Lisa Hofflich. Where do we go from here? The night before the election Lisa was with Hillary Clinton. The next night she was at the Javits Center, and has been at the center of activism for almost two decades. She is currently involved in the National Organization for Women (NOW) and chairs its New York State LGBT Task Force. She has advocated for women’s and children’s issues, centering mainly around combating human trafficking, domestic violence, gender equity, and transgender rights. Post the election Lisa has some practical tips for those who feel like curling up and not doing anything for the next 4 years. For more ideas on Uprising and movements, cultural movements and movement marketing, follow Uprising!!! on Facebook. We’ll continue to publish brand-new columns on a regular basis. Hey, do us a favor and please give Uprising!!! a review on iTunes. Scott Goodson is the author of best-selling book ‘Uprising: how to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements,’ available on Amazon.com. Scott has helped create and build some of the world’s most iconic brands. He is founder of StrawberryFrog the world’s first movement marketing agency.
Uprising Interview transcript
Lisa: The night of the election I was actually at the Javits center at the Clinton HQ. I was with all those masses of people basically crying and just fully immersed in this almost funeral like atmosphere, as we were watching the votes role in, and just realizing with dread with every single state being called that, oh my gosh, she’s not going to win and he is.
Welcome to Uprising. Each episode looks into what it takes to lead the most dynamic and successful cultural movements; some of them in the business world, some in the social realm, some in politics, and some in-between, to see why people start uprisings. What gives that initial momentum, what keeps them going and most important, what lessons you can learn from these movements, and how to apply them to your business, and even personal life? Let’s explore the secret to sparking movements that move people into action.
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Scott: Hello world, this is Scott Goodson, let me take a moment to welcome you to the uprising podcast. Right now we have Lisa Hoffman, who has been organizing movements for almost two decades. We though what she does and how she does it, and how she will continue to do it is so interesting in light of recent elections here in the United States and we wanted to bring you the story. Lisa is a journalism graduate at NYU and actualization of women in New York LGBT taskforce for the past decade she’s been immersed in advocacy, leading women’s and children’s issues, centering mainly around combating human trafficking, violence, gender equality and transgender rights. So she’s got a fighter spirit and has been very passionately involved in being the voice of many people who have no voice. So Lisa, welcome to the show.
Lisa: Hi, thank so much for having me Scott.
Scott: It’s a please. So what were you doing the night of the election?
Lisa: The night before the election or the night of the election? The night before the election I was thinking that I was going to be putting on my party clothes for election night and thinking that I was going to be celebrating the first woman president and just looking at history being made. The night of the election I was actually at the Javits center at the Clinton HQ. I was with all those masses of people basically crying and just fully immersed in this almost funeral like atmosphere, as we were watching the votes role in, and just realizing with dread with every single state being called that, oh my gosh, she’s not going to win and he is. So that’s where I was election night, it was one of those, we were present for history being made, it just wasn’t the history we were looking for.
Scott: I’m sure a lot of people out there have been through this same thing you’ve been through, which was obviously a lot of fear, but then a sense of purpose and renewed energy. I think it would be fascinating just to understand. What have you gone through to get where you are today, and how do you see yourself moving forward in the future?
Lisa: For the past decade, close to two decades, I have been an activist and advocate mostly for social justice issues centered around women and children. So I’d already felt very connected to what Clinton’s background was, because that was my background also, fighting for women’s and children’s rights. Following the 2008 campaign I volunteered for it, and for this past campaign starting before the New York primary, I became even more involved in her campaign, so I became very invested in this, I had done the fundraisers for her. So I truly believed in her as a leader, not just because of where I thought she was going to take us, but also because of what she had done in terms of social justice issues. I knew she would be the right leader for us because of her background, and our backgrounds aligned with each other. I saw something in her that gave me hope as an American citizen, that this was a person that was really going to go and better the lives of constituencies that I felt very strongly connected to.
Scott: But what the heck should democrats and millions of people that are the majority do now?
Lisa: Well, don’t give up. This is how I’ve explained this process to other people that I’ve had conversations with. Because there are lots of groups and lots of people out there trying to strategize and saying what do I do now? That was one of the first things I heard right afterwards. We need to do something now. The way I look at it is that you can look at people in different buckets, and each bucket is a great bucket to be in, right? So maybe the fist bucket is that of a person who needs to do something right now, and they need to get their hands dirty right now, and they have this sense of urgency. That is a great person because you can direct them towards specific ulterior opportunities. Through organizations that deal with issues that are going to be detrimentally affected by a Trump presidency. So if they feel LGBT rights are going to be effected then they should go and volunteer at the Trevor Project, the suicide prevention hotline. Or, if they feel very strongly that a Trump presidency is going to go and have a negative effect on women’s reproductive rights, go and volunteer at Planned Parenthood, and be a clinic export. Do something like that, get your hands dirty that way.
