Mar 162014



Before the age of Google, influencing others was predicated upon information asymmetry. In those days, the influencer had the advantage. They knew more and could decide if, when, and how to release information to their audience in order to drive behavior. This approach to influence was put to rest in short order with the mobile revolution. Fact checking has never been easier. Information parity has forever changed the game of influence according to Dan Pink.

Pink opened his session with a question – “What percent of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value in exchange for something you can offer?”. The answer, according to research he cited, is 41% on average. Think about that. Nearly half of all working hours are dedicated to convincing, cajoling, and moving people into actions rather than creating, making, or doing. It’s wildly inefficient and has become all the more difficult because one can now so easily call bull$#!%.

In order to move others effectively in this new environment, Pink identifies three important qualities in influencers:

  1. Attuned
  2. Buoyancy
  3. Clarity

Being attuned is the ability of the influencer to see the point of view of others and assimilate multiple points of view into a discussion. The attuned influencer understands the needs of his audience. Buoyancy is one’s ability to persevere in the face of rejection while remaining positive at the same time. Clarity is defined as one’s ability to synthesize disparate information into something meaningful not just for themselves but, for others. Influence, in this context, is now a service. The influencer understands your needs, is not offended by your behavior, and provides you with new insights upon which you can make a decision.

Pink then went on to cite a number of studies that led him to 6 takeaways about influence.

  1. Feeling powerful narrows one’s perspective and point of view. When one is more focused upon their own perspective, attunement is diminished, lessening the ability to understand and attend to the needs of those around the influencer. Reducing the feelings of power, not necessarily power itself, makes one a more effective influencer

  2. Ambiverts are the most influential – Ambiverts bring the qualities of both extroverts and introverts to the table and this diverse skill set allows them to both consider a situation quietly and communicate effectively with the audience. In other words, ambiverts are more attuned to others. Pink stresses that most people fall somewhere in the middle of the introvert / extrovert continuum. Rather than try to be more ambiverted, he stresses that people should just try to be the best versions of themselves.

  3. Interrogative self talk – “Can I do this?” – is more effective than positive, declarative self talk – “I can do this!” at preparing a person to influence others. The interrogative approach drives a one’s self toward an action. There is a need to address the question and in doing so, one is better prepared to address the audience. Being better prepared makes one more buoyant.

  4. Build buoyancy in others by asking 2 irrational questions (motivational interview)

    • On a scale of 1 to 10 – how ready are you?
    • Follow up with – why didn’t you pick a lower number?

In asking these questions, the audience is guided towards listing their strengths which serves as motivation for action. It affirms their abilities and helps them answer the question “Can I do this?” in a positive manner.


  1. Provide clarity by addressing the specific context of an action and then make it easy for people to act. Removing barriers is significantly more effective than assuming / changing perspectives.

  2. Explaining WHY one should do something is more clarifying than explaining HOW one should do something in trying to persuade people to action.

Pink’s presentation raised a number of questions for me. How should school re-organize in a world of information parity? How should leadership structures change? Does institutional authority actually stunt a school’s ability to move forward?

Gears turning, more to come…



 Posted by at 6:43 pm

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