New Book – Persuasive Selling – Coming in January!!

EXCITING NEWS! My second book – Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents – is on track for pre-order in early January and will be available in paperback and ebook by the end of the month!

Robert Cialdini had this to say after reading the manuscript: Persuasive Selling is a rare find, uncomplicating the intricate process of relationship sales with streamlined principles of human psychology. It’s a gem.”

Even if you’re not an insurance agent you’ll want to get your copy because you’ll learn:

  • The 7 principles of influence along with other psychology that can help you sell your products, services and ideas
  • Which principles are most effective when you DEAL with different personality styles
  • How to become Listening STARS
  • The 8-steps in the sales cycle and the principles that are most effective at each stage

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for yourself or someone else, I hope you’ll consider getting a copy or two of my first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Since coming out in August 2019, the book was:

Click here to order your copy today!

I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world. His blog, Influence PEOPLE, is read by people in 200 countries across the globe.

 

The 4 Most Dangerous Words for Personal Growth

I did a virtual keynote earlier this year and saw a comment that concerned me. Well, the concern wasn’t actually for myself, rather it was for the people who made the comment. Why was I concerned? Because they said the four most dangerous words for personal growth – “I already know that.”

With a college degree, 30+ years in business, having read countless books over the decades and having the good fortune to study under Robert Cialdini, it would be easy for me to fall into the “I already know that” trap. But I’m self-aware enough to remind myself I know far less than I think I do.

I’ve worked with thousands of people over the years sharing the science of influence. I can confidently say, virtually everyone who claims to know what I teach doesn’t at any meaningful level. Without a doubt, people intellectually understand the concepts I share. That’s because I’m describing human behavior and they’re human beings. They either think of a time a particular principle of influence was used to get them to do something or they recognize times they used (mostly unknowingly) the principles to get a yes response. 

The reality is, we’ve all been influencing since we were born and we’ve been influenced just as long. Does that mean we know how to influence effectively? Not necessarily. 

Let’s take breathing as an example. We all breathe. We’ve done so every day since birth! Does that mean we know how to breathe in optimal ways? No. There are ways to breathe that will help you relax, slow your heart rate, help you stretch your endurance, etc., and most people don’t know how to breathe to achieve those specific results. The same goes for effectively influencing people. 

Fortunately, there are four words that can counteract “I already know that.” Those four words are, “What can I learn?” You might have some baseline understanding of a subject but there’s always more to learn. That’s true because there’s so much to learn and new information is continually being discovered.

My encouragement to you this week is very simple; keep asking yourself, “What can I learn?” This applies to subjects, people and situations. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.

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 science of ethical influence. 

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, 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.

We’re in a Sick Cycle but We Can End It!

One of my favorite bands is Lifehouse. Recently I’ve been listening to one of their earlier releases, “Sick Cycle Carousel”. The song is about a person struggling against the cycle of addiction. Their addiction is analogous to a carousel and the person realizes they need to make the choice to get off and not get back on. 

We’re at that point once again as a nation. We thought the 2016 Presidential election was bad but we’ve managed to outdo ourselves. We have a choice to make now that four years have gone by and the carousel has come back around again. 

I was discouraged to read an article the other day that was shared on Facebook where the author basically said no to extending civility to Trump supporters. Chants of “Lock her up,” “You lost, get over it,” “Elections have consequences,” and much more still ring fresh in our ears. I get it and now the tables are turned.

The poet W.H. Auden wrote, “I and the world know what every schoolboy learns. Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.” That’s reciprocity in action. People naturally, almost reflexively, give back the form of behavior they first received.

Where will it end?

But where will it end? Consider these lyrics from Sick Cycle Carousel in light of where we are at this moment as a country:

So when will this end

It goes on and on

Over and over and over again

Keep spinning around I know that it won’t stop

Till I step down from this for good

Each of us can make the choice to step down. What if, instead of animosity, anger and gloating, Biden supporters extend grace? How about Trump supporters graciously accepting defeat? What if there’s a sense of humility on both sides and a willingness to try to work with the other side?

This is important because no party stays in power long. In two years, the Senate and House could be controlled by the other side. Four years from now a Republican could be sitting in the White House again. Or, each branch of government could be controlled by one side of the aisle. 

