Category Archives: Influence

Someone is waiting at the cross walk

Someone is waiting to cross the street. The person is standing there as traffic streams by both directions. There may or may not be a cross walk there. Or that person is on a bicycle, also waiting. You’re in your car and you see the person. You may or may not know if they’ve been waiting a while or just got there. What do you do? While I was waiting on the cross-walk of the Norwottuck Rail Trail, someone stopped for me in one direction, the side I was closest to. We could make eye contact. I waved in thanks to him and started across the street. Seeing that car stopped, the next car coming in the other direction then slowed and stopped, allowing me to fully cross. I carried on, a little more inspired about the human race, at least on that sunny Sunday morning. That’s how influence works. One act of generosity influences/shames another person to also be generous. Norms – unspoken standards of behavior – are created constantly throughout the day based on where we are and who we are with. The airport has norms, the airplane has norms, the subway or train has norms. The rush hour traffic in New Jersey has norms. We are – unconsciously – what those around us repeatedly are. And when someone sets a higher standard, in this case as simple as delaying his journey 30 seconds, it influences another driver in a different vehicle to do the same.  Behavior is contagious, emotions are contagious.  So, going back to the first paragraph. You’re in the car. What do you do? What norm will you choose to live by? What influence do you want to be on your world?

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To ask well is to answer

The Jungian analyst Robert Johnson writes, “To ask well is virtually to answer.” He’s writing about our internal process of individuation, navigating our internal landscape in search of wholeness.  Also true? It’s how we best connect with others, how we can calm someone down who is emotionally triggered. A true question – one ‘asked well’ – engages the frontal cortex, the connector part of the brain.  If you want to influence and make a change, ask well. It’s like answering, but better.

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How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

Q: How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.? A: 60 billion That’s enough to pave a coffee cup highway to the moon and back seven times over. Next… Q: Are they really paper cups? A: Nope. Most ‘paper’ coffee cups are coated with polyethylene, a plastic.  Which means they don’t get recycled and they don’t degrade in a compost bin, on the side of a highway or floating downstream. We are powerful beyond our imagining. Especially when what we do is combined with others. And combined with a daily ritual – like buying coffee.  Our actions often reflect a mindless non-choice and reinforces behavior we wish we could change or that the world would change. But we don’t. And the world doesn’t. We change some repetitive action, someone else changes their action because we’ve normalized something that used to be strange, like using our own fancy ceramic cup or travel mug. And it spreads, like Rilke said ‘in growing orbits’.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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What percent of new car sales is electric?

More than one million Americans have bought or leased an electric vehicle (EV). What percent of new car sales is that? 2% You’d think it was more than that right? We may notice: Charging stations in plumb spots in the shopping center parking lot Charging stations in rest areas on the highway That interesting looking Tesla That new article – for better or worse – about Tesla When we think about cars – whether often or rarely – Evs occupy much more than 2% of our ‘car thoughts’. Or at least they do mine. I notice them. I don’t notice most cars. This ‘thinking about’ process is well into the long, slow process of changing minds and changing habits. Thinking about electric vehicles and seeing them used is priming us to also buy an EV instead of a gas-guzzler. It normalizes the leap. If you want to change a habit or influence someone else to change their mind, get those brains thinking about the change. Action won’t be taken, not for a while. The mind isn’t ready for action yet. But the process is now underway.  Someday gas-powered vehicles will be 2% of vehicle sales.  And then 0%.  And it all started today, with us just thinking about something a little more.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Six Things to Say No That Will Make Your Next Meeting The Best One Yet

“I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine.” – Daniel Lanois, producer of Peter Gabriel’s album So.  In both our Influencing Without Authority training and Speaking & Presentation Skills training teams learn how important focus is to get someone to be moved enough to change their mind.   Distractions need to be removed and ‘thrown in the ravine’.   In the next meeting you’re running make any of the following a rule. Each rule will help focus.  No phones No laptopsNo PowerpointNo handoutsNo chairsNo table Now try any of the above on your own. If some part of your day requires you to actually get something done, you need to focus. That means you rip out the distractions and throw them in the ravine.  PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence? 

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“No phone calls” How Daniel Lanois produced Peter Gabriel’s masterpiece So

“Phone calls in the studio are the enemy of making good records. If you’re taking calls and trying to line up your next project, your mind isn’t going to be on the matter at hand. If I can give one piece of advice to anybody making music in the studio, it’s get rid of the phones. “ How did that play out in recording So? “We just kept going in the same location, in an old farmhouse that had a studio set up in a cattle barn. It was nice and private, and I liked that. It’s in the west country of England, a little village called Ashton, so there weren’t too many distractions. When I work, I don’t do anything else, so the less distractions the better.” “As I said earlier, I don’t take a bunch of phone calls or try to line up the next big thing. This was the opposite of cellphone times because we didn’t have cellphones then; you couldn’t even make a phone call out of the west country of England, so that was a plus. I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine. [Laughs]” According to others in the studio, he actually did. Contrast that with what you see around you every day. The whole world is looking down. And think of all the great, lasting works of art created and deep thinking done lately. Just kidding! If you’re looking down, you can’t look up at the same time. Distraction is the enemy of focus. Distraction is also the enemy of boredom, something we have a collective phobia of.  Rip out your phone from your pocket or from in front of your eyeballs. Place it gently in the ravine. Now you can look up and get the work you want done…done. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

