We had a Democratic debate on Wednesday (2/29/2020). It was Michael Bloomberg's first chance to duke it out with other debate-hardened candidates in Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. If you watched the debate, you would agree that Bloomberg did not perform well. Though he had his moments, he did not do well on a high-stakes stage that had the highest ratings of any previous Democratic debates.
We all know that Bloomberg is wealthy, a great businessman, a three-term successful mayor of New York City, very charitable, and a tough manager. But one thing he wasn't was a good debater on Wednesday. Though he has spent over $400 million on advertisements on TV and social media, he could not buy a solid performance on the high-stakes debate stage in Las Vegas.
It could be one, some or all of these things: He was not well prepared; he did not know what to expect; he realized perhaps he did not want to be president as much as the other candidates; he may have thought that showing up was enough; he was above it all to duke it out with the other candidates. I like to believe that he was not well prepared. And it showed.
I will focus on three areas that he should have hit it out of the park.
Who are you?
Bloomberg never told his story on how he went from a middle-class background to Wall Street to start his successful company to a three-term mayor to future president. He did not say it. The burden was on him to say it when so many people were watching. He had to be his best salesman for his narrative. Commercials don't help when you are on the high-stakes debate stage. There is no excuse for this mistake for anyone, let alone a person as smart, experienced, and successful as Michael Bloomberg.
When Bernie Sanders said that Bloomberg was richer than 125 million people, all Bloomberg had to come back with was a simple answer. He should have said that he was a billionaire for one simple reason: The company he founded has added significant value to others. That's how you become a millionaire, multi-millionaire and billionaire in America. Simple and to the point.
Buying the Election
When he was accused of buying the election. His hand should have gone up immediately. And he should have said he did not buy any votes. He was getting the message out. It is something they are all doing. He has to spend money since he is not as well known as others, and he entered the race late, so he has a lot of catching up to do real fast. But he was running to defeat Donald Trump for one simple reason: He wants America to remain America where the president, his party, and the people believe in the Constitution, democracy, law, and facts. All we got was that he wanted to defeat Donald Trump but did not have any oomph to it.
Bloomberg will get another chance next week, and it may be his last chance to stay in the game. He better be well prepared if he wants to be president. A lot of people will be watching. He better put on an excellent performance when it matters.
A lesson we can all learn from Bloomberg's poor debate performance
Whether you are going for an entry-level job or want to become the president of the United States, you must perform when the stakes are high. High stakes for presidential candidates is the debate forum. It is in this forum people can judge you against others. You have to show you can articulate your ideas, defend your ideas and record, and attack effectively without losing your cool in a very short amount of allotted time. You got to bring your A-game to win. You got to be LeBron on the debate stage. You have to show you got what it takes to be the president.
You have to do the same when you want something such as a job. You have to show up, stand out, secure an offer and then succeed.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of the book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. Please download the speech checklist that you can use to help you with your next high stakes speech.
Please contact him if you would like to have a two 75 minute coaching session on job interviewing or high-stakes speaking or interested in inviting him to give a talk on job Interviewing or high-stakes speaking at your event. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.