A number of people working on competing campaigns have made one of my businesses — Tusk Strategies — an issue in this year’s New York City mayoral election. Obviously, this is happening because their candidates and campaigns are behind in the polls and they’re looking for anything that can stick (I’m familiar with how this stuff works). But nonetheless, it raises questions of how Tusk Strategies will operate if Andrew Yang wins the mayoralty. Here’s what we’re going to do:
(1). If we win, I will not lobby or talk with the new mayor — nor anyone in a Yang administration — on any matter that intersects with our work. This includes Tusk Strategies, Tusk Venture Partners, the Ivory Gaming Acquisition Corporation or any other business interest we have.
(2). Tusk employees (including me) will not raise any money for any Yang-related entity for the entirety of his time at City Hall, including his 2025 mayoral re-election, his inauguration (including the first term), any political action committees, the Fund for the City of New York or any other cause Mayor Yang champions.
(3). We will disclose everything. There are longstanding rules already around what type of work needs to be disclosed in lobbying registrations and what does not. But rather than getting into semantics around things like being an “agent of the city”, if you are a client of Tusk Strategies or a partner on any other business we have and your issue means our interacting with the City of New York in any way, we will go above and beyond the existing rules and register as a lobbyist, regardless of the type of work we’re doing, regardless whether it’s required or not.¹
(4). We will hold a weekly meeting between outside counsel and Tusk employees to discuss any issues, ideas, concerns or questions around their work regarding the City of New York and create an open channel for anyone on our team to ask questions or receive advice at any time, day or night. We will also seek and publish an opinion from counsel pre-inauguration laying out exactly what consultants and lobbyists can and can’t do and we will follow it.²
I haven’t worked on a mayoral election since we won back in 2009.³ My time is generally spent on work outside of politics and outside of New York: our venture capital funds, funding and running the national effort around mobile voting, funding and running campaigns in multiple states to alleviate childhood hunger, chairing a publicly traded company in the digital gaming space, our podcast Firewall, our Fast Company column, the Gotham Book Prize, the bookstore and podcast studio we’re opening on the Lower East Side, teaching at Columbia Business School, and two new books. We took on this campaign because we looked at the crisis facing this city, looked at the options of viable candidates and knew we could do a lot better.
I love New York City. I was born here. I live here. We’re raising our kids here. My business is based here. Much of my philanthropy is focused on New York. I teach here. I volunteer here. I’m even opening a bookstore here. There’s simply too much at stake for my family and for every family in this city to put our fate in the hands of career politicians or incompetent ideologues. We need someone with bold ideas, someone who inspires people, someone who has had the pressure of having to make payroll every two weeks, someone tough enough to tell people no, someone who can govern free from political constraints. We need someone exactly like Andrew Yang. That’s why I’m involved in the campaign and it’s why I strongly believe he is the best choice to lead this city.
None of the steps outlined above — the ban on fundraising, extra disclosure, constant contact with outside experts, my recusal from any business involving New York City — is required by law or practice. I know this announcement still won’t end the attacks on me, my firm or my employees since the people leveling the attacks don’t actually care about any of the issues listed above in the first place. But to the extent there are any legitimate questions about my role should we be fortunate enough to win this election, this should answer them.
¹ For whatever it’s worth, lobbying comprises less than 10% of Tusk Strategies revenue, New York is just one of dozens of markets we work in, and Tusk Strategies is only one part of Tusk Holdings. Tusk Strategies develops and runs big, multi-faceted campaigns that typically occur in multiple jurisdictions at the same time. The constant depiction of us as a lobbying firm is just lazy.
² If you don’t believe me that we will follow the rules religiously, look into what happened when I was the Deputy Governor of Illinois and Rod Blagojevich asked me to extort Rahm and Ari Emanuel. Instead of following orders, I reported it and put a stop to it.
³I did lead the (failed) effort to try to stop Bill de Blasio from winning a second term and have probably been de Blasio’s most vocal critic throughout his mayoralty. If I were making business decisions based on what’s good for our lobbying work, I wouldn’t have done that. Whether it’s trying to end political dysfunction through mobile voting, supporting a visionary like Andrew Yang, funding the effort to create universal school breakfast, investing in startups that disrupt industries in desperate need of improvement or anything else, I do what I believe is right and I take the slings and arrows that come with it. If being attacked publicly is the price I have to pay to help ensure New York City has a good mayor, so be it.
