David Anderson | From Fraternity President to the White House to Worldwide Advocate for Entrepreneurs
Smart Business Revolution

David Anderson is the Founder of Off Madison Ave. He went from President of his college fraternity to the White House and is now a seasoned entrepreneur and current Chair of the Global Board of Directors for Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), which is made up of 16,000 members in over 62 countries. EO’s mission is to engage leading entrepreneurs to learn, grow, and reach their full potential. 

David is also the Founder of LighthousePE, a mobile marketing platform-as-a-service that connects consumers’ digital and physical worlds through hyper-targeted mobile content. He’s the Author of the book Leader is Not a Title, which helps people shift their mindset and develop their own leadership competencies. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by David Anderson, the Founder of Off Madison Ave, to talk about his experience working as an Advance for a US President and going into entrepreneurship. David also talks about the challenges he faced removing himself from his company’s daily operations and shares advice on being a charismatic leader and finding the right business partner. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • David Anderson explains what working as an Advance for a president involves
  • How David represented the White House and the US in different countries as a Lead Advance — and what he learned about leadership while working for President Bush
  • What makes leaders charismatic, and what impressed David about Andrew Card, former US Chief of Staff?
  • How David’s work trips with the president changed after the 9/11 tragedy
  • David’s transition to entrepreneurship, what made him persistent, and what he learned from the business ventures that didn’t work
  • How Off Madison Ave differentiates itself from competitors
  • David explains why he joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and talks about the challenges he faced removing himself from his company’s daily operations
  • David compares his current role representing EO with working in the White House
  • The peers David respects, what inspired him to write Leader Is Not A Title, and how to get in touch with him

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution. 

We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.

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We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:10

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

Welcome everyone, John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And every week I get to talk to smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of different companies ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, go check out some of the archives and some great episodes back there. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. Quick shout out to Jennifer Rotner from Elite Creative, she’s the Founder and CEO over there and she helps companies with editing and publishing books. She’s a good friend, and she introduced me to today’s guest, who has an amazing story. His name is David Anderson, he went from President of his college fraternity to the White House, and is now a seasoned entrepreneur, current chair of the global board of directors of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), made up of 16,000 members in over 62 countries. I’ve just been to it’s an amazing organization, I’m sure we’re gonna be saying all kinds of good things about it during this interview, so you’ll hear that but their mission is to engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow and reach their full potential. He’s also the founder of a 20 plus year old marketing agency Off Madison Ave, and also author of the book Leader is Not a Title

But first, before we get into that, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media where he helped b2b businesses to get clients and referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this, and you’ve ever thought, Should I do a podcast? I tell people all the time. Yes, they absolutely should. And David, you’ve done a good job of getting your voice out there. I listened to a couple of your other podcast interviews, which were fun, where you’re getting, you know, sharing some of your story. So I’m looking forward to hearing hearing your stories here today. But let’s start with you know, you and I have so many things in common. It’s amazing entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, EO, you know, which you obviously been involved a lot longer than I have. But I love the organization. And the White House, of course, you know, we both kind of started our career at the White House in government, which is a natural path toward entrepreneurship. I’m joking, of course. But you ended up working in you for two different presidents. And you did advanced. So first of all, for those who don’t know what advance is, which is the coolest job in politics, there are a lot of crappy jobs in politics, but advance is definitely the coolest one. So talk a little bit about what advance is, and then I want to hear some stories. Well, thank

David Anderson 2:51

you. Thank you, John, I think we should get right out in the front. Let everybody know, we’re both in politics, but we come from different sides of the aisle. Right? Yeah, but,

John Corcoran 3:00

but the experiences are so shared, it’s amazing. I’ve interviewed others. You know, like Warren Rustand, for example, also an Arizona and also big er, who, of course, was in the Ford White House. And it’s amazing some of the parallels and similarities between different administration, not all administration, but many administration.

David Anderson 3:18

Good point. Very good point. So thanks. Let me first say thank you very, very much for having me on. This is great. I also want to shout out to Jennifer, who kind of brought us together, as I’m looking at doing my own podcast, I can only hope I get as close to the success you’ve had doing that. So um, I’m excited to be here talking politics. Um, you know, I don’t do a talk a lot of politics anymore. But our experiences that you and I both shared, I think are extremely relevant to our entrepreneurial journeys of what we’ve done. So in advance I worked in the Executive Office of the President in advance is the teams of people that go out and do all of the planning the logistics, but also a lot of the strategy around in both of our cases, presidents, but governors Congress, or whatever levels of politician it is, for events that they’re doing. And this can range from, you know, summits, international summits, to campaign rallies. And it’s, it’s not about just making sure the cars pull up in time and, you know, the plane lands in the right place. It’s a lot about like, what’s the picture of the day you want from the event? What’s the message that you want on the audience, both on TV and in-person to receive so, you know, I kind of honestly got into marketing from a lot of the work that I did doing advanced work, it’s a lot of public relations, where you’re dealing with the media, so um, you’re right, I would tell you, it’s the best job and it’s probably because you have immense access to your principal, President. Gov, whatever it may be. You get to see things that very few people do, and it’s just so Amazing experience to learn and grow. Um, I honestly want to people say, you know, what do you wish you would have done different? I wish I would have paid been more aware of what I was experiencing at my I was, you know, early 20s, mid 20s doing this, but I’ve still taken a whole lot away from it.

