Just Okay Is Not Okay

Commercials are designed to move consumers to action. One commercial caught my attention recently because it made me laugh. AT&T’s Just Okay Is Not Okay shows a concerned couple in a hospital room waiting to meet the surgeon. They ask if the nurse has ever worked with the doctor. The nurse replies, “Oh yea, he’s okay.” The couple gets a concerned look and says, “Just okay?” The commercial concludes with “Just okay is not okay, especially when it comes to your network.” Want a good laugh? Watch the commercial.


You rely on experts every day and just okay is not okay. Sometimes you’re very aware of the need for expertise, like finding the right surgeon before an important procedure. Other times you don’t think as much about the level of expertise. Calling a plumber or finding an auto mechanic might fall into this category.

How do you tell the difference between? You don’t choose a surgeon based on his or her fees. Your concern is more about the reputation of the surgeon. What people have to say means far more than cost. However, when it comes to a plumber, mechanic or electrician quite often people will get several quotes and price is a big factor in the decision make process. You assume expertise because it’s likely the plumber, mechanic or electrician knows more than you but you’re not as nearly concerned with reputation.

Over my lifetime I’ve heard many people talk about their surgeon saying, “He’s great, one of the best in the area,” or “She’s been in practice for more than 20 years.” Not once have I heard such statements about a plumber, mechanic or electrician. Nope, it’s usually, “They did a great job and they weren’t a lot less than the other quotes I got.”

When the stakes go up you naturally become more concerned with reputation and less with cost. People will pay almost anything to get healthy but not to unclog a drain or have their brakes replaced.


But expertise by itself is not enough. The AT&T commercial highlights this when the doctor says, “Guess who got reinstated?” What? Why was he suspended? Who cares because you’d never feel good hearing that and whatever you might learn wouldn’t make you feel comfortable.

So, you don’t hire people on expertise alone. Whether it’s someone in home repair, investments or health care, if you hear anything negative about regarding trustworthiness you’re not likely to take a chance on the individual or firm.

For example, Bernie Madoff may know more about markets and investing than you or I but I’m confident you would never trust him with your money. In much the same way that reputation becomes more important as the stakes go up, so does the trust factor.


The commercial is a bit over the top but it’s funny because it’s true. You want to work with people who are great – not just okay – at what they do. And, you want those same experts to be trustworthy. That’s a powerful combination to justify doing business with someone.

To Do This Week

Let’s bring this back to you. What are you doing to increase your skills so you’re viewed as an expert? The law of averages says not everyone is great. Most are average and some are below average. Neither of those categories should be acceptable to you because they won’t be acceptable to someone who’s considering hiring you. One great way you can upskill is leveraging LinkedIn Learning. There are nearly 14,000 courses on almost anything you can imagine. Check it out, decide what you want to get better at then avail yourself of all the resources they offer.

What are you doing to build your trust level with people? Doing great work won’t be enough if you don’t deliver it when you said you would. You can reinforce your trust with simple phrases like, “As promised,” or “I wanted to get this to you early.” Those simple prompts will remind people you’re a person of your word.

Bottom line, set your sights on becoming a trusted expert and your ability to ethically persuade others will go up significantly.

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 and persuasion.

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 almost 90,000 people around the world!

Jerry Seinfeld: Following the Lead of an Expert

I’m a big Seinfeld fan. No matter how many times I’ve seen an episode I always laugh. I’ve watched reruns so many times over the past 25 years I feel like Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer are personal friends. What I appreciate most is how the show portrays everyday situations in such a humorous light. An episode I watched recently went right to the heart of one of the principles of influence, so I felt compelled to write about it.

In this particular Seinfeld rerun Jerry bought a fancy, very expensive tennis racquet from Milosh, the owner of the sporting goods store associated with the tennis club Jerry belonged to. A short time later Jerry discovered Milosh was a terrible tennis player while playing at another club with Elaine. Apparently Milosh was so bad he wouldn’t play at his own club because he knew it would kill his reputation and sales. The following conversation ensued between Jerry and Elaine later at Jerry’s apartment:

Elaine – “So he was bad. What do you care?”

Jerry – “Elaine, I paid $200 for this racquet because he said it’s the only one he plays with. He could play just as well with a log.”

