“The Art of Influence” – Chris Widener

If you’re in marketing, marketing your business, your brand, or yourself you may have heard of a nifty little book, “The Art of Influence”, by Chris Widener. It’s a parable of a young MBA graduate who is just starting out his post-graduate journey. As a gift, his grandmother gives him the weekend under the wing of a billionaire (yes, grandma’s nanny years and connections come in very handy!).

Marcus Drake (recent grad) and Bobby Gold (billionaire) begin their lesson-filled weekend on figuring out the difference between persuasion vs. influence.

Persuasion vs. Influence

The book draws a clear distinction between persuasion and influence from the start.

Persuasion is based on using technique, such as compelling presentations and winning arguments in order to move people to action.

Influence, on the other hand, is different not because you don’t want people to take action (in business and life, of course you do), it’s about having a deeper impact than just a momentary call to action. Influence is how you control yourself propelling action, not a momentary action but one that is repeated time and again.

“The kind of person you are is what determines your influence, which, in turn, is what determines your success.”

When you are on a mission to persuade only, you may get a one time deal or a one time buy. However, an influential person is much more powerful. An influential person changes someone’s thoughts, thus, impacting action. Sounds pretty hypnotic, doesn’t it? Wish you had that kind of influence on others? Well, according to ‘Bobby Gold’, the only way to influence others is by first changing yourself.

“You can’t decide if you are going to be a leader. You can only decide if you will become the type of person others want to follow.”

Becoming a Person of Influence

‘Bobby Gold’ goes on to explain that we don’t really control our experiences, nor our initial circumstances as well – but, we can control how we react to these experiences. The reaction phase, how people deal with their experiences is what separates the leaders from non-leaders.

Choose to work hard and get better = leader
Choose to sit idle and let things stay the same or get worse = non-leader

The essential message here is that bad things happen to everyone, how one chooses to react to these situations is what will determine the kind of person you become. [Assuming, of course, the circumstance for change is ripe.]

“There are those who make a significant impact, and those who don’t. There are those who design their lives and live them exactly as they choose, and those who drift aimlessly through life, allowing others to choose for them.”

Which one are you?

“Golden Rules of Influence”

Golden Rule of Influence #1: “Live a life of undivided integrity”.

There is so much to be said about integrity, but it boils down to one word: trust. If people don’t trust you, they don’t want to be around you and they certainly will not buy your product or service. After all, how do they know you’re not ripping them off? Build your foundation for life and business on honesty, and know that you have the best start possible.

Golden Rule of Influence # 2:
“Always Demonstrate a Positive Attitude”.

Who doesn’t want to be around a ray of sunshine all the time? Sarcasm aside, it really does take a lot of effort to stay positive in difficult situations. However, staying positive is a powerful attribute and not everyone can do it; which is why those who can are effective leaders.

When you choose to stay positive you are ultimately

“choosing to see the world in a positive way. You are choosing to believe that something good can come from negative circumstances and that the future will be better than the present. That’s the kind of attitude people want to follow.”

Golden Rule of Influence # 3: “Consider Other People’s Interests as More Important than Your Own”.

It’s pretty easy to think of all the things you want, it’s a little harder to think outside of yourself and consider others. However, when you’re able to move beyond yourself and genuinely consider other peoples interests you have a new scope of insight to work with. Try it.

Golden Rule of Influence #4: “Dont Settle for Anything Less than Excellence”

Anyone can pursue mediocrity, it is the few who pursue excellence. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort to be excellent and those who are self-disciplined enough and go after excellence will find that people are naturally attracted to their positivity.

“…I have based my life and work around seven areas of excellence: physical appearance, emotional health, intellectual growth, spiritual depth, relationships, financial success, and charitable giving.”

These may all seem common sense places to invest yourself in, but let’s be honest, you may have forgotten about a few. Intellectual growth is one of my favorites;

“…so keep hitting the books. The competition won’t be, and you will see the difference.”

Too often, people put reading on the back burner (it’s hard to read when you have 20 million other things to do!), but if you’re in a competitive field, or if you just want to revolutionize your life, read!

This has been a particularly long review, I know – but if you’re interested in grasping influence, what is mentioned here is only a fraction of the useful nuggets you’ll find in this easy-to-read, yet essential little book.

Photo via Dreamstime


  1. This was NOT a long review. It was an interesting and thoughtful review! Thank you for taking the time to write it. You are an exceptional writer, so keep at it!

    Regarding the content of the post: reading is critical. And I like Gold’s principles he lives under, except for “financial success.” I know this is a business book, but I know lots of successful people who do not make a lot of money, which points to this: I guess it’s how you define success.

    Nice article!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Demian!

    I do agree that you do not need a lot of money to be happy, but money does make it easier to be influential. Granted, people can be influential with their words by supporting and guiding others which you can’t put a price on, but if you want to make tangible change in your own life and the life of others money is essential; it’s not the entire equation for happiness or influence, but it’s a necessary evil as you mention work to be!

    1. Yes, definitely. It’s a pretty easy read with some practical advice you can apply not only in business but in other areas of your life as well.

  3. Excellent points from not only the review but also post-comments. It is very interesting indeed that to each individual the financial success vs influential capacity ratio is so drastically different in opinion. Money is not the necessary ingrediant to great influence as some may suspect. It’s not wealth that increases your influence people, it’s great influence that increases your financial success.

    Again to the eye of the beholder, financial success could be very small and humble means to stay afloat while to someone else the ambition is much higher with loftier goals. Either way, financial success (or stability or security) allows the stress that we all feel from time to time, to drift away and give us the flexibity to focus on more important things, like increasing our influence through our becoming someone we would be passionate to follow.

    With that, the sky is endless to the level of goals and financial freedom we can then obtain.


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