John Corcoran 5:17

Yeah, you think back on it, and just those little moments in between, you know, before an event after an event in a whole room in the back a little conversation. It’s just amazing to witness those sorts of things, when you have the leader of the free world and a president of another country, you know, having those conversations, talk about some of the different countries that you did, and you know, what it was, like, represent, because you’re representing the White House, you’re representing the United States of America, when you show up there, and you have to be on your, you know, your best game because of the way that you’re representing the office and the country? Yeah, absolutely.

David Anderson 5:55

You know, as I was the lead advanced person, which basically meant I was the, the lead person from the White House on the ground, representing the White House. And, you know, the President on international trips is mostly what I did, I worked very closely with the ambassador, the US ambassador of that country, that we would do, you know, you travel on diplomatic passports, and you get all of that, but you’re right, you know, you have to really think that the actions that you take, um, I, in a lot of ways, because I’m a marketing guy, I’m representing the brand, in the work that I’m doing out there, of how you interact, how you act. And I will tell you what, both presidents that I worked for, would ask the people we work with, Hey, how did these guys treat you, you know, Dave, do a good job, you know, these type of things. Because again, you are really, you know, representing, you know, the White House, the President or whoever you may be doing for you. And, um, you know, the simplest of little actions that you take can be interpreted completely wrong, especially when it comes to cultural issues around the world. Um, you know, I really learned a lot from that.

John Corcoran 7:08

Yeah, talk a little bit about the first President Bush that you worked for, you know, the President, I worked for President Clinton in the first President Bush became good friends after they were both out of office and worked on a number of initiatives together. And I think that the first President Bush, really built up an amazing reputation, especially after he left office as kind of an elder stage statesman. But what did you learn about leadership? Working for the first President Bush?

David Anderson 7:37

Oh, you got four hours for us to talk about this? Yes, you’re right. I mean, talk about, you know, how close President Bush 41 we refer to them as you know, 41 and 43. So when I say 41 is 41st, President United States, you know, the rest of the family refers to Bill Clinton as their, their brother from another mother, you know, type of thing. That’s how close President Bush and Bill Clinton, you know, really got? And if you think about that, I mean, you know, President Bush was a one term president, boss, um, you know, that’s a tough thing to do. When it’s, you know, you basically get fired by the American public. Um, you know,

John Corcoran 8:20

I worked for governor was recalled, so I know.

David Anderson 8:25

Exactly, but for him to rise above that, and to, you know, say I lost, and he said these words, you now you’re my president, I think he said that in the, you know, the letter that

John Corcoran 8:42

I’m bringing, I’m glad you brought us a letter. Yeah. He said I want the letter was.

David Anderson 8:46

So whenever a president I believe it began with Ronald Reagan, if I’m not mistaken, but when one president would turn over leave office and the new when they would leave a private message in the desk in the white hat, the desk in the Oval Office, to the next president, and that tradition has continued. And, you know, the note 41 left for 42. At that point, President Clinton was, you know, I wish you nothing but all success, because now you are my president, and I want you to succeed. And you know, that, you know, one of the greatest things of leadership is being humble, being showing vulnerability, you know, omitting that, you know, while things didn’t work out, you’re still here to support people. And that’s very common in our businesses. If you have a high performing organization, not everybody’s going to always agree, I’m gonna be honest with you, if everybody on your executive team agrees with you as the CEO, you don’t have a high performing organization. Now, what a high performing organization is, is that you go into a room and you debate new battle and you know, you have robust conversations, but you leave a room united as well. Leadership Team, you know, and that’s what you know, total leadership of a team is about is that we’re going to debate but we’re going to leave. And I saw that, you know, clearly you saw that as from President to President. But again, because you’ve done some of it to you, it was interesting when you said sitting in, or standing and hold rooms, the things that you hear, um, man, not many people hear or see that type of stuff where, you know, a cabinet secretary, or a chief of staff or a Secretary of Defense, you know, will kind of question the leader and say, Are you thinking about this properly? Is this? You know, have you considered this, you know, we need to do this just to disagree. When it’s the President of the United states where, you know, most people are just gonna say, Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. We haven’t had that yet. We will, someday to our female listeners out there. Um, it’s really fascinating. And so the greatest takeaway, sometimes I talk to Not much, just give me the signal to be quiet, John, is I’m loving this. Leadership is all about the people you put around you. You want people who are smarter than you, you want people that will challenge you that people who are going to tell you what you don’t want to hear, um, is what I was able to see. And I’m going to tell you one quick story. I think I’ve told you this before, I’ve uh, it wasn’t me, but a very good friend of mine, who also did advanced was with Secretary Carr, Chief of Staff card. And the Secretary asked my friend Greg, he said, Hey, where am I sitting at this dinner? That we’re all at? And Greg told him? And he said, No, Greg, I need to be sitting next to the President. Because I’m one of the guy who can kick them under the table, you know, if he’s going down the wrong track, and it was done in a very respectful way. Secretary card is one of the finest individuals I’ve ever met, including Secretary Bolton, Josh Bolton after that, but that’s what you as a leader need is to have those people around you.