For some, new technology is easy to adopt. They thrive on innovation and are always looking for the next big thing. Some people seem more inclined than others to jump on the tech bandwagon and explore new ways of doing things. But is it innate?

Many of us are familiar with the various personality tests, and the site 16personalities.com conducted an unscientific poll of its members. Regarding the smartphone revolution, the site wanted to know whether certain personalities were more or less apt to adopt to the smartphone when it arrived nearly twenty years ago.

Two types of personalities stick out: observant types and introverts. In their study, Observant types were not as likely as others to adopt new technology, in no small part because of their focus on watching how things unfold. Observant people may be more inclined to let others play the guinea pig. This isn’t always a bad trait to have, and I’m sure there were plenty of people that were glad to wait and see if automobiles or airplanes were safe before risking life and limb. But sometimes, waiting too long will prevent you from seizing opportunities and gaining a competitive advantage over the rest of the field.

For introverts, it should come as no surprise that it may take a little prodding to try new things. But that’s ok. It’s important to understand how and why you do what you do. On the other hand, we have extroverts, who seek stimulation. Smartphones, and the connectivity to the world they provide, allows those personality types to flourish. Commanders and Entrepreneurs, two other types, have an innate skill to lead and to embrace change. While plenty of personality types are capable of leadership, some are more naturally inclined.

Citing Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers, the authoritative text on innovators, the site On Digital Marketing shows how five categories of the population adopt new technology over time. They are divided into: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. But these groups are not evenly distributed; in fact, only 2.5% of the population are Innovators. 

Perhaps most importantly, Early Adopters are 13.5% of the population. Again, these are not just a random sample of everyday citizens; the Early Adopter is an opinion leader, educated, and of higher social status. While the Innovators are the ones to develop and adopt an innovation early on, the process of dissemination requires the Early Adopters to flourish.

Let’s not forget about John F. Kennedy. His life story matches well with the profile of an Early Adopter. His father was a wealthy businessman, plugged into the elite. That lifestyle afforded JFK the opportunity to excel, publishing his first book right out of college. It should come as no surprise that, in his bid for the presidency, he would again excel in the new medium of television. 

But what about those of us who are not Innovators or Early Adopters?

The third and fourth tranches are Early Majority and Late Majority. Between the two, 68% of the population is represented. These groups are the average person. They aren’t particularly well-educated, wealthy or of high status. Society relies on the Early Adopters to begin raising the profile of new technology; the rest slowly get on board.

Finally, the Laggards bring up the rear. This 16% share of the population are averse to change, likely the oldest of the five groups and have little contact with those outside of their immediate family and friends. 

Put onto a graph, we see the groups spread into a bell curve and the growth of a market share for whatever technology is adopted. By the time every Laggard adopts something, the market share is 100%.

Via OnDigitalMarketing.com

So, we can see that not everyone is going to adopt new technology at the same rate, and that’s ok. It’s important to understand how everyone is different, and how some factors that decide our proclivity for this or that technology may be beyond our control. 

Understanding the differences in individuals is important as a leader; it allows us to prioritize who should work in certain fields, and makes our businesses and organizations run more smoothly.

Over the past few blogs, we’ve unpacked some of the most important aspects of public speaking. Now that you have a better understanding of how to form a persuasive message, it’s time to get on stage. But many of us, myself included, have one final hurdle to jump: stage fright. Here’s the thing: stage fright isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s natural. I argue that stage fright is a necessary part of speaking, and that removing it doesn’t make your speech better. In fact, channeling that fright into the right energy is what makes your speech better.

Stage presence is essential. What do I mean by this? Stage presence is more than just standing there on stage. It’s the way you command the attention of your audience. It’s how you carry yourself. By projecting confidence, even if it doesn’t come naturally, you will convince the audience and, ultimately, yourself, that you belong there. 

What does it take to command the stage? To start, your voice. Make sure that you are delivering in a strong, confident voice. Your audience will make a snap decision about your legitimacy as a speaker based upon the way you speak. One way to improve your presentation is voice control: make certain that you are breathing deep, including the diaphragm. Your voice is a muscle, and it should be exercised as such. Practice, practice, practice.

To ensure the best results, consider these six qualities of the voice:

Volume. Your audience needs to hear you.

Clarity. Your audience needs to understand you.

