Prime Minister, Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1997-2007)
- Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges
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A defining figure of modern political history, Alastair Campbell changed politics and campaigns forever when directing Tony Blair’s three general election wins. He now applies the lessons learned then, and since, to helping governments, parties, businesses, charities, sports teams and individuals to turn bold objectives into real strategies that work. One of the godfathers of modern strategic communication, he also specializes in crisis management.
Described by Tony Blair in his memoir as "a genius," Alastair Campbell is also the man Bill Clinton sent to NATO when the Kosovo war was going wrong. A former journalist, he was hired by Blair in 1994 and built the campaign and communications machine that led to a huge landslide for New Labour—a phrase coined by Campbell according to Blair—and became a model for modern political campaigning. At the heart of the approach was an understanding that the pace of media and technological change was shaping a new form of politics and the need for a new style of communications. For over a decade, Blair dominated the political landscape in the UK, winning two landslides, and a third victory even after the Iraq war. Campbell was alongside throughout, and when he finally left under pressure from his family, the best-selling newspaper The Sun headlined the story, "Blair loses his brain."
He remains active in politics, working for several governments as a consultant, notably in the Balkans, and is also a globally acknowledged campaigner on mental health, using the skills honed in politics to change attitudes toward mental illness. This has been a passion since he overcame a psychotic breakdown in 1986, about which he has made an award-winning documentary. Campbell has written eleven books, six volumes of diaries, including the #1 bestseller The Blair Years, three novels on themes of mental health and a memoir on depression. His latest book, to be published in February 2015 in the UK and in September in the U.S., is called Winners. Mixing his own experience of politics and interviews with a vast array of global leaders and winners in sport, business and politics—in that order—he analyzes what it takes to win in the modern world, arguing that politics has much to learn from the best of business, and both have much to learn from the best of sport. As a speaker, Campbell is lively, entertaining and hugely insightful about the past and the trends of the future.
Alastair Campbell knows all about mental illness. At 29, the youngest national news editor in Britain, he had a drink- and pressure-induced nervous breakdown, was arrested and hospitalized and diagnosed with depression and addiction issues. He rebuilt himself and his career and went on to take on one of the toughest jobs going—running the media operation for Tony Blair in Britain’s highly aggressive media and political environment. He is now a global campaigner on mental illness, fighting to break down stigma and taboo and also to urge business to better understand mental health and mental illness, and to see the advantages of doing so. Campbell’s latest book, Winners, has a chapter on ‘the extreme mind,’ setting out the great figures of history, from Lincoln to Churchill, Florence Nightingale to Charles Darwin—and great winners of today—who have had what doctors define as mental illness. He argues not just for better understanding but better appreciation of what people living on the edge have to offer.
Though his background is in politics, Alastair Campbell has brought his campaigning skills to bear in a number of fields. After losing his best friend to leukemia, he has fronted charity efforts to raise funds and research into cures and better treatments. He has won awards and plaudits home and abroad for his work on mental illness. He has taken his campaign skills to different issues. British radio presenter Nick Ferrari said: “When Alastair Campbell picks a fight, the chances are he is going to win that fight.” But how do you campaign? What are the essential elements needed to separate a great campaign from a good one? From experience and analysis, he has those answers, and they can help any cause, charity, business, party or government trying to make change for the better.
Alastair Campbell is a proven winner, obsessed with others who win. His latest book is called simply Winners, and looks at winners in sport, business and politics—in that order—to see what makes them stand out from others, and crucially, what all of us can learn from those who win. He sets out all the things needed of a winner—strategy, leadership, teamship, boldness, innovation, the ability to handle setback and failure. In looking at the best of the best—from Clinton to Merkel, from Brady to Beckham, from Lincoln to Churchill, from Anna Wintour to Arianna Huffington, from Branson to Buffett—he explains how mere mortals can learn something from all of them.