Lana and her fiance, Mike, often joke that they are not on each other’s radar. And it’s true — they’re not. When they first started dating, they often wondered why they never popped up on each other’s dating apps. They finally realized it was because neither person matched any of the criteria the other person entered in their apps. They weren’t even in the acceptable age groups for each other!
I’ve known Lana almost our entire lives and Mike is definitely not the man she thought she wanted. As a successful, outgoing, and athletic woman — she had always sought the same. Mike had no desire to climb any corporate ladders, preferred books to sports, and was perfectly happy to never attend any parties.
When Lana first started dating Mike, I was surprised. Hollywood was Lana’s teacher for the perfect man and Mike was no Prince Charming. Lana definitely resisted Mike initially, but she soon realized that while she didn’t think that Mike was the kind of guy she wanted to date, he always made her feel good. In the end, she realized that it was better to feel good all the time than to be with someone she thought she should be with. So, when Lana accepted Mike’s proposal three years later, I wasn’t surprised at all.
You see, Mike has quite a few dating superpowers that none of the other men Lana dated ever had. The other guys may have been great individuals, but Mike was a great partner. Hollywood doesn’t highlight these qualities because they are not very sexy. These aren’t qualities that work well in a two-hour special but they are great in a 40-year relationship.
Like Mike, maybe you’ve never really thought of yourself as extremely desirable. You’re not charming, wealthy, or conventionally sexy, and talking to potential partners has always been — well…awkward at best. But maybe, instead of starving yourself to get a lean body or killing yourself to earn that fancy new car to impress a date, you could figure out your own relationship superpower. Here are some of the most underrated traits that could win over the right partner if you embraced them.
Before Mike, Lana’s type was the Alpha Male. They were successful, attractive, and charming. The one other trait they all shared was that they thought their lives were more important than hers. They would reach out constantly when they needed her but it would be radio silence when she needed them.
Lana would put up with it because they were sweet talkers. After not hearing from them for days or sometimes weeks, they would tell her how much they had missed her and how they simply couldn’t wait to see her again. Then it would happen all over again. The relationship always happened on their terms, never on Lana’s.
Mike was different. Even though he didn’t love bomb her with effusive language — he would call when he said he would and would never disappear without notice. He was consistent and responsive. At first, Lana thought he was boring until she realized how good it felt to never have to wonder what someone’s intentions were.
If we were learning about love from psychologists instead of Hollywood, this would not come as a surprise at all. In fact, the consistency of a caregiver’s behavior is one of the biggest predictors of whether a child can form healthy relationships. Children whose parents alternate between loving and neglectful/abusive behavior often have issues forming intimate bonds. They tend to develop anxious and disorganized attachment styles since they find it difficult to predict and trust loving behavior.
2. Accepting and supportive
Lana is a very successful corporate lawyer but she has always harbored dreams of being a romance novelist. When she first started sharing this dream with her friends, many people — especially her ex-boyfriends — discouraged her from it. They simply couldn’t understand why she would give up her successful career that so many people coveted. One of Lana’s ex-boyfriends even asked her, “What would my family think if I was dating a romance novelist?”
When she told Mike about it, he instantly became her biggest cheerleader. Let’s be clear, Mike knows nothing about romance novels and certainly doesn’t enjoy reading them but he cared about it because it was what was important to Lana. Here is what’s special about this — Mike wants Lana to be the best version of her that she wants to be, not the version he wanted her to be.
Lana felt like she could fully be herself for the first time ever. Not just in big things but also in small ones. Lana was extremely picky with food and could sometimes take forever to decide what to eat. Mike would always patiently listen to her while she mused out loud about her decisions.
When Lana first started going on dates with Mike, she was also seeing another person, but there was a specific moment when she realized that Mike was the person she wanted to be with.
