The Paperboy Delivered


In New York, I was a paperboy at 13, a Kirby door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman at 19 and years later, in Florida, a mayor at 27. These three successful experiences forged the professional foundation of my public relations and public affairs career.

Mayor of Safety Harbor, Florida (1996 - 1999)

Mayor of Safety Harbor, Florida (1996 - 1999)

At 13, I got up before dawn to deliver the paper, collected payments, hustled for subscriptions. Once I was finished with high school, I would go on to earn the honor of the new Kirby salesman of the quarter for the entire northeast. I sold many Kirby vacuum cleaners in peoples living rooms - who 90 minutes earlier, never knew me. Then in 1996, in Safety Harbor, FL, I was a first time candidate who was elected mayor at 27.

I won “unopposed” becoming one of youngest mayors in the country. I employed the lessons I learned as a paperboy and salesman: Be bold, be positive, and most importantly, be sincere. When you do the latter, you build trust that transcends transactional relationships, which brings great meaning and purpose.

As mayor, I taught myself public relations, public affairs, crisis and grassroots influence in one of the largest media markets in the US. Sure, I made mistakes, but would become very successful in generating positive media coverage for three years. Thus my PR career began, and I would go on to be a PR executive for Fortune 500 company, a national business trade association and an international communications agency.

The last 16+ years I have worked as an agency executive and consultant of my own firm. To this day, I’m grateful to that 13 you kid, who wouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity and poverty.

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Patrick Slevin is speaker, consultant, trainer and author based in Tallahassee, Florida.

Patrick Slevin is a former Florida mayor.  He is a two-time winner of the PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for Crisis & Issues Management.  Influence Magazine named Slevin one of the "Great Communicators".  Slevin has been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the nation’s top political “Movers’ & Shakers". 

He is head of Florida-based SL7 Consulting.

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Twitter: @patrickjslevin