Reciprocity works both ways

Hatred is usually met with hatred but kindness is often met with kindness! If you need an example, look to Nelson Mandela. No matter your party affiliation or views on race, America is nowhere near what South Africa was under apartheid. 

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his political views. Some of that time was in an 8×7 ft cell where he slept on a straw bed on the floor. If anyone had reason to harbor this thought in his heart “Paybacks are a bitch!” Mandela did. However, he chose to emphasize forgiveness and reconciliation for the good of the country. He once said, “courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” 

It’s time for a choice

Could this be the moment where civility is restored? If not now, then when can we expect it? If civility isn’t restored then hasn’t the winning side become the thing they hate about their political opponents? While there may be justification for the feelings of animosity, if the actions it triggers are the very actions you hated then you’ve lost because you’ve become the very thing you hated.

Viktor Frankl understood this. Despite the horrors he endured at the hands of the Nazi’s while spending three years in concentration camps he made the choice to not let it consume him once he was released when the Nazi’s were defeated. 

We’re not close to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa but if we stay the course we’re on, we inch closer to those hateful states each passing day. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. It comes down to each of us making a choice to get off the carousel.

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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, 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.

 

Don’t Expect Change With The Same People in Power

While many Americans have already voted, tomorrow many more will go to the polls to vote on various issues and politicians, including the President of the United States. We thought 2016 was bad but the rhetoric has heated up to unprecedented levels. Now is as good a time as any to revisit a contentious political issue – term limits – through the lens of influence.

When George Washington declined to run for a third term precedence was set with American presidents. Based on Washington’s actions no president ran for a third term until Franklin Roosevelt did so in 1944. The unusual circumstance of World War II was a big reason for FDR’s decision. Not long afterwards the American people passed the 22 Amendment limiting the president to a maximum of two terms in office.

For some odd reason Americans have not pushed for term limits for congressman and senators. A few states enacted laws to limit the terms of their particular representatives in Washington, DC, in an effort to move away from “career politicians.” However, the Supreme Court overturned those laws saying states could not limit the term of national offices.

Like just about anything in life there are positives and negatives to each side of the argument when it comes to term limits. What should concern citizens is whether or not the best people get elected and whether or not we’re getting fresh political ideas simply because of how voters make decisions.

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Americans saw voter revolts in 1994 when republicans swept into power in the house and senate and again in 2010 because of our economic woes. Both times there was so much dissatisfaction with the status quo that people kicked out many incumbents.

My question is; why do we have to wait for things to get so bad before we act? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” sounds good until you consider Steve Jobs and his iPhone. We didn’t need the iPhone because nothing was broken but we’re better off for it. Perhaps we could have the same fresh ideas and change in Washington if we routinely had new people in office.

Politicians are famous for saying things like, “We have term limits because voters can always vote someone out of office if they want to,” and, “Why do we need to restrict voter freedom?” Of course, both arguments could be used against term limits for the president and yet as a country we thought it was good to limit the terms for the highest office in the land. I suspect career politicians are thinking first and foremost about staying in power, not the good of the country.

But I digress and you’re wondering how influence ties into this. It will come as no surprise to readers when I state the obvious; nearly every sitting politician wins re-election the vast majority of the time. In fact, it’s staggering how often they win! Take a look at the charts showing reelection rates for U.S. congressman and senators from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Are incumbents winning so often because they’re the best candidates? Hardly. It’s simply a function the principle of liking due to familiarity. People go to the polls and tend to vote for the person they’re most familiar with and the farther you go down in terms of elected offices the worse it is because quite often people vote for the incumbent simply because they know nothing about the other person running. When you’ve seen or heard about your congressman for the past four years or your senator for the last six years that’s a lot of familiarity for a challenger to overcome.

On this subject, in his book Influence Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini wrote, “Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.” And it’s not just how often we hear a name it’s how much we see the face. Sitting politicians are routinely seen in the news and that helps unless their face is connected to a scandal. I can tell you from firsthand experience that I get much better response to my emails when I include my picture at the bottom of the email because familiarity helps.

