Why Doesn’t Anyone Talk?

Excerpted from “Not My First Rodeo” by South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem

Note from Bob:  If you have followed by Blog for the past 10 years you know that I do not do politics.  Today I am risking that to share an “Excerpt” from South Dakota Republican Governor, Kristi Noem’s new book!  I trust you will believe when I say, that I would have read and I would be sharing this same excerpt if Governor Noem was a Democrat.

Like Governor Noem – I grew up on a South Dakota Farm.  I spent my first 22 years in South Dakota.  Even though I have lived in Texas since 1979 (and I love Texas) I will always be a South Dakotan!  There is so much of her story that reminds me of my story growing up in South Dakota.

I absolutely loved “It’s Not My First Rodeo” from cover to cover – because it is a South Dakota story!  

Governor Noem grew up on a farm/ranch in N.E. South Dakota.  She grew up in a wonderful – hard-working – praying – church going – farm family.  Her Dad (like my dad) was her hero and her best friend.  Here are some of the quotes from her Dad that she shares in her book:

“We don’t complain about things. We fix them.” 

“Don’t ever sell land, Kristi.  God isn’t making any more land.”

“We are burning daylight.” 

I wept as she shared the story of the “Day we lost him” – sharing the story of the day her Dad was killed in a tragic grain bin accident – at age 49.   At the time she was just 22 and 8 months pregnant with her and Bryon’s first child.

Of course her book shares her journey from farmer-rancher to South Dakota State House of Representative, to U.S. Congresswoman for South Dakota to Governor of South Dakota.

The “Excerpt” below is from early in her governorship.  It is a great lesson for all of us – for all Leaders and for all Politicians from all Parties!

“Why Doesn’t Anybody Talk?

“Why doesn’t anyone talk?”  I asked in exasperation.

My acting chief of staff, Herb Jones, and I had just left our daily team meeting and were walking the hallway back to my office in the state capitol.  A former chief of staff for John Thune, Herb had been instrumental on the campaign trail, and I’d asking him to stay on for an interim period before he left to work in social services.

That morning our footsteps were probably louder than usual on the terrazzo tiles:  I’m a fast walker in general, but I was frustrated today.  The legislature had been in session for three weeks, which meant we were halfway though.  In South Dakota, the session is short – only about forty days – and the governor’s staff meets daily to discuss the bills that have been filed and their potential impact.

Only there wasn’t much discussion happening at all.

The staff members attending our daily meetings were staying quiet.  As much as we tried to encourage those in the room to talk, the dialogue never became a debate.  Which meant I couldn’t get the full picture.

As we arrived at my office, Josh, another senior members of my team, walked into overhear the conversation.

“I don’t understand” I said to Herb and Josh.  “I keep trying to get them to speak up.  Do they think I have all the answers?  Why don’t they say something?”

Josh was quiet for a moment. Then he sighed. “Why don’t you try being quiet for a while?”

I stopped. “What do you mean?” I asked defensively.

“Listen,” he said, “Whenever we bring up a new topic, you’re pretty quick to state your opinion.  And no one wants to argue with the governor.  So why don’t you try being quiet for a while?  Let them debate it before you speak, so they feel more free to share their opinions.”

The next day, I did exactly that.

It worked.

The more it became clear that I was listening, the more confident my staff became.  They began to share more details and air differing views.  I got more information that morning than I’d gotten in three weeks.

Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (ESV)

It was a humbling lesson for me – one I was glad to learn early in office!

Note from Bob:  You can purchase “Not My First Rodeo” today by clicking HERE

Governor Kristi Noem


Kristi Noem is the current Governor of South Dakota and is South Dakota’s first female governor.  Married to Bryon Noem, the mother of two daughters and a son and the grandmother to her first granddaughter.


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