“It was the toast,” she said to me one day. Seeing my confused expression, she continued, “We were having breakfast and were down to the last two pieces of bread. I burnt one. Without saying a word, Mike took the burnt piece. Dan would never do that. He would always take the better piece for himself. Between his happiness and mine, his was always more important.”
Fast forward five years later and Lana said to me the other day that Mike had moved all his meetings so he could pick her up because he knew how much she hated driving in a storm. “Even if it’s 11 pm at night and we’re both in bed, Mike would go get ice cream if I had a craving for it. Now that is happiness,” she once told me with a dreamy smile.
4. Emotional and physical availability
Lana had grown up wealthy. For the longest time, she would confuse generosity with love. She would date these men who wouldn’t be there when she needed them to be but would make up for it by taking her on expensive dinners or vacations when it was convenient for them. She may have been on their arm, but she wasn’t the most important thing on their minds.
It wasn’t just physical availability, many of her exes were not emotionally available either. They would frequently tell her how they needed to focus on their careers right now and couldn’t commit to a relationship.
“You know what’s the best part? No matter what he’s doing, he always stops to look when I point out a new bird,” Lana shared. Mike not only committed to her but he was present in their relationship. Lana adores birds and though Mike didn’t, he always chose to give his full attention instead of dismissing her or grunting distractedly like her exes did.
Research conducted by Dr. John Gottman, the man famously known for being able to predict divorces in the couples he observes with a 93.4% accuracy, validates that this is important in keeping a couple together. He calls what Lana does “bids.” A bid is any time your partner is seeking your attention — such as wanting affection, asking for help/opinion, telling a joke, or wanting to show you something.
When he assessed couples that he had been tracking since their wedding at the six-year mark, he found that couples that were still together turned towards one another 86% of the time. Couples that divorced averaged only 33% of the time. It turns out, responding to bids is a small but extremely important gesture.
5. Willingness to work on the relationship
Lana always had the same pattern of solving problems in all her past relationships. She would get into a fight with her partner, they would storm off, and they would win her back by buying her an expensive gift or effusive apologies. The problem was, they never worked on the issue itself and they certainly didn’t work on communicating better so the cycle was doomed to repeat itself.
Whenever Lana suggested couples counseling or even reading books together, Lana’s exes would say that they didn’t have time or get defensive at the idea that they were not good partners. Mike readily confessed that he didn’t have all the tools he needed to be the best partner and was more than willing to try to find them. He certainly didn’t always get it right, but the relationship had a chance to get better every year — and it did.
“When both parties are trying to be more skilled at relationships and always thinking of giving to the other person, it never feels like hard work,” Lana told me when speaking of her couples therapy.
6. And many more…
As I was writing this article, my sister-in-law shared a story with me about how her boss had handed her a last-minute assignment just as she was leaving work. It ended up taking her two hours to finish and she had kept my brother waiting for her in the parking lot the whole time. When she got in the car, he had simply given her a big smile and said, “Hi darling.”
Her story reminded me of the many other dating superpowers that are out there. Here are more examples — playfulness, patience, flexibility, easygoing temperament, non-judgmental nature, kindness, optimism, humility, being a good listener, resourcefulness, a sense of adventure, self-confidence, being a great communicator, curiosity, having the courage to be vulnerable, and creativity.
If Lana had met Mike and one of her exes at a party on the same day, it’s likely that she probably would have picked one of her exes. However, if she had been stuck on a desert island for a month, she definitely would have chosen Mike.
The most important thing that Mike taught Lana was this — life exists in the small moments. It’s so much harder to find someone who shows up for you consistently over a long time than it is to find someone who can shower you with extravagant gestures every once in a while.
With Mike, Lana realized that you may only have one wedding, but if you are married for 40 years, you will have 14,600 cups of morning coffee. Her focus shifted from wanting someone who will look great on the one day of wedding photos to someone where the 14,601st cup of coffee was better than the 1st.
I hope you will recognize and continue to cultivate your own relationship superpower instead of worrying about 6-pack abs or a six-figure salary to win someone over. The right person will recognize what’s truly important.
If you want to learn to connect more authentically, subscribe to my mailing list to instantly get the top 5 questions to create intimacy and other regular tips. Would love to hear about your superpowers!