While there many other things that come into play during an election we can’t underestimate the importance of simply being more familiar with one candidate vs. another. It’s the way we’re wired.

To be sure we – the typical American voter – are partly to blame because we’re notoriously disengaged when it comes to knowing the candidates, their positions, and understanding the issues. If anyone didn’t need term limits it would be presidents because I’d venture to guess we know presidential candidates better and understand the presidential issues more because of how much they’re in the media vs. lower offices and more localized issues.

In a sense terms limits save us from how our decision-making sometimes works against our best self-interests. My old boss used to say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” In other words, how can we expect anything different from Washington when we keep electing the same people over and over? Yes, we can make a concerted effort to become more informed voters but with less than 60% of people of voting age voting in every presidential election since 1968 do we really think that will happen? I certainly don’t. Sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves from ourselves and term limits might be one such law.

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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, 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.

 

3 Reasons Influence is Critical for Your Professional Success

As we move deeper into Q4 it’s a good bet your organization has started laying plans for 2021. Personally, you may have already started assessing your 2020 performance and might be considering what you need to do to ensure more success in the coming year. There are three strong reasons you’ll want to consider boosting your influence skills as part of your personal and/or organizational plans for 2021.

It’s a Driver of National Income

Deirdre McCloskey, a Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researched the impact of persuasion on the U.S. economy in the early 1990s. In her book Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics she built the case that persuasion is responsible for 25% of our national income!

It’s more than 25 years since the book came out and with the growth of the internet, some estimate the figure is closer to 30% now.

Why is persuasion so important economically? Because persuasion is the underpinning of selling. If you want to make a sale you have to be able to persuade prospects and customers about the merits of your offering. Well-known author and sales trainer Brian Tracy put it this way, “Selling is the process of persuading a person that your product or service is of greater value to him or her than the price you’re asking for it.”

You Use Influence More than You Realize

In To Sell is Human author Dan Pink mentioned a study – “What Do You Do At Work?” – which surveyed more than 7,000 adult workers in the United States. The survey revelwed, “People are now spending about 40 percent of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling – persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.”

Let’s put it this way; it’s very likely you and your coworkers are spending at least three hours a day using the skill we call influence. What would it mean for you and your organization if everyone was 10%, 15% or perhaps 20% more effective at getting people to say yes to their requests?

2nd Most In Demand Skill

Pink went on to write, “People consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success—even in excess of the considerable amount of time they devote to it.”

The importance of influence skills to employers isn’t limited to Dan Pink’s data. LinkedIn surveyed its 660 million users across 20 million jobs to find out what skills employers say they need most. In 2019 and 2020 the ability to persuade was the #2 soft skill.

Conclusion

Now you know that much of your success rides on influence because of the economic impact to your organization, you use it far more than you imagined, and employers are clamoring for people with good influence skills. What can you do to up your game and ensure your professional success? I have a number of resources for your consideration.

LinkedIn Learning Courses

  1. Persuasive Selling. This course looks at the application of the principles of influence throughout the sales process.
  2. Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personality Types. This course focuses on applying persuasion to different personality types.
  3. Persuasive Coaching. Part of coaching entails getting those you coach to adopt new behaviors and persuasion can help.
  4. Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance Through Timely Feedback. While not directly related to influence, this course can help you implement coaching in your organization no matter your position.

Books you might want to check out

  1. Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. My first book builds on Robert Cialdini’s classic, Influence Science and Practice. It gives you real-world, practical application for the principles of influence. Not only was it an Amazon best seller in several categories, it was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority.
  2. Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Agents. My new book will be out in early January. The focus is applying the principles of influence throughout the eight steps of the sales process. It also gives ideas for persuading people based on personality types.

