Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

by Kewrry Patterson, Josepgh Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Serenity Trap:
p.4: There are actual people out there who – instead of continually seeking the “wisdom to know the difference” – have sought the wisdom to make a difference.  And they’ve found it.  They’ve discovered that when it comes to changing the world, what most of us lack is not the courage to change things, but the skill to do so.  … Problems don’t require solutions that defy the laws of nature; they require people to act differently.

P.5: We should be seeking to expand the list of things we can change so that we don’t need to seek serenity so often.

Choosing Influence:
p.7: We fall into the serenity trap every time we seek solace when we should be seeking a solution.  To bring this problem to its knees, we first have to see ourselves as influencers.

p.8: We’re better at coping than at exerting influence.
p.9: The wisdom to Make a difference.

Ch. 1: You are an inflencer
p.18: Study with the Best Scholars
Bandura’s classic studies demonstrated … how powerfully our behavior is shaped by observing others.  This came at at time when most psychologists believed that behavior was solely influenced by the direct rewards and punishments people experienced.

p.19:To explore the effects of TV violence, Bandura and a team of graduate students watched closely as nursery school children played in a small room packed with toys … Among this tempting array of playthings was a “Bobo doll” – a large plastic blow-up doll with a weight in the bottom.

p.20: Bandura found humans to be quite complicated.  It turns out that they think.  Humans observe, cogitate, draw conclusions, and then act.  All this is important to know because if you want to change the world, you eventually have to change how people behave.  And if you want to change how they behave, you have to first change how they think.

What this means to you
p.21: To the degree that people understand new strategies, their ability to make their own life better grows exponentially.  to the degree that people understand the forces that are already influencing their behavior, they are more empowered to choose their response.

Ch. 2: Find Vital Behaviors
“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and THEN do your best” – W. Edwards Deming

Search for Behaviors
p.26: It turns out that all influence geniuses focus on behaviors.  They’re inflexible on this point.  They don’t develop an influence strategy until they’ve carefully identified the specific behaviors they want to change.  They start by asking: In order to improve our existing situation, what must people actually do?

p.27: Confusing outcomes with behaviors is no small issue.  In fact, when you look at most failed influence strategies, you’re likely to find at least one example of means/ends confusion.  (e.g. “Establish a good relationship” is an ends, not a mans/behavior)

Search for Vital Behaviors
p.28: Principle number two: Discover a few vital behaviors, change those, and problems — no matter their size — topple like a house of cards.

p.29: If you’re going to work with subjects who lack just about every skill imaginable, you have to limit your scope of influence by identifying only a couple of vital behaviors and then work on them.  Otherwise you dilute your efforts and eventually fail.

p.30: [Mimi Silbert, Delancy Street] requires each person to take responsibility for someone else’s success.  Second, she demands that everyone confront everyone else about every single violation.

p.33: Top performers [teachers] reward positive performance [in students] far more frequently than their counterparts.

Study Positive Deviance
Search for Recovery Behaviors
p.38: People are going to make mistakes, so you have to develop a recovery plan

Test Your Results
p.41: Crazy superstitions live off bogus conclusions.  Whole companies can be brought to ruin when leaders respond to hunches.

Ch. 3: Change the Way You Change Minds
Learning from Phobics
Honest, Snakes are our friends
p.49 What do We Learn From This?
People choose their behaviors based on what they think will happen to them as a result.
Many thoughts are incomplete or inaccurate, leading people to the disastrous, unhealthy, and inconvenient behaviors that are causing some of the problems they currently experience.
People’s interpretations of events trump the facts of any situation.  And once again, not all interpretations are anchored in reality.
The factors influencing whether people choose to enact a vital behavior are based on two essential expectation.

p.50: when it comes to altering behavior, you need to help others answer only two questions.  First: Is it worth it?  (If not, why waste the effort?)  And second: Can they do this thing?  (If not, why try?)

The most common tool we use to change other’s expectations is the use of verbal persuasion.
When it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works.

p.50: The great persuader is personal experience. … Personal experience is the mother of all cognitive map changers.  …  Nothing changes a mind like the cold, hard world hitting it with actual real-life data.

