Obama… Fortune Teller?

By Framing, Persuasion in Politics, Using Stories 3 Comments

Dear Persuader,

Apparently, someone went to Indonesia and interviewed some of President Obama’s old friends.

The Times relates a story from one of his old friends that some might say presaged the future.

One time, recalled the elder son, Slamet Januadi, now 52, Mr. Obama asked a group of boys whether they wanted to grow up to be president, a soldier or a businessman. A president would own nothing while a soldier would possess weapons and a businessmen would have money, the young Obama explained.

Mr. Januadi and his younger brother, both of whom later joined the Indonesian military, said they wanted to become soldiers. Another boy, a future banker, said he would become a businessman.

“Then Barry (Obama) said he would become president and order the soldier to guard him and the businessman to use his money to build him something,” Mr. Januadi said. “We told him, ‘You cheated. You didn’t give us those details.’ “

“But we all became what we said we would,” he said.

Ok, so what do you think? Did this story point to the future?

Here are some persuasion points.

1. If you stick with something long enough, you greatly enhance the probability of succeeding.

2. You have to know what you want. Stated another way, you have to have a target. How will you know when you have succeeded without a goal? Yet another way… you won’t know when you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you are going. President Obama knew early on and kept going until…

3. In persuading others a very simple strategy of continuing to hold strong to what you want can work. But, it doesn’t always work. You may have to retreat to fight again another day. Study Chinese Stratagem #36 for more on this.

4. How you frame something i.e. the details you put in and the ones you leave out, as well as “the angle you are filming from” dramatically effect how your message is received. Give some thought to how you are framing your message.

5. Logic, in it’s various forms, including pseudo, inductive and deductive are potent powers that can boost your ability to get people to do what you want. They can be used as traps for the minds of others. Look at what then young Obama put in, left out and the logic that was sprung on his friends with the close of the story.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is something my Father told me when I was young. “Dad, why did you choose to minor in History? What can you do with that to make money or get work.” He said, “Well son, there’s an old saying that says, people that don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Another way to say it is, knowing a person’s past helps us judge what they might do in the future. Now when you project your thoughts to the future, what do you envision might happen given this story?

Be Sure and let me know your thoughts by posting to the blog.


Choosing Your Own Way

By Framing 4 Comments

Dear Persuader,

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”   – Victor Frankl

Every time I hear someone talk about “thinking outside the box” I chuckle.  Like any cliché or catchphrase, thinking outside the box has been so overused as to become downright irritating.

From business coaches and management consultants to the realms of education, sports, sales and self help… think about how many times you’ve heard someone say in order to succeed or break through to higher levels of achievement, we have to step outside of the boxes that society has dictated we exist in.

Well, what is this box and why is it such a hindrance? And isn’t this just another way to say we need to be creative with the frames that we use to view the world?

I agree in theory with this concept in that persuasion requires a fluid creativity and flexibility that is not easily contained by restrictions and limitations. Business has been reduced to a rigid constant in many respects.  Trying to distill something as broad as business, and something as complex as sales, into easily digestible bites has been something old fashioned sales and marketing trainers have long tried to do.

Every situation is particular, each client or prospect has a very specific key or trigger which our creative sleuthing requires us to uncover. Remaining static is not an option in this quest. We have to have agile, almost yogic minds, able to bend the way our prospect bends, and twist the way our clients twist.

We’re not all cookie cutters. Unfortunately old-fashioned sales training has attempted to turn people into just that. It’s the same thing over and over. Instead, and through the process of learning persuasion, we don’t have boxes to begin with. We have frames, which like a pair of glasses can be changed according to what we’re wearing or whether it’s sunny out. The frames we use are far more powerful in determining our prospect or client’s needs and desires as we work with them.

When we choose how we view the world instead of allowing outside forces to choose for us, we have a magnificent capacity to influence and sell like never before.

Our capacity to frame improves with practice (similar to all things from learning a language, to learning an instrument, to learning yoga or starting an exercise regime). We absolutely do improve the more we try something. There’s no getting around that. The key is to do it. And do it again.

Writing out exercises and repeating language patterns within our given fields, coming up with lists of objections that we commonly get and then reframing the objections before they even come up in conversations with our prospects and clients, studying the thirty six Chinese stratagems as a way to further our internal understanding of what it means to be persuasive. . . these are easy steps to really installing in yourself the ability to persuade powerfully.


The “Freedom” Card

By Framing 1 Comment

Dear Persuader,

I saw a commercial that really struck me as an example of hilariously warped framing. The soundtrack to this commercial is an old Rolling Stones song, ‘I’m Free’. People are frolicking around, as they are in many commercials, and they are spending money they probably don’t have. The commercial is for the Chase Freedom Card.

The frame is this: using this card frees you, liberates you, allows you to do anything you want to do, any time you want to do it. You can buy furniture, go to Paris, order anything you want online, and experience true, unadulterated independence, choice and autonomy if you’d only just apply for this card.

I don’t think they were going for irony, but it struck me immediately. Being in debt is the absolute opposite of being free.  Of course, they’re not saying you’ll be ‘free from debt’ but free to spend as much as your credit line allows and free to possibly default on your payments and in turn, free to pay exorbitant late fees and finance charges.

So, in a sense, I guess you really are free with the Freedom Card.

As a young man I realized the slippery slope that credit cards represented. And I’ll tell you, these years were not about frolicking and laughing about how much cool stuff I was able to get without exchanging cash.

My students are not people who carry enormous amounts of credit card debt, so when I teach it’s almost like I’m preaching to the choir when I say that debt, especially of the credit card variety, is bad debt.