Tone. Your audience needs to know the sentiment.

Emphasis. Your audience needs to know what’s important.

Pacing. Your audience needs to be able to keep up with your speech.

Pause. Your audience needs to know when to reflect and where to anticipate.

Speak clearly, speak confidently, and remember to breathe. 

Too many focus on the vocal side of speaking and think that’s all there is to it. But to become a truly great speaker, you will need to master a few more things.

Facial expressions are a sometimes subconscious way to telegraph our emotions to others. By learning the various emotions your face conveys, you can be sure that your audience knows exactly what your message means. The seven main emotions we express through the face are:

  1. Joy
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness
  4. Contempt
  5. Surprise
  6. Fear
  7. Disgust

Think through how these different faces look. Grab a mirror, and spend some time deciding how each looks on your face, and more importantly, when to use them in your speeches. 

Once comfortable with facial expressions, move onto eye contact. When you’re on stage, let the audience know that the speech is for them. By staring at your notes, or looking down, you exude a lack of confidence. Furthermore, if you have more than one person in the audience, be sure to vary the direction you look. Don’t glue your eyes to one person; rather, look at various people in the room and let all of the attendees know that you see them and are speaking to them directly. 

Starting off strong is a great way to build confidence. When you begin, don’t reference your notes. You most likely start by introducing yourself and the topic on which you are speaking. Exude confidence by jumping right into it, since you know these two pieces of your speech by heart. If you don’t know your name or speech topic, we may have other issues.

Finally, in terms of facial expressions, you want to smile as often as possible. Let the audience know you are happy to be there, and happy to be sharing the message you’ve worked so hard to compile. All of this practice is paying off! Be glad, and invite the audience to smile as well. As the speaker, you are leading the environment. Take the initiative and the audience will follow. 

That’s not to say that you should exaggerate your features to achieve an effect on stage. Remember, at the end of the day you need to be yourself. Becoming comfortable with yourself really is a key to starting this entire process. If you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, it will be hard for the audience to get on board.

The next step is body gestures. You don’t want to stand on stage like a rock, immobile and with your hands plopped beside you the whole time. While the face may be the easiest way to tell how someone feels, there’s far more surface area with the rest of the body. You will need to consider the way you stand, how you hold your arms and hands, and the way you walk around the stage. 

Head movements are one consideration. Remember, you want to make eye contact with your audience. You also want to nod for emphasis (lead the audience to agree with you), and use hand gestures to achieve this as well. For example, in listing multiple parts, try raising your finger as you go through the various parts: one, two, three. Sometimes, motioning with your hands or making shapes to reiterate your point can go a long way for the audience. Just remember, all things in moderation.

Your posture is also important. Don’t slouch. The way you stand on stage says just as much about your confidence as the timbre of your voice. Your posture might display that you’d rather be somewhere else, or are nervous about being on stage. Stand up straight and project confidence onstage!

More than just how you stand on stage, it’s how you navigate the stage that makes your performance stand out. Now, that doesn’t mean you should pace around the stage just because it’s there. You might come across as confused to the audience, as if you don’t know what you’re up there for. You want to have a plan going into your presentation as to how you hope to utilize the space around you. As with all the above tips, think about this prior to your presentation and practice it, ideally on the actual stage if you can.

Again, be deliberate. Don’t walk around aimlessly, because the audience will take it to mean you aren’t sure of your purpose. Standing in different parts of the stage is a great way to visually break up the parts of your speech, signaling to the audience that you are moving the story forward. Being confident on stage shows that you’re confident with the material. That’s how you get people on board with your message.

So, we’ve walked through stage fright and how you need to channel it, improving your voice and breath control, being cognizant of facial expressions and body gestures, and finally the use of stage. With these tips, you’re ready to take on your next speaking engagement with confidence and poise.

In seeking to persuade others, it’s important to make a plan before you jump write in. If you’ve ever needed to deliver a speech off the cuff, I’m sure you’ve run into trouble. Without forethought, we often fail to package our speeches in the best possible way, and that’s ok. But when we know we will be speaking ahead of time, and can prepare, it makes all the difference. Keep reading below to find a few helpful tips on public speaking.

