Quarterly Newsletter

Well now, that was an interesting second quarter! Just a few weeks into March and most of the country, and world, started to lockdown because of Covid-19. As if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough, next came the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, protests and civil unrest. Covid seems to be resurgent and Americans are debating whether or not we should be forced to wear masks. If you would have asked what’s more likely to occur; 1) a pandemic plus civil unrest or 2) a meteor hitting the earth, I probably would have chosen #2.

I always try to remain optimistic and it’s paying off. For example, prior to Covid I only dabbled with Zoom and probably would have continued to only dabble but I was forced to dive into the deep end. I’m glad I took the plunge because Zoom opens up the world for potential client interaction. I have no doubt new ways to communicate will continue to come about because necessity is the mother of invention.

During the quarter I also made headway on book #2, recorded dozens of podcasts, focused on my fitness (I’m lucky I put a gym in my basement over 20 years ago), and, despite the poor economic outlook, even landed a few new clients. Perhaps the best news during the quarter was learning my book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of The 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority.

I hope despite all the disruption you may have faced that you were able to find bright spots too.

Brian

What’s Influence PEOPLE all about?

  • Why – Help you enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.
  • How – Teach you the science of ethical influence.
  • What – Speak, write, train, coach and consult.
  • Who – Clients are primarily leaders, salespeople, business coaches and attorneys.

Setting out on my own only to encounter a pandemic and civil unrest within 18 month’s isn’t ideal. However, I remain passionate about helping people professionally and personally. I believe your ability to ethically influence people will be even more important going forward. Why? Just about everyone was succeeding in the economic conditions prior to March. That’s no longer the case. For the foreseeable future only companies with the best people, products or services, and processes will win. When it comes to people, a huge part of success will come through the ability to influence customers, vendors and coworkers. I can help you with that.

Here’s What’s New

Blog Posts

I’m distressed by a lot of what I see happening in the United States. Many blog posts have been about just that. Although I try not to take sides on an issue, I know there’s always a chance that I’ll alienate some people. I believe in ethical influence so when I see individuals or organizations manipulating the public to bolster their position, I’m going to call it out. Click here to see some recent posts.

Podcasts

I was a guest on another dozen podcasts in Q2. I enjoy being on podcasts because they’re an excellent way to reach new audiences and work on speaking skills. If you have 30 minutes to spare, or want to learn on the go, there are now more than 60 podcasts to choose from. To help you find shows most relevant for you I’ve hash tagged each with #Influence, #Sales, #HR, #Marketing, etc. Click here to find a show that suits your learning needs.

LinkedIn Learning

More than 100,000 people have taken my LinkedIn Learning courses! If you want to learn how you can apply influence to sales or coaching, how to deal with personality styles or build a coaching culture, then you’ll want to check out my courses. For a short preview of each click here.

Best of…

Looking for interesting content? You may still have more time on your hands due to the pandemic so why not put some of that time to good use? Learning skills will be more important than ever going forward? Below are some great books to read, podcasts to listen to, and shows to watch.

Books

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor. I try to help people enjoy more success and happiness so this book caught my eye. The overarching premise is this; success rarely brings happiness but working on happiness almost always bring success. I wrote about this weeks ago in a blog post I called When the Journey Becomes Better than the Destination. If you want science based approaches for ways to find happiness and success then you’ll want to read this book.

Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison. I read this book many years ago and picked it up again in June. It was so refreshing to read about a principled man and principled approach to leadership. John Wooden wasn’t about winning championships, he was about developing young men. His vehicle to do so happened to be basketball. The scoreboard was only the grade card that let him know how well he was doing in that pursuit. He believed his pyramid of success was the foundation for individual and team success. If you’re a leader or business coach this is must reading!

Podcasts

The Brainy Business Podcast is hosted by Melina Palmer. I was a guest on her show and was blown away by her listener support. I’ve not been on any show where I had so many people reach out to connect on LinkedIn and buy my book. Melina looks at behavioral economics and shares with listeners ideas to apply the research findings in business. She’s a wonderful host and very genuine person.

The Leadership Podcast is hosted by Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos. If you want to learn about leadership from a variety of people, including Simon Sinek and Dan Pink, you should check out the show. When I was guest the talk got very philosophical which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Watch

The Happy Secret to Better Work is a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor. Yes, this is same guy noted above in the books section. In this 12 minute talk Shawn hits many of the high points in his book The Happiness Advantage and does so with a good bit of humor. Learning how to be happier while laughing is a good thing! If you enjoy this talk you’ll want to diver deeper into the topic and get Shawn’s book.

LA 92 is a 2017 documentary on Netflix. It focuses on the Rodney King beating at the hands of the LA police, the officer trial that ensued and the riots that broke out across the city as a result of the verdict. I’m old enough to remember much of what happened but given that it was over 25 years ago there was much I’d forgotten or not heard about. With the protests and rioting that have taken place recently I decided to watch the documentary and was saddened to see how little progress we’ve made since 1992. I encourage you to watch and see if you think we’ve made much progress.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories, top 50 in sales & selling and was named one of The 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

Protesting Mainstream Media and Traditional Politics

I’m done with our mainstream media and traditional politics. Why? Because I teach people about ethical influence and I’m sick and tired of all the manipulation I observe. This all bubbled to the surface a few weeks ago when I talked with Jane about the state of the country. I was surprised at how angry I got so I decided to do something about it in my own way. I hope you’ll read on and join me in this protest.

