Chairman’s Corner: July 2018 (Part 3 of 5)

Author’s Note: If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of our Chairman’s Corner series last month, read it now before continuing on with this article. All five questions to ask yourself prior to making a proposal are pivotal to a successful pitch.

After setting up a meeting, you must be prepared to present and grab attention immediately. When creating a presentation, be sure that it is organized and maintains a logical flow. If you fail to do that, your message will get lost and any headway you have made will hindered.

Part 3 of 5

The third question to ask yourself is: Have I rehearsed and revised enough?

Odds are you won’t have more than a few minutes to present your idea, so rehearse and revise the presentation with a focus on delivering the most valuable details in the shortest amount of time. When I would hold proposal meetings, they were scheduled to last fifteen minutes. This fostered the delivery of clear, concise proposals.

Practice your presentation several times, both in private and in front of someone else. Omit any unnecessary detail. Make sure your message is clear and defined. If you are not prepared, it will immediately show. Practicing your pitch will also help you remain succinct. You only have a few minutes to set the stage and you want to leave some time for discussion if applicable.

Your opening sentence is crucial to success. If it doesn’t pique interest, losing the attention of the room is inevitable. Clearly state your message from the start, with enthusiasm and purpose. Quickly identify or relate the problem. Follow that up with your resolution or strategic plan to resolve the issue. Make sure to then highlight what success will look like when the matter has been settled.

It is also important to know your audience. Is the Member attending? Will the Chief of Staff or Legislative Director going to be there? Are additional staff members going to be present and/or professional committee staff? This will help you focus your presentation and align priorities.

Vigorous preparation will help you see success.

Meet James Meany

James Meany is a senior at Wake Forest University majoring in Political Science and History on the pre-law track. He is originally from Wilton, Connecticut and attended Wilton public schools from kindergarten through his senior year of high school. This past Summer and Spring, James worked at two different law firms, learning the basics of corporate, real estate and municipal law.

At Wake Forest, James has worked in Alumni Outreach Departments and as the Fundraising Chair for his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He is a member of the Political Science Honor Society while and he also volunteers for campus initiatives that fundraise for cancer research and environmental protection. James spent this past Fall 2017 semester studying in Barcelona through Wake Forest University’s Barcelona Business and Global Studies program, where he was able to gain meaningful knowledge and experience about politics and economics on a global scale and experience a whole new culture and lifestyle.

At the McKeon Group, James hopes to apply his academic studies to real practice through exposure to business development and research opportunities. His responsibilities include: coverage of hill meetings and drafting corresponding memos, as well as monitoring defense policy legislation relevant to ongoing clientele operations. After finishing with the McKeon Group for the Summer, James will be transitioning to work in the Office of Senator Blumenthal where he hopes to further skills developed through his academics and extracurriculars.

Meet Kathleen Nugent

Kathleen Nugent joins the McKeon Group as an Education Policy and Government Affairs Intern for the summer of 2018. As a former teacher, Kathleen brings a nuanced perspective and understanding of both local school issues as well as policy issues.

Kathleen is pursuing her Master of Public Administration through the Romney Institute of Business at Brigham Young University with an emphasis on state and federal government. Prior to her graduate work, Kathleen taught high school chemistry and general science. She taught in traditional public schools for seven years in New York and in public charter schools for five years in Utah.

During her tenure as an educator, Kathleen had the opportunity to engage with students, parents and teachers in a variety of school responsibilities. Her breadth of experience provides Kathleen a unique ability to advocate for a multitude of education-related issues.

Kathleen had the privilege of working with students from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds. She co-taught biology with a special education teacher for six years in New York.  Kathleen’s experiences as an educator developed her passion for advocacy to ensure equity and access for all learners.

Kathleen is excited to work at the McKeon Group and to increase her knowledge and expertise of federal policy, particularly in the education realm.

Chairman’s Corner: June 2018 (Part 2 of 5)

Author’s Note: If you missed Part 1 of our Chairman’s Corner series last month, read it now before continuing on with this article. All five questions to ask yourself prior to making a proposal are pivotal to a successful pitch.

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to help our clients draft their proposals to our nation’s leaders. I have often found these presentations to be long-winded and have advised clients to make sure their proposals get right to the point. Here is why: a lengthy proposal can inhibit any further progress.

Part 2 of 5

The second question to ask yourself is: Is My Message Precise?

From the first word you put down, you have 60 seconds to capture interest or your words will be filed away and most likely never acted upon. So get to the point immediately. If your proposal takes an exhaustive amount of time to paint the picture, your audience will never embrace it. Be precise, stay on point, and deliver a concise, digestible overview.  There’s simply no time for a college-level lecture – explain your idea in terms that can be easily understood.