One of the best places to start is Monroe’s motivated sequence. Crafted by Alan H. Monroe, this sequence is one of the most popular ways to build out your argument in a thoughtful and compelling way. Briefly, here are the five steps. We’ll unpack these afterwards.

  • Attention — Getting their attention. “I want to listen to the speaker.”
  • Need — Describing the problem. “Something needs to be done about the problem.”
  • Satisfaction — Presenting the solution. “In order to fix the problem, this is what I need to do.”
  • Visualization — Visualizing the results. “I can see myself enjoying the benefits of taking action.”
  • Action — Requesting action from the audience. “I will act in a specific way.”

First, you want to grab the audience’s attention. Nowadays, our attention spans are extremely short, even shorter than they were just a decade ago. So you have to be quick and compelling if you expect the audience to listen to what you’re saying.

With that in mind, you’ll want to craft a solid introduction. If you can’t capture their attention from the beginning, nothing else matters. 

One way to ensure your introduction stands out is to start with a hook that ropes them in. Often, this looks like a compelling quote, or a fascinating statistic that may surprise the audience. Be sure that you use true facts and figures — you don’t want to hurt your own credibility, and it’s just as easy to find reliable information online. If you make a statement that is too outlandish, chances are the audience will fact-check you in real time, and have no interest in keeping onboard.

You also want to introduce your thesis statement early on; that is, why are you going to speak today, and what topic are you covering? It should clearly explain what the issue is and how you plan to address it in your speech.

You also want to remember a few things about the speech as you build it out past the introduction. While you may hit a number of these head-on in the introduction, they bear repeating throughout for emphasis. 

One is to ensure the focus is on the audience. The people in attendance likely came because they are interested in what you have to say, but not necessarily just to hear you speak. You want to focus on the audience and how to move them; you already know what you’re saying, and if the focus moves away from the audience, they’ll lose interest. This involves the need mentioned above. There has to be a problem to solve, and that’s what engages the audience.

Another way to keep the audience engaged is through numerous examples. A lot of times, we find ourselves describing complex issues and falling into the trap of industry jargon. If you didn’t know the terms you’re using before becoming an industry expert, or an insider, chances are the audience won’t know them either. So be cognizant of the fact that you need to speak at their level, not your own.

Something else to consider is the satisfaction step, where you actually outline how the problem presented can be resolved. The speech is rendered useless if there are no concrete steps to move forward. 

Speaking of satisfaction and concrete steps, the fourth step is visualization. This takes the audience past the identification and asks them to visualize what the future looks like, and how they can play an active role in achieving that future. You can have them visualize a positive future, where they have taken and implemented your advice, or a negative one, where they have not pursued the solutions you suggest.

After you’ve built up the argument across the middle part of your speech, the most important thing to remember is a call to action at the end. I always advocate that you put some sort of call to action at the end of everything you do: Click Here, Share Now, Sign Today. Whatever it looks like that you’re trying to accomplish, no persuasion is complete unless you ask the folks there to do something. 

With this outline, you’re ready to approach a persuasive argument and master public speaking. Be sure to practice your speech aloud to know how things sound together, and you will be changing hearts and minds in no time.

This is the first of a three-part series this month that examines persuasive leadership through public speaking. The president representing this trait is Abraham Lincoln, which can be viewed here.


One of my favorite graduate school classes was on rhetorical theory. I found comfort in a basic structure for persuading. 

Though, it’s about more than just the structure. While having a proven formula for presenting creates a solid foundation, it’s the presenter’s creativity, perspective, voice, and personal attributes that makes the presentation come alive and distinguishes the presentation from all others.

The Greeks and Romans were interested in argument and rhetoric. In De Inventione, the Roman philosopher Cicero explains that there are five canons, or tenets, of rhetoric:

1 Invention (Latin, inventio; Greek, heuresis)

Cicero, in his c. 84 B.C. treatise De Inventione, defined invention as the “discovery of valid or seemingly valid arguments to render one’s cause probable.” Basically, invention is finding the ways to persuade.

Interestingly enough, over 2,500 years ago Aristotle demonstrated that for invention to be productive, it must also include an understanding of one’s audience — their background, interests and needs.

If you’ve read my previous book, Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is The Only Force You Will Ever Need, I devoted an entire chapter to how important it is to focus on the needs of your audience. You will never persuade without understanding your audience.

