What to Know Before You Run

| Shannon Sullivan

Last month, we posted a simple question across our social media: What’s your advice for someone who isn’t sure if she should run for office? 

Boy, oh boy, did you deliver! The most frequent piece of advice we saw: do it! Run! We certainly couldn’t agree more. The second most-shared suggestion was to talk to someone who has run for office or is currently serving in an elected position–and we’ve made it easy with Ask Her Anything, which you can sign up for here.

With close to 300 comments and counting, we pulled together some of our favorite tips that you shared. Enjoy!

Do it–it’s the most empowering choice I’ve ever made. (And be prepared to check your ego at the door.) – Kate

  • All you have to do is be you! Be a genuine person who actually cares for what you want to fight for.  – Kyle
  • Accept that you might not win your first election; it’s part of the process. – Jill
  • Talk to other women who have run and ask them for concrete examples of what emotional and household labor fell through the cracks or had to be assumed by someone else. Then, take that list with you when you talk with your family/partner/kids so they know what to expect. Just asking for their support in your run is not specific enough. – Tiffany

Do it! Even if your voice shakes. Even if you’re a little bit scared. Find your group of supportive women. Use the board of elections office personnel (and auditors!) to help you understand the process! If you’re already considering even running, you’re already there! – Brit

  • Ask yourself the advice you would give another woman. We are our own worst critics. If you care about people and the state of affairs today, you should run. – Stefanie
  • Combatting imposter syndrome is the hardest thing candidates have to overcome. Just keep reminding yourself that you absolutely do belong. You have life experiences, expertise, and voice. Your voice needs to be heard. – Justin
  • It’s not for the faint of heart but everyone needs to have a voice. If they aren’t able to advocate for themselves, they need you to advocate for them. – Erin
  • Reach out to others who’ve run for office, especially those who’ve run for the same office. This will help you understand if you have the physical, emotional, intellectual and calendar bandwidth to run and serve. – Lynn

If you care about your community, you are qualified. The rest you can learn. – Leah

  • You will learn a lot and will meet interesting people. Definitely check the demographics and data and have realistic expectations. Be tough. Learn how to answer questions and/or pivot. Think soundbites. – Kimberly
  • Do it scared! You get good at something by doing it. If you’re afraid of not being perfect, you’ll never accomplish anything. – Lexy
  • What I thought: not ready, not qualified, too introverted, could never command a room, not brave enough, not charming enough, not strong enough, not enoughWhat I think: No one is ever ready, we are all overqualified, introversion is a political strength, passion commands a room, we MUST be braver than we expect our kids to be, authenticity is charming, we have no idea how strong we are, we are all much more than we thinkIf not you, who? – Barb
  • Do it! It is an enormous opportunity to serve the public good. – Nancy
  • From the get-go, you cannot do it alone. Pulling together a dedicated team is your first step. – Sheila

Make a list of things you already do: budgets, grocery shopping lists, picking up kids from school, reports for work, scheduling meetings, etc. If you can do all that, you can also run for office. – Maria

  • Talk to everyone. Your views will strengthen or soften and that’s okay. You will be representing those people. – Asia
  • Do a very pragmatic cost-benefit analysis and with every downside/obstacle you identified, find a way to make it manageable. – Giselle
  • If you want to run for something, find a good accountant to be your campaign treasurer, and write out the four main reasons you are running. Know those reasons inside and out, and practice talking publicly about these issues regularly. – Danielle
  • The campaign will help you gain experience and you’ll learn a lot along the way–win or lose, you’ll get your name out there. The benefits of letting people know you’re ready for a leadership role are endless. – Wendy
  • Give yourself credit for all the leadership skills you have already. – Jessica

We need you. Please do it. – Tamara

Have advice of your own? Add it to our thread

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