I often shoot messages out into the internet via social media asking young women who they would like to hear from on Pink Granite. “Who should I interview and what do you want to know?” Last time I did this there was a swell of ladies that commented to me that they would love to see an interview with Missy Shorey – the new chair of the Dallas County GOP. Missy is “incredible” they said, and she happens to also be the first female to hold the position. Color me flattered when Missy quickly obliged my request to chat – she had already heard of Pink Granite!
Missy and i had a lovely phone conversation and she shared what (in her experience) it takes to get elected to public office. Her answer seems simple enough: a strong network and fundraising. She’s obviously mastered that formula and is by no means shy about sharing her knowledge. Missy gives us some of her best insights into how to start from scratch in our Q & A below.
Where do you work, what is your title and what does your job actually entail?
In addition to owning a PR firm in Dallas, I serve as the Executive Director of Maggie’s List, a federal PAC dedicated to electing conservative women to political office. I’m also the first woman ever elected to Chair the Dallas County Republican Party.
How long have you been in this role or in office?
Shorey Public Relations was launched in 2004 and relocated to Dallas from Wichita Falls in 2015. I was unanimously elected Chair of the party in November of 2017, replacing Phillip Huffines, who resigned to run for the state Senate.
Where are you from?
I like to say that I’m from all over – I attended the University of Florida, like many in politics I spent time in Washington and my husband was in the Air Force so we moved around. We’ve been in Dallas since 2005.
When did you know that you had an interest in politics?
I was bit by the bug in third grade. I had an Aunt that was a history teacher and she took time to talk to me about politics. I remember watching Ronald Reagan speaking at the Conventions that year and being inspired. I remember adults crying when Ted Kennedy didn’t get his party’s nomination. That’s how much people cared about politics and I was hooked. Politics is definitely a calling.
“Politics is definitely a calling.”
How did you get your start in politics?
My grandfather fought in two wars, it’s all about service – I look at this as my civic calling, my service.
I got started by being a self-starter. When I realized that law school was not going to be in my future I decided to go work on campaigns. We all know your first job out of college is a tough job. We’re all going to get paid equally the same – which is essentially nothing – so you might as well do something that gives you access to a really interesting network. So I went to Washington, met a lot of people and worked my tail off. I worked in the U.S. Senate for $22K a year, and there’s no way to survive on that – so I just worked, worked 14-18 hours a day.
But beyond that, my path was very interesting. After working in the U.S. Senate I went into the private sector for about 15 years – and I mean exclusively private sector, no politics. I cut some checks here and there but that was it. And then one day a former mentor of mine reached out and said, “we need you.” It was a sort of reawakening for me.
How did you get started in the Dallas County Republican Party?
I went to the headquarters and said I’d like to help and they put me to work. It was amazing how easy it was to get involved.
Obviously, before that I had been very engaged. When I was living in Wichita Falls I was involved with Texas Federation of Republican Women and with the Party locally. I would also travel and speak about Maggie’s List, so when I came to Dallas I was already a part of this huge effort. That’s the beautiful thing about being a Republican, particularly a Republican woman, in Texas. It doesn’t matter if you are from a small town. You’re part of something huge. And let me add – for those that think there is going to be a blue wave in 2018 – don’t forget this big red sea we’ve been swimming in for a long time.
“I went to the headquarters and said ‘I’d like to help’ and they put me to work. It was amazing how easy it was to get involved.”
Do you endorse candidates in primaries?
No, the Party doesn’t endorse candidates in the primaries. Maggie’s List does but not the Party.
What is the relationship with the Dallas County GOP and the Tea Party groups in your area?
The groups that identify as Tea Party groups and they are party of the conservative movement here in Dallas County. We interact with them beautifully. I know that many would like to show some division there, but here in 2018 we all have one mission – to elect Republicans to office. For example, our goal is to elect Faith Johnson to DA. No matter where we all fall on the spectrum, we’re all committed to electing Faith Johnson.
How has your business experience helped you in politics?
It was the experience of having been an entrepreneur and making payroll for (at the time) over 11 years that helped me realize that I had more to offer the Party. There’s a natural fit between running a small business and campaigns. Not as much between corporate America and campaigns, but small business and campaigns are almost the same thing.
Have you seen an increase in Republican women running for office this year?
Absolutely. We definitely have more women running and it’s wonderful to see.
You work with a lot of candidates, what in your experience is the biggest challenge for women running for political office?
Well, the main challenge is obvious. The iconic image of who is a legislator has traditionally been a male image. But that’s not something that can be overcome. It’s just something that is the way it is. It’s just fact.
It’s very important to start demonstrating ourselves as leaders. I would argue that women on the right have a unique opportunity because we lead with a positive contribution to this country where we are focused on policy and being constructive and making this country truly great.
Whereas, women on the left seem to be very angry, marching, rallying, and yelling. And they have that right- but it just isn’t always effective. I will never underestimate the power of anger, but I don’t necessarily understand the appeal of anger.
So that’s one challenge – you’ve got to expand the visual of what a leader looks like. Which I think is occurring throughout corporate America and here in politics. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but we’ll get there.
Another challenge – is ultimately the balance question. Oftentimes women have traditionally been the ones raising the children. That context is changing across the board. Fathers are more active and hands on with their families, leaving room for more women candidates. Every family has to find a structure that works for them but we’re seeing more kids on the trail with Mom and Dad.
“I will never underestimate the power of anger, but I don’t necessarily understand the appeal of anger.”
What is something that women should think about before deciding to run for office or get involved in politics?