Also posted in Purpose, Music | Comments closed

“All the children on the record” Daniel Lanois on U2’s Unforgottable Fire

Producer Daniel Lanois first worked with U2 in 1984 for The Unforgettable Fire.  “It was a lot of traveling for me, and I got to work in a location outside of the average studio. We were in a castle, so I had to make that work. For me, it was the beginning of mobile recording and flying equipment around in cases. On a sheer physical level, it was a very new experience, doing something outside of a conventional studio.” “The band wanted to be in a location that had some life in it, a place that had a sense of history. We were treating it like a show, really. We set the whole studio up around the band rather than bringing the band to the studio. It’s a more renegade way of working, but I see it as bowing down to the music as opposed to bowing down to the studio. I think it was a milestone in that way.” This type of orientation shift is what is called for when we want to influence someone. We leave our comfort zone. We meet them where they live. That is what empathy is. We walk in their shoes. We put ‘the band’ in the center. Not the tools. Intuitive apps are like that. And lots of things – forms that need to be filled out for example – aren’t. If we’re asked to do something more mechanistically so a computer or a Simpsons-esque ‘drone in sector C’ unskilled worker can have an easier time of it, that isn’t an attempt to positively influence you.  And what about the title of this post? “I treated the song Pride just like all the other children on the record.” Each song a child, a living, breathing vulnerable thing that needs tending or care. Not a product. What if we looked at our work, no matter how mechanistic it appears, as our children? That email, that meeting. It may be maddening, and it may bring enough passion into something so dry that you could actually influence someone for the better today. Bonus: You can check out the video for the song here. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

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If I ignore it, it will go away

Weird lumps don’t go away when ignored. They grow. Opossums playing dead don’t deter an approaching automobile. Leaders hoping their people and culture problems will solve themselves? What do you think? When I start coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the “if I ignore it, it will go away” hope/failed tactic. Also, “I’m too busy/tired/worn down to do anything but give up.” Often managers will add, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” That means your people have trained you well. You’re now doing their work for them. What’s an important challenge you’re ignoring? Has it gone away yet?

Also posted in Persistence, 40 Days Change, Coaching, Leadership | Comments closed

What do the 2018 Family Separation Policy and the 1940 London Bombing Blitz have in common?

How do you get a politician known for doubling down in the face of all opposition to change his policy of separating toddlers and infants from their mothers? This policy had separated over 2,300 children from their parents from May to June 2018. But widespread public outrage peaked at the end of June. What changed? Why the sudden outrage almost 8 weeks in? Rewind almost 80 years. Before the U.S. entered WW II, the Nazis bombed London almost daily for eight months, killing more civilians there than British soldiers previously had been killed in actual fighting. All of Europe had fallen to Hitler. England was the only country left standing against the Nazis. The U.S. had a strong isolationist movement in 1940. This is when the phrase ‘America First’ first reared its head. More people wanted the U.S. to stay out of the war than enter it. Roosevelt was re-elected for a third term on the promise that he would keep the U.S. out of the war. He stated, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” The message was clear: England was going to have to go it alone against Hitler. Then just a few months later, the U.S. was at war with Germany and Japan. What changed? Simply – a stronger story. And specifically, a story with visuals and audio. In the case of the horrifying 2018 family separation policy it was this audio and the photos by John Moore, particularly this one below. You can see more of his amazing photos and his story here. If there’s a family separation story in the news it’s accompanied by one of his photos. In 1940 it was Edward R. Murrow reporting live from London (once even reporting from a rooftop in London during a bombing) that changed public opinion in the U.S. What was once theoretical and remote became real and immediate. You can hear what the broadcasts sounded like here. The final tipping point came when images of Pearl Harbor hit the newspapers. Words work – after all you’re reading these. But images and sound are infinitely more compelling. They engage the brain more strongly and with more immediacy. Hearing or seeing children sobbing is very different from reading the words, “children were sobbing.” Hearing air raid sirens live is different from reading “sirens were blaring”. If you want to influence changes to make a better world, if you’re serious about making a difference, add visuals and audio to sink your story in deeper. Make the world be better, by telling a better story.

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Mark Hamill vs Rian Johnson on who to focus on when you want to influence

At times, I’d say to Rian, “We gotta think of what the audience wants.” And he’d say, “No, we’ve gotta think of what wewant.” – Mark Hamill Who’s right, Luke Skywalker or the new Star Wars director Rian Johnson? They both are. When we’re making a change, when we’re influencing, we do it with empathy. We travel to where the other person lives, where they are most comfortable. We unearth their unstated wants, desires, hopes and fears and try to address them. But it doesn’t stop there. People need to help getting to their best selves. If we just cater to their lowest selves, that’s accommodation, not empathy. We’d be best served to do the double emotional duty – bravely look at what’s underneath for the people we want to help and bravely look at what change we hope to do, what we know to be true, to stand for something. True empathy, true influence, true connection, true change, true teams are built where “what the audience wants” and “what we want” meet. And it all starts with what happens today. “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” – the Rolling Stones  

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