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. 

improve-your-mass-marketing-campaign

Want to improve your mass marketing campaigns?

This article is the first in a series to help empower you to find success in online marketing.

Who doesn’t want to improve the results of their email campaigns? We test subject lines, delivery times, click through rate — you name it. Yet we’re still not getting the improvements we desire. But what if there were different ways to improve? There are.

We all do it. You have to throw together an email campaign that’s going out to hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people. It’s tempting to find a one size fits all solution to this, but that’s the exact mindset that we need to get away from as marketers.

Across a couple of blog posts, I’m going to outline a few tips that can markedly improve the results of your email marketing campaigns. The first is simple: Stop writing to your list.

What do I mean by writing to your list?

When you craft your email message with the entire list in mind, it’s obvious to the recipients. In typing out the words of the campaign, are you conscious of the fact that it will be delivered to 10,000 people? And, because of that, are you writing it like you think a mass email would be written? Your audience knows when you’re writing to all of them; you want to write to one of them directly.

When you craft your email message with the entire list in mind, it’s obvious to the recipients…You want to write to one of them directly.

It’s not that you are bad at writing email campaigns, it’s that you’re too aware of the recipients as a mass of people. Instead, focus in on a single person that you have on your list. If you know some of the people personally, or at least can picture them and put a face to the name, pick that person.

You’ll quickly find that the prose comes more naturally. It allows you to transform your language from being stilted and abstract to warm and endearing.

This is all good and well, but why is it important? Why does writing to one person really matter?

For starters, it’s going to boost your numbers. Small tricks and techniques may have little impact in a single email, but taken across tens of thousands of emails, it’s the small things on the margins that can make the difference between closing a deal and never even getting a response.

It’s the small things on the margins that can make the difference between closing a deal and never even getting a response.

Think about it this way: If for every hundred emails you send, just one extra person replies because they felt like you were speaking directly to them, how much of a change would that be in your business? I know that for me, in the speaking business, every reply matters. Anything that I can do to ensure that those that I reach out to feel as if they are receiving personal attention is only going to boost my bottomline.

Writing to the individual instead of the giant list also focuses you on the importance of connecting to people on a human level. Too much of the interaction with others online feels disjointed and removed from reality. Emails, and email marketing, is especially prone to this. It feels like you’re talking back and forth with a robot instead of a real person.

That’s exactly why the human touch is essential in your email campaigns. It separates you from the boring emails every other person trying to market to the people on your list use — and the boring emails you used to send.

Is Your Team Ready for Success in 2019?

With 2018 hitting the rearview mirror, many companies are asking what they can do to kick off 2019. They recognize that what happens in January sets the trajectory for the year ahead. Have you made plans to motivate your team?

If you haven’t planned an event to kick off the new year, don’t fret. It’s not too late. And Jeff’s story and message could be the silver bullet your team needs.

Consider this:

  • 62% of employees dislike their jobs because of communications issues
  • Companies with poor communications practices are being outperformed up to 3.5 times by their competitors
  • The number one reason teams fail is poor communication
So Jeff’s message matters. And his audacious promise to his audiences is that, as a result of our time together, they will gain the following:
  • An increase in their effectiveness
  • A powerful tool to help reach their goals and dreams
  • A positive impact on their organization or business

As a result of these three improvements, imagine the increase in productivity, morale and ultimately profits, for a company or organization.

Jeff can motivate your team while providing actionable content that helps bring about positive change, both personally and professionally.

Want to book Jeff for your upcoming podcast, event or seminar? Contact us today!

What if you could chose any superpower? What would it be? The ability to fly? Climb buildings? Have laser vision?

In this informative book, Jeff argues that the only superpower anyone needs is the ability to persuade. After all, we all live or die based on our ability to persuade others.

Coming in January.

Trust (Part 3)

3. Be open and authentic

I acknowledge that being open and authentic within the business community often raises eyebrows. Most of us have been trained to leave our personal self outside the door when we walk into the office. I disagree with that.

But let me add this disclaimer (one you’ve heard from me before): Know your audience. Know to what extent they’re willing to “get real with you” — where the boundaries lie.

To the extent that your audience is willing to be open and authentic, I encourage you to respond to the full extent to which you’re comfortable. This authenticity will allow your audience to trust you more profoundly. Besides, you don’t want them wondering what you might be hiding.

4. Show confidence

Your audience will pick up on how you view yourself. If you lack confidence, they’ll know. And if you’re too confident, they’ll notice that too. Neither will serve you well. It’s important that you establish your expertise. But you certainly don’t want to do it in a boastful way. The trick is to frame your past success in terms of why it matters now. What role does it have to play in meeting your audience’s objectives?

Your confidence can be contagious. It’ll help build a mutual natural trust. You know what you’re doing and they’ll take note. And they’ll likely trust you. But you must also show an openness to continuing to learn.

As an expert in your field, if you can show your confidence along with a willingness to listen and grow, you’ll likely score big on the trust meter.

5. Be truthful

This sounds like a foregone conclusion, right? But, according to liespotting.com, human beings are lied to as many as 200 times a day.

In swearing-in ceremonies, you’ll likely hear this affirmation on something similar: “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Being truly honest with your audience requires more than speaking simple truths. It requires giving them complete information. That may mean telling them things they don’t want to hear. That’s the whole truth.

