3 Ideas to Close “The Differentiation Gap” and how that helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win

I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about “The Differentiation Gap” this year and over and over again when I see something happen that seems inexplicable or shocking, I am reminded of how powerful “The Differentiation Gap” is every instance.

Today’s example is last night’s win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win in the Democratic Primary over long-time representative Joe Crowley.

For the Washington establishment, this is earth-shaking news because they knew nothing about this young lady and she “obviously” had no chance of winning…only she won.

There were 3 big lessons that anyone can take from an event like this:

  1. Tell a story. If you haven’t had a chance to see her campaign video, go check it out. Her story is a story that I recognize from countless New Yorkers that I know and from my own roots.
  2. Build a community. This is something that I talk about in any setting. One of the reasons that someone like Donald Trump could win an election is because there were and continue to be enough people that are detached or adrift because of the radical reinvention of what constitutes society in America over the last 40 years that a message of “making America great again” could catch hold because it had room for everyone to hook themselves into: be that if their intentions were good or bad. There was still enough room for cover that it could take root, if only long enough for people to pull a lever to vote. What Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did in the Bronx and Queens was the flip side, building a community for positive change.
  3. Be committed to a vision and have the courage of your leadership. This is probably the best lesson from last night’s results is that you have to stand for something. You can’t stand for some esoteric ideal or some mirage…you have to stand for something. I’m sure that people are going to look at Alexandria’s platform and say, “that’s unrealistic.” There’s always going to be that. The bigger point is that she had the courage to stand up for what she believes in and that helped win her an election.

Granted, you could learn more from her win like the power of person to person contact, grassroots organizing, and a progressive message, but I’ve been called too close to the MoveOn part of the party by most of the DC consultants I know. So whatever.

The bigger idea here is that for anyone looking to win over a population, a market, you have to do 3 things really well to get the chance:

  1. Tell a story that has emotion at its core. Noone takes action due to logic. Only emotion gets people to move.
  2. You need to build a community. Early and often. They are going to be your advocates and help you grow your message in the community. In business or politics, word of mouth matters a lot.
  3. Have a vision. You can’t be everything to everyone.

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