Learning How to Effectively Influence Government Officials

Learning How to Effectively Influence Government Officials

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: Learning How to Effectively Influence Government Officials

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio, Biz. Talk for Biz owners. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right, guys. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio with me, Mr. Biz Ken Wentworth. And this week we literally, we've been doing the show. Now I, I say this all the time, but it's literally been six and a half years now. We've been doing the show and we have never broached some of the things we're gonna talk about today. And specifically some of that's gonna be about as a business owner, as you're trying to help shape and form government type activities that are going on in your locality, whatever they may be, how in the world do you do that? What is the most effective way to do that? What are some tips? What are some things that, oh my gosh, make sure you don't do this right. So we're gonna talk this week with someone who is gonna be able to share, shed a lot of light on this for us.


And we're gonna talk this week with former mayor Debbie Peterson. She's the author of Number one bestseller, the "The Happiest Corruption: Sleaze, Lies, & Suicide in a California Beach Town". If that doesn't intrigue you, I don't know what does, but it's a true crime story of the corruption she discovered as mayor. The first book in her Integrity 1 0 1 series, her second book in the series, city Council 1 0 1 Insiders Guide for New Council members launched in in January of this year. And her third, we, the People 1 0 1, how to beat City Hall just came out in February of this year. So you might be asking, well, okay, great. She was a mayor. Like, okay, great. But by the age of 28, Debbie was an award-winning entrepreneur in Great Britain and has negotiated more than 500 win-win transactions as a residential real estate broker in California. She studied journalism and Radio TV at C C S U Fresno, completing a VSC in communications with a major in public relations from the University of Idaho. Debbie Peterson, welcome to Mr. Biz Radio.


Well, thank you Mr. Biz. I'm very glad to be here.


Yeah. So I've been, I'm not kidding, and I, I, I say this often, but I'm not, I don't, I'm not just a you know, fluff kind of person, but I've been looking forward to this conversation because I'm, I'm, I'm sure we're just gonna be able to scratch the surface on some of the things that you can share with us, but I, I'm really looking forward to it. But before we get into any of the government type stuff, if you would tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey, because I know starting a co a company in a foreign country and then then becoming an award-winning entrepreneur, if you would tell us some, some of your background in that, Debbie,


I think the, all the awards and everything came from the, the public relations background. I knew how to present myself. I knew how to do it. I knew how to get the publicity. I went to Scotland and I w I copied my mother's business. She was one of the cookie queens of California, like everybody was back in the seventies. I would've Spunk Meyer and Mrs. Field, and I went to Great Britain and I worked in advertising and marketing, and we did a lot of food testing. I worked for two different advertising agencies and then a bank. Of course, we didn't do food testing there, but and so I, I realized that I was in a situation then where there really was a glass ceiling, and I wasn't gonna get much further than I was. And if I got an M B A, I'd be overqualified for jobs I wouldn't get.


Anyway. So I decided to research copying my mother's business, and I did. And turns out that the British have a huge sweet tooth. And there was a wonderful workspace and an old bakery that had been converted for businesses to work in. And so the, it was perfect. And we started making brownies and carrot cakes and chocolate chip cookies, and we were really the first to launch those successfully in Great Britain. Got them on the British Airways got them on British Midland Airways, British Rail, and Delis and sandwich shops all over the country and into the supermarkets. So it skyrocketed. And it was really a fascinating business because I look at it now all of us, with the exception of the board of directors, all of us were under 30. In fact, most of the employees were under 25. And so there was a lot of liveliness and vibrancy and engagement.


Well, so you grew up in a family of, with an entrepreneur,


<Laugh>? Yes and no. My mother had been an auditor, and my father was a production manager. And so I ha I got those analytical skills in that production outlook, you know, how do you do it fastest for the most money <laugh> and and with the best results, so, which is also good for management consulting. And so I, but my mother hit a glass ceiling and she worked for the county of Fresno, and she decided she'd start her own business and did so successfully herself also.


