Box of Crayons Blog


4 Fundamental Ways to Increase Your Influence

Have you seen the Fast Company Influence Project? They’re conducting an experiment to see who’s really influential on line, and they’ve got quite a funky set up.

  • In fact, you could help me participate in the project by just clicking on this link. If you wanted to help even more, you could then follow the “spread Michael’s influence” button and see where it takes you…

In our Coaching for Great Work programs and the other workshops we run, we do touch on influence. The reason is the more senior you become, the less control you have over things and the more you’re required to use influence to get things done. And influence is derived from your relationships and understanding the undercurrents of power and control.

Now, I’m not sure if I actually have much influence. But I’d trace whatever I might have to these four strategies.

1. Invite participation

One of the coolest things I’ve done for a while has been the Great Work Interview series. The sophisticated program behind getting such an amazing range of people to participate is that I decide who I’d like to interview. And then invite them.

Truth is, I have about a 85% success rate. Nearly everyone says – sure, I’d love to. Some say, my apologies but not now. And a tiny, tiny, tiny number don’t respond.

Reach up and out. Make a specific request. Invite them into something cool. Be persistent.

2. Know who matters

I was just speaking to [alert! Name-dropping ahead!] Tom Peters last week, and he was talking about organizational politics. His point was that politics is the way business gets done. I made some comment about just how critical relationships were, and he corrected me – no, not relationships. Politics.

His point – politics gets a bad rap in organizations, as if it was somehow dirty or manipulative. But in fact, it’s just the way things work. Politics means influence. And you get to do that for Good (or Evil if you really wish).

Good news – the legendary “16th Map” from Do More Great Work is available at And it will help you figure out who matters.

3. Build

I’ve done a lot of tiny things to build my brand. Hundreds of teleclasses. Many interviews. Assorted articles. Six years of newsletters. Phone calls up the wazoo.

I think of it like silt gathering at the bottom of a lake. Slowly but surely building up a layer of…sludge.

OK, perhaps not the best metaphor. Let me try that again.

It’s like a pointillist painting.

Many many many dots of colour, and when you step back you see a picture.

4. Be a gazillionaire

OK, I’m not an -onaire of any description and it’s likely that you’re not one either.

So let’s cross this off the list, and replace it with my favourite three Great Work attributes. Focus. Courage. Resilience. Know where to put your attention. Be brave and start something. Keep going even when it gets tough.

Don’t take my word for it

Smart people thinking out loud about influence.

The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret.
-Salvador Dali

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
-Henry Adams

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
-George Eliot

I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you’ve got.
-Andrew Young

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Mark Twain

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One Response to 4 Fundamental Ways to Increase Your Influence

  • Randy Bosch

    Not much difference between FC’s appeal to blatant self-promotion and popularity than how the Major League Baseball All-Star Team members are voted upon and elected.

    True influence is grass-roots and based upon actions & results, not upon commercial polling to gin up subscribers.

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