2 Arrangement (Latin, dispositio; Greek, taxis)

As its name suggests, arrangement refers to how the different parts of the speech are put together. Although not everyone agreed on these parts, Cicero and Quintilian identified six:

The Exordium (introduction)

The Narrative

The Partition (division)

The Confirmation

The Refutation

The Peroration (conclusion)

However, current models have reduced the arrangement to the well-recognized three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion (and this is demonstrated in the modern five-paragraph theme).

Arrangement gives the basic format for how these pieces become the whole and together they are the structure for a coherent argument.

3 Style (Latin, elocutio; Greek, lexis)

Like speakers throughout the ages, modern speakers are often identified by their style of presenting. Think of the ever-enthusiastic Gary Vaynerchuk with his boundless, energetic presentation style.

Style embodies elements of how something is spoken, written or performed. It’s the way a speaker presents the argument to stir the emotions. While a narrow understanding of style refers to word choice, sentence structures and figures of speech, an expanded understanding includes the manifestation of the speaker.

Roman rhetorician Quintilian (c. 35 – c. 96 AD) spoke of three levels of style:

Plain style for instructing an audience

Middle style for moving an audience

Grand style for pleasing an audience

4 Memory (Latin, memoria; Greek, mneme)

As its name suggests, memory includes all the methods and tools available to help a presenter commit concepts to memory.

5 Delivery (Latin, pronuntiato; Greek, hypocrisis)

In De Oratore, Cicero said that delivery “has the sole and supreme power in oratory; without it, a speaker of the highest mental capacity can be held in no esteem; while one of moderate abilities, with this qualification, may surpass even those of the highest talent.”


Of the five canons listed above, pay particular attention to Style, as it relates to Abraham Lincoln. His oratory was known to be logical and built upon outstanding premises. Lincoln’s arguments were lauded by various contemporary sources:

The address was one of the clearest, most logical, argumentative and convincing discourses on the Nebraska question to which we have listened.
–Quincy (Illinois) Whig, November 3, 1854

Every point he touched upon was elucidated by the clearness of his logic, and with his keen blade of satire he laid bare the revolting features of policy of the pseudo-Democracy.
–Peoria (Illinois) Weekly Republican, July 25, 1856

His manner is neither fanciful nor rhetorical, but logical. His thoughts are strong thoughts, and are strongly joined together. He is a close reasoner, and has the faculty of making himself clearly understood.
–Galena (Illnois) North-Western Gazette, July 1856

Keep in mind that these five canons represent a basic structure, but it’s the speaker and her learned skills that bring these canons to life and determine the success (or not) of the speaker’s ability to persuade through presentations.

This is the second in a series of posts that will outline the persuasive tactics of ten presidents, focusing on a specific trait for each respective leader. The first, Lyndon B. Johnson, can be found here.


In this month of persuasive leadership, we’ll be taking a look at the rhetorical skill of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, of course, rose to prominence and led the nation decades before radio or television. His persuasive skills were sharpened in an era where public oratory was cherished and celebrated, and for that reason his public speaking acumen is the focus of this month.

Perhaps because photographs were a new technology, and the written word was required to bear more weight than it might today, there is a trove of descriptions about the 16th president. The words did not paint a generous picture of his appearance:

Mr. Lincoln’s person was ungainly. He was six feet four inches in height; a little stooped in the shoulders; his legs and arms were long; his feet and hands large; his forehead was high. His head was over the average size. His eyes were gray. His face and forehead were wrinkled even in his youth. They deepened with age, ‘as streams their channels deeper wear.’ Generally he was a very sad man, and his countenance indicated it. But when he warmed up all sadness vanished, his face was radiant and glowing, and almost gave expression to his thoughts before his tongue would utter them.
–Joshua Speed in Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln

To mention his appearance is not to disparage the man; in fact, it plays an important role in describing how he excelled in public speaking. His appearance matched his rhetoric: slow, deliberate and, often, sad.

With public speaking as the primary means of debate and political conversation, to be eloquent in the 19th century was essential. Abraham Lincoln rose to the occasion.

The watershed moment for Lincoln came in 1858, during his bid to be the US Senator from Illinois. Before it, he was not well-known beyond certain pockets of his state.

The Great Debates of 1858 were conducted over seven different occasions, with the issue of slavery as the focus. Lincoln, as you might guess, spoke against slavery, while Douglas took the opposing viewpoint.