Yeah, that's what I mean. So you, you saw some of those examples of, of being an corporate world to entrepreneur and things like that, I'm sure that had some influence on you,when you were, when you were young. So I wanna scratch on a little bit, you'd mentioned this,you know, some of the pr your PR background and that, you know, probably led to helping you, but you also alluded to that with the success of the, the, the company you built in Great Britain. Uhow important is public relations, do you think, to a, a small business or an entrepreneur?


It's absolutely huge, and there's so many ways you can do things. The whole thing behind public relations, of course, is that it's not paid advertising. And it's changed a lot now with social media, but it really is critical to look for every opportunity to get your business out there for people to have an idea of what it's about for people to see the fun side of it, to see your successes, to see what you do well. And and usually often newspapers are looking for material you can send them in a press release. And sometimes, you know, with, with the TV stations, you just call 'em up if there's something really exciting going on, but they will take press releases also. So it's huge. And the, the difficulty with public relations, of course, is you can't really measure it very well. You're not always, you don't always know where it's going or, or who it reaches.


So would you say, Debbie, is, do you think, and I'm curious to hear your, your answer on this one, do you think it's PR is easier now with the, the proliferation of social media? Or do you think that in some ways that makes it more difficult?


Well, I'll tell you how I feel and and it'd be interesting to know what other people think about if they feel the same way. I'm 66 years old and things have changed radically since I was in public, you know, since I did my degree. However, it, the, the principles are still the same, but I find it much more difficult because there's, you know, do you do LinkedIn? Do you do Facebook? Do you do, who do you do with social media? Where's your best platform? Deciding all of that, and then the time involved in doing it professionally it, for me, it's much more difficult. Although, you know, the real basic pr getting people into the press and media hasn't necessarily changed that much.


Yeah, I mean, I, I'll tell you personally, I, I agree with you and I think, and maybe, maybe for different reasons, but I think some of the re so it's, it's easier to reach a lot more people and a lot more eyeballs and ears with the proliferation of social media. That's what I've found at least. But, but I also find that more difficult in some ways because of the exact thing I just mentioned. There's so many people out there, there's so many influencers, there's so many people that are in your field that, that maybe the, the TV producer or the the person who writes for Forbes or they have so many people to choose from, and it's not just the pitches they're getting in their email box, it's someone they see on social media or they saw, saw this video that went viral or things like that. So I think in some ways it's, it that makes it more difficult.


I agree. It's, I think the thing that intimidates me about it is the sheer numbers and then also the fact that you don't control the medium. You have no way of knowing how many people, you know, who, who is Facebook gonna put that message out? Are they gonna put your message out at all? Or is it gonna reach five people who you already know? And, and that is always difficult and frustrating for me.


Yeah, for sure. I agree with that. Yeah, we, we've, we've done a bunch of testing and trying to figure stuff out over the last several years with all that and trying to, you know, cause I, I agree with you. I think it's critically important. I can't help someone if they don't know even who I am, that I, that I might be able to help them. So I think that's very important. Guys, this week we're talking with Debbie Peterson. You can find out more at debbiepeterson.com/blog. You can follow her on Facebook LinkedIn, Twitter Instagram go out there and check out some of her materials. We're gonna come back after the break and we're gonna find out why in the world she decided to be a government official and run for mayor successfully by the, the way when we come back on Mr. Biz Radio.


If you would like to reach hundreds of thousands of business owners every week, Mr. Biz radio can help . Our show airs globally seven days a week for more than 25 hours across several internet radio stations, plus 20 plus podcast platforms. Also video exposure on the new exclusive Mr. Biz network streaming channel, which gets blasted to 100 plus streaming platforms and the Mr. Biz YouTube channel and our 350,000 social media followers multiple times every week. Join Mr. Biz nation as an advertiser by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Are you ready to automate your business? Automation is the key to scaling a business and building wealth. It's also one of the most difficult things for a small business owner to do on their own. If you're looking for help with automation, Pulse Technology CRM can help. We have an exclusive offer for Mr. Biz nation. We will build everything for free, even if it's a sophisticated funnel, visit thepulsespot.com/MrBiz for this exclusive offer.


Got a question for Mr. Biz. You want answered on air, email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Now once again, here's Mr. Biz.


