This week Christine Hallquist, Jahana Hayes, and Ilhan Omar made headlines for their success in the primary election. Each of their victories broke down some sort of barrier, making it even more powerful of a win.
Christine Hallquist is the first transgender candidate to be nominated to run for governor under the democratic party. Former National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes' win in the primary puts her on track to be the first black Democrat in Congress from Connecticut. And, Somalian-American refugee Ilhan Omar's victory could lead her to become the first Muslim woman in Congress.
It's clear to see the walls that these candidates (and their campaigns) are bringing down. Which is why their wins are such valuable lessons in leadership, communication, and branding. Whether you're a CEO, entrepreneur, or the future president of the United States these three lessons can show you how to get the support and outcomes you seek to be successful.
1. Walk the walk and talk the talk.
Hallquist is making history for being the first transgender candidate to win the primary and be nominated for governor by a major party. Yet what appealed to her Vermont based voters wasn't her gender identity, it was her message and her credentials that supported that message.
As a candidate, Hallquist is perceived as genuine and someone who really does want to help the state of Vermont. She has had a lot of experience providing service to the state. She's known for her 12 years of work at CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative (one of the largest electric companies in the state) where she helped elevate the states power utility--including making WIFI accessible throughout the state. These efforts have shown her voters that she can walk the walk.
She also made sure to speak to issues such as renewable energy, a $15 minimum wage, and universal health care, that were specifically pressing to voters in the area This helped her connect with and build a loyal audience.
If you want the support of your peers, voters, or anyone else you to show them that they can trust you. Good leaders build credibility with their subordinates and their constituents by being accountable. Your actions and words need to display your values, and the valuable change you wish to provide them.
2. Do the unprecedented.
This past week Jahana Hayes became one step closer to becoming Connecticut's first black Democrat in Congress by winning the primary in her district. Like any good candidate, Hayes did this by running a campaign that resonated with her voter base, and that spoke to her story. Her campaign advocated protecting the public education system, aligned with her as a former teacher. She also said she wanted more gun control legislation which she attributed to the Sandy Hook Elemraty School shooting that happened in 2012 in Connecticut.
Points such as those really connected her to a voter base. Still what sets her apart from a normal candidate was her ability to do the unprecedented.
"This is my home, where people are strong, but they aren't supposed to run for Congress," Hayes said in a campaign video about Waterbury. "If Congress starts to look like us, no one can stop us. This is our moment to act, to organize, and bring our truth to power."
Most entrepreneurs understand the logic of going after what you want--even though the rest of the world may be telling you not to. This dedication of putting yourself on the line and doing something that no one has done before makes for great leaders and self-starters. From the entrepreneurial space to politics, standing out and getting ahead can stem from your ability to double down on yourself and your vision.
3. Forge your own path, break your own barriers.
Ilhan Omar is an empowering example of the power of breaking down barriers. She was born in Somalia and later lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years before moving to the United States when she was 12. In 2016, she was voted into the Minnesota House of Representatives, which made her the first Somali-American legislator. Today, her win in the primary allows her the opportunity to possibly become the nation's first Muslim women in Congress.
Her commitment and perseverance is a powerful lesson to anyone who's ever wanted to give up. Omar's ability to continue to break down barriers is what has set her apart from other candidates. She's said that being bold in her progressive beliefs allows her to represent her voter base--even though they may come from different backgrounds.
Her win is a helpful example to future leaders of industry who come up against barriers. Trailblazing isn't easy but if you take the time to forge your own path and have the perseverance to overcome obstacles you're bound to gain a significant amount traction, and eventually success.