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The How To Issue

How to Have the President's Back: Reggie Love

Walk behind. Think ahead

Photograph by Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux

Walk behind. Think ahead

Fifty percent of the job is just showing up and being available. It’s not always about doing something amazing. It’s the preparation: being ready for what’s ahead. What are the things you were supposed to do today and the president was supposed to do today? How do you think those are supposed to go? And if they were not to go right, what were the things that would cause them not to go right? If that happens, what are the things that would help right the situation? I’d see the president’s schedule days in advance, and I’d think to myself, “OK, here are the things that could possibly not be great.” For instance, there may be helicopter movement scheduled. If it rains, and we have to drive, it’s going to turn this day into something totally different. I’d say the day before, “Sir, just so you know, if it rains you’re supposed to fly someplace that would take an hour to drive to. And if we have to drive you’re going to have to be up really early. It’s going to cause you to get home later than you’d expect.” That way, the next day he doesn’t ask, “Why am I getting up an hour early today?” It’s managing the expectation: “This is what it could be, but hopefully it’s something a lot better.” So when it’s 10:30 p.m., and he’s like, “Good thing we didn’t get home at midnight! Good thing it didn’t rain,” he’ll actually appreciate it. — As told to Elizabeth Dwoskin

Love was Barack Obama's personal aide for seven years. He resigned late last year to attend the Wharton School.

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