All right, welcome back, Mr. Biz Radio. It's time for the Mr. Biz tip of the week. This one's short and sweet, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Happy employees, equal satisfied customers. And if you wanna take it, that's the actual the tip. If you wanna take it a step further, happy employees. Equal satisfied customers, satisfied customers, and happy employees. Equal happy business owner. You gotta make sure you're taking care of your customers, and in my opinion, strongly strongly recommend this and strongly feel this way. It starts with your employees. If you're not treating your employees well, if they're not happy, they're the face of the business more than likely, depending on what type of business you have. But more than likely, they're interacting with customers on a regular basis. They are the face of your business. If they're not happy, that's gonna shine through to your customers. And so, and it's not gonna be positive for your business. So critically important, happy customer or happy employees, equal satisfied customers. How's the Mr. Biz tip of the week this week and get back into talking with Debbie? So Debbie, I gotta ask you you're a successful businesswoman. You're PR initially, and then you, you launched a successful business. What prompted you to get into being a, you know, public servant?


I love it that you say public servant, not politician, because I never thought of myself as a politician. I hate politics. I've always hated politics. I hate the nastiness of it. And I realized that with my business background, I lived in a small town and they really needed some help with their public image. They really needed some help with redevelopment. I had done a lot of consulting in Great Britain with the, with government agencies to help people start businesses and do their business plans. And I thought, gosh, I can help my city. And neighbors started encouraging me to run for office before I even realized that. And, and I was responsive to that. And and in fact I was able to help, but not the way I thought I would be helping.


Okay. Well, so you gotta tell us in what way do we <laugh>. So what were your, so I guess, what were your expectations on how you thought you were gonna be able to help versus what the reality ended up being? Well,


I started out as a planning commissioner, and the planning commission went beautifully. I chaired it for the last couple of four years service, and it went just perfectly the way you would expect a really good thing to go. You listen to your people, you find solutions, everybody's respectful. And then I was elected to the city council, and I was on committees 17 during my term as a council member and mayor. And many of those committees, the boards were so badly run that if they weren't corrupt, they would've been corrupt. And I didn't expect that. And I, and I, I worked with other female entrepreneurs, actually it was the female CEOs who turned one comp one company around with the help of the local newspaper publisher. And and a lot of members of the public who were telling me about corruption, we worked together on that. So I discovered corruption that I didn't expect, and at first didn't recognize that's what I was seeing.


Interesting, interesting. So your book, The Happiest Corruption: Sleaze, Lies, & Suicide in a California Beach Town. Without giving away too much, but maybe as a little bit of a tease, Debbie, what are, what's, you know, maybe one or two of those things that you uncovered that, you know, during your, your public servant, you're like, oh my gosh, I can't believe this. You know, I'm, I'm curious to hear.


Yeah, I would wake up in the middle of the night and say, no, no, no, this can't be true in my beautiful little community. But it was, and the numbers didn't lie. My, our sewer district had a district administrator who was basically shoveling work to his own engineering firm and many, many other things with the help of the agency attorney and, and probably in cahoots with other board members at the time. And and so 11 million in the reserves kind of just frittered away somewhere. Wow. And when I did a red flags analysis, because I'd done a lot of management consulting by that time, it, you just couldn't miss it. And, and the public were up in arms. They'd had a major sewer spill, and people were telling us they had three, three people resign. There were three whistleblowers. Well, they didn't resign, actually, they got fired because they were whistleblowers. So that was one. Another one was a trash agency where they were <laugh>, they were basically using a credit card that went, went to the trash agency, and they got new kitchens and new roofs, and, and they weren't for the agency <laugh>, they were the people working there. And so in both of those cases, there are, in fact, in several of the cases, can we introduced cannabis And in every, in each of those three cases, ultimately people were charged. People were convicted and interesting when jail even.