Create Profound Vicarious Experiences
p.53: If you want people to change their persistent and resistant view of the world, drop verbal persuasion and come up with innovative ways to create personal experiences. … When you can’t take everyone on the field trip, create vicarious experiences.

Use Stories to Help Change Minds
p.59: When we’re trying to bring people around to our view of the world, intellectual brevity rarely works.  In an effort to cut to the chase, we strip our own thoughts of their rich and emotional detail — leaving behind lifeless, cold, and sparse abstractions that don’t share the most important elements of our thinking.
p.61: Stories don’t merely trump verbal persuasion by disproving counterarguments; stories keep the listener from offering counterarguments in the first place.

Make Stories Work for You
p.63: When we find a way to change how individuals think, they are well on the way to changing their behaviors.  Equally important, we’ve learned to limit our change targets by aiming at two important maps that help people answer the questions: “Will it be worth it?” and “Can I do it?”  Change one or both of these maps, and people change their behavior.
Become a Master Storyteller
Tell the Whole Story
p.65: When change agents attempt to tell a compelling story and inadvertently leave out key elements of the narrative, they render it impotent.
Provide Hope
p.67: When you leave out the solution, people typically block out the message.
Combine Stories and Experiences


p.75: Most of us have our favorite influence methods — just pass a law, just threaten a consequence, or just offer a training program.  The problem with sticking to our favorite methods is not that the methods are flawed per se; it’s that they’re far too simplistic.  It’s akin to hiking the Himalayas with only a fanny pack.

p.76: Individuals who succeed where others have routinely failed over-determine success — that is, they bring more influence strategies into play than they might assume would be the minimum required for success.  They leave nothing to chance.

Master the Six Sources of Influence

Motivation Ability
Personal Make the Undesirable
Surpass your Limits
Social Harness peer Pressure Find Strength
in Numbers
Structural Design Rewards and
Demand Accountability
Change the


Chapter 4 – Make the Undesirable Desirable
p.84: How can you get people (yourself or others) to do things they currently find loathsome, boring, insulting, or painful?

Make Pain Pleasurable
p.87: If we can find a way to change the feeling associated with a vital behavior, we can make compulsive bad habits feel as disgusting as going to bed with gritty teeth.

Create New Experiences
p.89 [People] imagine what a new behavior will feel like, and their predictions come up negative.  Unfortunately, they’re often wrong.

Get People to Try It
p.89: The average human being is actually quite bad at predicting what he or she should do in order to be happier, and this inability to predict keeps people from, well, being happier.

Dr. Daniel Gilbert’s research suggests that the added income [of new job] is far less likely to produce an increase in happiness than the addition of a regular walk.

Make it a Game
p.92: It turns out that one of the keys to motivation lies in a force just barely outside the activity itself.  It lies in the mastery of ever-more challenging goals.  Mihalyi Csikszentmihali … “flow” or the felling of enjoyment that comes from losing yourself in an engrossing activity.  … Almost any activity can be made engaging if it involves reasonably challenging goals and clear, frequent feedback.  These are the elements that turn a chore into something that feels more like a game.

Connect to a Person’s Sense of Self
p.93 [People] make the activity an issue of personal significance. … They set high standards of who they’ll be, high enough to create a worthy challenge, and then they work hard to become that very person.

p.94: The most powerful incentive known to humankind is our own evaluation of our behavior and accomplishments.  When people are able to meet their personal standards, they feel validated and fulfilled.  They also feel as if they’re living up to the image of who they want to be.

Engage in Moral Thinking
p.95: Often humans react to their immediate environment as if they were on autopilot.  They don’t pause to consider how their immediate choices reflect their ideals, values, or moral codes.  … It is the lack of thought, not the presence of thought, that enables our bad behavior.

p.96: When facing the harsh demands of the moment, instead of acting on our values and principles, we react to our emotions by shortening our vision and focusing on detail.  We act against our own values in a way that we ourselves would otherwise abhor.  If only we could step away from the moment and take a look at the big picture.

p.97: Bandura’s research has uncovered four processes that allow individuals to act in ways that are clearly disconnected from their moral compass.  These strategies that transform us into amoral agents include moral justification, dehumanization, minimizing, and displacing responsibility.

