How to Build Influence


Thanks so much for joining me on this edition of Build Your Tribe. This edition is inspired by a conversation I had my sister, Jenelle Summers, over coffee today. We’re lucky enough to both have our own businesses. That affords us the opportunity to actually see each other even though we are 3,000 miles apart. So, recently we went to Northern California to watch a Go-Go’s concert. And if you don’t know who the Go-Go’s are, it’s nap time, you need your rest, you’re a baby and you need to go back and take a little nappy poo because if you don’t know who the Go-Go’s are, we – I don’t even want to hear about it, okay? Fine. Ladies from the ‘80s, do you hear me? Anywho.

 

So we’re enjoying a cup of coffee and my sister said, “Chalene, I want you to do a team call for me, and I want to talk about influence.” And I said, “Influence, okay. Well, that’s interesting. First of all, why do you want me to talk about influence?” And she said, “Well, it’s – I haven’t figured it out. I know that there are some people who have influence but I have so many amazing people on my team who are working very hard to influence their own team members and they’re doing all of the things that they see people doing who are of influence,” they’re posting the right kind of pictures, they’re producing the right kind of content, they’re recognizing their team, they’re – it looks like they’re doing everything right. It looks like they’re doing the same things that people who are of interest or who are of influence are doing, but yet they come back and they report, “I can’t get anybody to commit. I can’t get anybody to follow through. Nobody’s opening up my emails. No one’s jumping on my calls. No one’s responding, no one’s – no one seems to have a genuine commitment to me or to our goals, or to the team or the mission.”

 

And so we sat and talked about it for a while and we, together, collectively, kind of brought up different names of people who we thought were people of influence. So first, let me ask you to do the same thing. Think of someone right now who is an influencer. And by, that I mean it is somebody who can affect you. They affect people’s decisions. They tend to affect people’s opinions. They affect the way you think. They affect the things that you do. Who are the people in your life or who you observed perhaps online or, you know, through social media that have that type of power, that type of ability to affect you. They influence you on some level or another.

 

So take a moment to think about that because we did that and we brought up names of people who definitely have influence. They’ve got like a legion of people who absolutely love them. They would walk to the edge of the earth for them. They would fall on a sword for them, like that sincere influence.

 

And then there are people who we tossed around their names and we thought, “You know what, that’s kind of a person of power,” like they’re in a position of power, so that has a certain level of influence on them, but what happens if they weren’t in that position? Would they be able to influence others? Would they be able to get people to think differently, to act differently, to comply or to get along or to volunteer if they weren’t in that position?

 

Okay. So now, with that question I just asked you, think about some of the names that came to mind. A really simple example is if you’ve ever worked in a corporation where there was a manager, a senior executive above you who could – had influence but the influence wasn’t because you wanted to do things or you really liked them or because they personally had an emotional effect on your decisions or your opinions or your actions, but more so their influence was because of their power.

 

And I start this podcast off by making that distinction because I want to speak specifically to those of you who are looking to become influential not because of your position but because of who you are and your mission and because you care so much about people that you want to change the way they think, you want to change their actions, their behaviors, their way of thinking, their opinions, you want them to do more. You want them to genuinely be committed to improving themselves and their situation.

 

Now, if that’s you, if that’s why you want influence and that should be a resounding yes, if there’s anyone in your family, anyone in your life, a circle of friends who you care about and you love them, then you desire to influence them in a way that’s in their best interest.

If you are a leader, if you’re a business owner, if you are a manager, if you’re an employee, I suppose I should say, in general, I hope that everyone listening understands you have the power to influence people in the right way.

 

So let’s talk about what it truly means to be someone of influence. What Forbes Magazine recently reported about a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, there are several ways that we build influence. The first is a logical appeal. That means we tap into people’s reason and their intellectual side. So it’s when you’re, you know, in an – and I shouldn’t say an argument because you can never influence somebody when you’re in an argument. All you can do is make them mad or you’re going to force – you can force your opinion on them but you won’t be able to influence them. You can force them to think differently but that will only make them resent you and that’s not how we influence people.