Yeah, it just makes me wonder how prevalent that is. I mean, it, it, it, and I think one of the things that I've seen, whether it be, you know, with the government or anything, anytime you have a lot of money involved, it just opens the door that a lot of this type of behavior. And I think people oftentimes will make poor decisions based on financial, you know, reasons. And again, sometimes it's who knows what's going on in their personal life. Maybe they have some sort of problem that they're dealing with that they need money for or whatever it might be. But gosh, it just ma makes me wonder, you know, even in a small town, a relatively small town, if if that type of corruption was going on, how prevalent is it in New York City, in Chicago, in Houston, and, you know, all these Los Angeles, all these major cities. It just boggles my mind.


And I think that's a really good question because it's something that people say a lot. Well, you know, government's always been corrupt or, you know, politics as usual. And every time you do that, you just, you write it off and you walk away. You don't have to think about it. But the reality is, it's your money. And each of us pays half a million dollars a year in a lifetime on average. What is that when you extend it to your whole family? But we don't pay any attention to what anybody does about it. And we don't manage the money that we give them to manage. We don't manage them. And that's something business people are really good at or need to be good at. It'd be great practice if you're not. So, but I, but the thing I tell myself, because it could be really discouraging sometimes, is if you think of everyone as being corrupt, it's, it makes you more willing to be corrupt, number one. Sure. But number two, if you don't, if you're not, it's discouraging. And I realize, you know, it's really not true. There are cities that do it very well, and there are cities that do it very badly. Unfortunately, I happened to be in a county that had been doing it for almost 200 years, so it was kind of in, in the blood almost. It was almost inborn.


Yeah. And I know you're, you're a big proponent of encouraging business folks to get become public servants. And, and I'm guessing it's for that reason you just mentioned.


Yeah, it's because business people smell smell a red flag. That's, they smell <laugh>. They, they, they understand the smell test. They can see red flags, they understand the bottom line. They know when a budget doesn't really make sense. And so they can ask those sensible questions. And if, if your local government, number one, they need to know what you think in order to represent you when they're the good guys, even the bad guys sometimes. And the other thing is, if they know you're there watching it is, it does deter some crime. And if there is some there, you can, you can find it and fix it. And there'll be other people who see it too. But you have to be there to see it. You have to show up.


Yeah. Well, it's interesting to me, Debbie, I just did a, a, a video actually kind of a, I've been doing some sort of opinion pieces on different things, and I just talked about the debt ceiling, which has reared its ugly head again here sooner than we were anticipating. And it, I think a lot of people are just naive, like just, just, you mentioned Debbie, like, you kind of put your head in the sand and say, well, that's just how it is. And I was amazed to see, you know, I had someone who saw the video and they're like, no, you're wrong. There's a balanced budget act. And I'm like, yeah, it was passed, you're right, in the early nineties, and it was repealed within two years. We don't have a balanced budget. We've had a surplus in the federal government. We've had a surplus one dime in the last 50 years.


That's amazing. As, as a numbers nerd, business CFO o person, that blows me away that we allow that to continue to happen year after year after year. And that's how we, you know, the, the accumulation of that is how we we're in the position we're in, at least on a federal basis that we are in many cities. I'm sure it's, it's a very similar situation. Just absolutely crazy. We've gotta hit another break here. Again, the week we're talking with Debbie Peterson, she's look, she's got all kinds of stuff you need to go out to debbiepeterson.com/blog. We'll put it in the show notes, follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and check out our podcast Corruption Chronicles.


How would you like to have direct access to Mr. Biz to help you run your business more profitably and more efficiently at mrbizsolutions.com you get live access to not only Mr. Biz, but also several of his handpicked and trusted business experts. Each with 20 plus years of experience to help you optimally manage and grow your business. That's just the start of where Mr. Biz solutions begins. Learn more at mrbizsolutions.com. That's mrbizsolutions.com.


Business owners have a continually growing to-do list with little time for revenue producing activities, with Check Off Your List and their experienced team of virtual assistant. You can focus on growing your business, visit, checkoffyourlist.com to learn how Check Off Your List. Skilled team can handle your day tasks like social media, bookkeeping, calendar maintenance, and much more. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 8 8 8 2 6 2 1 2 4 9. To see how their virtual assistants can help you live to work rather than work to live.


Check out all three of Mr. Business best-selling books at mrbizbooks.com. Now, once again, here's Mr. Biz.