And, avoid using a PowerPoint presentation or any other type of comprehensive material for any initial meeting. Those are better suited for leave behind pieces when you have the opportunity for a more in-depth discussion with the staff. After all, you should know the material and key points well enough that a full-length presentation isn’t necessary.

Chairman’s Corner: May 2018 (Part 1 of 5)

As a member of Congress, hundreds, if not thousands, of proposals crossed my desk during my time in office. On average, a member of the House represents 700,000 constituents – which means Congress and their staff are filtering through approximately 250 proposals every year.

Therefore the need to break through the noise and stand out is paramount to getting heard.  It’s simply the first challenge, a major one at that, to be overcome when submitting an idea to the state or federal government.

After 22 years in office, I recommend asking yourself five specific questions before presenting a proposal. Over the next five months, I will discuss one of these five questions at length.

Part 1 of 5

The first question to ask is: Do I Have the Right Connection?

Building a better mousetrap is rendered fruitless unless the right people review your idea. Knowing who to talk to and getting your proposal in front of their eyes is the first obstacle. This is one of the most difficult steps in the entire proposal process. After all, there’s no point in spending the time and energy crafting a meaningful proposal if it’s never read by those you intended it for – those who can turn it into something actionable.

If you don’t maintain a relationship with the relevant leadership, you’ll need to:

  • Enlist the help of a contact who has that connection
  • Develop the relationship yourself by going to town hall meetings, fundraisers, or other events your target Representative attends
  • Visit the district office and engage the staff with the goal of setting up a meeting
  • Find a consulting firm who already has those contacts

Connections and influence could be a deciding factor when it comes to the success of your proposal. If you are serious about your idea, get in touch with the people that can help you see it through.

Chairman’s Corner: April 2018

Last week, Patricia and I welcomed our seventh great-grandchild. We are the proud parents of six children who blessed us with 31 grandchildren. We have a large, beautiful family which continues to grow.

I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with all of my children and their spouses in our home state of California last month. We reconnected over cards and delicious food. We laughed and we told stories. As I looked around the table, I noticed a few things. First, all six of my children live in different states, including: California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Virginia. All six of them have pursued different career paths. All six of them studied varying subject matter in school.

All six of them were fortunate enough to grow up in a country where they could pursue any goal they set. It doesn’t matter what state you live in or what industry interests you, there are opportunities for all who are willing to work.

Now, pursuit of goals and dreams do not come easily just because we live in this nation. It’s the exact opposite, really. It requires consistent learning, hard work, and vision. While it may not be easy, it is most certainly possible.

Chairman’s Corner: March 2018

I recently came across an article that has caused me to think about happiness. The subject matter was uplifting and something I believe is applicable and useful to all of us. The article, written by Travis Bradberry, identified habits of “supremely happy people.”

What Dr. Bradberry wrote has stuck with me because the research he conducted to produce this list of habits is something I have learned for myself to be true. Dr. Brandberry concluded that supremely happy people do each of the following:

  1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.
  2. They exercise.
  3. They spend money on other people.
  4. They surround themselves with the right people.
  5. They stay positive.
  6. They get enough sleep.
  7. They have deep conversations.
  8. They help others.
  9. They make an effort to be happy.
  10. They do things in-person.
  11. They have a growth mindset.

Now, I understand trying to implement eleven different strategies for happiness may be overwhelming. I would argue that this list can serve more as a buffet, where you pick and choose what you want to focus on. There is no question, however, that these habits tend to radiate from happy people. There is no question that it is more enjoyable to be around happy people than unhappy people.

I have experienced failures and success in business and politics. I have passed through trials and lived to see the blessings that come from them. In my nearly 80 years of life, I can honestly say that I have experienced true happiness and joy. I believe that the happy times are in part due to applying these eleven habits.

I know I’m more motivated to choose happiness. The wise words of President Lincoln continue to ring true, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

For more information on each of these habits, see Dr. Bradberry’s full article.

Chairman McKeon to Receive Silver Spur Award

Chairman McKeon will be honored with the esteemed Silver Spur award for his contributions to the Santa Clarita Valley community on Saturday, March 24th.

The Silver Spur Award is presented to an individual who has served the community in an exemplary way. Chairman McKeon has served the Santa Clarita Valley for over fifty years as a successful businessman, community leader, and elected official.

Chairman McKeon will be recognized for the work he has done within the SCV community, career achievements, and advocacy for education.

On the night of the event, cocktails will be served at 6:00 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7:00 p.m in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Air Force One Pavilion.

Additional information on the schedule of events, location, and attire can be found here.                    Those interested in placing a tribute in the event’s program, click here.                                                    Ticket prices and information can be found here.

Chairman’s Corner: February 2018

I was recently asked to write a piece on cybersecurity for the Washington Times. Below is my article:

‘Zero Trust’ computer policy: A timely solution

Challenges posed by cybercrime are one of the most frightening threats our country faces today.