Workshops which can be conducted in person or online

  1. Principles of Persuasion is an interactive two-day workshop based on Robert Cialdini’s classic, Influence Science and Practice. During the workshop you’ll:
    • Understand the difference between ethical persuasion and manipulation,
    • Learn the four-step influence process,
    • Get in-depth training on each of the principles of ethical influence,
    • Learn the Core Motives model so you’ll know which principles to use when trying to build relationships, overcome uncertainty and motivate people to action.
  2. Moment Maker is a one day workshop is based on Robert Cialdini’s New York Times best-seller, Pre-suasion. In this workshop you’ll:
    • Be introduced to the 7 principles of ethical influence,
    • Learn what it means to “pre-suade”,
    • Understand how to implement pre-suasion through the T.I.M.E. approach,
    • Leave with an action plan to tackle a real situation you have coming up.
  3. Persuasive Selling is a full day workshop that builds on the principles of persuasion. During the training you will:
    • Explore the eight steps in the sales process,
    • Find out which principles of influence are most effective at each point in the sales process,
    • Learn through group activities and real-world sales examples,
    • Using a DISC type approach to understanding people, you’ll learn which principles to use with different personality styles to up your odds of hearing yes.

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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, 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.

Habits Are The Invisible Drivers Of Our Lives

Last week I opened a cabinet door in the kitchen to throw away some trash. No big deal except we moved the trash can to another location in the kitchen…months ago. Why did I do that? Habit. Maybe you can relate to that. If not, how about one of these?

  •     You reach to the drawer in the bathroom for the toothpaste only to realize you moved it to the cabinet weeks ago. 
  •     You go to grab the milk in the refrigerator then remember it’s now located in the door because you bought a new refrigerator.
  •     You begin to drive home from work the usual way then kick yourself because you know there’s road construction that will delay you by 30 minutes.

Each situation shows the power habits have over our lives. Indeed, habits drive much of our lives because it’s estimated nine in ten decisions and actions are made at the subconscious level, entirely outside of our awareness. Martin Lindstrom, author of Buy-ology puts the number at 85% and Leonard Mlodinow estimates it to be 95% in his book Subliminal.

Usually at year end I write a blog post on how you can PAVE the Way to Success in the New Year. Much of your success will start with creating new habits to reach whatever goals you set. Rather than waiting I want to give you a good head start with my three favorite books on habit formation. 

The Power of Habit

Author Charles Duhigg wrote The Power of Habit, a New York Times bestseller, in 2012 and started a new focus on the impact habits have on our lives. I read this book shortly after it came out and was blown away by it. The book is full of research, is well written and gives practical steps to implement habit change. 

Duhigg says five cues can trigger habits into motion: location, time, emotional states, other people and immediately preceding actions. As you might expect, it’s vitally important to know what cues trigger your current behaviors if you want to change them.

Tiny Habits

Tiny Habits is the work of BJ Fogg. Of the three books this is the most researched which is to be expected because Fogg is a professor at Stanford. The book is the culmination of about a decade of his work with students and non-students. 

Fogg’s focus is to start small, tiny. For example, don’t try to do 20 push-ups every day, start with one. Make a commitment to do that single push up at different times, like immediately when you come in the front door or just before breakfast. In doing so you’re beginning to build a tiny habit which will eventually get you to 20 push-ups or more.

Atomic Habits

James Clear wrote this Atomic Habits. This was my favorite. Clear provides more detail than Duhigg but not as much as Fogg. His advice to implement new habits and break old ones is easy to follow and implement. 

Clear says there are four laws to habit formation: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and finally, make it satisfying. If you can do these four things, any habit you seek to start, change or stop should be much easier for you.

Conclusion

Once habits are formed you’re pretty much at their mercy until you make an active choice to break old ones or create new ones. The questions you need to ask yourself to start are:

  1.   Am I happy with who I am and/or where I’m at in life? If you are, keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re not entirely satisfied then go to question #2.
  2.   Who do I want to be and/or what do I want?
  3.   What changes do I need to make to get what I want or where I want to go?
  4.   Which habits need to be stopped, changed or created to support my goals?

My old boss used to say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” You can’t expect to get what you want without something changing. That change will likely start with habits. Don’t wait till the new year, look at these books, pick one that appeals to you and take the first step towards positive change.

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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, 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.

 

Learn to Close without “Closing” with Persuasive Selling

In my quarterly newsletter last week I mentioned I’m finishing up my second book. Persuasive Selling is written for people in the insurance industry and should be available on Amazon by year-end. The book looks at the application of the principles of influence throughout the sales cycle and how to apply the psychology to different buying styles. Below is an excerpt from the chapter I’ve called Closing without “Closing”.

