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Stories about Influence

Hsi Nao: From Patriot to Turncoat in 6 Easy Steps

Origin: From the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Cialdini

Lesson: Influence requires that you start small and build

Character: Sgt. Freedman

Synopsis: This is the story of how Chinese Communists during the Korean War successfully "brainwashed" American soldiers into becoming communists without using torture.

Of Turkeys and Merchants

Origin: From the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Cialdini

Lesson: Influence requires activating the automated tape-recorders playing within all humans.

Character: Jewelry store owner

Synopsis: When vacationers wouldn't purchase her turqouise jewelry, this store owner turned to a classic weapon of influence.

 

Selling Watergate

Origin: From the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Cialdini

Lesson: The Rejection-Then-Retreat influence tactic

Character: G. Gordon Liddy

Synopsis: The man who proposed the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon break in to the DNC at Watergate had actually proposed far more than just a break in. He was initially rejected. But by using this technique he sold political disaster to Nixon's staff.

 

The Thing to Do

Origin: From the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Cialdini

Lesson: The secret of mass influence is not a charismatic leader, it’s social proof and reciprocity

Character: Jim Jones and Diana Lewis

Synopsis: 910 men women and children drank from a vat of poison. They did it not because of a charismatic leader. They did it because of a powerful force: social proof. 

 

The Benjamin Franklin Method of Winning Friends and Influencing People

Origin: From the book Mastery by Robert Greene

Lesson: Influence requires activating the automated tape-recorders playing within all humans 

Character: Benjamin Franklin

Synopsis:This is the famous story of how Benjamin Franklin won over his first political rival by borrowing the man’s favorite book. 

 

My Yak is Better than Yours

Origin: From the book Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Seek to understand what people truly value, not just what you would like them to value.

Character: Greg Mortenson

Synopsis: Greg built a school in the desert of Afghanistan. All the children’s parents were supposed to flock to him. After all, the village elders told him that building a school would be a great thing for them. But did Greg really listen to them?

 

A Job Wanted Ad Saves 28 Lives

Origin: From the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek

 Lesson: Use the explorers’ method to hire worthy: find the people who believe what you believe

Character: Ernest Shackleton

Synopsis: Shackleton’s goal as an explorer was to be the first to reach the southernmost tip of Antarctica, which is the most dangerous place on the planet. He failed. His survival story began with placing the right advertisement for sailors.

 

A Life and Death Game of Chess

Origin: From the book The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Patiently learn the decision making process of your organization

Character: Nelson Mandela

Synopsis: He was prisoner 46664, and his greatest nemesis and tormentor was Colonel Piet Badenhorst. After decades of seeking to understand the decision making process at his prison, Nelson Mandela would maneuver into position the greatest chess play of all time—and won.

 

One Speech. One Month. One Revolution.

 

Origin: From the book The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Speak your audience's language and ask for one small step

Character: George Washington

Synopsis: December 31st, 1776. The Continental army is on the verge of collapse. Thus America’s hopes for independence teeter on the edge of oblivion. George Washington wins over his men with a single speech that would change the world.

 

The Power of the Messenger

Origin: From the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell 

Lesson: The success of your message depends heavily on the likability and social connections of your messenger

Character: Paul Revere

Synopsis: On that famous midnight ride, Paul Revere was not the only messenger warning every middlesex village and farm. But he was the only one who succeeded, because there was something very special about Paul Revere.

 

The Elements of Genius

Origin: From the book The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Use negotiation tactics to turn an adversary to an ally

Character: Robert Oppenheimer

 Synopsis: As the Manhattan project almost fell to pieces Robert Oppenheimer used his genius to influence the most important scientist on his staff.

 

The Battery of Men Without Fear

Origin: From the book The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Motivate by speaking to people’s deepest values

Character: Napoleon Bonaparte

Synopsis: To win the revolution, fame, and eventual emperorship, Napoleon first had to win over his men. The way to the hearts was through their honor.

 

The Princeton Challenge

Origin: From the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Lesson: Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic

Character: Tim Ferriss 

Synopsis: Every year Tim Ferriss has challenged the Princeton Graduates to do one seemingly impossible thing. Can you do it?

 

The Oppenheimer Fire

Origin: From the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell 

Lesson: Neither genius nor talent is sufficient for success; you must light a fire in the minds of men.

Character: Robert Oppenheimer

Synopsis: It is easy to throw around the word “genius,” particularly after a man has achieved great renown. Yet, Oppenheimer had a genius for more than science. His genius was influencing men.

 

Escape the Chickens

Origin: From the book Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Always try to be a blessing to other people

Character: James Herr

Synopsis: James Herr was lonely on his parents’ chicken farm. But everything would change when we paid less than $2,000 to buy a fledgling potato chip company.