Scott: I mean there are a lot of people that’s read that democrats have decided to spend the next 4 years with their headphones on, kind of advocating their position in society. What you’re saying is the complete opposite, that people should get involved at the local level.
Lisa: Well that’s the thing. That’s the second time of bucket a person that I wanted to get into also, where they say that I want to do something. They don’t know really exactly what. They don’t want to volunteer at the nitty gritty granular level with these issues. But they want to do something. This is where the protests and the rallies and the struggle for a movement come into play. That’s the type of individual and type of category that we should make sure that this fire s always being lit, where the rallies and the protests and the meetings and the discussion, every single bit is a log on the fire to make sure this fire burns, where we can grow the ranks of people dedicated to the movement, so that when we do have something really big that we need to accomplish, that individual is there. A lot of times when people volunteer for jus a task, they say okay I’ve done my part’ and they go. It’s very few people that actually come back afterwards. We need to make sure that the fire is always lit, so when we do have a bug ask of people, they are there. That’s where I see he protests and the rallies coming in to create a movement.
Scott: Do you have rallies or protests that you are involved in or will be involved in?
Lisa: Sure, one of the biggest ones coming up is the January 21st women’s march on Washington. Fro where we are in Westchester, first of all, people are renting buses from across the country to go down to Washington for this. Even if you can’t get into Washington there are going to be major marches in the major cities too. We’re looking at the rally as a peaceful demonstration of unity around the fact that we as women and our male allies that we want to stand together to created a united front to make sure that all of our issues are protective. Not just reproductive rights, but economic rights also. We also want to make sure our voices are very loud. We also want to let people know that we don’t stand for the racism, bigotry, xenophobic hateful talk tats been very prevalent in the past election campaign. It centers around a peaceful demonstration. We are not going there with pitchforks and finger pointing and, ‘you did this, you did that, were the right ones’. We just want to make sure our voices are heard in the next administration.
Scott: How do you pick yourself up?
Lisa: You really have to evolve. One of the conversations I’ve been having too is, let’s look at the tea party. Think what you will about the tea party, but they really created an interesting and strong movement that has led to where we are right now. They saw the country going in ways that they were not happy with and through very small incremental yet methodical ways they decided to change the conversation. In the beginning if you look it p, they saw that too much money was being given with the (Tarper) bailouts. They were really upset about that. The one person decided that they were going to send a tea bag to every single member of congress hat voted for Tarp. But they decided that they were going to change the conversation here. They didn’t just take it lying down and start bemoaning. They decided to say this is where we want, this is how we want to see our country, and these are the steps that we have to go. So I think that’s what the democrats have to do too. I think we have to listen to the other side. We have to figure out why the other side voted the way they did, and understand that. We have to understand that we have to switch our directional driving of our platform so that we can be more effective. We just have to find different ways of skinning the same cat. The democrats and the liberal parties we have been mainly glued around and centered around social justice issues. So how do we go about getting other people to care enough about the social justice issues that we do. We can’t be just I the vacuum that we were in before talking amongst ourselves. How do we go and convey this message. That’s what we really need to work on, we need to change the conversation. How we do that, I’m not sure yet.
Scott: Do you think the younger generations can be brought back into this? They seem to be so enthralled with their technology they’ve just kind of opted out.
Lisa: Absolutely, I think that the younger generation was completely into this election, from before. If you take a look at the immense amount of support that Bernie Sander had and even the third parties had, they were the millennials. I would speak to my 16 year old son and he was an avid Bernie Sanders fan, and he knew every single thing about the election from that perspective. We can bring them back here, I don’t think it was necessarily an issue of technology turning the off, I think it was the fact that we were both of the major parties were talking down to the younger generation. We assumed that they didn’t know what they were talking about. We assumed that they only card about student loans and we were directing the conversation to the m from an angle that we thought it should’ve been approached. No, that’s not it. They do care about all sorts of issues. You talk to anyone from the younger generation and they do know about Medicare, because their parents and their grandparents might be on Medicare, and they might be on it someday. We can’t just compartmentalize the conversation around someone’s age. I think that that’s what a huge turnoff was because I don’t think the major parties respected the opinions of the major generations. I think that another change that we need to make in the future, if we do postmortems of elections, like the republicans did in 2012 and it said we got to look at the minority vote, we should be doing the same thing about the demographics from and age perspective. We need to say okay, this is where we failed. How did the Clinton campaign with connecting to the millennials countrywide? What can we do better, and what was our conversation really like.
Scott: Do you think the reason why the people we saw that responded to threats and negative marketing is that they need to be stronger to have a very different way or different personality, that it’s to accepting, too nice?