Nobody Wants to be Closed

What’s the number one reason we hold back in relationships? The fear of rejection. Nobody likes that feeling so we do what we can to avoid that possible self-inflicted wound. This is why so many people struggle when it comes to dating. It’s why people rank the fear of public speaking over death. And without question fear is the biggest reason salespeople are reluctant to ask for the sale. It’s safer for the ego to let the prospect “think it over and get back to you.” 

Consider this: if you knew you would close every sale every time you would always ask for the sale! In fact, you’d probably look for every opportunity to get in front of as many people as possible. On the other end of the spectrum, if you didn’t give a darn what some stranger thought of you then you’d have no problem asking for the sale either. Obviously you don’t live in either extreme so what can you do?

  1. Separate rejection of your offer from you. When you realize a prospect is saying no to your offer it begins to remove the sting of rejection. Unless they really don’t like you (that would not be the case because you know how to leverage liking!) then it must have come down to something in your proposal.
  2. Get better at selling. The only way to move closer to 100% acceptance is by getting better at selling. I’m not so naive to think any price or protection plan can be sold but I do believe many more deals could be closed if salespeople did a better job incorporating the principles of influence when talking to customers. Why else do some salespeople close sales that you might never think possible? 

In their uncertainty, prospects generally do one of two things: 1) take the safe route and don’t change anything, or 2) go with the salesperson who fearlessly asked them if they could start on the paperwork.

The number one question salespeople ask is this: “What’s the best way to close?” When I’m asked about closing my standard response is, “The best way to close starts the moment you meet a prospect for the first time, look him or her in the eye and shake hands.” That sets the stage and from that point forward however easy or difficult closing the sale is depends on what you do. I believe closing the sale should just be a natural part of the ongoing conversation with a prospective customer. The best compliment a salesperson can hear from a client is, “I never felt like I was being sold.”

Early on in this book I quoted Jeffrey Gitomer, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” Tapping into liking early and often will make a big difference by the time you ask for the business. Always start your contact with a prospect on a social level bonding over things you have in common and looking for opportunities to offer genuine compliments.

The more you’ve done for the prospect and the more you’ve gone out of your way on their behalf, the more likely they are to look for some way to give back to you. If you’re unable to close the deal for some reason you might still leverage all you’ve done as a way to get some referrals because of reciprocity.

Of course, people want to know they’re doing business with an expert because it gives them more confidence in their decision. As you make your way through the sales process, show yourself to be professional and someone your prospects can rely on for answers when they need them. In short, tap into authority. Mentioning the clients who are like them, those that you already do business with, taps into consensus and makes you look like even more of an authority. 

All of these principles serve to reinforce why the prospect has made their way to this point with you. It’s very likely both of you have invested a lot of time and effort up to this point. Now it becomes especially important to tap into consistency and scarcity.

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.

Quarterly Newsletter

As I write this we’re fast approaching another presidential election. It was hard to imagine this election could be more explosive and divisive than Trump vs. Clinton four years ago but we’ve managed to do that. Well done America. Layer that on top of the pandemic, racial unrest, protests across the country, violence in our major cities and the President contracting Covid, and there’s no doubt this will go down as one of the most significant times in American history.

I hope Q3 was good for you personally and professionally. As my old boss used to say, “I hope you’re three quarters of the way towards meeting your professional and personal goals.” Let’s hope Q4 will be the best of 2020 and that things will only look up going into 2021.

Sincerely,
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.

On a professional level the quarter was very good. I worked with Grange Insurance, Westfield Insurance, Indiana Farmers Insurance, Acuity Insurance and Burkhart Insurance Agency, in addition to writing articles and appearing on lots of podcasts. Personally, I will remember this timeframe because my father passed away unexpectedly. But, despite his passing I’m doing well because we ended in a good place.