First you need to be committed to raising money, growing a grassroots network – that is so important – and communicating a message. Men don’t have to be recruited to run for office, and women need to position ourselves as leaders so that we don’t either.
You also have to understand that campaigns require money and be willing to pick up that phone and make the ask. And if someone turns you down, call them again. You have to be so committed to raising the money that’s needed that you’re willing to continue calling the people in your network until they give. And then ask them again.
The good news is that I’ve seen the maturation and awareness of women grow in this area between the last two campaign cycles. It’s like night and day and it’s wonderful.
I’ve also seen that the men in our party certainly get it. They really see the appeal of women candidates and they’ve been incredibly supportive. I know that might shock some on the left but it is something that’s real. When I ran for Dallas County Republican Party Chair it never even occurred to me that I was the first woman.
It was the men who pointed it out to me.
Finally, understand how lonely it is to be a candidate. Know that if you’re going to run but also if you’re looking to build a network or get involved locally. It can be incredibly lonely to start your campaign so by you stepping up to give that first $100, $1,000 or even $10 is valuable. Go walk neighborhoods or make phone calls for them and do that consistently – it’s incredibly helpful.
Best career advice you’ve been given?
1. Your network matters. Build a network now and don’t just collect contacts. You have to show value to the people in your network and really connect on a personal level to those in your network. Your network can be build online and in real life.
2. Try to find everyone’s strengths and cater to them. When you find someone and find a special skill that someone has, try to honor that, respect that and grow that if possible. Do that for others because when someone takes the time to do that for you it feels really good so why not spread the love?
“Your network matters.”
Any advice for someone considering a run for office?
You’ve got to be prepared to run something really lean. Think about the tightest start-up budget there is and start there. You have to raise a lot of money but spend very responsibly. You also have to be able to endure the schedule – it can be grueling. So many candidates feel like they’ve been hit by a bus, so take care of yourself and don’t beat yourself up about how hard it feels.
Do you have any go-to resources for leadership development?
Always be reading, even listen to audiobooks if you have to. There is nothing sadder than someone who doesn’t know the issues. Don’t just read from one side of the aisle either, make sure you’re getting a wide breadth of things. And remember there is life outside of politics too – so consider that in your readings. You’ve got to have some intrigue in there.
But also revisit our founding documents, you’ll always find something new in there. Autobiographies are also incredibly powerful. For example, Margaret Thatcher’s life story. In the audio book, 8 hours of her reading her life story where you hear the emphasis, breaths and pauses. Catherine Graham and the story of the Washington Post. It’s important to hear these stories from the original source.
I also try to read the cutting edge books in business, because business tactics also apply to politics. In both my PR firm and in my political roles we use a tactic called the 7-minute huddle. Everyone in our team has a 7-minute briefing when we’re in our huddle together. Then we all know what’s going on in the day, what are the top three priorities for the day, where are the road blocks and how can we help each other? That’s all covered in 7 minutes.
Best tip(s) for staying on top of your to-do list and/or managing stress?
Have a list and hold yourself accountable to it as much as possible.
But also make sure you’re taking care of yourself as much as possible. We’re seeing a reverse of longevity in this country – because people aren’t making themselves and their health priority. After about 40 you can’t get away with it. The health you have in your 30’s and 40’s is a deposit on the future. I’ve had mentors share that with me as well.
Do you have any tips for finding a mentor in politics?
It goes both ways. You see success in the other person and what you would like to learn from them and they see potential in you, but it really has to be a two-way street. The world says, “you need to mentor young people.” But young people need to be worthy of mentoring and that’s just all there is to it. Time is so limited.
I think the workplace is a natural place to build those relationships over time. Rarely have I seen a mentoring relationship where you don’t have some sort of touch point already such as being involved in the same organizations. You can’t just walk up to someone and say “hey will you be my mentor?” It’s just won’t work, it doesn’t flow. You also have to be prepared to answer the question, “what do you want to get out of this (mentorship)?”
What do you think of the current #MeToo movement and how it could affect relationships between men and women in the workplace or politics?
Excluding women and staying away from women doesn’t help anyone. However, I do think the #MeToo movement is going to lead to massive backlash where women become segregated out and we have to fight our way back in again. Men will try to protect themselves from potential allegations.
“Excluding women and staying away from women doesn’t help anyone.”
Have you experienced a backlash in your work, related to this?
I have not, but I’m sort of beyond that. There’s a certain point in your career where you earn your access right? You’re earning it every day, but what I am arguing is that access just got harder. I’m not blaming anyone, just pointing out the facts.
Have you considered running for office yourself?
Sure, I think anyone is politics thinks about it and the main thing you need to ask yourself when considering it is, “why?” For me it’s service. When I looked at the current scenario, there was an opportunity to serve and it’s been an outstanding experience.
What’s always in your bag during work/session/meetings?
Iphone, highlighter, pen, iPad – I have to stay connected. There’s too much information to move around at any given time during the day. Lots of water.
Favorite place to get your news?
I read the Wall Street Journal every day, cover to cover, on the elliptical. I read the local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News. The Quorum Report.
Favorite social media apps?
I have a steady stream of information, but at a certain point you have to ask yourself if you’re creating content or just consuming content? So I have to consume the most informed content I can, and there’s a lot of work that has to get done in the day.
Thank you so much to Missy for taking the time to answer some questions, for her perspectives and honesty on how to step up and lead (without being recruited!). If you’d like to read more about Missy you can find her elsewhere online here:
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