Lisa: I think that I don’t know if it’s an issue about being too nice. If you appeal to someone on a visceral level you will get their devotion. I think that’s what Trump excelled at. He grabbed people by the jugular and hit them in the heartstrings. If you are talking to a person from Appalachia, who is from a coal mining own, and their family has been coal miners for the past three generations, and when Hilary Clinton came and said I want to give you the option of being in a better industry, you can make as much money putting in solar panels, and Trump comes in and says listen, I just want to make sure that you are fed and kept warm, and that you have the money to feed your families. He’s grabbing them on a visceral level, whereas Hilary coming in and trying to attack it on an intellectual level, it wasn’t so easy. That is one of the reasons why people fell so hard for fake news stories, because these fake news stories were really attacking people from a salacious primal level. There was a story that said the FBI agent who was involved in the email investigation committed murder suicide. That got over 500 shares and retweets in the first day it was out, now why was that, because it was salacious, because it attacked someone.
Scott: It seems like salacious and also attacking generates more energy for a movement than traditional policy. Traditional messaging and traditional policy, traditional coalitions have been trumped by salacious rumors and playing to the people on issues that are meager. So it just as a movement, there needs to be a sharper indignation to galvanize people. I don’t know, it’s just a takeaway. From you though, how did you get involved in all this from the beginning? What motivated you to become involved in social issues that you’re passionate about?
Lisa: What motivated me was the thing that’s going to motivate a lot of people in the next 4 years. When you see there’s a lot of injustice being done, and you say how can I help? I cant sit back and watch this wrong being committed. What is being done to help, and once you figure out the avenues that are being taken, then you can latch onto one of those avenues. For me, I looked at everything in a policy point of view. I actually didn’t have any experience with policy, my background is in journalism, but I realized that in order for anything to happen it had to happen though statue and policy, and that’s how I got involved with everything, and that’s what other people are going to have to figure out also. People, who say they’ve got to do something, find out how you want to spend your time, this could be the next 4 years, and you’re going to kind of be an expert. I mean again find which area you think is going to be detrimentally affected, and devote yourself to that. For me, my areas have always been around women and children. I’m a woman, and I have 5 children, and also LGBT right, I have a transgendered child. Do what you know. That’s the first way that you can feel passionate about something. You start working in your own house, what do you know, what are you comfortable with, because that’s expertise that you can bring to these issues and movements that you’re going to be involved in. By the way, there are lots of movements out there that people can get involved in. Obama has a movement called Organizing for Change. It was started in 2008 with his first campaign, and it’s still around and its changing the conversation and its focus to how people can precede in the next 4 years. There was an article in Politico magazine about how some of their conversations have been in people’s living rooms, or at bars, and they’re discussing specific grassroots strategies, trying to line up leaders for the 2018 election. These are things people should be doing right now. If you’re chewing on your nails and you need to do something, and you have a friend that’s chewing on their nails, and she has two more friends, then the 4 of you get together and you think of something that the fur of you can do together in order to affect change, and before ou know it your 4 is going to connect with another 4, and then another, and that’s how you build a coalition. That’s how you build a movement.
Scott: So just as we end up here, do you have any final thought that you’d like to leave us with, just regarding the democratic movement and your passions and any advice for people listening on the show?
Lisa: Sure, so the democratic movement, we’ve already discussed that the conversation has to change. But we have to look towards 2018 at this point. We’ve got to start looking at and identifying leader who will be able to run for office in 2018 and in 2020 so we can take back the midterm elections, we can take back both houses of congress, and also we need to build it form the ground up. So we’re looking at not only the federal level, but also the local level to. If you feel you can make a difference, and you are in your community, then look and seriously think about running for a lower local office. There are plenty of organizations that will help you run for office that can guide you through it. If you are a woman, there’s Emily’s List, and a woman in New York State, Eleanor’s legacy. They give out money to candidates who are thinking about running for office. They will guide you through it. There is a campaign school that men and women can both take though Emily’s List. Don’t, despair, if anything in the next 4 years should make us stronger though because in the face of adversity that’s how you find your strength, because this is how we have to move forward, and it a lot of ways that will make us stronger. We are going to find different strategies to protect LGBT rights, immigration rights and immigration reform and reproductive rights. That’s where we have to look. We also have to do is look at state laws. A lot of what Donald Trump is going to do is going to affect federal money going to states. If he wants to repeal Row vs. Wade we have to look how all the states are going to handle that for example in New York State we need to codify that because our law is antiquated, it was passed 3 years before Roe Vs. Wade so we don’t have the same protections as we would have through the federal law. If he wants to take away money from Obamacare, we’ve got millions and millions, 22 million people, who are going to be without healthcare, and that burden is going to be switched to the states. Start looking at your individual state policy, and how they would be able to handle that, and start advocating for that.
Scott: Lisa Hofflick it’s been a pleasure talking to you, sounds like it’s not a simple fix for the Dems, but the message seems to be don’t give up, and there’s going to be a lot of passionate people on your side in the next few years. Someone is going to be able to pull together a very powerful movement.
Lisa: We’re strategizing.
Scott: We’ll keep on strategizing.
Lisa: Thanks for having me.
Scott: Take care.