Connect Behavior to Moral Values
p.98-99: When we inspect our actions from a moral perspective, we’re able to see consequences and connections that otherwise remain blocked from our view.  … [Dr. Stanton] Peele has found that individuals who learn how to reconnect their distant but real values to their current behavior can overcome the most addictive of habits.

Spotlight Human consequences
p.101: When we see less of the humanity of another person or when we disrespect people, it becomes easy for us to dismiss our actions toward them.  We’re nice to good people, but bad people, well, they deserve whatever we give them.

p.103: Moral disengagement always accompanies political, combative, and self-centered behavior.  You’ll see this kind of routine moral disengagement in the form of narrow labels (“bean counters,” “gear heads,” “corporate,” “the field,” “them,” and “they”) used to dehumanize other individuals or groups.  To reengage people morally … drop labels and substitute names.

Win Hearts by Honoring Choice
p.104: When you attempt to help others reconnect their behaviors to their long-term values or moral anchors, you often come off as preachy or controlling and generate a great deal of resistance. … Nevertheless, these offenders have been able to withstand the shrill cry to return to the right path because they aren’t accidentally disengaged from their moral compass; they’re purposefully disengaged.

p.105: [William Miller] began to explore the opposite [of confrontation].  What if the counselor merely helped patients figure out what they wanted rather than what their fed-up friends wanted?  … the instant you stop trying to impose your agenda on others, you eliminate the fight for control.  You sidestep irrelevant battles over whose view of the world is correct.   … This discovery led Miller to develop an influence method called motivational interviewing.

p.106: What William Miller teaches us is that a change of heart can’t be imposed; it can only be chosen.  People are capable of making enormous sacrifices when their actions are anchored in their own values.  On the other hand, they’ll resist compulsion on pain of death.  The difference between sacrifice and punishment is not the amount of pain, but the amount of choice.

Chapter 5 – Surpass Your Limits
There’s Hope for Everyone
Much of Will is Skill
Walter Mischel & the Marshmallow tests, Delayed Gratification

Much of Prowess is Practice
p.120: Every time a boss expresses a half-baked, even dangerous, idea and subordinates bite their tongues for fear of being chastised, good ideas remain a secret and teams make bad decisions.  Speaking up to an authority figure requires skill, and skill requires practice.

p.121: Many of the profound and persistent problems we face stem more from a lack of skill (which in turn stems from a lack of deliberate practice) than from a genetic curse, a lack of courage, or a character flaw.  … Learn how to practice the right actions, and you can master everything from withstanding the temptation of chocolate to holding an awkward discussion with your boss.

Perfect Complex Skills
p.121: Not all practice is good practice.
p.121: According to Dr. Anders] Ericsson, improvement is related not just to practice, but to a particular kind of practice — something Ericsson calls deliberate practice.  Ericsson has found that no matter the field of expertise, when it comes to elite status, there is no correlation whatsoever between time n the profession and performance levels.

Demand Full Attention for Brief Intervals
Provide Immediate Feedback Against a Clear Standard
p.123: The number of hours one spends practicing a skill is far less important than receiving clear and frequent feedback against a known standard.

p.125: Rarely do business schools and management faculties think of leadership as a performance art.  Faculty members typically teach leaders how to think, not how to act.

Break Mastery into Mini Goals
p.126: Influence masters have long known the importance of setting clear and achievable goals. … As part of this focus on specific levels of achievement, top performers set their goals to improve behaviors or processes rather than outcomes.

p.127: When fear dominates people’s expectations, not only do you have to improve their actual skill, but you have to take special care to ensure that their expectations of success grow right along with their actual ability.

