Did a podcast the other day with this ^ as the title. Right up my alley, right? Absolutely.
Kenyon Zitzka was the interviewer—he does personal and business coaching—super cool dude. We had a pretty damn good conversation. You can listen to the episode here OR just keep reading.
Here’s some of what we talked about:
Many of you know I grew up poor. How poor? Section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicaid kind of poor.
The people who only know me as a conservative Republican political strategist and entrepreneur assume I grew up in country clubs. Far from it. You know what they say when you assume…
But I’ll say this. My mother used government assistance the way it was meant to be used—temporarily. She went to cosmetology school and learned to cut hair. She was raising me and my sister by herself (after divorcing my abusive father) and she knew she would have to work hard at a decent job to support us. And so she did.
My introduction to politics happened around that time. In fact, it was a redistricting proposal (to send all of us poor kids to the same school) and I spoke out at a School Board meeting about it. Literally, I became the “face” of the issue. I also met a state senator in between 8th and 9th grade. That was a really big deal for me, even bigger when he contacted me about working for him. You mean, you can get paid for doing politics? (Light bulb.)
After high school, I went to the University of South Carolina as an engineering major. That’s another Wesley you may not know—Nerd Wesley. Star Trek Wesley. Whatever, you actually do know him. But I hate math. And I hated engineering… so I switched to political science. Then never looked back.
Ran for USC Republican Chair and State Republican Chair. Basically, my goal was to work on every campaign I could get my hands on.
Generally, people are drawn to politics for a cause. For me, that was believing (and hoping) I could actually make a difference. Me. Section 8 kid. Working in the statehouse. Where people make THE LAWS.
After college, I worked at a few different political firms, then got the entrepreneurial bug and started my own place. When I made a little more money, I hired my first employee. Made more, so I hired the second one. I’ve always been a firm believer in spending money to make money. And as hard as it’s been to pass off my baby, I’ve got my own babies at home so I got over it real quick.
Last week we officially hired number 40. Oh. And we work on a lot more than just politics now. We have several corporate clients and pump out a lot more issue advocacy work, brand reputation and crisis communications. Those last two are our specialties these days.
Some of our clients are Marco Rubio, SeaWorld, Sears and Kmart.
And now we have, in my opinion, the sickest office in the state… possibly the Southeast. While we’re sitting on top of each at the moment, cause we’re expanding in the 3500 square feet next door, at least our staffers get a brewery and a pizza kitchen to hold them over. Could be worse…
Just ask the poor kid.