Battleground Strategies, Inc.
AAPC caught up with new Individual member, Stephan Thompson.
Follow on Twitter: @BattlegroundST
AAPC: Who do you look up to in the industry?
Stephan: There’s a lot of operatives I’ve looked up to over the years, but Haley Barbour tops the list. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any Republican operative who doesn’t admire Haley, as he’s the operative’s operative. From Nixon to Reagan, the 1994 midterms and countless other races, Haley’s been at the center of nearly every national Republican success for over 40 years.
AAPC: What do you love about politics?
Stephan: I’m a competitive guy, and there’s no other industry outside of professional sports where your success or failure is defined so clearly.
AAPC: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Stephan: In 2011 I was appointed to be the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Like most committees following an election cycle I had to build a team from scratch. RJ Johnson, a long-time mentor of mine, gave me advice I’ve put to use countless time since. RJ advised me to be conscious of my strengths and weaknesses, and to build an organization that reflected it. Listening to that advice helped me not only build well-rounded organizations, but also improve my own deficiencies by hiring and learning from great people.
AAPC: Where do you go when you need to be inspired?
Stephan: When I’m looking for inspiration I always go back to great books I’ve read over the years. David Plouffe’s The Audacity to Win, All the Kings Men, and Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater are my go-to inspiration books.
AAPC: Why did you join AAPC?
Stephan: The political business is constantly evolving and growing. I’ve always tried to keep up with trends and case studies from across the profession, and the AAPC is another great vehicle to help me accomplish that.
AAPC: How did you recover from your first campaign loss?
Stephan: With another loss. And then another. I worked on three losing campaigns in a span of seven months. Those losses have made the wins much sweeter, and also taught me a great lesson in how difficult it is to win a campaign at any level. I’ve learned just as much, if not more, from losing than winning.
AAPC: How do you manage high-stress situations?
Stephan: Every crisis situation is unique and requires its own solution. Regardless of the issue, I’ve learned the importance of never losing sight of your overall strategic objective. It’s easy to let the crisis of the day send you down a rabbit-hole but you need to keep your eye on the prize. Ensuring all stake-holders are up to speed on the situation is critical, as is getting your facts straight before responding. Practice makes perfect and I’ve had plenty of it in Wisconsin over the last dozen years to make these easier as they’ve come my way.
AAPC: Why is being part of a bipartisan organization valuable to you?
Stephan: It’s extremely difficult to learn and succeed in politics by secluding yourself from anyone who disagrees with you. Whether it’s my personal life or professional career, I’ve always been a believer in addition. I’ve learned just as much studying Democratic campaigns as Republican’s and made great friends who have very different views that I do. Being a member of the AAPC is the best organization to help me continue adding to my network and skillset.
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