One of the most famous quotes delivered by Abraham Lincoln was the kickoff to the 1858 campaign:

A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Abraham Lincoln, 1858

His speeches were known to be colored by a logical progression, methodical in style:

Every point he touched upon was elucidated by the clearness of his logic, and with his keen blade of satire he laid bare the revolting features of policy of the pseudo-Democracy.

–Peoria (Illinois) Weekly Republican, July 25, 1856

And he had a talent to persuade, too:

It would be doing injustice to his speech to endeavor to give a sketch of it. It was replete with good sense, sound reasoning, and irresistible argument, and spoken with that perfect command of manner and matter which so eminently distinguishes the Western orators.

–Lowell (Massachusetts) Daily Journal, Sept. 18, 1848

Clearly, even before the presidency, Lincoln had a commanding presence and knew how to craft a compelling message. The speeches delivered over the course of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates were later compiled and edited into books that propelled Lincoln to the national stage.

This is the last of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one interactions. The first article is hereThe second article is here.


In talking with human resource officers, COOs, CEOs and other corporate leaders about areas needing improvement within their organizations, communication almost always bubbles up.

This need is supported in a 2018 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. study, where about 60 percent of companies say they don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy. Strikingly, though, about half said they wanted to make improving leadership communication a priority.

So organizations see the need, yet often fail to act. And then there are those leaders that don’t value effective communication who will refer to it as a waste of time, an effort to put a focus on “feelings” instead of productivity and ultimately profits. Or they may refer to communication as a soft skill unimportant to a company’s bottom line. 

Poor communication with your team members can lead to attrition and difficulty attracting top talent. And given that replacing a worker can cost a company 33 percent of that worker’s annual salary, it will cost you a lot (both in finance and company morale) for unhappy team members to walk away.

However, as the team leader you can change all of this. And it’s not just good for the people on your team; it’s also good for business. 

You have the power to change the direction of your organization through effective 1:1 communication. You just need the tools to get you there. 

For all the complexities of communication with others, all communication falls into one of four buckets: 

  • Verbal communication
  • Nonverbal communication (including but not limited to eye contact, facial expressions and gestures, posture, body orientation, body language
    • Proximity (space and distance)
    • Para-linguistic (accent, pitch, volume, speech rate, modulation, and fluency.
    • Touch
    • Silence
    • Personal appearance
  • Written communication
  • Visual communication

That’s it. You have these four buckets of communication mediums to communicate 1:1 with your team members. 

We’re going to focus on one: verbal communication. 

In the 1952 publication of Effective Public Relations, Scott Cutlip and Allen Center first introduced the 7 Cs of effective communication. Since its publication, these 7 Cs have become the gold standard for effective, persuasive communication with those around you. 

Here are the 7 Cs:

  1. Clarity
  2. Completeness
  3. Correctness
  4. Conciseness
  5. Concreteness
  6. Coherence
  7. Courtesy

Now, with these 7 Cs in focus, there are practical ways you can create space for 1:1 communication that will help you persuade those with whom you work.  Let’s look at a list of those ways: 

  • Preparing before the conversation
  • Being open
  • Showing respect
  • Exhibiting compassion and empathy
  • Actively listening (including not thinking of your next question instead of being in that moment)
  • Having a solution mindset
  • Prioritizing subject and topic over emotion
  • Always seeking common ground, mutual goals, shared purpose
  • Ensuring both sides have equal respect, ability to share thoughts and feelings, and equal opportunities to be heard
  • Avoiding distractions

Having first focused on communication enablers, I do think it important to your success to also talk through items that block communication. Take a look at this list:

  • Accusing
  • Judging
  • Insulting
  • Using sarcasm
  • Globalizing (using words like “always” and “never”)
  • Threatening or ordering
  • Interrupting 

In addition there are physical barriers like time, environment, comfort, and noise. There are emotional barriers like fear, distrust, and uncertainty.  

