The “Ari Gold of Politics” on the Rules Every Man Should Live By

Michael Hardaway helped Obama win the presidency. Now he wants to help you.

Michael Hardaway
The political superagent lays down the law
Image via Michael Hardaway

“Three years ago, an intern stopped me in the hallway and said that to him, I’m the Ari Gold of DC,” says Michael Hardaway. “I’ve been called many things since then, both good and bad, but I’ve always thought that was the most accurate characterization.”

We can’t help but agree: Hardaway is a political superagent, having advised anyone from members of congress to pro athletes on brand building and political engagement.

Hardaway also helped propel the first Black president, President Barack Obama, into the White House — an incident, he says, that was an accident in its inception. “I met Barack Obama in Chicago when he was running for the Senate. I was in college. I met him at my weekend job at a private business club — think Trading Places — and, on the spot, cooked up a pitch for how I could deliver the college vote for him. I’m not sure where that came from, and am not even sure there was a quantitative outcome proving that it worked. But we won that race and he was President of the United States four-and a half years later,” says Hardaway. “That’s when I figured out my gift in life: I can sell anything to anyone.”

Now having discovered his gift for selling, Michael is, fittingly, the head of Messaging and Communications for House Democrats and their Chairman, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He aids Democrats in navigating key issues, from the potential impeachment of the president to immigration and healthcare. 

Hardaway describes his style as irreverent. “My signature is the lapel flower and patent leather loafers,” he says. “I am sockless all year, no matter the weather. Needless to say, I don’t believe in rules.” He says this while wearing white cotton trousers, a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up (he means business), a pink bracelet he acquired in Taiwan and fuschia statement loafers. “Fit is everything. Quality is critical. Brands mean nothing.”

Convinced that there’s a smarter way to marry celebrity advocacy and lawmaking, Hardaway urges us to stay tuned. In the mean time, we urge you to listen to the man and check out his rules for living below — they might just change your life (as well as the hangers in your closet).

The 7 rules every man should live by …

1. Be your own man. “Stand on your own two feet. Don’t waffle. Don’t complain. In the end, there are no asterisks — only scoreboards.”

2. Read the Financial Times. “All wheat. No chaff.”

3. Master the details. “Whether it’s remembering your kid’s favorite basketball player or the name of every congressman who co-sponsored your first bill, mastery of the minutiae makes a massive difference.”

4. Learn how to sell. “You’ll never make good money or amass real power if you can’t.”

5. Get a dog. “12 years ago, I adopted a dog from the shelter, gave him a proper bath and named him Alfie. Best decision of my life.”

6. Embrace silence. “Whether it’s early-morning meditation or walking to the office with headphones in and no music, silence is the foundation of all creative ideas. You brain needs space to breathe.”

7. Celebrate friends’ success. “There’s no better feeling than seeing your friends and loved ones win. Nothing.”

And the 7 things he should divest himself of immediately …

1. Vapid pleasantries. “Asking others how they’re doing when you don’t actually care leaves no winners.”

2. Cold weather. “Close your eyes and think of your favorite memory from childhood. A frigid winter wind is the opposite of that feeling.”

3. Scooters. “They’re for latchkey pre-teens in the suburbs. Not tax-paying adults.” 

4. Sweatsuits. “I don’t care if Kanye wears them. There’s no way to avoid looking like a torpid sloth.”

5. Wire hangers. “It’s suit abuse. Invest in oak.”

6. Excuses. “They’re a disease.”

7. The suit and running shoes look. “I don’t care if it’s comfortable. Have some self respect.”

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