Mainstream Media

I stopped watching MSNBC, Fox, CNN, HLN and OAN because the mainstream media is not factual or unbiased. I thought flipping between these various outlets would give me a balanced view of our country and the issues we face. Instead, all I got was angry at the hypocrisy. The examples are endless so I’ll only share a few to make the point.

Fox skewered Obama for playing golf during his presidency. Funny how the same anchors say nothing about Trump playing even more golf. They praise him as godly but nothing could be further from the truth by his own words, prior deeds and his vast number of accusers on a multitude of issues. Evangelicals and men like Franklin Graham have lost all moral credibility when they talk about him as their Christian president.

MSNBC and other liberal outlets utter hatred for Trump has destroyed their journalistic integrity. They’re hypocrites for their stance on protests. In early spring, when protests were happening because of the economic shutdown in places like Wisconsin and Michigan, the liberal media told us the protests were a danger to all of us. But, those same outlets glossed over the potential Covid threat when the mass protests across the country aligned with their political view. Sorry, either large gatherings are safe or they’re not but you can’t have it both ways.

Is there any need to go on? I’m sure you have plenty of examples of your own. If we all decide to protest the manipulation by turning off mainstream news outlets advertising dollars will eventually dry up. And we know money drives nearly everything.

Traditional Politics

When it comes to politics I will no longer vote for any traditional (Republican or Democrat) candidates because the hypocrisy of both parties is just as bad as the media.

The democrats had the most diverse field of presidential candidates in history and settled on the oldest, whitest, long time politician with his own race issues. Funny thing is, most likely any of their primary candidates could beat Trump at this point. See what happens when you allow your party to rig another primary. It’s apparent the threat of losing the presidential election was more important than the integrity of what the party espouses it believes.

Republicans are no better. Mitch McConnell and the party don’t care about you or me. All they care about is one thing…maintaining their power. We only need to look at the impeachment hearing in the senate to realize this. No witnesses…not one…really? So much for truth, justice and the American way. Well done republicans.

Each side will give you its reasons for why it does what it does and the positions it holds. They’ve all played the game so long they have ready responses to manipulate for anything you or I might bring up.

Government Structure

On the whole, I think our government structure is very good. Despite America’s issues, as a nation we have done more good than harm. We need only look to the world wars to realize this. Had we not gotten involved the world might be a much, much worse place. But that doesn’t mean we should settle for that.

Our problem isn’t the structure, it’s the people in power. Nobody should serve as senator or congressperson for as many decades as so many have. There’s a reason we have term limits for the president and we should for EVERY elected office at every level of government. The only way to change the system is to change the players because they will not institute laws that will ultimately remove them from the power they have.

Democrats have controlled most major cities (mayors, district attorneys, police chiefs, etc.) for decades so why haven’t they instituted needed reforms – police being the biggest – at the local level? Will keeping the same old politicians in place really make a difference just because a democrat sits in the White House? It didn’t when Obama occupied that spot.

Our national debt is skyrocketing and republicans continually stoke fear that big democratic social programs will break the bank. The reality is, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump were the ones who spent and printed money like they were playing Monopoly.

Stop voting republican or democrat! At some point we have to get new people and new parties that truly represent the views of most Americans.

To Do This Week

As I wrote at the top, because I teach about ethical influence it’s highly disturbing that the media and political parties are such manipulators.

  1. Stop watching mainstream news. I encourage you to remove any links from your favorites and delete the news apps from your phone. You’ll feel better and be no less informed because what you’re being “informed about” right now is so distorted.
  2. Don’t vote for any republican or democrat in November. It’s not wasting our votes if we send a message that we’ll no longer put up with the status quo and manipulation.

John Lennon sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer,” but I’d rather strive for a dream of my own choosing than the nightmare we’re currently asleep in.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

When the Journey Becomes Better than the Destination

My high school football coach, Todd Alles, said many times during our playing days, “You’re gonna learn a lot about life playing this game!” That didn’t mean much to a bunch of 15-18 year olds sweating in the hot August sun during two-a-day practices. In fact, if memory is correct, we were probably thinking, “Yea, right!” as we continued running sprints and doing drills. Coach was right but most of us didn’t realize it till many years later.

Since my football days I’ve gone through several radically different athletic endeavors. Through sports I’ve come to realize the journey is often better than the destination.

Weightlifting

I started lifting weights in high school to get ready for football. My body responded extremely well and I put on more than 20 lbs in three months. I was hooked!

While at Miami University I was the president of the weightlifting club for three years. During that time, I started competing in powerlifting. For three years after college I competed in bodybuilding contests. My whole life revolved around weight training and I thought my destiny was to own a gym.

Running

About a decade after I stopped competing in weightlifting a good friend, Jud Beachler, owner of The Yoga & Fitness Factory, convinced a dozen friends to run the Columbus Marathon. I was part of that group. Marathoning was a radical change from weightlifting!