Finally, with communication enablers in place and a willingness to avoid communication blockers, there’s a path to persuasion: 

  • Relate 
  • Move from relating to solving 
  • When solving offer very specific direction
  • Within this direction, use concrete language 
  • Provide space for your listener to process and ask questions
  • Empower that listener to take actions need to help you accomplish your vision as their own

Once again, we revisit President Johnson. LBJ was attuned to the language that others used. However, collaborative efforts were less of his wheelhouse. In fact, LBJ more often steamrolled those around him during discussions, pressing them to defend their ideas and suggesting they were infantile. The very next day, he would sometimes take their position as his own. In grilling them, he wanted to find who firmly believed what they said and who was flaky in their beliefs. LBJ’s methods in this department will not translate well into the corporate world, but in the throes of Vietnam it made decision-making easier for the president.

If you’re not getting the support of your team you need, don’t have great team camaraderie, or just not hitting your targets, examine your ability to persuade your team through 1:1 communication with you—their leader. I’ve given you the tools to get there. 

relationships

This is the second of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one interactions. The first article is here.


We talk about “building relationships” so often that it has become trite. It’s a catchy phrase that’s overused and misunderstood. Having said that, it’s still extremely valuable as you lead through persuasive communication in 1:1 interactions.

Consider President Johnson, once again. In shepherding landmark legislation through the Congress, he relied on his personal relationships with members of both the House and Senate. He knew their wives, and their kids, and what was important to them in their respective districts. By knowing the people he needed to work with intimately, Johnson leveraged these relationships to achieve his goals with remarkable speed.

We often think of relationships as a means to an end. It is not the goal. Here’s a hard question for you to ponder: Do you really value those you lead? This question requires a bit of soul searching. So often, we are focused on our goal and the things we need to accomplish, that people around us are seen as a means to an end. But here’s the thing: If that’s your thinking, those around you know it. They will feel expendable, and it won’t work.

How do you view the people around you? Do you acknowledge they are a person, not just a position? Do you seek their success and value it?

This is probably a good place to confess that I have viewed people around me as tools to my goals. It has taken time and failure for me to adjust what I value. It takes a brave leader to pause while reading this and take an honest, hard look inwards. Yet, I know you can and will. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t aspire to be the best leader you can be.

You likely need to have successful people around you for you to succeed. I’m willing to be that they are cheering for you and want to be part of your success. So how do you get there? Here are three ways:

1: Understand Your Audience

Anyone who has read my work or listened to me on stage knows that I believe everything is about your audience. Always. This is not about you — it’s about them. This same principle applies as you lead through communication and specifically persuade in 1:1 meetings. The sooner you shift that mindset, the sooner you will find success.

Try this exercise. Think of one person critical in your orbit. Say his or her name out loud. Recall memories. Now, answer these questions:

  • What’s the biggest struggle in this person’s life right now? What is keeping them awake at night?
  • What do they value in life above everything else?
  • What is their love language?
  • What’s this person’s greatest dream for his or her professional career?

2: Give Them Your Most Valuable Asset: Your Time

We are all busy. I get it. And I’m starting to believe that it’s more of an excuse than a reason. I’m also starting to wonder “why” we’re so busy. Perhaps it makes us feel important? How often have you asked someone how they’re doing to hear them reply: “Busy!”?

Wouldn’t it be nice to jump off the hamster wheel of busyness and instead lead a meaningful and mindful life?

Giving these key people in your life time will change everything in your relationship with them and their willingness to be a part of your vision and dreams.

Again, let’s reflect on that same person that you brought to mind in question number one. With that specific person in mind, ask the following:

  • Do you have a regular, established time to meet 1:1?
  • When was the last time you had a spontaneous time together just to catch up with what’s happening in his or her life? Or just to offer praise and appreciation with no other agenda?
  • When was the last time you planned a special time away with just this person? Perhaps that looks like leaving the office early one afternoon and hitting a craft brewery with no objective other than to be together.
  • When was the last time you made a positive response to something they posted online?

3: Open Communication That’s Easy, Comfortable, Free Flowing

Can you recall a time that you met with someone with high hopes of a productive conversation only to find that the encounter was stiff and lacked a meaningful connection?

As the person leading the organization, it’s your responsibility to create the atmosphere and conditions for conversations that bring value.

Again, let’s recall the person you named in question number one. Perhaps say his or her name again just to make this person fresh in your thoughts. And then ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time you asked for feedback AND then implemented the ideas you feel fit well into your organization? And did you give this person the credit?
  • When was the last time that you talked and demonstrated that you were listening by taking notes?
  • Have you ever become defensive in talking with this person?
  • When addressing a situation that didn’t go well, did you blame this person or accept responsibility yourself?

