Kim Driscoll

Kim Driscoll

Mayor of Salem

Governing, running a city, a state or a country is an increasing complex job, and we need specialists who are passionate about that job if we want our society to thrive. Kim Driscoll comes very close to that ideal: she is smart, pragmatic, and she is truly following a calling. She was part of a team that turned around the city of Chelsea in Massachusetts after it entered receivership, and then went on to become mayor of Salem, an office she has held for for 16 years. Currently, she is running for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.

This interview is focused more on Kim’s journey and her experience in public service than her campaign, so even if you don’t agree with her politics, you will find a lot of helpful and practical advice.


[02:41] – Kim, welcome to the show, tell us about yourself and where your journey started, and what led you to choose at some point to enter into public service?
[05:09] – What drew you initially to, you know, urban planning to working for the city? Was there something that was in your interest or was it more like an opportunity out of college?
[06:43] – What were some of the early lessons for you as you were progressing from intern to urban planner? Like what really, what it took to get decisions made?
[08:54] – What are some of the lessons and qualities that help move things along with your peers and colleagues?
[10:14] – When did you start thinking about who you were as a civic leader and what were the qualities that you were trying to model and you know how to embrace it? Were there people who were mentors or inspirations to you and what did you learn from?
[12:48] – Was there a moment that was like a particularly challenging situation that you had to navigate? And what did you learn from it?
[14:30] – What are some of the examples of the programs in a situation that goes from “a community that is not showing up” to “a community that decides to participate”? And what are some of the lessons that can be drawn out of that?
[16:22] – What made you decide to make the jump into sort of the elected path? How does that happen for somebody to decide, to get involved in politics?
[17:55] – How did you start thinking about what else you needed in order to be successful in that process and to make the decision to actually tackle that?
[20:06] – How do you think about and how did you prepare yourself for having difficult conversations?
[21:52] – How does one find that balance and how long does it take before you’re in a place where you’re really comfortable that you are in the right spot?
[23:14] – How do you think about your leadership style and who you want to be as a leader?
[25:59] – What do you think you brought into who you are right now from your experiences resettling every few years?
[28:14] – What is the attractiveness of the Lieutenant Governor role?
[30:04] – How do you think about your sort of career past the Lieutenant Governor? Do you have bigger political aspirations in the long run?
[31:44] – If you were to think back at what has helped you be successful and were to distill two or three leadership tips that people can apply in any area of their professional life, what are the two or three most important things that you say people would use?
[33:42] – Do you have a hobby or an interest outside of work and government that is important to you and maybe how has that influenced the way that you work and govern?
[34:39] – What is the one cliche or expression that makes you crazy?
[34:58] – Food for your body or food for your soul.
[35:58] – Thank you and closing remarks.

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