Despite a disastrous first marathon I knew I could do well in the sport. I just needed to learn from my mistakes then train hard and smart. Eventually I cut more than an hour off of my first marathon time. I made such rapid improvement that I set my sights on the historic Boston Marathon. Within a few years, I qualified for and ran Boston twice.

Martial Arts

My last iteration was another radical change as I got involved with martial arts. I took up taekwondo to spend time with my daughter Abigail. I jokingly tell people; martial arts are great because you get to legally hit your kid three days a week. Of course, Abigail enjoyed taking some frustration out on her dear old dad which evened things out.

Our taekwondo school had a wonderful group of families and excellent teachers. By the time I stopped going (Abigail could no longer attend due to school and work) I had earned my 2nd degree black belt.

Conclusion

Here’s the biggest lesson I can impart to you. When you find something you love doing, a goal (a contest, race or test) becomes the reason to do the thing you love with more focus and intensity.

For me, each journey became better than the destination. That was great because oftentimes the destination was minuscule compared to the preparation time. For example:

  • In powerlifting I’d train 4-5 days a week, a least two hours a day. I did that for four or five months to perform just 9 lifts (3 attempts on 3 exercises) in a meet.
  • I conservatively spent 200 hours in the gym getting ready for a 20-minute appearance on stage for a bodybuilding contest.
  • It took nearly three years, 600 hours, to reach a point where I was ready for my first blackbelt test.
  • I would typically run 1,000 miles to get ready for a 26.2 mile marathon race.

The reward hardly seemed worth the effort except for the fact that I loved training and the anticipation of the day of the competition. Again, the goals helped me do what I already loved with more energy and enthusiasm.

To Do This Week

What do you enjoy doing? If you could do it with more focus and energy do you think you’d enjoy the activity and your days even more?

As noted earlier, many of the sports I was involved in over the years were activities I did, five, six and sometimes seven days a week. Reaching for goals made for a lot of really good days!

Whatever you love to do, set a goal three or four months out. Create a simple plan for how you’ll pursue that goal. Finally, begin your journey and see how it impacts you. If you’re like me, you’ll find more meaning and joy in each day.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

I love you, but…

If you’ve ever heard, “Honey, I love you but…”, you know “I love you” was a set up and the hammer is about to fall!

Have you ever considered the power of the word “but”? It’s powerful because it negates almost everything that comes before it.

When it comes to persuasion I remind people – Whatever you want to emphasize, and have people most focused on, needs to come after but.

Another way to look at this is the use of the word but reveals (consciously or subconsciously) how you or others truly feel about something. Consider the following you may have seen or heard recently on social media, in conversations with people or on the news.

George Floyd

  • George Floyd didn’t deserve to die but he did have a long criminal history.
  • George Floyd had a long criminal history but he didn’t deserve to die.

The first statement minimizes George Floyd’s death because of his criminal record and has people focused on his past. It conveniently doesn’t mention that he had no run ins with the law since his parole in 2013.

The second statement acknowledges that George Floyd had been in trouble with the law on many occasions. However, he paid for his crimes under our legal system. No matter what his prior record was, he didn’t deserve to die for passing a fake $20 bill.

The Right to Protest

  • I’m all for the right of people to protest but the looting and violence is wrong.
  • Looting and violence is wrong but I’m all for the right of people to protest.

The first statement places more emphasis on the violence than the right to protest. In this case the message of the protest gets minimized because the focus becomes any violence that may have occurred. If we’re so appalled by violence then maybe we need to reconsider big sporting events where violent “celebrations” sometimes occur afterwards.

In the second sentence the actions outside of peaceful protesting are acknowledged while keeping the focus on the right of citizens to gather and protest. I don’t think any Americans want to give up that right that has served our citizens so well for more than 250 years.

Police Behavior

  • We need to root out bad cops but the vast majority of cops are good people.
  • The vast majority of cops are good people but we need to root out the bad cops.

Both statements highlight the truth that most police are good people who want to do what’s right. However, the first sentence minimizes the need for reform by emphasizing cops are generally good people. Unfortunately, we’re seeing too many examples of problems with police actions. Knowing that, the emphasis needs to stay focused on the problem if we’re going to make strides to correct it.

Know Thy Self

Ben Franklin said, “Three things are extremely hard; steel, a diamond and to know one’s self.” Do you know yourself? Pay attention to how you respond to people and situations. Whenever you say, “Yea, but…” you’ll begin to see what you value most.

To Do This Week

When you encounter a “Yea, but…” situation recognize you’re gaining insight into what someone values. If you want to influence someone’s thinking try reframing the conversation by agreeing before moving on to what you want to emphasized. Use “and” instead of “but” so nothing is dismissed. For example:

  • I agree George Floyd had a criminal past and I think you’d agree he didn’t deserve to die over a fake $20 bill.
  • I agree violence at protests is sometimes a problem and I think you’d agree we don’t want to silence protesters just because some people get violent.
  • I agree most cops are good people and I think you’d agree we need reform to weed out the bad ones for everyone’s sake.

