The Gift of Anger

Use Passion to Build Not Destroy

Joe Solmonese (Author) | Judy Shepard (Foreword by)

Publication date: 08/15/2016

The Gift of Anger
Under Joe Solmonese's leadership, the Human Rights Campaign became the model other organizations look toward to create effective social and political change. Against daunting odds, HRC was instrumental in passing landmark national legislation such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act; repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”; and passing marriage equality acts in eight states. How did Solmonese and HRC do it?

What Solmonese reveals in this book is that for him, the key to success was learning to harness his anger. Essentially it's just a form of energy. Channeled, it can keep you moving forward on a long journey. But uncontrolled, it can blow everything up.

With this as his guiding principle, Solmonese uses stories from his work with HRC and his previous position as CEO of the powerful women's organization EMILY's List to share a series of often-surprising lessons. For example, empathize with your enemies instead of shaming them, find allies wherever you can, and ask for the doable, not the impossible (even when the “impossible” is your ultimate goal). Most striking in this book are the stories of Solmonese's ability to draw some kind of win—however small—from seeming adversaries.

But at every step of the way he emphasizes the importance of managing the yin-yang tension of anger. Particularly when one is dealing with irrational and offensive attitudes, the temptation is ever present to give in to righteous indignation. While it's fine to feel it, Solmonese's advice is to always be strategic with your outrage.

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Overview

Under Joe Solmonese's leadership, the Human Rights Campaign became the model other organizations look toward to create effective social and political change. Against daunting odds, HRC was instrumental in passing landmark national legislation such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act; repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”; and passing marriage equality acts in eight states. How did Solmonese and HRC do it?

What Solmonese reveals in this book is that for him, the key to success was learning to harness his anger. Essentially it's just a form of energy. Channeled, it can keep you moving forward on a long journey. But uncontrolled, it can blow everything up.

With this as his guiding principle, Solmonese uses stories from his work with HRC and his previous position as CEO of the powerful women's organization EMILY's List to share a series of often-surprising lessons. For example, empathize with your enemies instead of shaming them, find allies wherever you can, and ask for the doable, not the impossible (even when the “impossible” is your ultimate goal). Most striking in this book are the stories of Solmonese's ability to draw some kind of win—however small—from seeming adversaries.

But at every step of the way he emphasizes the importance of managing the yin-yang tension of anger. Particularly when one is dealing with irrational and offensive attitudes, the temptation is ever present to give in to righteous indignation. While it's fine to feel it, Solmonese's advice is to always be strategic with your outrage.

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Meet the Author & Other Product Contributors


Visit Author Page - Joe Solmonese

Joe Solmonese served for seven years as the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization. Under his leadership, HRC was instrumental in passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), and marriage equality victories in seven states. At HRC, Joe launched the Religion and Faith Program to provide innovative resources for LGBT and supportive people of faith who want to stand up to those who use religion as a weapon of oppression. HRC spearheaded, during Joe’s tenure, the All Children – All Families program for adoption and foster care agencies across the United States. The Welcoming Schools initiative provides administrators, educators, and parents/guardians with resources to create welcoming and respectful learning environments for all families. HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index rates U.S. healthcare facilities on all policies and practices related to the LGBT community, including patient nondiscrimination, visitation, decision-making, cultural competency training, and employment policies and benefits. In 2011 he was presented with the Hubert Humphrey Civil Rights award by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Before joining the Human Rights Campaign, Joe spent nearly thirteen years at EMILY’s List, one of the nation’s largest political action committees. During his final two years with the organization, Joe served as CEO. Under his watch, EMILY’s List grew to almost one hundred employees and changed the face of Congress. He is currently the managing director and founding partner of Gavin/Solmonese, advising corporations on organizational effectiveness strategies and policy development and implementation. Joe sits on the national boards for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Athlete Ally, an organization that engages with professional and amateur athletes to speak out against bullying.



Foreword by Judy Shepard

Judy Shepard is the President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and was instrumental in passing the anti-hate crime bill, The Matthew Shepard Act.

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Endorsements

“In Congress we knew that we needed a strategic partner advocating for the LGBT community who would never allow the anger he understandably felt in the face of injustice to cause him to lose sight of the ultimate goal, and who understood how to find common ground on both sides of the legislative aisle. Joe's stories in this book and the lessons he learned will inspire you to think differently about the change you seek to make in your life and in the world.”
—Senator Joe Lieberman

“I've seen Joe Solmonese in action . . . Joe's work organizing the LGBT community and its allies toward smart, strategic work enabled meaningful and sustained victories in the fight for equality for Americans.”
—Senator Sherrod Brown

“This book is a meaningful road map for those seeking to chart their own path toward overcoming injustices, finding common ground, and achieving goals, no matter how lofty they may seem.”
—Ross Mathews, television host and author of Man Up!

“Joe's leadership is proof of his steadfast commitment to equality and his unique ability to harness the power of a movement and turn it into action. Those seeking to leave this world better than they found it can draw similar inspiration from the pages of this book.”
—Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign

“We can all learn a lot from Joe's work advancing LGBT equality. If change is what you seek—in your world, your community, your workplace, or your relationships—this is the book for you.”
—Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“I was privileged to be a partner with Joe, and I'm thrilled that he has chosen to share the lessons of his leadership to inspire the next generation of civil and human rights advocates.” 
—Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“Those who set out to change the world and encounter obstacles and injustice along the way would do well to read Joe's book. It's an inspiring story that shows us how to channel the anger any of us might understandably experience into something positive and transformational.”
—Jesse Tyler Ferguson, actor and activist

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