policy requests from influential technology leaders in the state. I was ruffling some feathers…as I tend to do at times.

Long story short, we ended up having to change the location from the Georgia State Capitol to Atlanta City Hall. To that end, I would like to personally thank Councilman Andre Dickens and his team, specifically Ali Carter, for whom I shall be eternally grateful for helping us through the location crisis. Kiona Byrd, Logistics Chair for the conference, helped tremendously being an employee of the City of Atlanta and working on the ground everyday. Their contributions to the success of this event cannot be overstated. (For those of you that are the Christian faith, Romans 8:28 comes to mind.)

Just when you thought an abrupt change in location would be the only catastrophe that happens when planning an event, there was more in store. ANY and EVERYTHING that could go WRONG with a conference, went wrong with this one. Ladies and gentlemen, I am NOT exaggerating. And although I have planned literally thousands of events, all with their own hiccups and problems, this conference has specifically prepared me to take on ANYTHING I may encounter for future events. And for that reason, I “count it all joy” each of the problems below.

  • I had a large sponsor who tried to get out of sponsoring, i.e. paying the money, for the event at the last minute after almost 2 months of promoting and expenses incurred. Luckily, that was resolved rather quickly.
  • I lost members of the planning committee. When I say “lost”, I mean they either decided that they could no longer participate or were removed from the committee. We went from 26 people who wanted to “help” to 10, the “Talented Ten”. My standards of execution, even if on a volunteer basis, are remarkably high. I don’t do mediocre.
  • I had a caterer charge my credit card for an amount I didn’t authorize and having to wait days for it to credit back to my account. Ultimately, we went another more FABULOUS caterer.
  • The program and policy proposals had to be updated several times due to unread emails and misunderstandings. This cost us time and money—neither of which we had much to spare as a planning committee. We eventually got it all worked out.

I have never had an event where I have experienced every type of emotion there is to experience: happiness, sadness, excitement, anxiety, frustration, anger, delight, and everything in between. It was quite a learning experience—-but keep reading! It was well worth it.

 

In the end, we did it!

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However, after all of the above, we did it! (Pictured above with Ali Carter from Councilman Andre Dickens office, Planning committee member/Logistics Chair Kiona Byrd, myself, Rodney Sampson, conference Co-Chair and Councilman Andre Dickens present us with proclamations from the Atlanta City Council.)

•             Over 305 registrants, 105 attendees

•             27 GA legislators

•             Over 25 volunteers, including 12 full time volunteers on the planning committee

•             14 black tech vendors displaying products or services

•             13 sponsors, including TriNet and Microsoft

•             8 superstar honorees making a significant impact in the Atlanta black ecosystem

•             Press: 1 interview on WABE-FM’s “Closer Look” with black tech entrepreneur Ben McFarlin, GA House Press Release and Article in On Common Ground News and UrbanGeekz article (more to come in the following weeks and will be posted on webpage)

•             Comprehensive and direct policy proposals for consideration by members of the Georgia General Assembly made up of 180 House Representatives, of which I am one, and 56 Senators

Call to Action: We are not done!

What I told attendees at the conference is what I am telling you all reading this: We are not done! The conference was only the beginning—policy proposals are one thing; getting them introduced and passed are a whole DIFFERENT ballgame. We need your continued involvement to see positive change in the state.

I invite you to sign up for my enewsletter and to join the Facebook group to stay informed about what is going on from blacks in tech from a policy perspective. I will also upload future pictures from the event and video once available.

 

Additionally, I have developed a follow up “Day of Action” and on the same day a Communications & Tech Symposium, hosted by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. These are two (2) separate events so if you would like to attend BOTH, please separately register for BOTH.

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What’s my “secret to success”? Find out what I told a room full of women.

A Super Proud Moment in My Life & for the state of Georgia

I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives since 2010. I have met diplomats, Presidents, and other high level officials, traveled to 8 different countries representing the state of Georgia and been a part of some great legislative changes to help the 9 million Georgians within this state. But I have NEVER had a prouder moment, outside of being elected by my constituents, than I had on Nov. 8th, 2017 at Atlanta City Hall. Over 150 attendees flooded Atlanta City Hall Old Chambers for a historic event in the state of Georgia: The 1st EVER Georgia Blacks in Tech Policy Conference, an intersection of technology and innovation and policy making and policy makers. Epic is an understatement. (Pictured above: Me and co-chair Rodney Sampson before event.)

