This is How I Train – with Anatole Jenkins

Every issue of 63 Magazine, we will take a look at the skills that every organizer needs and ask experts exactly how they do it. For our first issue, we talked to Anatole Jenkins about how he trains.

As a regional organizing director for Hillary for America, Anatole works with organizers to implement the state’s organizing program on the ground, to identify and manage precinct captains to execute the program on a localized level, and to turn out caucus goers in North and East Las Vegas. He actually worked in this same turf as an organizer, just three years ago, on President Obama’s reelection campaign. Coming back has had its perks.

Before organizers had started in the state this cycle, Anatole and other members of the Nevada leadership team were meeting directly with volunteer leaders who had worked with Anatole in 2012. At one of these meetings, one of Anatole’s most invested 2012 volunteers told him, “You know, Anatole. In 2012, you were this young ratty organizer running around with his head cut off who didn’t kind of know what you were doing too much. I got all of your volunteers together and I told them that we had to hit our goals and do this to make Anatole successful.”

These volunteers had walked into the campaign office because of the candidate, but they clearly continued to come back for Anatole.

As an organizer, Anatole has learned how to make a connection with anyone, motivate people, and lead them in pursuit of a common goal. He has built strong relationships with volunteers, helping to develop a lasting community of progressive organizers.

Anatole knows that training is a crucial part of being an organizer.  Training has helped make all of his successes possible.  This is how he does it.

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My name is: Anatole Jenkins and this is how I: TRAIN!

Training is important because: it doesn’t get done without volunteers. You can train an organizer to be the best organizer ever, but unless their training gets passed to their volunteers, it means nothing. An organizer’s goals continue to rise and if you’re not replicating your work in volunteer leaders, you will fail.

But training is also important because it leaves the community better than when you started. Organizers need to create a new crop of leaders who will continue their work.

Training others helps you see the real results of organizing on an everyday basis. You’re developing volunteers and giving them opportunities they couldn’t get without you.

I approach training by: meeting people where they are. Everyone you meet on a campaign starts at a different level of engagement. Some may barely know who’s running; others may know exactly how many caucus goers they need in their home precinct.

The first step is to determine the level of engagement of the person you’re training. If you’re training people who have never been involved before, don’t use insider political lingo. We just held a mock caucus at our caucus convention and we had attendees caucus for J-Lo or Selena, and not for political candidates from previous elections they might not know.

And I always make sure to lead by example. I can’t train on something I’m not willing to do myself, or something I haven’t done enough to know really well. So much of organizing is about using your personality, so I make sure I know the nuances that work for me personally for everything I’m training on.

I take training preparation: seriously. But I also know that when an organizer trains someone on phonebanking, they should know everything about phonebanking like the back of their hand. You shouldn’t have to memorize exactly what you’re saying in a training if you know the material well enough.

Here are my basic rules of thumb for training preparation:

  • You need to know the training material remarkably well. If it’s something you do all the time, you already do! But make sure.
  • Prepare at least two days prior to the training. Give yourself the time to make sure everything is 100% ready.
  • Have someone else look at the training material. You may think something is clear, but you’re not the one getting trained. Ask for a second pair of eyes.
  • Do a full walkthrough of the training. This seems like a lot, but it’s crucial. The little things matter in trainings. Doing a full walkthrough helps you prepare for every moment and know what needs to be tweaked.
  • Have materials ready the night before. Don’t wait until the morning of to print something. Come on – you’ve worked in a campaign office. You know those printers break just when you need them most.
  • Be prepared to follow the material volunteers receive. You may know more or have more to say, but keep it simple. Stick with what they have in front of them.

 

Before I train, I like to feel: calm.  When I feel like everything is ready, I feel calm.

When I train, I like to feel: energized. During a training, I know it’s important to be enthusiastic and motivational. The tone you set is the tone the volunteers will take away. They’ll remember that tone every time they do that activity for the duration of the campaign.  Be upbeat, engaged, and set a tone of urgency.

To consider a training a success, I need to:

  • Lead with enthusiasm.
  • Set a proper tone of urgency.
  • Involve the volunteers during the training.
  • Conduct a proper debrief.

 

After a training I make sure to: follow up with the volunteers. Is the organizer or volunteer able to elevate their work with a full understanding and knowledge of what I trained them on?

I also look at specific actions. For example, if someone came to our caucus convention and doesn’t come out to caucus, that’s a failure. If someone came to our caucus convention and didn’t sign up for a canvas shift, then that’s a failure.

My last advice on training is: The truth of the matter is, as an organizer, you’re essentially being asked to do the impossible. You are getting people to work for free – to work hard for free, knocking on doors in 115-degree heat. As an organizer, you wouldn’t be as good of an organizer if someone hadn’t trained you. As an organizer, you have to train the next class of progressive organizers because they’re going to continue the work that you’ve done after you leave.

 

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