Dr. Bandura points out that to encourage people to attempt something they fear, you must provide rapid positive feedback that builds self confidence.  You achieve this by providing short-term, specific, easy, and low-stakes goals that specify the exact steps a person should take.  Take complex tasks and make them simple; long tasks and make them short; vague tasks and make them specific; and high-stakes tasks and make them risk free.

Prepare for Setbacks; Build In Resilience
p.128: If subjects experience only successes early on, then failures can quickly discourage them.  A short history of easy successes can create a false expectation that not much effort is required.  Then if subjects run into a problem, they become discouraged.

p.129: Sometimes failure signals the need to change strategies or tactics.  But failure should rarely signal that we’ll never be able to succeed and drive us to pray for serenity.

Build Emotional Skills
p.129: The first of these two operating modalities is referred to by contemporary theorists as our “hot” or “go” system. … As our “go” system kicks in and blood flows out of the brain and towards our arms and legs, we start relying on a much smaller part of our brain (the amygdala) to take over the job of “thinking.”
p.130: The second system, known as the “cool” or “know” system, serves us well during more stable times.  It’s emotionally neutral, runs off the frontal lobe, and is designed for higher-level cognitive processing.
p.132: If only we could learn how to wrestle control away from the amygdala when it’s kicking in hard at the wrong time.  Then perhaps we could be ruled by reason, and not let passion take charge.

P.133: Subjects who focused on the tasks as opposed to the rewards delayed longer.  In contrast, individuals who glanced at the rewards most often were the lease persistent.  Researchers also found that distracting individuals by having them focus on the cost of failure, or thinking bad thoughts, did not enhance delay. … The far better strategy was to transform the difficult into the easy, the aversive into the pleasant and the boring into the interesting.

p.135: Demand more from yourself than the achievement levels you reach after minimal effort.  Instead, set aside time to study and practice new and more vital behaviors.
p.136: Develop greater proficiency at deliberate practice as well as the ability to manage your emotions, and you significantly increase the chances for turning vital behaviors into vital habits.

Chapter 6 – Peer Pressure
p.138: The ridicule and praise,  acceptance and rejection, approval and disapproval of our fellow beings can do more to assist or destroy our change efforts than almost any other source.

The Power
p.141: Savvy people know how to tap into this enormous source of influence in hundreds of different ways.  They do so by following one simple principle.  They ensure that people feel praised, emotionally supported, and encouraged by those around them — every time they enact vital behaviors.  similarly, they take steps to ensure that people feel discouraged or even socially sanctioned when choosing unhealthy behaviors.

The Power of One
p.142: Stanley Milgram clearly demonstrated that one respected individual can create conditions that compel ordinary citizens to act in curious, if not unhealthy, ways [compliance studies re: shocking a learner]. … One variable more than any other affected how people behaved: The presence of one more person.  … It just took one person to turn the tide of compliance.

p.144: When a respected individual attempts a vital behavior and succeeds, this one act alone can go further in motivating others to change than almost any other source of influence.  But take note, the living examples of other humans exert power only to the extend that the person who is modeling the vital behaviors is truly respected.
cf.: Short Term Wins
p.145: Some individuals can exert a great deal of influence on one another; others can’t.  So how do you know who’s who?

The Power of The Right One
p.145: If you want to influence change, it’s essential that you engage the chain of command.  Smart influences spend a disproportionate amount of time with the formal leaders to ensure that the leaders are using their social influence to encourage vital behaviors.

p. 147: Dr. Everett Rogers … spent … his career learning what happens to innovations as they move through a social system.  He wanted to learn why some ideas are adopted and others aren’t.  He also wanted to uncover why certain individuals are far more influential in encouraging people to embrace an innovation than others. … As he poured over the data, he was startled at how many great ideas simply die.

p.148: Rogers was shocked to discover that the merit of an idea did not predict its adoption rate.  What predicted whether an innovation was widely accepted or not was whether a specific group of people embraced it.  Period. …  The key to getting the majority of any population to adopt a vital behavior is to find out who these innovators are and avoid them like the plague.  If they embrace your new idea, it will surely die.
The second group to try an innovation is made up of what Rogers termed “early adopters.”  Many early adopters are what are commonly known as opinion leaders.  … The rest of the population — over 85% — will not adopt the new practices until opinion leaders do.

p.149: “The message,” Hopkins reports, “is no more important than the messenger.”