Click here to see parts 1&2

Trust (Part 2) — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

1. Be consistent

It takes multiple interactions for your audience to begin to get a feel for who you are. These could be F2F meetings, phone calls or social media communication. And you’ll need precise consistency for people to begin to fully understand you, know your story and begin to trust you. Often, even the slightest deviation can set you back.

Since I’ve brought up social media, let’s pause there a moment. Every interaction – whether posting, sharing or commenting – gives your audience clues to your brand presence. And unless your social accounts are locked down tight (and even then, your audience can often still find you), every action matters. I would argue that every single post – no exceptions – has to support the brand you are creating. Any deviation can derail your quest to earn the trust of others.

2. Deliver as promised

We’ve probably all had someone promise us a deliverable – whether a creative asset, meeting time, contract, phone call, email, etc. – and not, in fact, deliver. Failing to deliver as promised can harm your brand and the fragile trust you’re building with your audience.

We’re often so eager to please that we commit to things that, realistically, we know we can’t deliver. In the moment, that promise feels comforting. It’s nice to think that you’re going to fulfill someone’s wants or needs. But while your audience may be happy in the moment that you said yes to their request – and that makes you feel good as well – nobody’s going to feel good when expectations aren’t met. Overpromising will not only likely disappoint, it will set back your quest for trust.

It’s better then to under-promise and over-deliver. If your audience is asking for something and you know you can’t deliver, manage expectations. Explain the rationale for why you can’t deliver. Even better, frame your response in a way that shows why your decision is best for them.

I recently had a speakers’ bureau reach out to me because they wanted to represent me. I responded that I was interested, and asked the next steps. Well, the decision and onboarding process was extremely laborious. And I knew that current demands on my time would not allow me to complete that process in the given timeframe.

Given that I do have interest in working with this bureau, I explained to them my current commitments. I told them that I wanted to complete all the forms and provide what they needed in a thorough manner. Further, I told them that I wanted to give them quality assets, and I couldn’t do that at the present moment.

I then told them when I could reasonably expect to get everything to them, and they accepted my timeline.

Now contrast that approach to overpromising. Had I done that, and not provided the requested information on time, we would have begun what could be a mutually financially beneficial arrangement on the wrong foot. And if this bureau can’t trust me with the initial process, certainly they won’t be able to trust me when it matters to their clients.

Under-promise. Over-deliver. Every time. It’s a winning formula.

Trust — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.” – Arthur Ashe

This is, perhaps, the most important chapter in this book. If you master every skill in every chapter but others don’t trust you, you won’t persuade. Period.

Most people think of trust in terms of the things we do to earn it. And while, yes, I’ll focus there as well, we need to start much deeper. The foundation for building trust is your motivations, what’s in your heart, the spirit in which you eventually do those things to earn it. A well-trained salesperson can easily fool others for a while, but in the end, I don’t think that it’s sustainable.

I encourage you to pause and look within. I believe that others’ trust in you begins with who you are as a person and what your intentions are. And, ultimately, no amount of smooth talking can make up for the wrong intentions.

At the outset, most of your audience will either be neutral or slightly disinclined to trust you. But you now have what you need to begin earning their trust. If you took my “Industry Expert” chapter seriously, answered the questions and have started building out your personal brand, you have a leg up in this process. You’re working from a solid foundation for building trust.

In the chapter titled “Help Others Find Their Win (So You Win),” we briefly discussed intentions. Now, in this chapter, it’s important to hit this concept head-on. We have to check our motivations and determine what drives us. Is our primary focus on ourselves and what we want in life or do we place a priority and importance on others. Just this simple yet often overlooked mindset can make drastic changes in how people perceive us and ultimately our ability to persuade them.

Self-examination is good, and a conversation with those who know you could be even more beneficial. (But don’t start with your best friends. Because they love you, they may lack objectivity.)

Remove Jargon — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

Remove all internal (or generally unknown) jargon

We often communicate with insider language that isolates those who aren’t “in the know.” Perhaps it makes us feel smarter – a member of some inner circle – to use esoteric terms. But anytime there’s an inner circle, there are, by definition, people left outside.

There’s a fine line between conveying that you’re the expert and using “insider-y” language. Old-school thinking was that when you pitch, you want to wow them with the jargon. Those days are gone.

Be careful not to unnecessarily alienate the people you’re actually trying to persuade. If the internal jargon isn’t necessary, strike it. If you use an acronym, define it. Then stick with it.

Here’s an example of what can go wrong when you use an unnecessary acronym:

While writing copy, you use an obscure, undefined acronym. Your user Googles it to learn its meaning. Another person, vying for your user’s attention, serves up an interesting ad on that page. Your user clicks that ad, which is actually an action-packed video. While watching the video, a text message pops in. It’s an invite to dinner. Think your user cares about your message now? Probably not. Now the question is, “What’s for dinner?”

Bottom line: Don’t create barriers with language. When it’s time to introduce denser language, introduce it with some context.

“Simplicity is an exact medium between too little and too much.” – Sir Joshua Reynolds

Here’s what we learned: less is more. Focus only on what is necessary and important. Everything can be saved for later.