This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

How to be a better influencer

I have the tendency to use the word "sales" too often. Whenever someone is trying to influence me, whether it's to actually part with real money, or whether they're selling me on the idea of trying to eat fish, I see usually see some pretty awful sales. And if you're that person, who hates it when I ask you what you're "selling", even it's an idea, I'm going to start calling you an influencer. And hopefully you'll get better at it.

In a long life, I've rarely met anyone who hasn't tried to influence me, at least for something. If you mention the word "fish" to me, I jump, because I've had so many people try to get me to eat fish, or even catch fish. They've beat on me, they've argued with me, they've threatened me. No matter how many times I say no, many people just keep trying to sell me, I mean influence me, to eat fish. I don't like fish. No. No. The smell makes me ill and eating fish makes me vomit. Please stop.

Look at yourself. You may argue that you aren't selling anything, but you probably are. And it can be a wonderful thing, like influencing people to be kind to animals. It could be a terrible thing, like bugging people like me to eat fish. And as human beings who care about things, it's perfectly natural to want to influence people, and make them come around to your point of view.

So that's where you start. Look in the mirror and admit that you would like to be an influencer. You would like people to listen to you and then say, "Wow, that's right". If you've done sales, you already know that that is one of the best feelings in the world, and that it goes beyond any money, or commission. It's a kick, and I've done a lot of it. My job was the toughest sales job there is, I was a teacher.

Being a good influencer is exactly like being a good teacher. You have to know your subject, and be passionate about it. You have to be willing to continue trying to influence in the face of people who are screaming "no" at you in different ways, some by not paying attention, some by simply saying "no". I learned a long time ago that people rarely use the word "no" - they say "maybe later", or "I'll think about it" or whatever. And sometimes you have to accept no. You have to accept no from me on the subject of fish - it makes me physically ill. Sorry, but it's true. You aren't going to sell, uh, I mean influence, 100% of the people you meet. In fact, most of the people will just have a "No sale" sign pop up in their eyes.

The world needs influencers. The world needs people who care, people who can patiently explain, people who are willing to take the time. Done right it's the best thing that you can do to make the world better. So if I promise not to use the word "sales" anymore, will you look into a course in the principles of sales? There are books out there, and online courses, and whatever. Go ahead and call yourself an influencer, but learn to do it better, and learn sales technique.

How to move forward with your career, and your life

If lately you've been pondering your life, your career, your role in the world, everything, I think that I can help. And the secret is to do something. Anything, just move forward.

That doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot. As a teacher I would see some students just absolutely frozen. If they did anything, they thought up creative ways to do nothing. And I understand. Sometimes you're just so stuck that you feel that you can't move. But, unfortunately, the world continues to move, even if you don't. Other people pursue their dreams, and they don't even see you standing back there - you might as well be wall paper.

But I can see you. I saw a lot of people like that when I did the art classes. Sometimes it would just be a few, and sometimes it was only one. I saw you. And I wanted to help then, and I still do.

I'm not really a teacher, I'm a coach. And a coach encourages you to get in the game, stop sitting on the bench. Do something, at least stand up. And I never, ever gave up on anyone, not even you, not even when you seemed more like a statue than a human being. Ah ha! I saw you move - so you must be alive!

The administration where I taught encouraged a concept called "persistence". That's the opposite of attrition, where people are systemically cut out - persistence is no one is left behind. And there were times when I felt sorry for the students who really just wanted to quit and go home. They were encouraged to persist. I would often wish that someone could just put them out of their misery, but I couldn't. Eventually these people who just stop attending, and they wouldn't return phone calls from the school, which was sad.

I was never an administrator, so I had no idea that any student would actually be told that they should probably leave the school, but I guess it happened on rare occasions. I'm glad that I wasn't there when those things happened, but because it must have been devastating to actually hear someone say "sorry, it's not working out" because we all worked so hard for student persistence.

If you're waiting for someone to tell you what to do, even me, I'd say, ignore them. Go take a step in a direction that feels right to you. Sharpen a pencil, fill out a form, go visit your local Community College, I don't know. I'm not supposed to be telling you what to do, remember!

Now prove to me that you're not a statue, move!