There were many firsts in this interview with Tom. It was the first time we finished with time to spare, it was the first time no infographic was chosen and it was the first time we needed to edit someone’s life story so we could actually show what an impressive career Tom has achieved (so far)
1.Tell us your story …
My name is Tom McMahon. I’ve done politics at a variety of levels. I’ve worked in Government and now in the public communications advocacy space.
Editors note: what Tom underplayed were some of his achievements which include, but are not limited to, working as regional field Director on the Clinton-Gore Presidential campaign in 1992, Deputy Campaign Manager for Howard Dean’s presidential bid, working for Vice President Gore in the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Public Affairs and as the White House Liaison at the U.S. Information Agency. Most recently, he was CEO of the Democratic National Committee and is now co-founder of New Paradigm Strategy Group in Washington, D.C. He’s also an attorney and is an incredibly nice and modest guy
2. The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How well do you know the American public?
Pretty well. How do I know them? Based upon watching behavioural patterns and how people digest information through communication channels that they receive that information. It’s about understanding not only how they digest it but how they carry it out in their individuals patterns or behaviours when it comes to voting.
3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?
By listening. I think the biggest thing that most people don’t do is listen and they merely try to get to a dialogue and quickly solve or they tell people why either a) what they believe or what they think is correct or b) how they should look at something differently. But I don’t think that people actually listen. I think people hear but I don’t think people listen.
4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret Donald Trump?
If you go back and actually appreciate history, you will see that even starting in the 2000 campaign when John McCain ran, there this aspect of this anti-establishment movement. It demonstrates itself in 2004 with Howard Dean but I think people were too nervous to make that leap of faith at a national security environment and the 2004 election was very much about national security and whether or not the next President was going to keep you safe against Osama Bin Laden. And in 2008, Obama channelled hope and change and a lot of people thought he would be transformative for politics and he just disappointed certain people.
I think that’s the void that Donald Trump came in on. And Donald Trump also worked because instead of hope and change, he did it through fear, anger and nationalism. Which is quite frightening but it’s a powerful notion which I think people don’t appreciate or understand the seriousness of it.
5. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?
It might be the moral matrix because it looked confusing but I didn’t really stop on it long enough to know. I would argue from other things I’ve seen, it’s not compelling. It looks like it’s trying to force in a lot of information. It reminds of when infographics were coming of age – the work Data Design do these days is far superior.
2nd Editors note: we’re biased when it comes to Data Design but he raises a good point – you can check out their work via http://www.datadesignstudios.co.uk