If you’re in a position where you can’t yet afford to frolic using cash, it’s not time yet to frolic. Build up a reserve of ‘F’ you money (which, I realize, is a bit of a naughty term, but truly what it encompasses—the ability to tell any boss or employer “‘F’ you, I’m not going to be subjected to this”—is worth more than any bauble or superfluous item bought on credit with the Freedom Card).

Okay, enough of that lecture. . . My real point here was to discuss the frame around the concept of credit as freedom.  By taking a rather nefarious industry, giving it a fresh coat of paint, giving it a theme song, calling it exactly the opposite of what it is, Chase has tried to reinvent their image from something that imprisons people in debt, to something that gives people the ability to live life to the fullest.

Is it false advertising? I see it as that. Is the frame effective? Are people really buying it? Well, when I mentioned this commercial to one of my employees she told me that she and her husband have a ‘Freedom Card’ and constantly joke about how much freer they feel whenever they’re forced to use it (i.e. emergency vet bills or something unexpected popping up). She told me she recently replaced their television set and put it on the freedom card. ‘At least I’ll have something to watch while I’m not experiencing freedom.’

Frame your way to freedom… or not.  =)


The Power is in the Presentation

By Framing, Persuasion Fundamentals 3 Comments

Hi Persuader,

I want to just mention this basic truism of persuasion: the power is in the presentation. The power is not in the closing.

When I was a young man, I had been in sales for a couple of years and I was excelling quickly so they made me a closer. I would be the guy that when the sales person was missing his or her mark, I would come in and try to still get the sale.

I was good at it. I did really well. But after a couple of months of doing this, I began to see some patterns emerge. It was funny because each of the people that worked for me at the time, I could tell exactly where I would have to shore up their presentation in order to close the deal because I knew what they weren’t doing well.

Further, it seemed like the same people had the same patterns and I always felt, back then, that if they would just do a better job in presenting, my job would be really easy. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be needed nearly as much, if at all.

Most of the time I was able to turn it around; sometimes I couldn’t. The bottom line is, that the power of every single sale is in the presentation, not in your ability to argue or close.

My Magical Objection Mastery series, the 24 doorways into a person’s mind, enables you to persuade before the objections come with huge success in overcoming the objections that will inevitably come up in a person’s mind. Knowing how to do that kind of framing and reframing is incredibly important and there’s nothing finer in my opinion than the Magical Objection Mastery program.

There are some incredibly important characteristics of having really convinced someone. If you’ve done that, closing in the typical sense isn’t really necessary anyway.

Imagine just for a moment that you bought something that you were really happy with and the product or service worked well for you. Identify this in your mind. One you have done this, I want you to go through this list. Did you feel trust towards the person? Are you aware now as you think back about it that you didn’t have much doubt at least about the person? Did you feel an urgency to get what they were trying to sell you?

You probably had a desire for it. I’ll bet you saw the value in the product and you were visualizing owning it and benefiting from it. Buying it was relatively easy.

Now imagine for a moment that you did that and then the person started doing some kind of old fashioned closing techniques. They said, “If I can show you a way to get this and save time, energy and money, I’m sure you would be interested in doing that now wouldn’t you?”

As you hear that statement and you’re contrasting it with the good feelings you had at that time, I’ll bet you that kind of statement doesn’t sit well with you. In fact, it’d feel pretty funny if someone tried to do it to you.

If you’ve been persuasive in what you’ve presented, if you’ve been careful to observe whether or not your prospect is with you the whole way, agreeing with you, if you’ve been continuously linking to their values and more then getting the sale will be really easy.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Spin Cycle

By Framing, Persuasion in Politics 1 Comment

Hi Persuader,

Okay, so not only is there this economic crisis percolating, but there’s an election coming up pretty darn soon. (I wonder if these two things have anything at all to do with each other. )

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to talk about the politician’s most favorite past time: spin. No, I’m not talking about spinning classes you take at the gym. Those are incredibly difficult and the seats are painfully hard, if you ask me. I’m talking about the process of spinning a story (a political debate, a campaign speech, what have you) to put it in the best light for your side. The idea behind spinning is that everybody wants to put their slant on an issue.

I’m going to go back to the salad days just for an example here. I’m going back to a State of the Union address from many years ago — I won’t name names, but I’ll say that the president at the time was talking about what to do with a surplus in the budget. (Wow, that was a long time ago!)

So in this address, he said that for the first time in history, we had an excess in our budget. His plan for the surplus was to “be responsible with the surplus” and not just dump it back into people’s pockets to be spent. He wanted to put it towards Social Security and do the “responsible” thing by investing in American companies and in the American stock market.

Well, what happens after any political event? Well, depending on which network you’re watching either one or both sides make comments and attempt to persuade you to think how they think (as opposed to you thinking for yourself). This presupposes that there are only two sides which I absolutely do not agree with.

After hearing the speech, we then get to hear the “opposing” side put their two cents in. When this surplus existed, we had a democrat as a president and the republican talking heads got up and said something to the effect of, ‘The president says he wants to be responsible and he says that you can’t be responsible. Do you mean to tell me the great citizens of this United States can’t be responsible with their money? The president wants to control you. He wants to control how you spend your money and where you spend it.’

The basics of this are the frame of responsibility and what they do then is they try to knock that frame out and say, control freak, government interference.

Then the democrats come back with their own spin. And if you were going to spin it the other way, you would analyze the emotionally charged words the republican spinner used. How do they knock out control freak/government interference and put back ‘for the people’?

They come back with their argument. One that may work is, well, you could certainly call that being controlling and trying to take control of the money, but by the same token, the citizens of the United States, while great and sovereign, have demonstrated that they’re more willing to spend their money on other things besides long term savings. We’ve got an obligation as a government to deal with these people as they get older. ‘

The “two sides” can go on like that until they turn blue in the face. Who wins? Well, whoever is able to implant in your mind the highest frame and hold it there. And that’s really what this is all about.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

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