When it comes to influencing others never lose sight of your goal then ask yourself the best way to achieve it. A shift from “but” to “and” might get you one step closer to your goal.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

 

Intent on Grace

One of my sisters-in-law used to be an attorney, a litigator. I remember her telling me one of the hardest things to prove in law is intent. It may not be hard to establish with certainty what happened in a particular case, but determining someone’s state of mind, their motivation, was much more difficult to prove.

That conversation was decades ago. Not only did it stick with me, I’ve thought about it quite a bit over the years and never more than in recent weeks. Most Americans are engaging in difficult, often uncomfortable, conversations that force us to look at our society and more importantly ourselves.

Some of the difficulty in having conversations around race and justice is the fear of being misinterpreted. You’ve probably heard fear causes a fight, flight or freeze response in animals as well as humans. None of those responses will help you have constructive dialog.

Rules around what words or phrases can and cannot be used seem to be in a constant state of flux. For example, there was a time when saying, “I don’t see color,” was taken as a good thing. It meant first and foremost the person making the statement saw people of color simply as human beings.

This was brought top of mind for me as I reread a book about legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. A few former black players from UCLA wrote to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar encouraging him to choose the school and one reason was because they said coach Wooden didn’t see color.

Today the same statement about not seeing color is offensive to some who say it disregards their reality and experience as a person of color.

Not knowing what to say, the fear of saying the wrong thing or being misinterpreted, is holding some people back at a time when we need to be talking and listening.

Assume Positive Intent

For my own part I’m going to assume positive intent. The reality is, outside of our family and closest friends we only know what others choose to let us know. In other words, we don’t often know why they do what they do or believe what they believe.

If you look for the bad in someone you’ll find it. As I wrote last week, there are no devils, no angels, we’re all somewhere in between. Knowing this I’m going to make a more concerted effort to look for the good in people by assuming positive intent.

If someone holds an attitude or makes a statement I disagree with I can still look for positive intent. Why do they hold that view? Am I asking questions and listening more than I am speaking? Can I affirm where they’re coming from before sharing my point of view?

Extend Grace

Some people will say or do things that offend you. It happens, that’s part of life. Most people I know don’t try to offend others. In fact, in many cases people may not know that what they said or did was offensive. Can you find it in your heart to extend grace in those moments?

Giving grace doesn’t mean you don’t address whatever offended you. However, putting grace first will probably change how you approach the situation.

What’s your goal in the conversation? Is it to win the person over by helping them see how their words and/or actions could be offensive? Is your hope that they might understand your perspective and change? If that’s the case, then how you address them might make a huge difference so don’t lose sight of your goal.

Give to Get

It really comes down to this; how do you want others to treat you when you make a mistake? The principle of reciprocity tells us people feel obligated to give back to those who first give to them.

When you assume positive intent it’s likely others will do the same with you. When you extend grace rather than judgement you’re more likely to receive grace in return.

Many years ago, a quote from rapper Eminem made its way around social media. He’s reported to have said, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.” He was publicly applauded for his view but there’s a better way.

What if Eminem, in deed all of us, lived this way, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. I will be nice to you. I hope you’ll be nice to me too. Simple as that.”

Whatever we want from others; assumption of good intent, grace, help, trust, respect, etc., we have to be willing to extend it first. Will everyone respond in kind? No. But, I do believe enough will that it will start to make our society what we want it to be – free of racial discrimination, fair and just for all.

To Do This Week

Here are a few things can do immediately because they only require a making choice:

  • Assume Positive Intent. Look for the good because there’s plenty to be found.
  • Give Grace. Respond to people in ways that you’d want them to respond to you.
  • Engage Reciprocity. Be the first to act by giving to others what you would like them to give to you.

Remember, change starts with each of us individually. Gandhi said as much when encouraged people to be the change they wanted to see.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

No Angels, No Devils, We’re All Somewhere In Between

I’ve been sad all week. I cried a little as I watched the news. I wondered what I would write this week. Then I realized I didn’t have to write anything new. The following is a slightly repurposed post I wrote nearly five years ago, August 2015. Sadly, not only have we not made progress, we are in a worse place. Whichever term you use – racist or racially bias – we’re all somewhere on the spectrum. No angels, no devils, all of us somewhere in between.

The subject of race is front and center in the United States now and it will not be going away any time soon. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Charleston, as a nation we’ve been confronted by the reality that despite all the strides that have been made over the last 150 years since the Civil War, racism remains alive and well.

As I’ve given thought to this I’ve come to realize I’m racist. I don’t mean to be offensive but you’re racist, too. If it makes you feel better, everyone is racist. That’s right, to some degree we’re all racist. For just a moment think about the least racist person you can imagine. For me that person would be Jesus because He loved perfectly and paid the ultimate sacrifice in death. Now quickly think of the most racist person you can. Hitler comes to mind for me. Now consider this; we all fall somewhere on the spectrum between not racist and completely racist.

Not Racist  <===========> Completely Racist

Some people are overtly racist and knowingly suppress other people they believe are beneath them for no other reason than they believe their race is superior. Many people don’t actively try to harm other’s opportunities because of race but still might display racially biased attitudes or actions that could be labeled as racist. Even some people who actively work against racial inequality, such as MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, occasionally display racially insensitive sentiments. For Harris-Perry this happened when she made comments about Mitt Romney’s adopted African-American grandson.

