It’s an imbecilic fact of the speechwriting life—one among many—that the only speechwriting experience that pays off in more opportunities later is presidential speechwriting. (A Google Images search for “speechwriter” leaves one with the impression that Jon Favreau is the only speechwriter in the world.)
As glad as I am that my friends who once wrote in the White House have made good (many of the righties working for the White House Writers Group, the lefties for the West Wing Writers), I think there’s lots of other speechwriting experience that’s just as valuable, and even more so in many cases, than White House chops. Anyone who has written for any length of time for a really important CEO is a big leaguer as far as I’m concerned. Same goes for scribes for college presidents or big time nonprofit CEOs or celebrities.
I think most speechwriters would agree with me on that.
I wonder if there’s a way that we might help ourselves—perhaps by collecting and promoting some really compelling leadership communication case studies, war stories, days-in-the-life from areas of leadership not glorified in Aaron Sorkin TV shows. Alas, the “silent profession” and all that.
But this White House fetish is dumb. And if I was giving advice to Jon Favreau, I’d tell him: Get some other experience. (In fact, I might have told him that two years ago.) —DM