Obama… Fortune Teller?

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.


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