In recent years, we have had a reactive approach to cybersecurity. We hear about it when an organization has been hacked or sensitive information has been released. Organizations, companies and our government agencies should not simply be reacting when a cybercrime has taken place, but instead need to be proactive.

In order to be proactive, however, the main challenge from which all other cybersecurity issues stem needs to be identified. The United States, along with the entire world, is seeing a global cyber catastrophe that is causing us to reconsider how to establish a network defense. Now more than ever, cybercriminals have access to advanced technologies that put people at risk. That means our government agencies need to establish better defenses.

We have heard of retailers, financial institutions and health care organizations experiencing major hacks, which is why it was disheartening to see that in the 2017 U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, government institutions were listed among the “bottom performers,” scoring lower than retail, health care and information services. I believe that is due to a misidentification of the underlying cybersecurity problem.

The real problem stems from an outdated “computer architecture” that was developed without knowing how today’s cyber connection would look and operate. This obsolete foundation is essentially why cybersecurity attacks take place.

Our defenses are no match for these security breaches. Our computer architecture has reached its ceiling. There was no way the developers and engineers who designed it 40 years ago could have envisioned how the internet and the impact of global connection would have facilitated such cyberthreats. The demand for an increase in computing capabilities and programs overshadowed the computer architecture with the development of the internet.

I have had the opportunity to work alongside experts within the cybersecurity industry who also believe the computer architecture is the main issue at hand. Ed Brinskele, the CEO of Vir2us, has said that IT professionals are dependent on what the “experts” determine are the best practices or defenses for cybersecurity.

“The difficulty is that there has been a significant failure on the part of solutions providers to recognize that a keeping-the-bad-guys-out approach reveals a failure to correctly identify the problem,”  Mr. Brinskele said. “Once the checkpoints in these solutions are bypassed, they provide virtually no security. This is known as an outside-in and top-down approach and is a fundamentally flawed strategy. As a result, these solutions only addressthe symptoms of a much more fundamental design problem.”

To address these newfound security challenges, antivirus and firewalls were created to provide somewhat of a Band-Aid. These solutions are not good enough to combat the technology that is available to cybercriminals.

Our outdated architecture is a sinking ship. There are a number of holes in the boat, and we keep trying to patch it up instead of rebuilding it so we can float. These patches include heuristic algorithms and whitelisting, but even these solutions continue to fail. They simply cannot withstand the constant and ever-changing threats.

Additionally, it is virtually impossible to attempt to pinpoint threats from a list-based strategy. Every day, these lists evolve and develop. There is no way to stay current on possible threats or attacks.

“Antivirus and firewalls are list-based solutions and can only deal with known threats. In today’s world of morphing viruses and malware, these solutions are less than 27 percent effective,” Mr. Brinskele continued. “[A leading consumer cybersecurity firm] recently said that their average time to identify threats and update lists is more than nine months. In a challenge that is moving at the speed of light this is problematic. While combating challenges moving at the speed of light, that solution is unacceptable.”

Not only do these outdated solutions consistently fail, they are also extremely inefficient. It has been reported that these “legacy solutions” can consume up to 80 percent of network bandwidth capacity and computer processing power. These inefficiencies negatively impact revenue and productivity. According to the U.S. Government, global business and institutions lose over $1 trillion to fending off cybercrimes and attacks annually.

Rather than trying to fend off possible attacks, implementing a “Zero Trust” policy or architecture would be significantly more practical and successful than fighting to stay current on a list of emerging threats. With a Zero Trust architecture, the “Known” list is manageable and can be maintained.

As cyberthreats continue to unfold, we need to take a hard look and consider improving our computer architecture. A new approach and a radical change within the cybersecurity industry needs to take place in order to provide dynamic security.

Chairman’s Corner: January 2018

With the start of a new year comes the sense of a new beginning. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions. Some will succeed and follow through with these goals. Some will simply recommit to goals they have set in the past, but for whatever reason, were not able to see come to fruition.

I, too, have set a number of goals – both personally and professionally. While I have new goals for myself and for our firm, there is one goal that I plan to “recommit” to. It is a goal I try to expand on each and every year we are in business and that is to better live up to the McKeon Group standard.

Responsive. Reliable. Results.

That is the McKeon Group standard. That is what we promise our clients. That is what we deliver. But there is always room for improvement.

As this new year unfolds, I have decided to find measurable ways in which I can better live up to the McKeon Group standard.

I plan on responding to our clients’ needs and helping them see growth and success. When I commit to getting a job or task done, our clients can rest assured knowing that it will be handled in a timely manner. In turn, our clients will see unprecedented results.

As we at the McKeon Group gear up for the 2018 year, our clients can expect us to be responsive, reliable, and ultimately see results – just like they have seen since we opened our doors. The only difference is this year we plan to take it up a notch.

Happy New Year to all!