All right, welcome back to the show. Debbie, I, I wanna dive into this one. We've only got, you know, about nine minutes in this segment, and I'm sure you could go on for eons about this, but, but as a business owner, as I mentioned at the outside of the show, as a business owner and when you want to have some influence with, with local government officials and things like that, there's something that you need for your business or you wanna try to influence something that's coming up for a vote or whatever it may be, what are some things maybe that we sh make sure that you don't do? That's a really bad approach. And, and but more importantly, what are some things that we should be making sure that we're doing to be able to, you know, to get their attention and, and be able to ha be influential?


Well, first of all, local government is the, is the most accessible and has the most influence in your life. They're the ones who run your sewer, your waters, and all the costs of all of those. And and they're the ones that do the streets. They're the ones that influence whether someone's making too much noise or you can't park in front of your business. So as local government is important, it's easily accessible. Almost all their meetings and things will be shown on online. You can go to the, you know, your city's name.org or.gov and you'll find them. And the first thing is show up. If you are there, they know you're watching. And then the second thing is, if you show up and you're one of these people who can talk in public comment, plan what you're gonna say in advance, cuz you're only gonna get two or three minutes and you wanna make sure that you get your point across.


Be respectful, think about it, think about how, if you were up there, if yeah, how, how you would want to be talked to. And and usually start with by thanking them and by acknowledging, you know, honorable mayor and council members. And you can stop by thanking them. And I don't mean be obsequious, don't be obnoxious about it, just be great. Sure. Be gracious. Because many times if, if it's a small city, they're serving for free. So they're working as volunteers, so you wanna make it worth a while to do that job. And they can't represent you if they don't know what you think. You've gotta tell 'em what it's like on your street in your business because they're not omniscient, they're not gods. They may sometimes act like it or <laugh>, but they're not. And they don't know if you don't tell them. So if they're going to represent you, they need to hear from you. I think that's, that's a pretty good start.


Yeah, I I love that. I love that. Well, and I think being, I, I think it's critically important for, and I encourage, you know, my clients to be involved, get involved with local government in some form or fashion, even if it's, you know, showing up at local events to support other local businesses and things like that. Sponsoring local events, showing up for council meetings and things like that. Even if you don't have anything to say, show up and be present and, and, and at least you can also get a better idea of what's going on there. And I think, you know, obviously now in the, in post covid everything, like you mentioned, you could do things online, but for me, I guess I'm kind of old school. I think it's, you know, again, it's very important to show up, be there in pre when you can be in person.


And if you can't, you can watch it later, watch the recording later or whatever. But again, just to keep your kind of finger on the pulse of what's going on and maybe even get a better idea of each of those folks' personalities. So when you do have an opportunity or ha need to talk to one of them, or, or you're gonna speak in front of them, you kind of have a better idea, you know, your audience a little better. Is there, is there an example Debbie, that you had in any of your, the roles that you had where you had someone that just approached you and you're just completely turned off by it?


Constantly <laugh>, it happens a lot because people hate politicians and then they, and they put you in, they label you. And and that's one of the most important things if you do run for office, is, is it is not about you. And it was not about me. It was about them, about what they wanted. And so in any situation, even with customer complaints, if you realize it's not about you, it's about them and you focus on them, that turns it around. Usually just let, let people say their peace. And, and the reality is they all have the right to do that. And, and if you're in local office, you represent them all. So I listened to everybody. It made no difference whether I agreed with them or didn't agree with them because I, I was supposed to represent them. And you can't, again, can't represent people if you don't listen to them. And we usually ended up liking each other and sometimes became great friends.


Yeah. And I think that's critically important. We actually just, just did a show and our guest was talking about one of the most critical things about being a conscious leader, which is I think exactly ties into what you're talking about, Debbie, is, is having, being a conscious listener. Because so often we, we listen to respond, we don't listen to learn. And I think that's a critical thing, and it sounds like, I think would be very important as, as well, dealing with an government official or, you know, when you're trying to influence someone in any way, and I don't mean that in a nefarious way, I just mean you, you want to get their ear, you want to convince them that like, Hey, this is what we need to do, or this is something that would be helpful for my business. I, I would think that that would be, you know, a critically important skill to make sure that you've developed.


