SPS 034: Clinton White House Speech Writer at Age 23 with John Corcoran
John Corcoran is an attorney, writer, father, and former Clinton White House writer and former speechwriter for the Governor of California. Throughout his career, he has worked in Hollywood and the heart of Silicon Valley. He owns his own boutique law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area where he works with small business owners and entrepreneurs.
John is a renaissance man who has been in a lot of different careers on a lot of different sides. Today, he shares how he ended up landing a writer job at The White House after college. Along with a smart tip for positioning oneself for success. John also shares stories about working in the white house and the importance of having normal conversations with people to connect and build relationships. He shares all kinds of fun stories and great life and business advice from embracing whatever you are doing to the importance of surrounding yourself with people who energize you.
You can find John here:
[01:50] John interned at The White House after college. Then he went back to school, but he kept in touch with people there and the other speechwriters. The day he was asked for a writing sample he happened to have a letter to the editor published in the New York Times.
[03:05] A great example of things we can do to position ourselves for success.
[04:56] Working at The White House was a great experience for a guy who was 23 years-old. He would run into Bill Clinton and other dignitaries in the hallway. [06:07] He also saw the Easter Egg Toss, and met The President and introduced him to his family in the oval office. [07:02] Be multifaceted and embrace whatever you do that is unique about you. [07:34] A story about having a conversation with The President about old movies, and how it is important to have normal human conversations with people. That way you are more likely to have a connection and build a relationship.
[09:51] A couple chance meetings ended up landing John the speechwriter job for The Governor. Every topic would come across his desk and he would have to learn about it and then distill it down to something quotable.
[11:29] Writing has its own unique requirements. John studies and reads other writers, and for speech writing he listens to how they speak. [13:15] Thinking about what is in the audience’s head and how you can move them to take an action or sell them an idea. You can do this by addressing all of the objections. [14:18] How the language you use frames a topic. The importance of practicing over and over. Understanding the other side when making a persuasive argument.
[15:55] Understanding from a place of compassion to understand other people’s objections. [16:22] John writes for Forbes, Psychology Today, Art of Manliness and many other major publications. [16:57] How John reads about a topic and writes ideas then eventually creates a structure.
[18:39] Ironically, John is more structured now for his blog posts. He grabs attention with the headline and the first line that speaks to the pain. Then he works into why it matters or is relevant. Then maybe a story then 5 or 7 ways to solve the problem. Then wrap it up with a callback.
[21:55] Guest posting really helped John get his name out there. Now he is getting more results from webinars and other different forms. [22:43] Entrepreneurs love to ask other entrepreneurs what’s new. Entrepreneurial ADD. Sometimes an idea in a conversation is inspiration for John’s writing. [24:37] The importance of honing in on your area of focus and the core thing you want to write about. Define and master your niche.
[26:05] Ideas can come from other books or their table of contents. Having conversations is a great place to get ideas. By doing more research the topic will flesh itself out more. [27:31] How first person pontificating is the least interesting type of writing. Weave in other’s perspectives. Interviewing people will give you ideas.
[28:54] John uses free planners and The Five Minute Journal to plan his day. He also goes to coffee shops to write, but after doing the research and having all of the content.
[31:01] Triage your emails and find the greatest impact you can have. You can’t answer all of the one-on-one emails.
[32:52] You have to be willing to give things up to write. You also have to accept you can’t do everything. Getting things done boils down to day-to-day habits.
[35:11] Constantly battling the decision of how you spend your time. Do whatever it takes to get things done.
[37:00] The importance of spending your time getting what is inside of you out and not wasting time. The benefits of creating content snowballs for life.
[39:57] The satisfaction of being a creator is so much more than the short term satisfaction of being a consumer. [40:41] John used guest posting to increase his subscribers from 1000 to 6000.
[44:51] How a guest post creates email subscribers. If starting today, John would just use Leadpages and guest post before building a blog. Giveaway a resource with something relevant. Topic of guest post, topic of site, and topic of free resource.
[48:23] How John is one of the most well-connected people Chandler knows. [48:57] Writing is a great tool for building relationships. Interviewing people will give them exposure and create a connection for you.
[50:05] How relationships create all kinds of opportunities. [50:26] Mindset do the opposite of ask and help. Don’t let fear of rejection to stop you.
[51:34] Take the time to write down 50 people you would like to meet or interview in the next six months. It gets easier as you work your way up the ladder.
Links and Resources: