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Game Changers 2014: Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor

Obama’s ex-speechwriter and NSC spokesperson are firing up Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
Photo of Tommy Vietor (right): The University of Chicago Institute of Politics

In the past eight years, Jon Favreau has nabbed spots on many of the media’s  “most powerful,” “most beautiful,” and “most influential” lists; all for putting words in another person’s mouth.  

When that mouth is President Barack Obama, and when you become the second youngest chief presidential speechwriter in history – at age 27 in 2008 – it can also get you dates with actress and screenwriter Rashida Jones, bringing rock star status to a decidedly behind-the-scenes profession. 

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Now at 33, the political veteran has left the White House to start a communications firm called Fenway Strategies with pal and fellow Obama administration wunderkind Tommy Vietor, the former White House National Security Council spokesman. With clients like WhatsApp and Airbnb, the guys that grew up in the Internet generation have started speaking for it.

“Growing up as part of this younger audience, I think that our generation has a very finely honed set of bullshit detectors,” Favreau says. “We are very sensitive to language and rhetoric that sounds phony, that sounds like it’s been poll tested.”

Favreau and Vietor use that philosophy to channel the voices of celebrities and Silicon Valley, expanding their messaging influence outside of politics into tech and pop culture. 

And when they’re not wordsmithing for an elite clientele, the duo has started honing their own voices, co-writing a T.V. comedy about young people on the campaign trail.  

FIT FACT: During long hours in the West Wing, the Boss encourages his staff to stay fit, which allowed Favreau to sneak in a run or workout at a gym in the old Executive Building next to the White House. Now with his own business and without the stress behind writing speeches for the leader of the free world, Favreau says he has time to workout most days.  “All of us that have left the West Wing will go back to the White House and see our old colleagues and they will say 'wow you've got a big smile on your face. You look healthier.’” 

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