As you work to accomplish your goals and dreams, I hope you realize those close you are one of your strongest assets. They are not a tool for your success. They are a treasure. And if you concretely believe that and your actions demonstrate it, they will believe you. That makes accomplishing your dreams just got that much easier.

not-just-vision-trust

This is the first of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one relationships.


Often, we mistakenly think that 1:1 persuasion is all about sharing our vision and taking whatever steps are necessary to get people on board, and moving along with us.

The foundation for leading through 1:1 persuasive communication isn’t all about where you’re trying to take people. Instead, it’s about trust.

Trusting you is my decision. Proving me right is your choice.

-Anonymous

As a leader, you can have the most exciting vision and profound insights to get you there. On the surface these may appear to inspire anyone to action. You may be thinking: Anyone should be able to buy into this great vision that I have for our organization or business. But if your audience doesn’t trust you, you won’t lead.

President Johnson, for example, had to rally the nation after the death of JFK. As Johnson ascended to the presidency, he was filling a void left by the man voters had duly elected to the role. With the nation in mourning for its young, aspirational president’s death, LBJ had to bring the country together. How does a president do this? Trust.

LBJ had to win over the trust of the nation to advance his agenda. In the wake of Kennedy’s death, Johnson leveraged the vision that won Kennedy the presidency to corral a coalition of support. He then relied on personal relationships with key members of Congress to usher through legislation that defined the era. Without person-to-person conversations, Johnson would have found it nearly impossible to forever alter the course of American society.

Perhaps this is a good place to pause and take a self-inventory. Ask yourself: Do people around you trust you? Moreover, ask someone close to you that you personally trust the same question.

In this self-evaluation below, I have taken 11 aspects of trust for you to consider. These are from my previous book, Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is The Only Force You Will Ever Need.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I consistent with everyone around me?
  • Do I deliver as promised?
  • Am I open and authentic?
  • Do I show confidence?
  • Am I truthful?
  • Do I make people feel safe?
  • Am I willing to say “no” sometimes?
  • Am I open to feedback?
  • Do I make time for those around me?
  • Am I reliable?

If any aspect of this list is missing in your leadership, people around you are less likely to trust you. You see, when people begin to wonder whether or not they trust you, they already do not. And if they don’t trust you, you cannot lead. At least, you won’t without brute force or manipulation.

Early in my career, I worked with a CEO that had amazing vision. He had boundless energy, grit, charisma, determination and drive.

And for a while, that worked. The organization grew. Actually, the organization exploded with growth. I had never seen organizational growth like what I experienced during this phase of my career.

I remember thinking that the vision was unstoppable. And while I was already part of the largest teams of my career, while surpassing all professional dreams, I believed we were on the early side of the trajectory with no end in sight.

I was captivated. Personally performing at optimal levels, I could not even comprehend where we were heading; it was the ride of my life.

Everything seemed perfect. Until it wasn’t.

Cracks in trust within the ranks of the organization began to appear. The leader had, slowly and over time, lost trust with team members. In fact, looking back, I think the leader broke every one of the reflection questions I posed earlier.

And once it began to crumble, it collapsed at record speed. Within twelve months, it was over. The leader was removed from the organization.

I was devastated, and so was everyone around me.

If you want to lead by persuading those around you with 1:1 conversations, and I believe that you do, it must begin with a foundation of trust. Otherwise, you’re building a house of cards. And it will always crumble in time.

profiles-in-persuasion-lbj

This is the first in a series of posts that will outline the persuasive tactics of ten presidents, focusing on a specific trait for each respective leader.


Perhaps no former president exemplifies the power of one-on-one conversations than Lyndon Baines Johnson. Born in Stonewall, Texas in 1908, LBJ went from an impoverished and troubled childhood to the highest office in the land. Often, he did so through sheer force of will.

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Upon his entry into politics, Johnson was not an immediate powerbroker. He first served as a congressman for a Texas district, finding it difficult to pay his bills and live in DC. In no small part, his lack of financial security informed the way he interacted with others to accomplish his goals. Without the means to persuade through wealth or power – yet – it was his personality filling the void. In no small part, his lack of education and feelings of inferiority when surrounded by Ivy Leaguers in Washington led to his strategy of leveraging his physical size and temper to effect the change he thought necessary.

