Courtney Spence on How U.S. Senatorial Candidate Ron Kirk Inspires After Loss

In Chapter 2 of 15 of her 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive and Students of the World founder Courtney Spence answers "What did working on Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk’s Senatorial Campaign teach you about remaining optimistic through failure?" Spence shares her experience joining Dallas mayor Ron Kirk's U.S. senatorial campaign. The campaign ultimately ends in defeat. Kirk inspires passion in his team that gives its all through his concession speech. In the loss, Kirk finds ways to encourage his team to remain hopeful and optimistic even in difficult times. Spence finds a positive message in Kirk's ability to recover after the loss and embrace his family. Kirk would go on to become a member of the Obama Administration as the 16th U.S. Trade Representative.


Erik Michielsen:  What did working on Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk’s Senatorial Campaign teach you about remaining optimistic through failure?

Courtney Spence:  I came on board to work for Mayor Kirk at the time, it was probably mid-summer, and once you get into a campaign, you are in the campaign and it is your life.  You may have a drink but it will be at 1 in the morning and it will be a quick cocktail and you’re going to bed and waking up early and doing everything over again.  My capacity within the campaign was such that I really got to know the mayor and really spend a lot of time with him and was able to witness fundraising calls and political calls and really see a side to him that I think don’t think many people got to see that were part of the campaign, especially at my young age.  So, the more I knew of him, the more I admired him and liked him and wanted it to give it my all and so, I remember election day.  We got up at 4.  I was on the corner holding up signs and we were going to win.  Because we just were.  The polls were wrong.  All these other rumors flying around, it doesn’t care because how can you now love this man? I love this man. We’re going to win.  And he gave his concession speech – I’m not sure if this is exactly it, but it was something at like 9 o’clock, it was pretty early.  I ran into a bathroom stall and cried.  And then we had the whole campaign, we all went to some bar in Dallas to sort of drink through the loss. The next day he was so optimistic and he was so encouraging and so thankful and so proud of the campaign because of all of us that had been involved.  So, I spent the next two weeks in my apartment doing a lot of reflection and lot – at first it was very devastating because I really had thought we were going to win, but then seeing Mayor Kirk after that, he was happy. He was back. He was with his daughters, he was with his wife, his life was moving on.  And I was like, “If he can get over this, I certainly can get over this.”