Ken Mehlman, Head of Public Affairs at KKR and former Republican National Committee Chairman, explains the importance of overcoming confirmation bias when making decisions, how setbacks during the 2000 U.S. presidential election led to a revolution in political data modeling, and his role with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Interviewed by Richard Socarides, GLG’s Head of Public Affairs
“We’re all biased toward how we want the world to be. And we’re biased toward the path of least resistance. And what often forces us to overcome those biases and come up with the right decision and the right answer are mistakes and our humility in recognizing our own flaws and our own limits.”
Ken Mehlman is currently KKR’s Global Head of Public Affairs, overseeing the firm’s global external affairs activities, including corporate marketing, regulatory affairs and public policy & communications. He also leads KKR’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) programs for the firm and its portfolio companies. Before joining KKR, Mehlman led a bipartisan public policy and regulatory practice at the global law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Mehlman spent a dozen years in national politics and government service, including as 62nd Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Campaign Manager of President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign as well as in high- level positions in Congress and the White House. Mehlman earned a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is Chairman of the American Investment Council, a trustee of Mt. Sinai Hospital of New York, Franklin & Marshall College, Teach for America, Sponsors of Educational Opportunity (SEO), the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Ideal School of Manhattan, Co-chairman of the American Enterprise Institute’s National Council, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Builds Political Muscle for Philanthropic Work, The New York Times
A History Of Data In American Politics (Part 1): William Jennings Bryan To Barack Obama, FiveThirtyEight
Ken Mehlman’s Gay-Marriage Mission, The New Yorker