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#96 Rummy's Rules
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Thursday, June 04, 2020


Posted by Denny Hatch

This Lost Masterpiece Could Make
A Mediocre President Competent

Over my checkered career I saved two businesses (Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service and Target Marketing magazine) and started two others (WHO’S MAILING WHAT! and the Peter Possum Book Club).

An indifferent English major, I never went to business school. Never took management courses. In my first 12 years in business I had 9 jobs and was fired from five of them. I believe what saved me was my infatuation with rules. Every time I heard or read a useful rule—often a one-liner—I jotted it down and remembered it. I have hundreds of them archived in 99 subject categories.

One source of rules was Donald Rumsfeld (born July 9, 1932)—congressman from Illinois, U.S. Representative to NATO, White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.

Two of Rumsfeld’s Rules that made absolute sense to me and worth remembering:

• A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s.

• Reduce the number of lawyers. They are like beavers—they get in the middle of a stream and dam it up.

Somewhere in the 1980s I became aware of Rumsfeld’s Rules and saved them. Later they were published in book form and were very well received. Two blurbs:

“Tough, acute in his analyses, and effective in advocating his positions, Donald Rumsfeld has been one of the remarkable personalities in American public life. His book of maxims and lessons learned is sure to engage and enlighten.”                      —Henry A. Kissinger

“A Brilliantly useful set of ideas, boiled down to their essence and presented in an easily accessible way, and with stories from experience to give them vibrant meaning.” —George P. Schultz

With the current brouhaha in the country and around the world over Donald Trump’s presidency, I decided to go back and have a look at the Rumsfeld’s Rules I had saved.
The question: How long would that Donald last in this Donald’s administration? I'd give him 3 days. Or more likely 3 hours.
Rumsfeld's Rules
Advice on Government, Business and Life 
Many of these rules, reflections and quotations came from my role as chairman of the “transition team” for President Ford and my service as White House chief of staff. Others came from experiences as a U.S. naval aviator, a member of Congress, ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, secretary of defense, presidential Middle East envoy, business executive, chairman of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, and other experiences.

These reflections and quotations have been gathered over the past 40 years. Credit is given where known. As the quotation has it, “If it's not true, it's still well founded.” – Unknown 
—Donald Rumsfeld
Serving in the White House? (for the White House chief of staff and senior staff) 
• Don't accept the post or stay unless you have an understanding with the president that you're free to tell him what you think “with the bark off” and you have the courage to do it.

• In the execution of presidential decisions work to be true to his views, in fact and tone.

• Know that the immediate staff and others in the administration will assume that your manner, tone and tempo reflect the president's.

• Learn to say, “I don't know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often.

• If you foul up, tell the president and correct it fast. Delay only compounds mistakes.

• Walk around. If you are invisible, the mystique of the president's office may perpetuate inaccurate impressions about you or the president, to his detriment. After all, you may not be as bad as they're saying.

• In our system leadership is by consent, not command. To lead, a president must persuade. Personal contacts and experiences help shape his thinking. They can be critical to his persuasiveness and thus to his leadership.
• Don't divide the world into “them” and “us.” Avoid infatuation with or resentment of the press, the Congress, rivals, or opponents. Accept them as facts. They have their jobs and you have yours.

• Amid all the clutter, beyond all the obstacles, aside from all the static, are the goals set. Put your head down, do the best job possible, let the flak pass, and work toward those goals.

• Don't say “the White House wants.” Buildings can't want.

• Leave the president's family business to him. You will have plenty to do without trying to manage the first family. They are likely to do fine without your help.

• Make decisions about the president's personal security. He can overrule you, but don't ask him to be the one to counsel caution.

• Don't automatically obey presidential directives if you disagree or if you suspect he hasn't considered key aspects of the issue.

• The price of being close to the president is delivering bad news. You fail him if you don't tell him the truth. Others won't do it.

• You and the White House staff must be and be seen to be above suspicion. Set the right example.
• Don't speak ill of your predecessors or successors. You didn't walk in their shoes.

• Remember the public trust. Strive to preserve and enhance the integrity of the office of the presidency. Pledge to leave it stronger than when you came.

• Don't blame the boss. He has enough problems.
Keeping Your Bearings in the White House 
• Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life.

• Let your family, staff and friends know that you're still the same person, despite all the publicity and notoriety that accompanies your position.
• Have a deputy and develop a successor. Don't be consumed by the job or you'll risk losing your balance. Keep your mooring lines to the outside world -- family, friends, neighbors, people out of government and people who may not agree with you.

• When asked for your views, by the press or others, remember that what they really want to know is the president's views.

• Most of the 50 or so invitations you receive each week come from people inviting the president's chief of staff, not you. If you doubt that, ask your predecessor how many he received last week.

• Keep your sense of humor. As Gen. Joe Stillwell said, “The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind.”

• Know that the amount of criticism you receive may correlate somewhat to the amount of publicity you receive.
• If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.

• From where you sit, the White House may look as untidy as the inside of a stomach. As is said of the legislative process, sausage making and policy making shouldn't be seen close-up. Don't let that panic you. Things may be going better than they look from the inside.

  Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance.

  If you are lost -- “climb, conserve, and confess.” -- U.S. Navy SNJ Flight Manual 

Doing the Job in the White House 
• Your performance depends on your people. Select the best, train them, and back them. When errors occur, give sharper guidance. If errors persist or if the fit feels wrong, help them move on. The country cannot afford amateur hour in the White House.

