Nathan Sproul - Founder and MD of Lincoln Strategy Group

“Let your success and actions speak for themselves.”

Nathan Sproul is a veteran Republican Strategist, currently serving as Founder and Managing Director of Lincoln Strategy Group, a full service campaign management company that specializes in both corporate and political campaigns to affect public policy. With over 20 years of experience, Nathan Sproul brings a nuanced perspective and expertise to his field regarding political theory, campaign strategy, the power of new media and voter outreach.

Nathan’s company Lincoln Strategy Group (LSG), founded 14 years ago, boasts over 1,000 clients spanning 49 states, three continents, and counting. Furthermore, LSG has worked with a variety of diverse fortune 500 companies such as Wynn Resorts, LTD, AT&T, Switch SUPERNAP, Harrah’s, Walmart, Caesars Entertainment, British American Tobacco, Education Networks of America and others in the public affairs, policy, lobbying, crisis communications and development space.

Lincoln Strategy Group offers unmatched political strategy and public affairs management expertise in an ever-changing, dynamic and global world.

Prior to founding Lincoln Strategy Group, Nathan was the Regional President for Voyager Expanded Learning where he oversaw sales and government relations for the company in Arizona and Nevada, learning the ins and outs of leadership and sales. Nathan Sproul launched Lincoln’s parent company, Sproul & Associates in 2003, and as it grew, moved operations to Lincoln Strategy in 2007.

Today, Nathan Sproul manages the day-to-day operations at Lincoln Strategy Group, serving also as the chief public representative for the firm. Under Nathan’s guidance, Lincoln Strategy Group has managed over 750 campaigns for clients both domestically and abroad across more than 15 different industries. LGS has worked on five presidential campaigns, multiple gubernatorial, senatorial, and congressional campaigns, and local campaigns at every level.

As a full-service campaign management company, Lincoln Strategy Group knows the precise tools and services to use and when, such as research, advertising, grassroots, and voter identification. At every stage of a campaign, Nathan and his team understand how to implement and execute the most effective operations and track results in real time.

In the public affairs sector, Nathan works alongside clients and successfully helps them influence public policy, build and maintain a strong reputation and find common ground with stakeholders. Nathan Sproul and his team operate with strategic intelligence, move at hyper speed, and execute with precision.

As a political insider and veteran strategist, Nathan Sproul’s opinion is often sought after by prominent publications. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and his own writing has appeared on The Hill and The Huffington Post. Alongside regular contributions to The Huffington Post, Nathan is prolific blogger who often shares insights on politics, public affairs, philanthropy and community engagement.

In Nathan’s eyes, nothing comes close to his greatest accomplishment yet: fathering his three beautiful children. He currently resides in Chandler, Arizona with his wife and kids, and remains forever an advocate of education, hard work, and the power of the individual to achieve extraordinary accomplishments.

Where did the idea for LSG come from?

Politics and government has always been a passion of mine. From my youth, conversations around the dinner table usually included past or recent happenings in government and so it was no surprise when I accepted an internship back in the mid-nineties in Washington D.C. to then Congressman Jon Kyl (R). Over the next 10 years or so, I leveraged the incredible opportunities to work on a variety of political and public affairs campaigns at every level: national, state and local. I also held key leadership roles in business and sales which further refined my managerial acumen. And so, given my entrepreneurial spirit, I recognized the next natural (and audacious!) step: to start my own company alongside a great team of campaign consultants. And so, in 2003, Sproul & Associates, which later became Lincoln Strategy Group was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

The great thing about “typical days” for me is that there really is no “typical day.” My idea of work and productivity and life is a very holistic one, meaning that instead of adhering to a strict schedule, I prioritize balance to keep myself productive. If I have a family, church, or community obligation, I make time for it; by fulfilling other areas of my life, I’m able to accomplish more at work.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Perhaps because I’m an avid reader, I’ve found that I notice patterns and trends quickly. After catching on to a trend, I’m always eager to act on it—but I’ve learned that they need to be interrogated and tested first. For this, I rely on the support of my team to get a fully-formed grasp on issues, and find that listening helps me understand the situation and settle on a solution.

When the idea grows legs, I try to remain one step ahead of the competition, even if the ideas haven’t been fully tested before. I’ve found that the best way to bring an idea to life is by identifying an opportunity first, then creating a strategic vision. This can be risky, because the ideas I latch on to are often untraditional. So I evaluate the ideas by thinking, what’s the worst that can happen? Then I weigh the risks and rewards. If the rewards are great enough, I move forward and do my best to break new ground.

What’s one trend–in your industry or beyond– that really excites you?

The most exciting trend I’ve witnessed has been the ability for technology to deliver messages more efficiently, and our ability to track results and understand almost instantaneously the impact of that message with voters. Before, you could mail something or make a phone call and simply hope it would land. With digital advertisements getting smarter by the day, all that has changed.

For example, micro-targeting allows us to tailor our message to specific demographics instead of casting a wide net and wasting impressions. We also have metrics delivered to us in real time, which tells us the exact amount of engagement posts are generating and how far its reach is. When we run a campaign, we can see how many people are clicking, then make adjustments within a 24-hour cycle. This is far more effective than TV commercials, which are not only costly, but have to play for two weeks before you can glean much insight.

