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Lessons From Washington D.C. –

Mickeyisms: 30 Tips for Success.

By Mickey Ibarra

After over 30 years in Washington D.C., it is my turn to give back. I feel a strong responsibility to share the most valuable lessons learned during my professional career to help others as they strive for success.

I am grateful for 13 years at the National Education Association (NEA), nearly four years at the White House with former President Bill Clinton, and 15 more years at the Ibarra Strategy Group. Because so many good people took the time to guide and teach me along the way, I authored Mickeyisms: 30 Tips for Success to share the simple but powerful beliefs that made all the difference in my career.

These tips were shared with my business team so often that one coined the term “Mickeyisms” and suggested this little book. Among the 30 tips, I have selected three to consider here: Ask (#1), Never Enough (#9) and Friendship (#27).

Ask (#1): The most powerful word in the English language only has three letters: a-s-k. I’m astonished by how many people don’t know it. You have to be willing to ask for what you need. You can’t expect others to guess what you want or need. While it will not guarantee success, it will greatly enhance your chances.

Never Enough (#9): I have learned that it’s never enough to be right. Life is more complicated than simply having the facts on your side. Advocacy is a requirement. The right message delivered to the right people at exactly the right time with the right amount of repetition is required. It’s never enough to be right.

Friendship (#27): Issues come and go but friendships should remain in place for a lifetime. Friends enrich our lives. Continue to develop friendships, nurture them. You can never have too many friends.

“To my grandchildren, Gabriel and Lily Jane, who I hope will benefit most from these tips for success.”

While my tips are not new or original to be sure, they have helped me overcome a tough start – a Mexican kid who spent most of his first 15 years in Utah foster care – to grow up to work with the nation’s top leaders, including the leader of the free world in the West Wing of the White House. I live by these beliefs and use them in my daily life.

It is my aim to share these lessons learned with others by speaking, writing and teaching more – the older I get, the more urgency I feel to do so. My obligation is to give back to make sure others benefit from my experience.

In addition to sharing my personal story and offering advice for others to consider, I am passionate about highlighting the success of others who have made invaluable contributions to the Latino community and our great nation. We have Latino heroes and role models and their stories must be told. While others may try to tear us down, we must build each other up. In 2004, I founded the Latino Leaders Network for this purpose and invite you to learn more at

My second book, Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph, will highlight stories of many leaders in our community and will be published May 31, 2017 by Arte Público Press at the University of Houston. It is my hope that it will inspire all readers to dream big, get prepared and get ready to lead.

Mickeyisms: 30 Tips for Success is available at And for anyone in need, a free paperback copy is available by requesting one at [email protected].

After serving as Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House for former President Clinton, Mickey Ibarra established the Ibarra Strategy Group. Prior to his White House appointment, he was the Political Manager for the National Education Association. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Latino Leaders Network. He is a graduate of the University of Utah, with a Master’s degree and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

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