The Influencer – A Final Sneak Peek

My third book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is on track for a December release, available in paperback and Kindle just in time for Christmas! I’ve been working with my book coach, Barbara Grassey, to pull together all of the final details. Writing is easy for me, but all the steps necessary to get the book into the final format and available for sale, that’s where I need help. If you think you have a book in you, contact Barbara!

As I’ve noted before, the book is a business parable, following the life of John Andrews, an ordinary young man born into a typical American middle class family. While there’s nothing extraordinary about John, his upbringing, or education, he becomes an extraordinary influencer because of what he learns from peers, coaches, clients, and mentors along the journey of life. The good news is, all that John learns, and implements, is available for each of us.

I hope you enjoy this final sneak peek chapter before the book is available next month.

Delayed Flights

John’s relationship with Abigail was getting more serious. She was excited for him as he prepared to take over for Duane. Before his first solo trip she took him to dinner to celebrate and surprised John by inviting her parents to join them. She wanted to make it a special night for him.

They met at Pasquale’s, a small, family owned, Italian restaurant in a trendy neighborhood on the outskirts of Dallas. It looked like a hole in the wall but had a reputation as having the best lasagna and pizza in the metro area. 

Abigail’s father was a marketing manager for a large publishing company and knew taking ownership of sales for an entire region was a big career step. After his toast and well wishes they had a delightful evening.

It was Monday morning and John arrived at the airport a few hours before his scheduled flight to Phoenix. He had a late afternoon meeting planned then dinner with another client. Shortly after arriving he began to notice flight delays popping up on the board. Apparently there were storms in the midwest that were delaying flights out of St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and other major airports. Before long he saw his flight was delayed by two hours. That meant no afternoon meeting and, if it were delayed any further, dinner would have to be scrapped. Unfortunately he would not be able to reschedule either appointment because the next three days were packed with client meetings and dinners.

He decided he should see what options were available so he got in line at the ticket counter. He’d not been flying long enough to feel the frustration that frequent travelers were experiencing so he was a bit surprised by many reactions. The majority of travelers let their frustration get the best of them and they became very demanding with the airline employees. “You don’t understand. I have to be there by 2:00 p.m.!” one traveler practically shouted. 

John felt bad for the airline employees because he rightly understood the weather was out of their control. By the time he got to the counter customer service reps were noticeably frustrated and it was seeping out towards the travelers. Everyone was on edge so he paused and thought about what he could do. He recalled Ben’s sage advice, “Like the people you meet. Everyone has some good in them. Find the good and pay a genuine compliment.”

He asked Colleen, the ticketing agent, “I don’t travel too much. Does this happen often?” 

She was taken back by the question and said, “Doesn’t matter how often it happens. Whenever it does, it ruins everyone’s day.”

“Sorry to hear that. I’ve been watching the interactions and feel bad for all of you. I know you can’t control the weather and you’re doing the best you can,” he said in an empathetic tone.

Colleen looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you. I really appreciate that. I wish more travelers would acknowledge what you just shared. How can I help you?”

“I’m scheduled to go to Phoenix in a couple of hours. I have an afternoon meeting and dinner. If I make them that would be great, but if not, I’m sure my clients will understand. What are my options?” John asked.

Feeling less stressed and able to think more clearly, Colleen began looking for options. She didn’t mind doing a little extra work for kind people. “Mr. Andrews, I appreciate your understanding of the situation. I see we have an open seat on a flight that leaves in 30 minutes. I can get you on that flight but your checked bag won’t make it to Phoenix till late afternoon or early evening. If you’re okay with that I can make the switch.”

“That would be awesome. I can do without the bag if I can make my client meetings. Thank you so much!” he said to her.

Colleen smiled, feeling good about making a customer happy in the midst of all the chaos. As she worked on changing the reservation and printing the ticket she asked John, “Do you go to Phoenix much?”

“With my job I’ll be going there at least once a month,” he said.

“Tell you what; I’m usually at this gate most days. If you need any travel help, come find me and I’ll take care of you,” she told him.

“Thanks Colleen. It will be nice to see a friendly face when I come to the airport,” he said as he grabbed his ticket and headed to his new departure gate. 

Here were more valuable lessons: Don’t react to situations, make the choice to respond. He recognized reacting based on emotion, as most passengers were doing, usually inflamed stressful situations and worked against them. Matching negative emotions in stressful situations was like pouring gas on a fire hoping to put it out. 

“Look for the good and pay a genuine compliment if you want to make a friend,” went from good advice to a practical reality because he made a new friend with Colleen, someone who would prove to be very helpful in the near future. He decided to take the compliment a step further and sent an email to the airlines to let them know what a good job Colleen had done during a stressful situation. While he was still in Phoenix he received an email from the airline in reply to his note:

Dear Mr. Andrews,

We value your business and appreciate that you took time to tell us about your experience with Colleen a few days ago. We strive to provide the kind of service that will keep customers happy and wanting to fly with us. 

It’s apparent Colleen did just that. When we learn about employees who delight customers we make sure to recognize them. In Colleen’s case we shared the email you wrote and will reward her with an extra day off with pay.

Again, thank you for taking the time to recognize Colleen. It meant a lot to her and to us.


Kim Floyd

Vice President, Customer Service

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CMCT

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An authorTEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.

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