The digital revolution has changed political advertising entirely, from targeting demographics, to precise messaging, to speed of sending and interpreting feedback and last but not least to the cost. This trend helps us truly understand the reach and the impact we are having.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I don’t like long meetings. Whenever I walk into a meeting, I can’t help but wonder: how much is this meeting costing us per employee? I once read a book entitled “Death by Meetings” and I think that’s how most people feel about meetings! If we aren’t careful and purposeful about our meetings, they end up sabotaging a good company and a productive workforce. During meetings, it’s not uncommon for me to ask my team if certain conversations can be tabled or taken off-line to keep the agenda moving forward. I find shorter meetings are more productive not just for myself as an entrepreneur, but for my entire team. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for an all-hands-on-deck meeting so long as you’re straight and to the point. Longer meetings just end up wasting time and money.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self that even though being successful and working hard go in tandem, living a balanced life is actually a key ingredient to career success. A leader I admire said recently that people have all sorts of bank accounts they need to have filled in order to achieve a balanced and fulfilled life: a health bank, a legacy bank, a spiritual bank, a family bank, etc.

A lot of people get it in their mind that they have to be in the office a certain number of hours to be successful in their careers but all they’re doing is just filling one bank—the career bank— and this off-balanced approach actually sabotages their business success. Now, I know that if I want to go to the gym at 7:00 a.m., emails can wait until 8:00 a.m. When I’m done; I’m refreshed and charged up to face the day. If my son needs me to coach his basketball games, I’m there, because in the midst of that activity, I may just become inspired about a problem I need to solve with a client.

Taking the time to focus on quality of life has improved my professional life. I’m much more efficient and centered. When you focus only on work, you neglect other areas of your life, and like a bird with a broken wing, you end up flying in circles.

So I’d like to tell my younger self to focus on business as a part of life, not at the expense of it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

The Internet is making things worse for politics. Seriously! As much as I’m a fan of the great new campaigning opportunities the web has made available, we’re seeing so much polarization due to social media bubbles, 24-hour journalism, fake news, and essentially people trying to profit by exploiting people’s worst fears using hyper-partisan content. As a result, people don’t trust the media, listen to each other, and common ground is disappearing quickly.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Let your success and actions speak for themselves. Though I can, and I will, I don’t necessarily enjoy talking about myself—I like to think that my reputation proceeds me, so I don’t waste time propping myself up with arbitrary fluff. I live my life by this principle, and advise others do the same. Don’t explain why you are successful, show it instead, because if you have to explain you are probably doing something wrong.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

My business didn’t have a website for the first four or five years of its existence, and though I’m glad we’re doing more online branding now, our history goes to show that word of mouth networking is the most successful growth strategy we could ask for. Doing a great job and winning loyal clients helps to generate referrals. If someone you know and trust recommends a restaurant, for example, that’s word of mouth news that you’re likely to trust by virtue of your relationship. For Lincoln Strategy Group, word of mouth recommendations have gone a long way in winning new clients.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve made mistakes that, at the time, I felt could never be overcome. One even put my reputation at stake and stalled business almost entirely for several years. Many people would have given up after that, but my commitment and passion helped me—and the company—persevere. I like to call Lincoln Strategy Group a “phoenix” company for our ability to rise out of the ashes, against the odds.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A job database that recruits people in the political arena, or an internet plugin that annotates fake or misleading news articles with facts and sources… like Snopes, but more software-driven.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I spent recently was on a visa to India. Being able to have this unique, humbling experience is worth far more than the money I spent on the visa—it’s priceless. Three generations of my family (my father, myself and my son) made the trek together as a means to understand my father’s life-long work. Over the past 50 years, my dad has made countless mission-type trips to help the Indian people build churches, orphanages, and wells for their villages. I was in awe of the profound impact he’s had (and continues to have) on people thousands of miles away. I hope to leave a similar type of legacy for my children so they understand the unique responsibility we all have to give back and influence the world for good.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I highly recommend RealClearPolitics.com. I go to them for polling, news stories from all sides of the ideological spectrum. They show you what people are reading and what’s trending with an immediacy and transparency I’ve yet to see elsewhere. Years past, you had to sift through all the newspapers yourself. Now, sites like RealClearPolitics aggregate what matters, so I can derive meaning quickly and get on with my day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recommend “The Five Levels of Leadership” by John Maxwell. It explains how to move from being a level 1 leader (simply having the authority/title of a position) to a level 5 leader (one who earns trust, has beliefs, and shows who they are and what they represent). Many organizations suffer from people’s inability to lead effectively, so this is a must-read.

Another good one is “How to Win an Election” by Steve Shadegg, Barry Goldwater’s campaign manager. It was written back in the 1950s, but still applies today.

What is your favorite quote?

I actually have two.

“It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” – Ronald Reagan

And…

“Chance favors a prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

Key Learnings

  • Let your success and actions speak for themselves.
  • Doing a great job and winning loyal clients helps to generate referrals.
  • So I’d like to tell my younger self to focus on business as a part of life, not at the expense of it.

Connect:

http://www.lincoln-strategy.com/
Lincoln Strategy Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LincolnStrategyGroup/
Lincoln Strategy Group on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lincolnstrategy
Lincoln Strategy Group on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/472887

Nathan’s personal contact info:
https://www.facebook.com/nathansproul.lincoln/
https://twitter.com/nathansproul
https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathan-sproul/

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