Here’s What’s New

Blog Posts

As noted above, my father passed away somewhat unexpectedly in September. Writing helps me process my thoughts and there’s a lot to process with the passing of a parent so I shared what I was going through with readers. I’m glad I did because I had so many comments and emails as a result. It prompted many people to remember a lost loved one and others said they would be talking to or writing a parent. It felt good to know I helped in some way. If you missed either post here they are: Fathers and Sons – It’s Complicated and A Final Remembrance, Finally Clarity.

Podcasts

I continue to be a guest on lots of podcasts. A dozen shows went live during the quarter and I’ve hash tagged each show with #Influence, #Sales, #HR, #Marketing, etc., to help you locate those that are most relevant for you. Click here to find a show that interests you.

Writing

I’m putting the finishing touches on book #2. Persuasive Selling is geared towards people in the insurance industry and should be available on Amazon by year-end. It looks at the application of the principles of influence throughout the sales cycle and how to apply the psychology to different personality styles. The book is the basis of a one day workshop by the same name. If your organization is interested in learning more about the workshop reach out to me.

Best of…

Looking for interesting, relevant content? Given the state of society and the economy, I believe sharpening your skills is more important than ever going forward. If things don’t go back to pre-covid status only the best people and organizations will succeed. Below are great books to read, podcasts to listen to, and shows to watch.

Books

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Dianglelo. Given all that’s going on in the United States when it comes to race relations I decided to pick up this book. It’s highly controversial but rather than listen to what others have to say about it I felt I needed to read it and form my own opinions. I found myself agreeing with Diangelo on many things and vehemently disagreeing with her on certain viewpoints. But, I feel good that I’m forming my own opinion rather than simply listening to others. I encourage you to read the book because it will help you understand the current state of race relations in a different way.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. I’m in a book club with several friends and this was our August selection. I was especially intrigued by the parts that looked at PTSD for Vietnam vets. My father served in the Marines during Vietnam so I felt like I gained insights into him as I read the book. The basic premise is traumatic events impact us and quite often it does so in places our conscious mind cannot access. We see the results in the behaviors the come forth. For example, I used to look at some art and think, “That person must be really whacked!” Now I understand their art allows them to express what they’re feeling. If you or someone you love has been through trauma you need to read this book to understand them and/or yourself better.

Podcasts

Explain this Book to Me is hosted by Joshua Lipstone. He has a unique podcast because he does a series of interviews with authors, going into great depth on their books. We did a six part series of one hour conversations about my book, Influence PEOPLE. If you’re a reader and podcast fan, then this podcast is perfect for you.

Agents Influence Podcast is hosted by Jason Cass. Obviously this one is geared towards insurance agents. Jason brings a ton of energy to his show as he explores all aspects of the agency business. If you’re an insurance agent you need to tune in. If you’re not an agent but you’re part of the insurance industry you’ll gain a lot of useful insights by listening to Jason’s show.

Watch

Hacking Your Mind is a short PBS series hosted by Jacob Ward. Each 55 minute episode explores how the human mind works and how some people try to use that understanding to their advantage. You’ll understand how governments try to hack your mind, what’s behind the “us vs. them” mentality, and influence hacks. Robert Cialdini makes a few guest appearances in the series. It’s very well done and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The Social Dilemma contains interviews with former Silicon Valley insiders. As you watch you’ll learn what many social media companies and other internet companies like Google do with your data and how they oftentimes manipulate your behavior. This is worth watching because we all use the internet and therefore need to be aware of how it affects us. You can catch it on Netflix.

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 when it comes to 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!

 

 

What’s Your Dream?

You read and hear a lot about vision. Some people say you need to see it before you can achieve it. Indeed, visualization can be extremely helpful. Athletes and performers can attest to that. In fact, science backs mental reps being almost as good for you as real reps when it comes to certain activities.

A College Dream

When I was at Miami University I was president of the weightlifting club for three years. During those years I competed in powerlifting and for three years after school I competed in bodybuilding. I loved the gym; the comradery of training partners, the smell of chalk, head banging music, the clanging of weights and the screaming as someone attempted a PR (personal record).

My major at Miami was general business and I supplemented that with classes on physiology, kinesiology and entrepreneurship. I did this because I had a dream, to own a gym one day. Makes sense because, as noted above, I loved the gym.