What sealed the deal for Jerry was the thought of a tennis pro – an expert – playing with the suggested racquet. He thought if it was good enough for the pro then of course he should play with it too because pros only use the very best equipment.

Jerry’s actions go to the heart of the principle of authority – we rely on those with superior knowledge, wisdom or expertise, when making decisions. And the advice of an expert is even more effective when someone isn’t sure what to do.

Jerry had been playing with a wooden racquet and had no idea there was a better option available until the pro told him so. Any newer racquet would have been an improvement but the more expensive racquet must be better because, after all, “you get what you pay for,” according to the old saying.

This happens quite often, especially when someone takes up a new sport. They buy lots of fancy, expensive equipment because that’s what the best athletes use. Unfortunately the novices could have saved a lot of hard earned cash by going with good, but less expensive equipment, until they got much better. The very best equipment makes a difference for the very best players because sometimes the difference between winning and losing is a fraction of a second, a single stroke, or inches.

Is expert advice worth listening to? Most of the time, yes, but just be leery when that advice might lead to very costly purchases that make very little difference in the end.

Golf Advice from Corey Pavin

Who would you believe when it comes to golf advice, me or Corey Pavin? When it comes to golf I think my resume is pretty good – I broke 90 a few times and I’ve meet Jack Nicklaus. I’ll grant you Corey Pavin has more room to boast — 1995 U.S. Open Champion and top five finisher in The Masters, The PGA Championship and The British Open. But should that really make a difference?

Here’s the scoop. My wife Jane is BIG time into golf. I joke with people and say the only difference between her and Tiger Woods is nine holes a week…and a really big paycheck! Several years ago I shared something with her that I often share in sales training when we talk about attitude and focus.

When I’m teaching about attitude I ask how many participants play golf and lots of hands go up. Next I ask, “When you come to a hole with water, what do you think?” Inevitably I hear, “Don’t go in the water.” So I ask another question, “Where does your ball usually end up.” You guessed it, “In the water!” Then we talk about the power of focus and how our brains don’t really process the “don’t” in a statement because the brain focuses on the object, which happens to be the water for most golfers. To cure the problem I tell them they have to focus on what they want, which might be, “Go left, aim left.”

This post isn’t about golf so I’ll get to the point. I shared that training tip with Jane one evening and about two weeks later she was reading a golf book I’d gotten her and said, “Listen to what Corey Pavin says…” She proceeded to tell me exactly what I shared two weeks earlier! I said, “I told you that,” but she denied ever hearing that advice come from my lips. “Don’t you remember a couple of weeks ago when I told you about my training class?” A blank stare and more denials from her so I said, “Oh, if I say it, it’s not true but if Corey Pavin says it then it’s true?”

That was a true statement because sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. Why did she believe Corey Pavin and forget what I’d said? Because he was an authority, a recognized expert when it comes to golf and I’m not. He and I can say the same thing but people will believe him more because of who he is and what he’s accomplished.

Have you ever come up with an idea and seen it fall flat but then someone else shares it and it’s a success? Don’t feel bad because it happens all the time in business and at home. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and recognize the idea or message will be received better if it comes from someone else. I believe what goes around comes around and you’ll eventually be recognized for your good ideas and advice but it can take time.

Parents, you can tell your kids to eat their veggies all you want but if Lebron James, Tiger Woods or Tom Brady tells them to eat their veggies, who do you think they’ll listen to more? The sports figures of course.

When our daughter Abigail was little she was a fussy eater like most kids. We could ask her, tell her or threaten her to eat all her food to no avail. But she was always good at the doctor’s office so Jane used to tell her she had the doctor on the phone and he said she better eat all her dinner…and bang, the plate was clean! He was an authority, the doctor, and she knew to listen to him.

Now that Abigail is older and works out with her mom I knew she might not work as hard as she should so I got in touch with an ex-Ohio State football player at the gym. I asked him to have a talk with Abigail and he did so the first day she went to the gym. She sometimes doesn’t listen to mom but she listens to him because he’s an authority in her eyes.

I think you get the point. Sometimes to get what you want you’ll be better off to let the message come from another. In future posts we’ll talk about how to enhance your authority so you won’t have to turn to others.

P.S. Now when I want something I start with “Jane, Corey Pavin says…” Sometimes it works but I think Jane’s on to me.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”