Yeah. If you can listen to learn, then once you've listened, the other people will usually listen to you. And then that's where solutions begin. That's where relationships begin, and that's the way to make it work in everything you're doing. Yeah, I love that conscious that concept of conscious listening. That's, that's really, really touching, actually, it moves me. That's cool. Yeah, I like that a lot.


Yeah. Yeah, he was, he was definitely an interesting guest. So I asked Debbie if we can talk about a little bit your transition. So you, you, you left as a public servant and let, tell us a little bit more about what you do now.


I'm a real estate broker and I have been all along because I, we weren't paid to be on the local council. It cost us more to be there than than we made. And and so I'm, I'm a real estate broker. We've had over 500 win-win transactions. And, and one of the things that I always say is win-win or no deal, there's no point in doing it if it's not a win for both people. And I think that applies to almost everything. And and I'll say to everything <laugh> and and so that I've continued, but I also started writing. I found so much corruption that there was a point at which I could no longer associate myself with it because if every single thing that came to us was corrupt by continuing to be involved in it, I was almost sanctioning it. So I quit and I quit so that I'd have time to write the happiest corruption this Lees lies in suicide story in the California beach town. And my hope with that was that it would get enough attention that we could turn some of those things around. It really was my, my swan song <laugh>, and that's what I'm working on now.


Well, and then you've turned into a series your Integrity 1 0 1 series. So tell us about that. Yeah. Did you have an idea for a series the whole time, or did you write the first one and then say, gosh, I could make this into a series?


Well, I wrote the first one and it was about a thousand pages, so I had to split the first up. And so first I told the story to get people's attention, and then I said, okay, if I've got your attention, here's how you fix it. Remember, you're we the people, we the people 1 0 1 and and you can beat City Hall and here's how you do it. And so I did that and created also a course called Double Dias Adventures in Local Government, which incorporates all of that because we have to work on both sides of that dias to make anything work and or to make it work. Well, I'm gonna say so mm-hmm. <Affirmative> yeah, that's, that was really where I, where I am right now and what I'm working on. And that's an online course, the double dias, and that's also available.


I do, I didn't mention it, but I do have an offer for everyone. If you go to the website, citi gov one oh one.com, it's just the word City. And then gov the a appre abbreviation for government gov.com. Then I will, you will get immediately, as soon as you put your information in, you'll get an opportunity. You'll get the free book city Council 1 0 1 Insiders Guide for new council members. And that's great advice for business owners, for people who wanna get involved in local government. And you'll also get then links to all the other things, to all the other books. And you can go to my website debbiepeterson.com/blog as well, and get all of those things.


Awesome. Yeah, I appreciate that. We'll put that in the show notes as well. Well, I, I guess I'll, we're running out time here, but I, I want to ask you, I, I'm curious, you've, you've done all these different things. What would you want, Debbie, what do you want your legacy to be?


I want more women in office. There's, there are all kinds of studies now that show when you have women on boards, they're more financially sound, they're less corrupt, and and they get things done. Women they kick <laugh>. And so, cause they don't know, they don't know how to do it the old boys way. They just do it their way and they get things done. So I'd like to see more women in office.


I love it. I love it. I love it. Yeah. It's funny you say they get done. I mean, I've got you know, it's just, I, I agree with you a hundred percent. I've, I've seen it with boards that I've been on as well. Gosh. I got Well, I'm, I'm, I'm bummed. We're outta time here, Debbie. I really appreciate you coming on the show, though.


Thank you. I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you.


Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Debbie. So again, debbiepeterson.com/blog follow her on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Instagram, check out her podcast, Corruption Chronicles. Guys, have a fantastic week. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening and for don't forget as always, cashflow is king.


To become part of Mr. Biz nation, follow him on all social media platforms or never miss a show by going to mrbizradio.com. If you prefer free video content, visit the Mr. Biz YouTube channel or check out his streaming channel, which is available on 100 plus streaming platforms at mrbiznetwork.com.

No comments

Comments are closed

The comments for this content are closed.