The Highlight Of My Career

I have to say, it was the highlight of my career.

The Backstory

My relationship with Dr. Robert Cialdini goes back more than 20 years. I was introduced to his work when a coworker, Nancy Edwards, gave a video to me and my boss, John Petrucci. It was Cialdini presenting at Stanford’s Breakfast Briefings.

I was immediately intrigued with Cialdini’s presentation for three reasons. First, the psychology he spoke about, I immediately knew was the foundation of selling. Second, I was intrigued that everything he shared was rooted in research. And third, I appreciated his stance on ethics, that you could influence people in non-manipulative ways.

I begin to use the video around the company, showing it then having conversations about its application. During that time, I signed up for Stanford’s marketing because they appeared to have many other helpful resources.

One day, while browsing one of their marketing flyers, a big picture of Dr. Cialdini caught my eye. Above it, in bold letters, it read, “Best Seller!” Below the headline, again in bold letters it said, “Call it Influence, Persuasion, or even Manipulation.”

How could they have done that? Cialdini was so clear in his presentation about non-manipulative ways to move people to action. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Stanford’s misstep needed to be addressed. I emailed Stanford and wrote, “I don’t know anyone who wants to be manipulated, nor do I know anyone who wants to become a good manipulator. That one word cannot be helping your sales, but it’s probably really hurting.”

Connecting with Cialdini

I never heard from Stanford, but sometime later my phone rang at work. It was a representative from Dr. Cialdini’s office. She called to thank me on Cialdini’s behalf, letting me know Stanford was changing the marketing of his materials because of my email.

Before we hung up, she told me that Cialdini traveled around the world to speak about influence and if my company ever needed a guest speaker, she’d be happy to share more. I replied, “I sit next to the woman who plans our events and books our speakers. Would you like to talk with her?”

As fate would have it, in the summer of 2004 Dr. Cialdini was in Columbus, Ohio several times to address the insurance agents that represented our company. It was during that time that I went through his two-day Principles of Persuasion workshop. After three years of patience and persistence, I finally got the green light from my boss to go back to Arizona to get certified in Cialdini’s method of influence.

The rest is history. More than five years ago I left my corporate job to pursue Influence PEOPLE full time. It’s been awesome!

Influence Amplified

All of that led to last Friday, when I had the opportunity to do two presentations at Influence Amplified. The conference was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Dr. Cialdini releasing his New York Times best-selling book, Influence. This gave me the opportunity to present in front of Dr. Cialdini, his wife Bobette, and his longtime friend and business partner, Dr. Gregory Neidert.

It was the highlight of my career because it was a chance for me to give back, to show Cialdini how I’d absorbed his work over the last 20 years, and how I was using it to positively influence people. Not only have I been able to help people improve their professional lives, but in many cases, and more importantly, their personal lives.

When I opened my presentation, I thanked Dr. Cialdini and let him know that his work changed the course of my career, but more importantly, the course of my life. It changed how I relate to my wife, how we raised our daughter, and how I interact with people inside and outside of work. It was a very emotional moment for me.

During my influential coaching presentation, I shared stories about opportunities I’ve had to positively influence people I’ve coached and worked with. As I reflected on those people, and the changes in their lives, I got emotional several more times.

Displaying emotion, especially on stage, has never been easy for me. However, I’ve learned to not push it away. The more I embrace the emotions in the moment, I’ve come to see that people appreciate the authenticity.

In addition to giving back to Dr. Cialdini, it was gratifying because I’ve never had so many people come up to me after a presentation to thank me and tell me how much it moved them.

Professional and Personal Success

During my career, it’s always been my hope to make a difference for people professionally and personally. That’s been part of my personal mission statement for more than 30 years. When it comes to Influence PEOPLE, my “Why” is to use ethical influence to help people enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.

Having the opportunity to impact people last Friday, and to thank Dr. Cialdini, was truly the highlight of my career.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE and a faculty member at the Cialdini Institute. An author, TEDx presenter, international speaker, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer, is a business parable designed to teach you how to use influence in everyday situations.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by over 700,000 people around the world and his TEDx Talk on pre-suasion has more than a million views!

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