The Vision Is Born

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Good Afternoon,

 

First, I want to thank Ms. Leverette and the Atlanta Council for giving me this opportunity to speak at this Meeting. It is always a pleasure to speak to business women as a business woman myself but ESPECIALLY important when there is a diverse group of women who want to learn how to grow personally and professionally from each other. Today is not only about me imparting wisdom and life lessons on you—but learning from you as well so I look forward to chatting with some of you after this event.

 

Also thank you to Dr. Sykes for her support and joining me today. Give her a round of applause. She is a part of my consulting firm’s “Givers Circle”, which is a group of diversity advocates that meet monthly to discuss a number of diversity issues and discuss solutions to race and gender problems.

 

Intro

This is my 1st of about 5 speaking engagements I have over the next month including 2 award ceremonies. Even though I am asked to speak numerous times a year, the pace and importance of my speaking engagements are starting to pick up so I have been wondering how to introduce myself in a memorable way. And I think I have come to the conclusion that I need Beyonce’s back up dancers to follow me around and play her song “Who Run the World” every time I take the stage. But, I cannot afford Beyonce’s back up dancers so if anyone wants to volunteer for these roles let me know. But it is true that we all know who run the world and that’s who ladies? (Repeat) It has been proven repeatedly that when women are at the table—things get done faster and better, both in business and in politics.

 

So if you cannot by one of my back up dancers, I have another task for you that I hope you can help me out with: I need you to snap pictures and tag me on social media. My tags are just DarshunKendrick (page on FB, Twitter @TheDiversityAct, Instagram and LinkedIn). Can you do that for me?

 

Now the flier for this event is a little ambitious—I am supposed to “introduce you to a proven system for success and tips to be a part of political decision making.” Well I can tell you right now how to answer the first part of that: My proven system for success IS, and write this down ladies, ….FAILURE WITH GRACE.

 

Proven System for Success: Failure With Grace

Now I know you are saying Dar’shun that’s not quite what we wanted to hear. We wanted to hear something uplifting and inspirational on this Saturday afternoon. Well, I am a pragmatist and I am here to tell you: failure and defeat with the utmost grace got me to where I am today. It’s often said that in life we either learn or succeed, but never truly fail so long as we are trying. That may be true, but it’s through failure that I learned to use grace to turn to what makes me happy: service to others. Let me explain.

 

My Childhood in the Dec

 

I was born at Grady Hospital and raised in Decatur GA. Not the nice part of Decatur—-the drug deal making part of Decatur, off Glenwood Road. My parents are blue collar, lower middle class folks. Neither one of them had a college degree until my mom got hers at the age of 53 a few years ago. None of my 4 grandparents have a high school diploma—let me repeat NONE of my grandparents had a high school diploma. But God got the last laugh because now I have 4 degrees, one in honor of each one of my grandparents.

 

The High School Blues

But the road to 4 degrees was rough. I went to Towers High School where the graduation rate at the time was 30% and I had a 25% chance of being pregnant by age 16. High school was also the time of one my first big fails in life, as I saw it. I am an introvert. No one believes me but I am very good about being extroverted when I need to. But in high school I was extremely shy, very nerdy and—check this out—-unbothered by others opinion of me, which was rare for a high school student especially a female. And for this, I was bullied physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I felt I had FAILED in high school. I was extremely unpopular.

 

But at the time, I could have got depressed or complained or isolated myself but what I decided to do was to get involved in student government. I was involved in elementary school but I really gravitated towards it in high school and so I emerced myself in student government activities. I could never get elected—but I always got appointed to plan Spirit Week or to plan the Homecoming Parade and Dance because the leadership knew I got stuff done. And that’s where I fell in love with the ability to serve others in a leadership capacity. Failure with grace.

