3 Lessons: Straight Talk

Honesty makes the best policy for Matt Jeanneret, CAE.

Matt Jeanneret, CAE
Senior Vice President, Communications and Marketing
American Road & Transportation Builders Association
Washington, DC

Speak the truth.

When it comes to policy development, what I've learned from my first boss, Senator Al Simpson, and ARTBA's current CEO, Pete Ruane, is always to be honest and direct. I think that's rare. Neither of them pulls any punches, but in the process they earn the respect of their opponents. Not always their personal admiration, but at least their respect.

Hire brilliant.

I like to surround myself with talented people. And I don't have to be the smartest guy in the room. I look to hire members of a team who have a different skill set than me or complement me. If I can see a creative streak in a cover letter, it's probably a good indicator of what that person would be like as an employee.

Know the facts.

An intellectually honest approach focused on empirical data is successful in the long run. It's not filled with fear, which is often how people try to advance policy today. People may disagree with us, but no one is going to disagree with the facts. If you use empirical data, you put forward much more credible policy solutions. And if you are to be defeated, at least you go down swinging and knowing you did all you could on behalf of your members.