 

So what I mean by a logical appeal, what I believe they mean by a logical appeal is helping people reach the right decision based on information, based on understanding the benefits and the risks. You know, it’s just appealing to their logical side without forcing it down someone’s throat, allowing people to reach their own conclusion.

 

The next way that we can influence people is through an emotional appeal. And that’s when who we are, what we stand for, our message, our own story connects with people, connects with who they are. It connects with their own values, with their own past, with their history. And when we have emotional connection with people, they tend to feel connected to us personally. And when you feel connected to somebody personally, you just like them, and you want to root for them, and you want to help them.

 

But here’s the key to building influence with emotional appeal. It has to be authentic. Like, you have to connect with people on an emotional level because that is legit, who you are. I don’t think you can fake that. I think a lot of people try. I think a lot of people send, you know, notes to you, and emails, and inbox messages, and even cards and letters in kind of, “This is what I should do to connect with this person,” kind of way but it’s not authentic and I personally think the reason why most people have a difficult time connecting emotionally with others is because they are disconnected from themselves. They can’t connect with their own emotions because their own emotions are too freaking scary. They haven’t done enough work on their past, there’s too many things that they’re pushing down and trying not to think about, and so they’re just generally going through the motions. They’re like treading water.

 

And it’s really hard to fake an emotional connection with people when you have so much papier-mâché that you have built around your whole life that nobody can penetrate, including yourself. Like, I don’t know, there are some people that I know – gosh, they have not reached their true potential in life and in their message reaching the world, in their ability to influence others because they aren’t emotionally connected to themselves. And I don’t think that you will ever truly be able to emotionally connect with others until you’re able to do that with yourself.

But generally speaking, I believe that is the most powerful way to build influence, is when people feel an emotional connection to you. They see you. They feel you. They get you. They know what you would do in just about any situation, like they know you. And when we are that emotionally connected to people, we don’t have to ask people to do things for us.

 

You know, many times, I’ll hear from leaders who say, “I can’t get people on my team to do this, this, this, or this. I can’t get them to do that.” And I just think to myself, I don’t know how to answer that because I’ve never had to ask people to do things for me. I care enough about people that they offer and they feel connected not just to me, but to the mission, or to the message, or to the goal. And I think that people who have had influence because they’ve been in a position of power are often surprised when they’re no longer in that position of power or when people have the ability to make their own decision, but they don’t feel emotionally connected to you, and therefore, they just don’t do because they don’t have a relationship with you. They don’t truly understand who you are.

 

So it’s very difficult to have influence over others when you’re emotionally disconnected from yourself. And you know what? I don’t even know why I’m going into this because there are people listening right now and I am so talking about you, and you’re right now going, “Oh, that’s not me. That’s not me. That’s not me.” Well, maybe it is. I guarantee, if you’ve ever said, “I can’t get people to do this, this, this, or this,” and that’s – like that’s a common thought or a common feeling, a common sentiment, I guarantee it is because you lack the ability to have an emotional connection with the people who you want to most influence. Think about it. Something to think about. You know, we’re all a work in progress.

 

And the third and final type of appeal, as described by the Center for Creative Leadership, is that of cooperative appeal. And that means that we are able to influence others because they feel like they belong. It’s a connection to a greater mission. You know, that’s really what Tribe is about, you know.

 

I hear sometimes people saying, I don’t know. Like, this is my team and, you know, this is the Chalene Johnson team or whatever. Like, to say that with – isn’t Tribe, right? I mean, because to truly belong to something means you belong to it. It doesn’t mean you’re the guru of it. It doesn’t mean you’re the leader of it. It might mean that you’re the person who is offering guidance, but you’re not, as they say, the sage from the stage. You’re the person who’s saying, like, hey, I’m over here on the side being your guide. Here’s what I would suggest, but do what you need to do. Like, that’s somebody who’s a part of something.

 

And that’s a cooperative, that’s a coop. That’s when people feel like we’re all moving towards a common goal, but it’s not about me. It’s not like what you can do for me. It’s not you doing what I’ve told you to do like a dictator. It’s that we’re all cooperated and connected towards this greater mission. It’s working towards something.