Enlist Social Support
p.150: If you preside over a company with 10,000 employees, your job is to find the 500 or so opinion leaders who are the key to everyone else.  Spend disproportionate time with them.  Listen to their concerns.  Build trust with them.  Be open to their ideas.  Rely on them to share you ideas, and you’ll gain a source of influence unlike any other.

p.152:Since opinion leaders are employees who are most admired and connected to others in the organization, simply ask people to make a list of the employees who they believe are the most influential and respected.

Enlist Social Support to Influence You
p.152: Research demonstrates that those who simply receive e-mails from a friend checking on their progress with smoking cessation, dieting, or exercise do a much better job of sticking with their plans than those who receive no inquiries. … If you make a commitment and then share it with friends, you’re far more likely to follow through than if you simply make your commitment to yourself.  … We crave the acceptance and admiration of those we admire.  So co-opt the power of social support for your own benefit.

Become an Opinion Leader Yourself
p.153:People, including children, pay attention to individuals who possess two important qualities.  First, these people are viewed as knowledgeable about the issue at hand. … Second, opinion leaders are viewed as trustworthy.  They don’t merely know a great deal about a certain area, but they also have other people’s best interests in mind.

p.154: But being respected and trusted isn’t enough.  Opinion leaders are also generous with their time. … Factors that contribute to employees’ satisfaction in their relationship with their boss, we found that the best predictor was frequency of interaction.

The Power of Everyone
p.154: Changes in behavior must be preceded by changes in the public discourse.

Make the Undiscussables Discussable  cf.: The Skilled Facilitator
p.159: It is silence about the norm of silence that sustains the norm.  If you can’t talk about it, it will never go away.

p.159: “Silence Fails” – … explored the colossal failure rates of most high-stakes projects, programs, and initiatives.  … In all, roughly 90% of major projects violate their own schedule, budget, or quality standards. … Most agreed that the expression that best described the state of their current project was “a slow motion train wreck.” … Fewer than one in ten respondents said that it was politically acceptable to speak openly about what was going wrong.

p.160: When it came to productivity, we had been routinely told that speaking up about the issue in public would make people angry.  We were told that talking about the problem would cast us in a bad light and only make the problem worse. … To confront this attack on open dialogue, we should have gathered data that shined light on the problem.  Then we should have presented these data to the leaders of the organization as well as to the opinion leaders of the workforce.  Next we should have discussed the inevitable consequence of not changing.
… the norm that mandated silence had to change first.  The same is true in all examples we’ve shared — from hospital-transmitted disease to project management failures.  When you make the undiscussable discussable, you openly embrace rather than fight the power of social influence.

p.163: Create an environment where formal and informal leaders relentlessly encourage vital behaviors and skillfully confront negative behaviors.  When this happens, people make personal transformations that are hard to believe.

p.164: Don Berwick: “Credit is infinitely divisible.  Give it away every chance you get, and there’s always plenty left for you.”

When a required behavior is difficult or unpopular or possibly even questionable, it often takes the support of “the right one” — and opinion leader — to propel people to embrace an innovation.  Learn how to identify and co-opt these important people.  Ignore opinion leaders at your own peril.

p.;165: As it turns out, it’s the desire to be accepted, respected, and connected that really pulls at human heart strings.  And as far as the rest of us are concerned — managers, parents, and coaches — learn how to co-opt this awesome power, and you can change just about anything.

Chapter 7 – Find Strength in Numbers


Primary Goals sits at the intersection of three core ideas about communication:
  • Leaders create vision by communicating a compelling future to their teams.
  • Teams create success based on how effectively the communicate and coordinate with each other.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures are successful only when they communicate value to people with a concern that the business can take care of
In all cases, it’s about Conversations for Committed Results.  That’s our Primary Goal.  



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