The Dream Diverted

After school I got a job in insurance with The Travelers. I wouldn’t call it a career, at least back then, because my passion was still in the gym. I remember the underwriter in charge of our training asking me during my first year, “How’s the training going?” In my mind training was what I did in the gym so I started telling her about my workouts and diet. I was hyper focused at the time because I was getting ready for a bodybuilding contest. She had a blank look on her face and then replied, “I’m talking about work.” With a cavalier attitude I said, “Oh, that’s going well too.”

It was during my time at The Travelers that I met Jane. In fact, we met on our first day of work in the HR training room. We were married within a few years and a couple of  years after that we bought our home and we both left The Travelers for different insurance companies. Somewhere along the line I lost track of my dream of owning a gym. I jokingly tell people I got a job, met a girl, bought a house and my dream went away.

The Dream Realized

A few years after buying our home I was no longer competing but still went to the gym. Jane suggested we get some weights for the house. “Some weights” turned into a gym in the basement that consists of barbells, dumbbells, a lat machine, squat rack, heavy duty bench, various accessories, a treadmill and a heavy bag among other things. There’s almost nothing I can’t do in my gym that I could do in a regular gym.

I use my gym every day. I start my morning with a run on the treadmill followed by stretching. I usually go back downstairs around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon to lift weights for 45 minutes. I still love working out but the goals are vastly different now.

Many years ago, it finally hit me; I realized my dream that started way back in college. But, because it didn’t look like I had envisioned I’d missed it for a long time. There was no separate building, no paying members or other characteristics of regular gyms but on the bright side there’s no drive time, no dues, open 24 hours and everyone puts away their weights!

What I Learned

My story reminds me of the plot for many movies. You know, someone is looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, that perfect partner. As the movie progresses the lead character confides their dream to a cloase friend only to realize their ideal mate has been in front of them the whole time…it’s the friend they’ve been confiding in. Duh, how could they miss it?

When something doesn’t look like you expected it’s very easy to overlook the obvious. What’s your dream? I encourage you to take stock of what’s in your life; career, family, home, friends and other things. Maybe you’ll discover you’ve been living your dream, just not exactly as you dreamed it. For me it was a sweet revelation to realize I’d fulfilled my dream and I hope it will be for you as well.

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.

A Final Remembrance, Finally Clarity

On Saturday, September 19, we laid my father, Brian Ahearn, Sr., to rest. In case you missed it, he was the focus on my post last week, Fathers and Sons – It’s Complicated. As you might expect, the last seven days have been unlike any before them. It’s been a whirlwind and suddenly it’s Monday, time to post again. I woke up at 5 am, looked at old photos and decided to write one more time about this experience. It’s cathartic for me to do so and I was overwhelmed by the responses to my last post. Perhaps sharing a little more will help me, you and some others.

What you’ll read below is my final remembrance of my father, which I shared at his memorial service. It tied up many loose ends for me. Reflecting on my dad’s passing and all we went through finally helped me see him clearly and gave me clarity about myself. I think he would be pleased to know that and I believe he would have been proud to hear what I learned about the two of us.

Brian F.X. Ahearn, Captain, USMC 1962-1969

I woke up Wednesday morning wondering what I’d say today about my father, Brian Ahearn, Sr. There were tears in my eyes as I got out of bed. I sat down with a cup of coffee and immediately started to write in order to capture my unfiltered thoughts and emotions.

I speak for a living but this will be the hardest message I’ve ever had to deliver. I ask that you be patient with me as I work through some raw emotions. I want to share a picture of my father, what we wrestled with and the good place where we ultimately landed.

I wrote something recently and called it Fathers and Sons – It’s Complicated. That summarizes my relationship with my dad.

As a boy and young man, I admired my dad. When I was 10 or 11, I remember thinking, “Why doesn’t he run for president?” I thought he was the smartest, toughest man in the world. As I reflect on that now, I know he was pretty darn close on both accounts. If you spent any time with him then you knew he was really smart, a sort of renaissance man because he seemed to know something about everything. However, I don’t think you really knew the depth of his toughness.

