An Inspiring Lesson Gleaned from The Art of Influence by Chris Widener

The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins With You by Chris Widener is a fascinating allegorical tale of the real, genuine and ultimate source of success. The protagonist, Marcus Drake, is freshly graduated from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is given the gift of a lifetime from his grandmother, to spend some quality, one-on-one time with a successful billionaire, Bobby Gold. Gold shares his four “Golden Rules of Influence” at the perfect time in Marcus’ career, at the beginning. Marcus is gifted with the good fortune to be able to initially build up (his life and potential) on a solid foundation for true and lasting success. The journey includes valuable lessons and insights into seeing beyond the obvious and ascertaining how best to stay on top ethically and honorably.

Beyond the “Golden Rules,” themselves, lie gems of incomparable gold that have ignited a passion for Influence, rather than mere persuasion in me. Perhaps the major insight I gleaned can be of great influential value to you as well. The Rules are:

1. Live a Life of Undivided Integrity;

2. Always Demonstrate a Positive Attitude;

3. Consider Other People’s Interests as more Important than my Own;

4. Don’t Settle for Anything Less than Excellence.


Operate in The Art vs. The Science of Business

“Influence is the key to Success,” Bobby Gold. Influence “denotes power, whose operation is invisible and known only by its effects, or a power whose cause and operation are unseen,” (Webster’s Dictionary 1828 - Online Edition, 2017). This definition clearly reveals that the “Art of Business, or Influence,” originates from within, unseen - hidden. It flows forth from my desire to not only succeed personally but to help as many others along the way, as I can. Influence culminates in the saying made famous by Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Persuasion is about convincing people of something. It is about what I can do to other people. It involves techniques - how to negotiate successfully, how to give quality and efficient presentations - which while important, are not the true reflection of the whole picture of how to be successful in business - and in life. Influence is about Me, personally - how my actions help facilitate change in others - affecting their thoughts, beliefs and actions. Influence is the core competency of leadership and sales – ultimately leading to success. People do business with people, not companies. Companies, themselves, are inanimate; and, therefore incapable of having meaningful conversations and forming relationships. Who I choose to be and ultimately become is my Influential Quotient (IQ) - an essential ingredient in my overall progress. Being the person, I myself, and therefore others would seek to follow and do business with must be a determining goal, if I intend to achieve and hold onto great triumphs and victories. The first step is ensuring that others’ perceptions of me are accurate and honorable. Only individuals of high caliber have the necessary stuff to truly be effective leaders and influencers.

My decision to become a Leader is only half of the recipe. To be a Leader, I must lead others. The followers, themselves, however, ultimately decide whom to follow; therefore, my honorable perception is the essential other half - the invitation I extend to allow me to lead. Each One’s acceptance is the gift of influence validating my intentions. In deciding, initially, who I intend to be, is the evidence others use to weigh in determining to follow me or not. Success is all about people. Failing to learn from life’s experiences, whether directly or indirectly, is akin to choosing (accepting) permanent failure - although One would not word it exactly as such. The fact of taking no definitive action to change, shift, and/or remodel after an experimental journey, is like accepting the default choice (of continued hurt and disappointment). Choices are the building blocks of an Amazing Life - one full of professional, familial, spiritual, emotional, wellness, relational and fun successes. Life (including some disappointing and down-right-mean and bad things) can happen to all people, so choosing how I will respond, before the calamity, is the hallmark of maturity and the necessary stuff to win - no matter what may come my way.