My best friend, and best man in my wedding and renewal of my wedding vows, is Russell Barrow, an African-American. Russell have known each other for nearly 40 years.  I speak to him almost every day on my drive home from work. Race is sometimes the topic of the day.

I clearly remember Russell talking about his pride the day after Obama was elected president. He never believed he’d see an African-American elected to the highest office in the land. He was surprised I remembered instances where he felt discriminated against when we were hanging out together. We’ve talked about recent incidents that raised the issue of racism (Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, etc.) because I want to understand his perspective.

I sat on my company’s diversity committee and have actively helped people of all ethnic backgrounds whenever I could. With African-American friends I’ve talked about issues of race over lunch and as we’ve traveled. So how can I be racist?

I say I’m racist because I know this – I’m no Jesus! I’m very aware of my response to events and my thoughts. I understand many of my thoughts are triggered at the subconscious level, which means before I can make a conscious choice the thought, belief or attitude that could be considered racist is already there. I can try to deny it or rationalize it but if I’m honest with myself I know it’s there. Why is this? Because many of our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes are a result of factors outside of our control. Consider the following reasons (by no means exhaustive) that contribute to your beliefs and attitudes:

Similarity

It’s natural for us to feel a closer bond to those we view as similar to ourselves. Evolutionarily this was a survival necessity. Those who looked like us were probably friendly and those who were different were to be potentially feared. Even though we live in vastly different times than our ancestors, a time where different looking people need not be feared, we can’t help the brain wiring we already have. All we can do is recognize the beliefs and attitudes that surface but then engage our thinking to make conscious choices to behave differently.

Home Environment

Another factor is the environment we grew up in. Some of you reading this may have grown up in a mildly or an overtly racist home. For you that was normal. If you believed your parents loved you and you saw them as good people you had no reason to question their views on race or any other topics. As you grew and began to interact with different people you were exposed to new viewpoints regarding people who were different from you. Nonetheless, beliefs that were instilled in you during your formative years die hard.

Media

Apart from your home, the environment you grew up in influences how you think. If you had little or no exposure to people who were different from you then many of your beliefs were formed by what you were exposed to via the media, friends and society at large. Here is an example – how criminals are often referred to in the media today. Muslim criminals are terrorists, black criminals are thugs, but many white criminals who commit heinous crimes are mentally ill. When we stereotype blacks and those of Middle Eastern descent we begin to looked at them with caution and fear. However, many people look at the white criminal as an outlier, not representative of the race as a whole. When you grow up consistently exposed to these viewpoints you harbor attitudes and beliefs without really understanding how they were formed.

If it’s true that everyone is racist, or racially biased, to some degree (just like everyone lies or cheats to some degree), I think we can also agree that not all people are inherently bad. I mentioned earlier I don’t believe most people go out of their way to harm others even though those same people may hold beliefs some would deem racist. In fact, most people are probably unaware that many attitudes they hold would be considered racist.

What are we to do if we want things to change?

Examine longstanding beliefs and attitudes. It’s natural to want to defend your position because it’s your position and for some people admitting a belief or attitude might be racist is tantamount to admitting they’re a bad person. That’s not necessarily the case.

Don’t shut down the conversation. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in my conversations with Russell and other African-Americans I work with. I would encourage you to ask questions because some people will never bring up the subject. When I’ve initiated conversations I’ve been amazed at how much people have to say.

Engage the principle of liking. During the Principles of Persuasion Workshop I ask participants, “Does the impact of similarity or liking suggest a retreat from diversity in the workplace?” Some people think looking at similarity can hurt diversity but that would only be the case if you only looked at someone’s exterior and concluded you’re different because of how you look. The good news is studies show race and ethnicity are overwhelmed when people realize they share the same beliefs, values and attitudes with one another. After all, it’s easy to engage with someone we see as similar to ourselves because we like people who cheer for the same team, went to the same school, have the same pet, as we do, etc.

The problems we face won’t go away if we continue to avoid talking about them. We need to be open to trying to understand another’s viewpoint. We may not agree on everything but in the process we’re very likely to mover a little closer to each other and that will be a good first step.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

One of the Best Influence Books of All Time!

Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical was written with you in mind. If you’re like most people I speak with, you don’t want to wade through highly technical or academic books to learn. You want to know what you can do right away in order to enjoy more success at the office and happiness at home.

Would understanding how people typically think and behave before you engage in a difficult conversation, tough negotiation, or make a simple request be helpful? Of course! Influence PEOPLE explores the science behind the influence process—what drives people to take the actions you want them to take, without manipulation or trickery.

The book gives you practical ideas you can apply immediately in order to be more effective when it comes to influencing people. When you learn what the research says about influence, then ethically apply that knowledge, you will have more people saying yes to you more often.

Throughout the book you’ll learn how to influence people in the workplace, at home, and during social interactions. Influence isn’t about changing people’s minds or simply convincing someone what you want them to do is right. It’s much more than that; it’s about changing people’s behavior. Positive thoughts, and even agreement from others, only go so far—and seldom lead to a change in behavior. This book will help you bridge the gap between good intentions and actions.

