The most important thing is to be honest. I know that, as someone working in politics, people will always be able to find reasons to judge me, good, bad, or indifferent. But I’ve always had a policy of honesty. I believe that honesty and transparency have allowed me to get this far in life.
As the managing partner at Politank*, a government affairs law firm which specializes in developing strategies to best represent private interests before government forums, Francisco Domenech plays an influential role in democratic politics.
He is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and his Juris Doctor from the School of Law. He has run the gamut in political campaigns having worked with a variety of democratic politicians and has participated in fundraising, canvassing, voter registration, opposition research, policy development, and campaign management.
From 2003 to 2004, Domenech volunteered for former Governor Pedro Rosselló’s gubernatorial campaign, where he worked on platform and opposition research activities, and political/field organizing. From 2004 to 2012, Domenech led multiple voter registration drives aimed at potential Puerto Rican voters in the Florida I-4 Corridor, and worked in Presidential campaigns in Texas and New Hampshire, In 2005, Domenech was appointed Director of the Office of Legislative Services of the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly, which provides, among numerous things, legal research services, translation, and most importantly, legislative bill drafting services to all the members of the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly.
Domenech supported Secretary Hillary Clinton in both of her presidential campaigns, in 2008 and 2016. In 2008, Domenech served as co-chair for Clinton’s presidential campaign, Hillblazers, and served as Deputy State Coordinator of her successful primary campaign in Puerto Rico. Senator Hillary Clinton was able to win the election by a 68-32 margin over then Senator Barack Obama.
In 2015, Domenech actively supported Hillary Clinton in her second presidential bid. He served as one of the national co-finance chairs on Ready for Hillary, was her top fundraisers for her 2016 campaign committee from Puerto Rico, and organized fundraisers for the super PAC (political action committee), in and out of Puerto Rico, as far away as San Jose, California. He also assisted in organizing her first campaign trip to Puerto Rico and was her campaign manager and spokesperson for the 2016 primary campaign on the Island. Domenech contributed to Clinton’s victory over Senator Bernie Sanders by a 61-37 margin.
Domenech also served as then Representative Jenniffer González’s campaign manager during her historic run to become the first woman to hold the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico seat in Washington, D.C. in the 115 years since the position had been created. On November 8, 2016, after 14 months of campaigning, Domenech led a campaign team that made history by electing Ms. González not only as the first woman, but also the youngest person to represent Puerto Rico in the United States Congress.
Francisco Domenech has been recognized for his work with the Puerto Rico Young Democrats, and the Young Democrats of America. In 2003, Domenech founded the local Puerto Rico Young Dems Chapter, the nonprofit organization, which promotes Puerto Rican youth activists and involvement in the United States Democratic Party. The organization is the official chapter of the Island, certified by the Young Democrats of America (YDA) and the Democratic Party of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (DPCPR). The organization’s primary purposes are to promote Puerto Rican youth involvement and activism within the United States Democratic Party and to represent the island at all Young Democrats of America national meetings and conventions.
He is married and is the proud father of two blossoming daughters.
Where did you get the idea for the Puerto Rico Young Democrats?
I had the idea long before I put it into action. I started getting involved with democratic politics as a college student, because the Party’s ideals resembled mine; I saw in the Kennedy brothers, especially Senator Robert Kennedy, and President Bill Clinton, role models as to effect positive change in society, for the greater good of everyone, putting God and Country before themselves. So, when I was finishing law school, and wrapping up my time serving as President in my University’s student body council, I finally started to develop the idea to form the Puerto Rico Young Democrats, with great likeminded individuals, and see if this was a vehicle to be able to continue to help young people become political activist on the Island, but on national issues that that affected them. I’d wished I had a way to be more involved in the Democratic Party as a young activist, so I wanted to create for myself and provide opportunities for those in my community. I consider it a great accomplishment because it’s allowed me to provide opportunities for young activists that I wish I’d had growing up, and it’s also endured the test of time, Puerto Rico Young Dems are celebrating this year their 15th anniversary with a strong and committed leadership.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up fairly early to give myself time to read the news, read all the overnight and early morning emails, and might mix in an early conference call or two, while trying to see my kids for a few minutes before they are off to school. It’s important for me to stay up to date on current events in our Island, the nation, and the world, for my line of work. Work is always interesting and at times requires long hours and dedication. It’s common for me to have a working lunch or for my work to follow me home, but I try to set aside family time in the evenings, or weekends, as often as possible. The connections made at the dinner table or on special trips I like to take to have more quality time with my kids, create balance that keeps my life in focus. It serves as a reminder that families just like mine are the reason that I do what I do every day. Keeping an organized schedule is how I stay productive and ensure that I have time to take care of myself so I don’t burn out. It’s important to have time to reflect and recharge. For me, having time set aside during the day, whether it’s early morning, at night, or both to see and hear my kid’s voices and laughter is the best way to do that.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I come from a family with creative minds, and I mix that with staying up to date on current events, and research or think about practical solutions. That’s the basis for most of my ideas. They come to life when I’m involved in the community or my work teams, and can gather firsthand information through interactions and conversations with my colleagues and community leaders.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The role of entrepreneurs in today’s digitally connected world. It’s great to see so many young individuals pursuing their goals and making efforts to change the environment around them. Growing up, we didn’t have as many opportunities, as you see today with how everyone can connect with each other around the world in a nanosecond. But these days there are thousands of millennials, even some that I have mentored and consider little brothers and sisters, launching startups dedicated to making a change in our world, whether it be environmentally, socially, or politically, or all wrapped together. It’s refreshing to have a generation of activists who are proud of their ideas, and who want to implement them to improve the world around them.