• You will launch many projects but have time to finish only a few. So, think, plan, develop, launch and tap good people to be responsible. Give them authority and hold them accountable. Trying to do too much yourself creates a bottleneck.

  Think ahead. Don't let day-to-day operations drive out planning.
  A president needs multiple sources of information. Avoid excessively restricting the flow of paper, people, or ideas to the president, though you must watch his time. If you overcontrol, it will be your “regulator” that controls, not his. Only by opening the spigot fairly wide, risking that some of his time may be wasted, can his “regulator” take control.

  If in doubt, move decisions up to the president.

  When you raise issues with the president, try to come away with both that decision and also a precedent. Pose issues so as to evoke broader policy guidance. This can help to answer a range of similar issues likely to arise later.

  See that the president, the cabinet and the staff are informed. If cut out of the information flow, their decisions may be poor, not made, or not confidently or persuasively implemented.

  Don't allow people to be excluded from a meeting or denied an opportunity to express their views because their views differ from the president's views, the views of person who calls the meeting, or your views. The staff system must have integrity and discipline.

  When the president is faced with a decision, be sure he has the recommendations of all appropriate people, or that he realizes he does not have their views and is willing to accept the consequence. They will be out of sync, unhappy and less effective if they feel they are—or are seen as—having been “cut out.”

  Don't be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the president or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure, and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it.

  One of your tasks is to separate the “personal” from the “substantive.” The two can become confused, especially if someone rubs the president wrong.
  If a prospective presidential approach can't be explained clearly enough to be understood well, it probably hasn't been thought through well enough. If not well understood by the American people, it probably won't “sail” anyway. Send it back for further thought.

  Control your time. If you're working off your in-box, you're working off the priorities of others. Be sure the staff is working on what you move to them from the president, or the president will be reacting, not leading.

• Look for what's missing. Many advisers can tell a president how to improve what's proposed or what's gone amiss. Few are able to see what isn't there.

  Think of dealing with Congress as a “revolving door.” You'll be back to today's opponents for their help tomorrow. Presidential proposals will need a member of Congress's support on some issue, at some time, regardless of philosophy, party or their positions on other issues. Don't allow White House links to members to be cut because they may disagree on some or even many issues.

  Work continuously to trim the White House staff from your first day to your last. All the pressures are to the contrary.
Serving in Government 
• Public servants are paid to serve the American people. Do it well.

  Beware when any idea is promoted primarily because it is “bold, exciting, innovative and new.” There are many ideas that are “bold, exciting, innovative and new,” but also foolish.

  The federal government should be the last resort, not the first. Ask if a potential program is truly a federal responsibility or whether it can better be handled privately, by voluntary organizations, or by local or state governments.

  As former Rep. Tom Curtis of Missouri said, “Public money drives out private money.”

  Presidential leadership needn't always cost money. Look for low- and no-cost options. They can be surprisingly effective.
  If in doubt, don't.

  If still in doubt, do what's right.

  Treat each federal dollar as if it was hard earned. It was -- by a taxpayer.

   “Try to analyze situations intelligently, anticipate problems and move swiftly to solve them. However, when you're up to your ears in alligators, it is difficult to remember that the reason you're there is to drain the swamp.” -- Unknown
Politics, Congress and the Press 
“The winner is not always the swiftest, surest or smartest. It's the one willing to get up at 5 a.m. and go to the plant gate to meet the workers.” -- Unknown

• In politics, every day is filled with numerous opportunities for serious error. Enjoy it.

• The most underestimated risk for a politician is overexposure.

  If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it.

• Members of the House and the Senate are not there by accident. Each managed to get there for some reason. Learn what it was, and you will know something important about them, about our country and about the American people.

  With the press there is no “off the record.”

  “There are only three responses to questions from the press: (1) 'I know and will tell you'; (2) 'I know and I can't tell you'; and (3) 'I don't know.' ” -- Dan Rather

For the Secretary of Defense 
• Manage the interaction between the Pentagon and the White House. Unless you establish a narrow channel for the flow of information and “tasking” back and forth, the process can quickly become chaotic.

• Normal management techniques may not work in the department. When pushing responsibility downward, be sure not to contribute to a weakening of the cohesion of the services; what cohesion exists has been painfully achieved over the decades.

  Avoid public spats. When a department argues with other government agencies in the press, it reduces the president's options.

   Establish good relations between the departments of Defense and State, the National Security Council, CIA and the Office of Management and Budget.

   Be sure key U.S. ambassadors are informed on defense activities in their countries.

   Develop a personal relationship with the chairman and each of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are almost always outstanding public servants. In time of crisis, those relationships can be vital.

   Napoleon was asked, “Who do you consider to be the greatest generals?” He responded, “The victors.”


Word count: 2,249
You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch.
At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


Denny Hatch
The St. James
200 West Washington Square, #3007
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk) 
A Note About Denny Hatch’s Marketing Books
When North American Publishing summarily shut down its little book publishing division, all my direct marketing and business books were suddenly gone from the market. Some were available as “collector’s items” at many hundreds—and in some cases thousands!—of dollars. I have made arrangements with a Canadian marketer to republish some of these as Special Reports or White Papers. Will let you know when they are available. Thank you for your patience.

About Denny Hatch’s Novels
Meanwhile two titles are available. They are:
How Mafia Marketed a Candidate
To Become Mayor of New York City

A Comedy About Breeding People 
 Kindle Edition: $2.99

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