What are you waiting for? Start reading Influence PEOPLE today because each passing day is one where you cold have been more persuasive.  Order your copy here.

Accolades for Influence PEOPLE

 

Named on of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority.

Reached #1 in the Casualty Insurance category on Amazon!

Made the top 10 in Amazon’s Insurance category.

Cracked Amazon’s top 50 in Sales & Selling.

One of Amazon’s Top-Ranked Marketing Books of 2019,

 

What are other authors saying about Influence PEOPLE?

Influence PEOPLE is a treasure trove of instructive and entertaining personal accounts, informative research results, and extraordinarily useful tips for becoming consistently more influential. It shouldn’t be missed.”
– Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., President, INFLUENCE AT WORK and author of Influence: Science and Practice and Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary New Way to Influence and Persuade

 

 

“Brian has written a fantastic book that breaks down what can be a daunting subject for some to take to task. His words are concise, clear, and succinct in a way that makes his concepts easy to understand. It just shows how many of us need to hone our skill of persuasion whether we are aware of it or not!”
– Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review Contributor, Keynote Speaker, author of Entrepreneurial You, Stand Out and Reinventing You

 

 

“If your professional and personal success is dependent on getting others to say Yes to you — which it is by the way — then the obvious question is how? Brian Ahearn’s Influence PEOPLE doesn’t provide a single response, but rather a series of compelling answers. Importantly, they are all as practical and actionable as they are rooted in solid scientific evidence. 5 Stars!”
– Steve Martin, New York Times bestselling co-author of Messengers! Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t and Why, Yes! and The Small Big

 

 

Influence PEOPLE takes the science of influence out of the academic realm and makes it something you can easily use in the real world. Brian provides a ton of outstanding ideas that will help you enjoy more success at the office as well as peace and happiness at home. If you want to be more influential with everyone you meet, pick up your copy today!”
– Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS and author of One Piece of Paper, Lead Inside the Box and The Elegant Pitch

 

 

“Brian Ahearn’s new book has its roots in science but is highly readable and endlessly practical. Influence PEOPLE is packed with bite-size stories and nuggets of actionable advice. Anyone who wants to influence or persuade others should read this book.”
– Roger Dooley, author of Friction and Brainfluence

 

 

“Fantastic, enjoyable, and VERY helpful wisdom for anyone in sales and/or leadership, and really, anyone who wants to master the art of influencing and persuading effectively…and ethically. In other words, if you’d like to be able to elicit agreement and attain more cooperation from others — in a way that benefits everyone involved! — this book will equip you to do that more effectively than you may ever have imagined possible.”
– Bob Burg, Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Coauthor of The Go-Giver and Go-Giver Book Series

 

Order your copy today!

 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

Persuasive Zoom Events

In a recent mastermind meeting I shared some reasons I felt I was having success using Zoom in my training and speaking business. That’s when Dave Saliaris commented that he didn’t know anyone who put so much effort into preparing for the events beforehand.

I took that as a big compliment because I practice what I preach. I use a lot of pre-suasion to set the stage for successful training. Most of what I do to prepare for Zoom sessions is similar to what I would do for live events but I think it takes on more importance because making a connection is critical now that we cannot connect in person. I’ll share a few things I do before, during and after training that might help you have more persuasive Zoom events.

Pre Training

When I get ready to speak or train I do whatever I can to find out who will be in attendance. Then I make it a point to connect on LinkedIn with as many as possible before the event.

I recall a training attendee many years ago telling me he thought it was really cool that I reached out to connect before the training. He said a good number of trainers will do so but only afterwards. I realized what I was doing helped me stand out in a good way.

My study of influence has taught me it does much more good to establish a connection beforehand because it gives people an even greater reason to pay attention to what I have to share.

When I reach out on LinkedIn I always do so with a personal message that might read something like this:

Pat,

I saw your name on the list of attendees for the upcoming the training event I’ll be leading for XYZ Company in a few weeks. I look forward to working with you. Until we meet, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

Thanks!

Brian

If someone connects and replies with a message, I always reply back. I believe in putting “social” back into social media. If someone connects but without a reply I will try to initiate some conversation with something like this, “Thanks for connecting Pat.”

Oftentimes the client will ask if there’s anything they can do before the training to make it more effective. This is when I’ll send them the link to a short podcast and ask that people listen to it beforehand. Doing so gets people familiar with me, my voice and the material that I’ll share. Having done this, what I share during the presentation is somewhat familiar so there’s a knowledge base to work from.

Getting autographed copies of my book to people days before the event is hugely helpful too. Books are viewed as gifts and engage reciprocity. My ask at the end of the presentation or training is simply this – “I have one thing I’d like you to do now. Read the book. The sooner you do so the more what you learned will stick.”

During Training

Many things I did during live events are even more important during Zoom sessions because maintaining people’s attention is paramount. Here are some things you’ll want to consider for your next Zoom event:

– Breaks: I usually go 50 minutes with a 10 minute break every hour, no exceptions. People need time to decompress.

– Breakout Rooms: I use these as much as possible because people will share more in these rooms than in the bigger group. In addition, it creates a change of pace which is needed when staring at a screen.

