Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are You a Hunter or Fisherman?

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A few years ago, I read The Art of Influence by Chris Widener. The light-hearted story involving a high school graduate, Marcus Drake, being mentored by one of the most successful men alive, Bobby Gold. Bobby shares how he used the art of influence to succeed and persuade and how the journey begins from within.

Leadership principles are woven throughout the fabric of the story as well as moments for readers to ponder their own journey.

Character and Skills, Virtue and Talent

One of the first lessons Bobby shares compares a leader's character with his/her skills--or virtue versus talent. Follow the lesson and activities as if you are Marcus...

  1. Write down ten things you look for in a leader.
  2. Categorize each item you identified as either a character or a skill.
  3. Count the number of character traits versus skills.
  4. Analyze your responses with the "norm" which is generally 70 to 80% character traits versus skills.
Both character and skill matter. Bobby's view is that "...nobody wants to follow someone who's all character and no skill." He goes on to say, "You can lead for a while with great skills, but if you don't have character, eventually people will turn their backs on you and cease to do business with you."

Hunting or Fishing

I'll mix a recent personal story with Bobby's next lesson.

My husband said I needed (or is it deserved) a new car. I wasn't so sure. I loved my 10-year-old car and was quite comfortable. Needless to say, we ventured forth and drove to the land of the vultures, also known as auto row. As soon as I drove onto the first lot, the vultures, I mean salesmen, swooped down upon me like fresh prey. Each one wanting to be the first to persuade me their car or service was the most desirable. If there is one thing this girl despises, it is feeling like prey or being hunted.

Bobby used the analogy of hunting and fishing to teach Marcus another story. Bobby said, "persuasion is like hunting while influence is like fishing." If you want to sell me a car, influence goes a long way. I need control (or at least the illusion of such) when making my decision. Pressure (or persuade) me too much, and I run. Give me space, and I will either buy the car or you'll have to be patient and practice the catch and release technique. I just might come back for another nibble. In this case, I bought the car.

According to Bobby, what did my salesman do right?
  • He had fish--a lot of them.
  • He had a place where the fish were biting (technically, they were the only dealer in town, but I could have opted for a different make).
  • He used the right kind of bait.
  • He presented the bait well.

The Rest of the Story

Marcus and Bobby's story doesn't end with the hunting and fishing analogy. You will need to complete the journey by reading the book yourself and discovering how "persuading others begins with you."

I will provide a little bait, however. Bobby continues the lessons with the Golden Rules of Influence:
  1. Live a life of undivided integrity.
  2. Always demonstrate a positive attitude.
  3. Consider other people's interest as more important than your own.
  4. Don't settle for anything less than excellence.

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