 

You know, I’m not sure if you are a church-going individual or if you listen to faith-based podcasts, but I think there are those churches – and I’ve been to a lot of churches, especially in the last couple of years. I love visiting churches when we are out of town, listening to different podcasts, but I think there are those where the pastor makes it a little bit more about them, and then there are those pastors who have incredible influence because they’re part of a community, a movement. They have a dream for Christianity or whatever faith it is that they honor.

 

You know, a truly influential leader doesn’t make it about themselves. They make it about the cooperative approach, the building, the connections, the collaboration, figuring out how we can do this better together. Learning and not just always teaching, not just preaching, but learning from others and supporting each other, and creating these alliances and not just alliances that, you know, keep moving you forward, but because it grows everybody.

 

And the most effective influencers know how to use all three of these approaches. Logic, when you’re allowing people to form their own decision, based on information. Emotion, when people feel emotionally connected to us. And cooperation, when we’re a part of a tribe. When we are the guide on the side. That’s how we can influence others.

 

How do you do this when you’re online? Chalene, I have an online business. I’m trying to build my influence. How do I do these things? That’s the question, right? And so my sister Jenelle and I, we sat there with our cup of coffee and my friend, Jen Delveux was there, who I went to high school with and also happens to own a successful business that allows her to travel and see the Go-Go’s, too. We should put some Go-Go’s music on at the end of this podcast. That’d be awesome. Yeah, play Vacation at the end. That’d be cool. For the young whippersnappers who have no idea who I’m talking about. And my friend, Michelle Park, was there as well, who went to see the Go-Go’s with me 20 some years ago.

 

Anyways, four of us are here and we’ve all been very close for a long time. And we know a lot of the same people, so it was a great opportunity to talk about the difference between power and influence. And I think we all kind of agreed that the one thing that was most powerful of these three was an emotional connection. When you felt important to somebody else – when I feel like I matter to someone, I’m going to go above and beyond for them without them asking. I’m going to do for them because they’ve made me feel relevant and important.

 

And that’s more than the fake, phony stuff. You know what I mean? And so we were talking about that. And I want to give you specifics. So obviously, my sister Jenelle is very influential and not from a power standpoint, but because she’s really emotionally connected to people because she creates team and tribe. Because she uses logic but she doesn’t dictate. She doesn’t use power, she uses an emotional connection and she truly does care about people. Not so much to the point that it takes over her life, but so that people – they want to do well for her. They want to try hard for themselves because they know she cares about how well they’re doing in their own business.

 

The same is true of Michelle, the same is true of Jen, and the same is true of the people who we thought about and talked about in different businesses and we said – you know, we talked about people who you – names who you might not know, but people who we know in a variety of industries who we all agreed, wow, yeah. They all have different personality types, every one of them. But the ones who have, like, crazy, tremendous influence over others, let people know. Like, they care. And they don’t dictate and it’s not about them. They really dig in and help the right kind of people.

 

And when you do that, it’s crazy how people want to do right by you. And when you care enough about somebody, that’s when people are willing to change their behaviors and their actions. That’s when people are willing to step up and do for you. That’s what influence is about. Simply put, if you want to be able to affect other people’s thinking, their actions, their behaviors, you need influence.

 

And to summarize, I think the absolute number one way to influence others is by caring about them, whether it’s your spouse, a kid on the team that you’re coaching, your child, members of the team that you lead, a coworker, your subordinates. And we have influence over everyone we come in contact with. And when we care more about people, that’s how we build influence.

Thank you so much for being a part of this episode of Build Your Tribe. I love you guys. I’ve got really, really, really exciting news that I hope to be able to announce in the next week or so, regarding the Marketing Impact Academy. I know you guys have been dying to find out when we open, which we normally open just once a year. Working on some details that I hope I will be able to announce for you in the next coming weeks.

 

So stay tuned and don’t forget to catch me live on Facebook. That’s where I can answer your questions directly. It is facebook.com/chalene.

 

Oh, and by the way, update, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, yeah. That podcast episode is coming next, but spoiler alert, they’re different and I’m on both. Love you, mean it.