What is one habit that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think being very organized and a task master are my most productive traits. It keeps things streamlined and efficient. I don’t waste time searching for missing information or from moving on to the next thing that has to get done in the day’s agenda. It also acts as a great way to reduce stress. I think it’s contributed a lot to my personal success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Have fun‼! I was kind of a serious kid, even in college (too serious!). I knew at a very young age that I wanted to go to law school and how much work it would take to get there (I had parents that wanted me and my brothers to always know where we were going in life). Now I realize that life isn’t so serious—even in politics. I learned that if I’m going to enjoy my daily life, I need to learn to have fun with it. I’ve tried to teach my kids how to have fun too, I have emphasized to them that they need to enjoy every moment, and every stage of their lives. I support them in whichever careers they choose to pursue, but I try to remind them that it’s just as important to remember to have fun.
Tell us something you believe that most people don’t agree with.
The most important thing is to be honest. I know that, as someone working in politics, people will always be able to find reasons to judge me, good, bad, or indifferent. But I’ve always had a policy of honesty. I believe that honesty and transparency have allowed me to get this far in life. I’ve learned that there’s one thing sure to kill a politician’s career: secrets and lies. And as long as you are honest and transparent, people will give you the benefit of the doubt when they have to, but more importantly, will always trust you. At the end of the day, that’s all we have, that’s all we take with us, and leave behind, and our word, and people’s trust in us.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you always do and recommend that others do?
I do not give up and I do not give in. Fortunately, I’ve always been motivated to strive and do well, and have a “Can Do” mentality. I’ve faced a lot of adversity, especially while growing up in Puerto Rico, and moving back and forth from Puerto Rico and Florida in the 90’s. Certainly starting my own business nearly a decade ago, in the midst of Puerto Rico’s second most severe economic recession, was no picnic either! But from a young age, I was motivated. I knew that I wanted to go to law school and nothing was going to stop me. I also knew I wanted to work in politics, both local and national. I think that if you can train yourself never to give up, you can accomplish anything.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Stay ahead of the curve, know what is coming next and thereafter, before it arrives! Life is about changes, constant movement, especially in this digital, accelerated world, where on your smart phone you have access to everything with a push of a button, you can reach anywhere, anyone. It’s not a 24 hour news cycle anymore, it’s a minute and sound bite news cycle. Finally, as I always say the best Defense, is a good Offense.
What’s one failure you’ve had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s hard to identify just one failure, honestly. I firmly believe that to succeed, you must experience failure. The most important lessons in life are not learned when you win or succeed, it’s actually when you fail, and get up to try once more and do it better. When I left government, and became a lobbyist, I joined a small firm that had to be rebuilt. I worked really hard over a period of almost two years to rebuild back the Firm to 100% capacity, and I did. But my former partner and I, had a falling out, and he kicked me out of the Firm (it’s all detailed in an opinion of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, a case that I won), and I had to start Politank*. A brand new Firm all alone, by myself, in my home with a small number of clients. Out of that failure, Politank*, a great success, was born. What started as a Firm by myself, at my home, with a small group of clients, now proudly employees 10 individuals, we have a great office, with amazing ocean views, and we are Puerto Rico’s largest, and premiere bipartisan lobbying Firm.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Develop an app or software around blockchain to trade services in the world community. We see so many talented individuals struggling financially because they don’t have a platform to sell their services. So, my advice is to create one. Something like that could really influence our economy, across the globe, and might even reduce poverty in the long-run.
What’s the best $100 you recently spent?
I spent a day with my family (including my nieces and nephew) walking around Yorktown, Virginia. Any money spent on my family is well spent. My mother taught me that family is the most important thing, and that’s really become evident as I’ve had children of my own. When I take time out of my daily or weekly routine, just to walk around some town, I get to talk, laugh, and connect with my family. I get to understand what’s going on in their lives. Nothing beats that.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Evernote. The beauty of Evernote is that it can be whatever you need it to be. It can be a simple place to store notes or track thoughts as they occur. I use it to stay organized and keep lists of the different tasks and timelines I am running with.
What’s the one book you think everyone should read?
“Thank You for Being Late” by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. Reading it will make you think about how quickly the world has changed in less than ten years, and how you can adapt, and use change for your, and your community’s benefit; and how we need to pause in this age of, as the author calls it, “acceleration”, and learn to appreciate life.
What is your favorite quote?
Actually, it’s not Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Ghandi, it’s a couple of lines from The Dark Knight film. I was always taught this growing up, but Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan put it so perfectly in this exchange:
Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I failed.
Alfred Pennyworth: Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
This advice applies to everyone, not just politicians, at all times. It’s about moving on, learning from your mistakes, and not getting caught up in the drama of life. Be true to who you are and keep going.
● NEVER GIVE UP and never give in. Life is about committing to your goals, and pursuing them, no matter the challenges. And on the way, have fun!
● Stay ORGANIZED! If you want to accomplish a lot in life, do one thing at a time, as quickly as possible.
● Never forget about FAMILY. It’s the most important thing in life.
● Stay INSPIRED! Find role models and recognize your potential. Use those role models, and goals to inspire you to continue to grow. Life will knock you down but, with the right attitude, its not about the times you get knocked down, it’s about all the times you got back up!
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