– Size: Whenever possible keep training to no more than two dozen learners in order to have breakout rooms of 4-5 people.

– Presentation: Visuals are more important than ever to keep people’s attention. DO NOT put up a bunch of bullet points. Use more video if you can.

– Animation: You have to get intimate with your camera and be more animated if you want to connect with learners on the other end. Think about how newscasters come across. It seems as if they’re sitting in your living room talking right to you but they’re staring into a black box. You need that kind of connection with your audience.

Post Training

Within days after an event I circle back to the people I connected with on LinkedIn. I do so to thank and to encourage them. Most come back with very positive comments about the training so they’re starting to persuade themselves at that point.

Whenever possible I reach out again around 30 and 90 days after the event. I usually ask if they’re having success implementing what they learned. If they said they read my book I’ll ask if they would write an Amazon review.

Conclusion

I love being in front of a live audience but it’s not in the cards right now. But, that doesn’t mean growing people’s skills for success and happiness stops. Whatever tools allow you to help people, learn to use those tools for all their worth. If you do this well you’ll have people saying, “Wow, that was so much better than I expected.” When that’s the mindset, you have a winner on your hands.

To Do This Week

Whether you present, train or lead meetings, what you do before, during and after is more important than ever because of the upheaval we’ve experience. The more you can do to make your events stand out the better you’ll do. Give thought to some of the ideas I shared and how you might incorporate them into your next event.

 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority! His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

Pre-suasion: Setting the Stage for Success and Happiness

The following is an excerpt from my next book, which I’m knee deep in the middle of right now. It focuses specifically on selling and I use the following personal story to introduce the psychology of “pre-suasion” as a key to success and happiness. In addition to working on the book my story is appropriate at this time because on May 14th it will be 33 years to the day that Jane and I got engaged.

Once Upon a Time… 

In July 1986, I was a recent college graduate walking into the HR training room for The Travelers Insurance Company. First job, first day and I saw Jane Baily, a recent college grad also on her first day of work. My thought at that moment was, “Wow, she’s beautiful!”

Many years later she told me what she thought when she first laid eyes on me; “What an egghead. The Travelers really got a winner here.” Okay, I stumbled badly out of the gate but I recovered quickly. Within a few weeks I was no longer going out with my longtime girlfriend and I began dating Jane. We quickly fell in love and everything was awesome…until my old girlfriend called out of the blue later that fall.

That phone call threw me for a loop! I started wondering if I’d made the right choice. Did I want to give up all those years with my ex-girlfriend? But I loved Jane. I was torn and suddenly I was back and forth between these two women. Some people might think having two people want you would be a great “problem” to have but it was horrible because I had a conscience and didn’t want to hurt either person. In hindsight, that’s all I did as I went back and forth between the two for about six months.

Jane and I still worked together and one day I saw her in the break room and asked how she was doing. She told me she was fine and announced she was done with my indecision. She went on to tell me even if I asked her out again she’d say no because in her mind it was over. She wasn’t going to put up with my indecision any longer and who could blame her? That was a problem because I was beginning to think she was the one I wanted to be with. In fact, I was thinking I wanted to marry her.

If you had known me at that time you would have said, “Don’t do it. Don’t ask her to marry you. Just date a while and make sure that’s how you really feel.” If you had known Jane you probably would have encouraged her to run for the hills. At a minimum you might have suggested some proving period of dating, maybe six to nine months, to see if I had truly settled things in my heart.

I knew I was going to have to do something big if I was going to hear “Yes!” to a marriage proposal. Here’s what I did.

On Jane’s birthday, May 14, 1987, I sent her a dozen roses at work. Of course, she loved that and the attention she got from all the ladies in the office.

I told her I wanted to take her to dinner and she agreed. I showed up at her apartment with another dozen roses and a bottle of wine. At this point she was thinking, “This is turning out to be a pretty good birthday!”

When we went downstairs from her apartment to leave for the restaurant she saw the 1963 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce and chauffeur I’d hired to take us to dinner. Now it was beginning to feel like a fairy tale he drove us to downtown Columbus.

The restaurant I chose was atop one of the tallest buildings in the city. We rode a glass elevator up more than 30 floors, had a romantic dinner overlooking the city then rode the glass elevator back down.

In the back of the Rolls Royce, on our way back to her apartment I popped the question and she said “Yes!” As of the writing of this book, we’ve been married for 32 years.

I had no idea what the psychology of pre-suasion was at the time but I’d unknowingly engaged it (pun intended) in a big way. Imagine for a moment that I’d asked Jane to marry me at work in the break room:

Me – “Jane, I’m sorry for all the indecision. I love you and want to be with you. Will you marry me?”

Jane – “No!” or best case scenario “I think we can start by dating first and see where this goes.”

Fortunately, I “set the stage” romantically in a way that made “Yes!” far more likely. That’s exactly what pre-suasion is all about; creating conditions that will put someone in a frame of mind that makes it easier for them to say “Yes” when you make your ask. Pre-suasion led to success and happiness for me and I hope it does for you too.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!

