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How Going Home to Montana Helps ICMs Political Consultant Stay Grounded

And how an 'impromptu walk' energizes her.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Hannah Linkenhoker: Read Fortune’s The Broadsheet, grab the paper (NYT) from the driveway, listen to NPR’s Hourly Newscast (5 min overview) and try to get ahead of emails over a cup of coffee or green tea.

TG: What gives you energy?
HL: About once a month, the Los Angeles Women’s Collective, a group I co-founded in 2016 to help more women get elected to high office, will host an event or fundraiser for a candidate we are supporting and I walk away so energized by the remarkable candidate herself and the stories she tells, and by the powerful group of women we have brought together through this work. In the two years we’ve been running the LAWC, we’ve hosted and raised money for: Senators Gillibrand, Duckworth, Heitkamp, Klobuchar, McCaskill, Baldwin, Hassan, Cortez Masto, Feinstein, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema – candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham – candidate for Governor of New Mexico, Swing Left, and a number of others. These gatherings renew my sense of commitment to the work and to organizing my community in whatever way I can.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
HL: Staying grounded. I grew up in a small town in Western Montana and go back to visit my family a few times a year. Life there is so much different than my life in LA and that sense of perspective and reality is so valuable to me. It helps me in my personal life, but mainly it helps me in my work – understanding what life is like for people in different parts of this country and in places of much less privilege.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
HL: “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction,” by David Sheff

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
HL: I really try to put my phone away before bed so that I can get uninterrupted and unplugged sleep. At least once a year, I take a vacation and turn it completely off for 5-7 days unapologetically. It’s amazingly rejuvenating. But on the day-to-day, I’d say that I’m more addicted to email than I am to my phone.

TG: How do you deal with email?
HL: Email can run your life if you let it. I receive a couple hundred emails a day – and most of them are action items. The key is staying on top of them and never getting so buried that you have to write off the past and start fresh (confession, this has happened once or twice and I’m sorry!!). At least once a day I try to run from top to bottom to make sure I didn’t miss anything critical – which seems to be a good system.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
HL: Probably go take an impromptu walk – I find it energizing and a great way to squeeze in some exercise and probably some unanswered phone calls.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
HL: November 8th 2016. I’d spent two years running a political consulting firm and doing everything I could to help and support Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President, including organizing 5-6 presidential events for clients and raising millions of dollars. The heartbreak of the campaign, and what it meant for our country, combined with two years of running a start-up style company with too many clients and not enough support, landed me in ground zero burn out zone. I went to Thailand for two weeks, came down with a shattering case of food poisoning, finally slept for the first time in two years, and came back renewed and rejuvenated. A month later I had an offer to join ICM Partners – which I enthusiastically accepted and we started ICM Politics in March 2017.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
HL: I’m trying to improve the work/life balance struggle, which is always so real. There’s never enough time in the week to respond to all the emails, get 8 hours/night, stay in touch with friends and family, and give my body the exercise that it needs and wants. I work hard to juggle and balance all of my responsibilities while still focusing on my health and well-being and don’t know that I’ll ever overcome it but will continue to seek out tools and resources to help make it easier.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
HL: “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it” — Hillary Clinton, November 9th 2016 concession speech

Hannah Linkenhoker is the Founder of ICM Politics and Senior Political Strategist to ICM Partners, one of the world’s largest talent and literary agencies. Prior to joining ICM Partners, Hannah ran NMA Consulting Partners, a political strategy firm that advises Democratic donors on their political giving, advocacy, and philanthropic investments. She also ran the firm’s non-profit consulting practice, which built public policy and advocacy campaigns for education organizations. Hannah has worked in and around Democratic politics for the last ten years and is co-founder of the LA Women’s Collective, a political action committee focused on getting more women into political power by bringing women donors together to make change. The LAWC has donated nearly half a million dollars since its inception in 2016. Hannah is from Hamilton, Montana, and she currently serves on the Advisory Board at the Geffen Playhouse, as a Green Dot Public Schools Ambassador, and on the Board of Directors of Parent Revolution, ACRONYM, and the Kids Coalition.

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