His internal drive also pushed him to accomplish aspirational goals. Without a plan, one has no reason to persuade. There is no common goal toward which to lead others. But Johnson developed his vision and went about cajoling and corralling others to play their role in it.

“What convinces is conviction. Believe in the argument you’re advancing. If you don’t you’re as good as dead. The other person will sense that something isn’t there, and no chain of reasoning, no matter how logical or elegant or brilliant, will win your case for you.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Vision alone cannot convince, and Johnson was keenly aware of this. The landmark projects LBJ set into motion were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and more broadly, the Great Society. Neither of these goals were simply accomplished, and it took the entirety of Johnson’s power and persuasive prowess to bring them to completion.

The 36th president’s persuasive tactic was so well-known that it earned a name of its own, The Johnson Treatment, pictured below in action.

President Johnson cajoling Senator Theodore Green of Rhode Island
(Photo from George Tames, New York Times 1957)

Context is everything: Johnson ascended to his most powerful prior to the presidency near the end of the 1950’s. He is remembered as perhaps the most powerful Senate Majority Leader, whipping his caucus together to pass legislation that would not otherwise succeed absent a strong-willed leader.

When a significant portion of your caucus is made up of Southern Democrats averse and downright hostile to Civil Rights, it takes a big personality to bring together the votes needed.

“Dick, I love you and I owe you. But…I’m going to run over you if you challenge me on this civil-rights bill.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

The Johnson Treatment was key to LBJ’s success. At 6’4”, he towered over many of his peers, jamming his finger in their direction and sticking his face right into theirs. His ability to persuade others by occupying their personal space and forcing their hand went unmatched.

Keep It Simple

This article is the third in a series to help empower you to find success in online marketing. You can read the first article here. You can read the second article here.


Last week’s column unpacked the idea that your customers, or your target audience, whoever they might be, don’t really care about you.

It might be tough to hear, but it isn’t a criticism against you; it’s an observation that can empower you to become a master marketer, correcting for mistakes that are far too common in this field. When marketing, especially with your email campaigns, make sure that your focus is on the consumer.

You want to avoid using the email platform to brag about yourself and your accomplishments, however successful you may be; instead, use it to hold a mirror up to the audience, letting them see their own success through the use of your product or service. If you put the focus back onto the consumer, I guarantee it will make you a more successful marketer. 

Also, recall from the first column that the first step is writing directly to the audience. Don’t treat them as a mass of people, but rather hone in as if each email was a personal note from you to them. With those previous skills developed, you’re ready to advance to the third in this series: Simplify everything.

What do I mean by simplifying everything? It’s simple, really. Don’t make it complicated. Again, remember that you are writing both to and for your audience; it’s all about them. 

Think about how newspapers write. Your hometown paper probably writes at about a middle-school reading level. Does that mean it’s written by middle-schoolers? Probably not, but the general populace is not going to be as well-educated as those who produce the content for mass audiences. Newspapers keep that in mind, of course, so their word choices need to reflect those who will read it. 

Write to the audience, and cut through the noise.

If a reader cannot understand what he or she is reading, the stories have no value for the consumer. In the same vein, The Wall Street Journal knows its audience tends to be at or above an undergraduate degree in terms of education, and probably relies on the news to make informed decisions in their occupation, as opposed to someone in a small town interested in local events. Write to the audience, and cut through the noise.

It beneath you to make something simple; in fact, a sure sign of intelligence is the ability to explain something in plain terms. If you can’t break it down for someone else, you likely don’t know enough about the subject yourself. Complicating things for your consumer will do nothing to improve your bottom line. If they can’t understand you, they’re not going to buy from you.

Every email should request an action.

With that in mind, you also need to include a call to action, or a CTA. It’s great that you’ve put together an email, but without some direction included, it’s going into the trash can and nothing will happen. 

Figure out what exactly it is you want from your audience. Every email should request an action. Click this, buy these, sign that – they need direction. They also need to know why. What problem will it solve? Remember: It’s about them. 

With the tools in this series, you’re ready to take your email marketing to the next level. In sum: personalize your emails, focus on your audience’s needs, and make it simple. It’s a recipe for success.