A Path to Real Change

There’s been lots of talk about a “new normal” when we emerge from the Covid-19 quarantine. Some people long to go back to the way things were just prior to the pandemic. That’s understandable because in the United States unemployment was near all-time lows, the stock market was at record highs and the economic outlook was promising. That doesn’t necessarily mean things were hunky dory for everyone.

Many of the jobs people had didn’t pay a living wage which meant working two or three jobs to make ends meet. It’s a safe bet the multitudes who barely made enough to pay their bills were not beneficiaries of the bull run in the stock market. This is evidenced by the financial hardship so many have encountered during the pandemic because of little or no savings.

You can’t legislate generosity so most employers only do what they’re legally required to do even though they may have the capacity to do more. But, maybe there’s a better way to real change than legislating it.

Reward vs. Reciprocity

Rewards and reciprocity are two well researched ways to influence behavior. But, they are very different ways to approach behavior change.

Rewards are commonplace in business because they’re contractual. Think of the contractual nature of rewards this way, “If you…I will…” For example, your boss tells you if you hit your sales numbers the company will pay you a bonus. If you don’t reach your goal, the company doesn’t owe you anything beyond your normal pay. Once you hit the goal you may not owe the company anything more either. In a sense, negotiated rewards bring closure to relationship.

By contrast, reciprocity isn’t contractual, it’s relational. Reciprocity can be view like this, “I have…will you…?” I have helped you, will you do me a favor? There’s no guarantee you will do the favor I want. I have to trust the rule for reciprocity which says people feel some obligation to give back to those who have first given to them.

You may think you’ll be taken advantage of if you do and do and do for people. It’s true that some people won’t do anything for you in return. Fortunately, most play by the rule. And here’s some good news; quite often when you engage reciprocity you can do much less and still have people very willing to help you when you need it. In other words, small acts of generosity don’t go unnoticed and can produce outsized responses.

A Better New Normal

I came across a story recently that got me thinking about this. Larry Connors, a Dayton, Ohio, real estate CEO, recently earned a whopping $1.6 million in the stock market in just eight days! How fortunate is that, especially during this time when the stock market has dropped more than 20% in just a few short months. Some people have all the luck and the rich just keep getting richer. But there’s a twist to this story of good fortune.

Larry Connors is giving away all $1.6 million to his employees. That’s right, each employee will get a gift of $2,000 – $9,000. Click here to read more.

While the article calls the payout a bonus, I intentionally use the word gift because usually bonuses are based on the reward mentality. They’re negotiated in advance. In this case nothing was negotiated and Connors was under no obligation to pay any of that money to his people. It was an unexpected gift during a time when people needed it most.

When is Enough Enough?

While a rising tide does raise all boats, with the economic tide some boats seem to catch much bigger waves and the income disparity in this country has continued to grow for more than four decades. According to the Economic Policy Institute, since 1978 CEO pay has risen 940%, but the increase for the typical worker was just 12%.

Legislating minimum living wages, capping senior level executive payouts, increasing tax rates and other ideas are always met with stiff resistance. Socialism and wealth redistribution are terms that are kicked around whenever this issue comes up.

But what if more people in positions of wealth, power and privilege willingly took the position of Larry Connors? What if an ever growing number of those folks realized they had more than enough and that helping others share in the pie would be better for everyone over the long run?

Certainly not every senior executive will have such a large windfall over such a short period but it’s so often the case that many get big raises and enormous bonuses that, if distributed more among the average worker at their company would lead to more economic prosperity. After all, sales when it comes to groceries, electronics, cars and other durable goods would increase if more money were in the hands of more consumers.

Why Even Consider It?

What good does it do Larry Connors, or might it do for other business leaders, to consider engaging reciprocity through non-negotiated acts of kindness? The reasons are numerous but below are three that came right to mind for me. I invite you to share a few of your own.

  1. Employee loyalty. Do you really think Larry Connors’ employees will go work anywhere else now? Reciprocity will likely dictate a response in the form of fierce loyalty and lower turnover lowers costs which could result in more competitiveness.
  2. Attracting talent. For many Millennials and Generation Zers money isn’t their top priority. Working for socially conscious companies with good, trustworthy people is. An act of giving when you don’t have to and it’s not expected makes working for such a company a strong attraction for top talent. Top talent usually translates into a competitive advantage.
  3. It’s better to give than receive. If you’re like me, growing up you may have heard it was better to give than receive. I’m not sure kids really believe that but as we grew up we started to realize making the choice to help others does feel really good. Even if nothing comes back your way you can lay your head on your pillow each night knowing you’ve helped people.

To Do This Week

I’m certain most people reading this will not be in the position that Larry Connors was in but it doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Consider the following:

  • Next time you order food, double, triple or quadruple your normal tip. The amount may not be a lot to you but it will probably make your delivery person’s day.
  • If you don’t have much extra to spare then be very generous with your praise. If possible, make sure your praise reaches someone’s boss because it might be the catalyst for a promotion, raise or bonus.
  • Help others by making connections that might benefit both parties in the future.

Each of us is at a unique time in our lives. If we don’t make a commitment to do something different as we move out of quarantine then we’ll find ourselves right back where we started and that would be a shame because it would be like acknowledging that things were good enough. Unfortunately, they weren’t good enough for many people.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!