 

The College Years As a Stormy Petrel & Bulldog

Fast forward,I am at Oglethorpe University. I work for 2 members of Congress, one on Capitol Hill in DC, work at the State Capitol for 2 years, run a State Senate campaign, work for the Democratic Party of GA and get into EVERY law school I apply for, including a full ride plus cash to one, all before the age of 22——life was good

 

And then came law school at UGA Law. Another opportunity to fail with grace. I wish I could tell you all that I was made to be a lawyer but it would be untrue. I ran for several positions in leadership—lost them all. I interviewed for law firm jobs—-didn’t get any. I tried to make friends—that didn’t seem to work either. So what did I do? The same thing that I did in high school. I turned to service. So with a new professor at UGA Law, I started the first ever business legal society focused on networking with transactional lawyers, not litigators. That society, ladies, still exists today at UGA Law and still thriving and I am proud to say I was the Founder. Failing… with grace.

 

The Perfect Storm

What happened 2 years after graduation is the story of a lifetime: In August of 2009, I came back from a cruise for my 26th birthday and none of the partners at my law firm were talking to each other. True story. And I knew that things were bad at the firm but didn’t know it was THIS bad. Long story short, the firm imploded and everyone was released by the end of the year. Bad timing too because I was just enrolling in my M.B.A. program at Kennesaw. It was in the middle of the Great Recession and, as a new lawyer with no job, I felt I had failed myself, my parents, my law school and Sallie Mae because I still had school loans to repay. So ladies—what I am about to tell you next is the ULTIMATE failing with grace story so listen carefully.

 

 

To Everything, There is a Season

Many of you can relate that since I had a law firm, I needed clients. In order to get clients, I needed to do business development and I wanted to have a business event in DeKalb where I lived. So I set up a meeting with a legislator I knew, Rep. Howard Mosby, for Wednesday around lunch time to discuss some ideas. Wednesday around lunch time, you hear me? Something came up and he cancelled. I thought “great. another delay.” I really wanted that Wednesday meeting but decided not to get upset but instead fail with grace. So, I pushed for him to immediately reschedule to that following day, Thursday for lunch.

 

So I get to the Capitol Thursday and we are walking down the Capitol steps to lunch and I will never forget what he turned around and said to me that literally changed my life. He said “What district do you live in?” I said” Rep. Randall Mangum, House District 94. And he said “You are running for his seat. 2 hours before you got here, he decided to run for Governor and we need someone to run.” True story. Remember ladies, to everything there is a season.

 

Now, I was hardheaded, as some of us are when blessings are chasing us down. I said “no” several times. I called my friend Ted Terry, who is now the Mayor of Clarkston, to talk me out of it and he did the opposite and paid my qualification fees. My colleague in the House now Rep. Doreen Carter offered to take me down to qualify after I tried to get her to run in my place instead. On the way to qualify, I received a call from a friend of mine who was an intern on Capitol Hill in DC at the same time I was. He just so happened to work for then Commissioner Lee May who represented my district who said to me “I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. But Edmond says great things about you. If you’re ok with him, you’re ok with me. You have my support.” Ladies, failing with grace has served me well.

 

I went on to qualify 30 minutes before the deadline and at age 27 became the State Representative from then House District 94, beating out 5 other competitors.

 

So to conclude—-my secret to success is simple but a hard reality: Failure, because it teaches you to be creative and makes you stronger. Remember that pearls are made from friction and diamonds are made from pressure. But take it a step further and concentrate on failing wit

 

That’s why my consulting firm has several initiatives like:

 

The GA Path Program, which is an initiative to expose more minorities and women to careers in professional lobbying. We are still accepting applications for that program until Oct. 11th. I will talk more about this program later.

We also have our Corporate Board Training program to train and mentor minorities and women to be on PAID, corporate boards. We are in talks with a large NGO in New York to partner with us to make that happen soon so stay tuned if interested.

And last, a Wonder Women Confidence Conference that I am planning with some wonderful women for March of 2018…complete with capes…to focus on empowering and teaching women who are in male dominated industries.

 

So in conclusion, I pray each of you find your failure and then find your grace…. in service on boards, in your community or any other capacity you see fit.

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Email: DKendrick@DarshunKendrick.com Phone: (404) 919-0660

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