"What the American People Want"

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Deb Maddy, Associate Vice Provost University Outreach & Engagement, Associate Director Extension Service
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My colleague Chuck Gay, Associate Vice President for Utah State University Cooperative Extension, recently attended the Western Governors’ Association winter meeting.  One of the invited speakers had a compelling message that Chuck thought inspiring and he shared the following with Utah Extension employees.  I found food for thought in Chuck’s message that perhaps might benefit OSU Extension as well and asked if I could forward his message to you.  I hope you, too, find value in this message. 

Best regards for a healthy and happy new year to you all, Debbie

“Last week I was privileged to attend the winter meeting of the Western Governors’ Association representing USU Extension and the Western Extension Directors Association.  One of the invited speakers was Frank Luntz, who is an American political consultant and pollster. His most recent work has been with the Fox News Channel as a frequent commentator and analyst, as well as running focus groups after presidential debates.  Luntz's specialty is “testing language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate.” He is also an author of business books dealing with communication strategies and public opinion.  Luntz's current company, The Word Doctors, specializes in message creation and image management for commercial and political clients.

He spoke to the governors and us in the audience about the latest polls that his company had conducted concerning “what the American people want.”  As I sat listening and taking notes, I could not help but relate his message to our efforts to bring the best, research based information to the public.  Since returning, I have read and re-read my notes many times, asking myself how well I do.  Below, I am providing you with his take home message, and ask each of you to ask yourself the same question.  It matters not what our job title is, we all work with and deal with the public, i.e., the people of the state. 

In light of the five items below that Mr. Luntz says the American people want.  Do we ensure that the people with and for whom we work:
·    Have fewer hassles in their lives,
·    Have fewer worries (knowledge helps remove worries),
·    More choices (opportunities),
·    Make more money (or manage their resources well),
·    Have more time (or understand how to take full advantage of what they have).

The top four items among the American people for which they are willing to work hard are:
·    Achieving financial success (33% rank this as number one)
·    Owning their home - 22%
·    Having a close, loving family – 21%
·    Working for oneself – 18%

Listed below are the values that the American people want to see in government and business and all things associated:
·    Stability in life is the number one goal and value
·    Ethics in government and business
·    Accountability
·    A fierce integrity in all that we do
·    Respect
·    A commitment to do the right thing
·    Measureable results

I suppose that these and other desires and values are among the reasons why the word “Service” is in our official name.  One last thought from Frank Luntz.  He says that the word “imagine” is currently the most powerful word in the English language.”

Charles W. Gay, Associate Vice President for Utah State University Cooperative Extension