My relationship went from admiration to extremely difficult when I turned 30. I was married, had a child, was growing and changing a lot. I wanted to understand my dad more – the good and the bad – because I was becoming aware that his history shaped me. To say that he didn’t want to go there would be an understatement. When I pressed him on matters of faith during a phone call he blew up, told me, “I don’t care what you or anyone else says, I’m not a bad person,” and hung up on me. 

It was never my intention for him to feel that way but everything changed in an instant and we started down a really rough road for a number of years. I was so angry I wanted to drive to his place and tear him limb from limb. If I’m honest, at 54 he would have kicked my butt up, down and sideways because he was still that tough.

Sometime later we met at a restaurant to talk. He just couldn’t understand why I wanted to delve into the past. I felt there were things that needed to be addressed so I could understand him better and myself. Things were said during dinner that didn’t go away quickly.

You know my father served in the Marines during Vietnam but you may not have known he wasn’t drafted, he volunteered. He said the greatest experience of his life was being a Marine and leading men in combat. He was a warrior and I never saw him back down from anyone. I always felt like perhaps I didn’t fully measure up to him because I didn’t serve. That’s part of the father son dynamic. Sons want to show their fathers they’re better and ready to take the mantle. Most of all we want our fathers to be proud of us. Now that I’m older I realize fathers don’t want to admit to themselves that they’re no longer the biggest, the strongest or most capable. That’s the natural tension between fathers and sons. 

As I reflect on this, if my dad were here right now I’d tell him, “Dad, like you, I’m a warrior. I didn’t fight for our country, I fought for something more important…I fought for you and me. I was willing to put up with the intensity of your anger and unwillingness to talk at times in order to have a closer, deeper relationship with you. I wanted to learn things that would help me understand you and help me be a better son, a better husband and a better father.” 

The more I’ve learned about the trauma of war the more I understand why my dad didn’t want to rehash any of the past. He wanted to put everything behind him and just enjoy the moment.

He instilled such a strong sense of right and wrong in me that my wife called me a Boy Scout when we started dating. Although my dad knew the difference between right and wrong, having been raised Catholic, he struggled. He knew his Bible and I have no doubt he understood what Paul meant when he wrote, “The good that I want to do I don’t do and the bad that I don’t want to do, I do. What’s wrong with me?” My dad wrestled with certain parts of his past so much so that he once asked a friend, “Do you think I’m going to go to hell for what I’ve done?” 

I know what was wrong with him and it’s the same thing that’s wrong with me, you and every other person who ever walked this planet; it’s the sin within us that causes the broken relationship with God.

Fortunately, our broken nature and bad choices are not the defining factor in God’s eyes. In the Bible, King David is called a man with a heart after God’s own. David wrestled with his sin and so did my dad. But, I think God looked at my father and said in his deepest place, his heart is after mine. I want to share a story that illustrates this.

When my dad finally started to open up he told me when he was in Vietnam they’d captured a Viet Cong soldier. He was wounded and it was clear he was going to die. The South Vietnamese commanding officer kept kicking the dying man trying to get information out of him. My dad told me he couldn’t take it any longer so he pulled out his revolver, put it to the CO’s head and said, “If you kick him again I’ll blow your head off.” Then he sat with the man under a tree until he died. Nobody wants to relive moments like that but those are the moments that define us because God is so clearly with us. I know He was with my dad at that very moment. 

God’s word says, while we were enemies He sent Jesus to us and He died for us. My dad put his military career and life on the line when it mattered most…for a man who was his enemy. That’s the heart of God, no greater love, and I believe it was the core of my father. If you really knew my dad then you knew it wouldn’t matter who needed help, he would jump into the fray because it was the right thing to do. As hard as it was for him to share that experience with me, that’s the man I needed to know in order to understand him and myself better. That’s the man I’m proud to call my father.

If he were here today this is what I’d want him to know – that whether or not he realized it, he had a heart after God’s own. In the same way he volunteered to fight and endured unspeakable things in Vietnam, his willingness to fight again and endure emotional pain later in life helped me, my family and countless others. I hope by sharing this each of you got a glimpse of my dad that you didn’t have before. I’m sure God’s already told him, “Well done, you were Semper Fi, enter into the joy of your master.”

God rest his soul. 

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.