If you are reading this sentence you have just witnessed the birth of the People of Influence blog. Welcome! You have also witnessed the birth of our new venture People of Influence. Both these debuts coincide with the literal birth of our beautiful little boy Evan ten weeks ago.
My fellow co-founder of People of Influence is my wife Michelle Rushton. She also happens to be the co-creator of this delightful little boy.
After years of planning, social science research, testing, presenting and refinement we have launched a business dedicated to helping our clients master the mysterious and difficult art of influence. And it suddenly occurred to us that this innocent and intoxicatingly gorgeous little man has arrived – ready-made – as an influence master!
Here we are, two previously independent and autonomous adults responding like delighted servants to his every gurgle. We spend hours staring at him, attempting to coax a smile. When he finally does smile we yelp for joy and call the other one over ‘Michelle! Michelle! Look! How good is this guy?! He’s awesome!’ And the moment he cries we leap into action trying anything to make him happy. Imagine an adult with this sort of power!
Scientific research supports the view that babies are influence machines. Research conducted by neuroscientist Morten Kringelbach at the University of Oxford reveals that when pictures of newborns are viewed under MEG (magnetoencephalography) the area of the brain that encodes for rewarding stimuli responds within one-seventh of a second. According to Kringelbach we have a built in propensity to ‘tag’ infants’ faces as special. No wonder their smiles are so powerful.
But the inverse emotion is also just as powerful. According to Kevin Dutton PhD1, research shows that the cry of a pre-verbal baby is the most effective sound known to humans for evoking anxiety, distress and overwhelming urges to ‘help’. The cry will raise a mother’s heart rate and cortisol levels almost instantly. What’s more, Kirstin Sander of the Liebnitz Institute for Neurobiology in Germany, using fMRI scans on adults, found that the nuances of a baby’s cry are so complex that it is nigh impossible to replicate its persuasive powers with any artificially-produced sound.
In short, little Evan is an influence master. The question is, are you? Are you one of those rare people others are compelled to follow? One of those special individuals who commands instant and undying respect and admiration? Who, with a moment’s notice, can take to a stage, a lectern, a board meeting, a sales call or a difficult conversation and skilfully control the outcome of the situation? Evan’s tools are smiling and crying. What is your skill-set?
Our mission is to help you master the art and science of influence. We hope to achieve this by populating this blog with interesting, useful and enjoyable stories, studies and videos. We want to help you become People of Influence. From the bottom of my heart I truly hope that something you read or watch on this site will contribute in some small way to your success at work and in life. And I hope it is enjoyable.
But if it sucks, please let me know. In a private email.
To your success,
1 For more on the persuasive power of babies, refer to Chapter 2 of the book ‘Flipnosis’ by Kevin Dutton PhD.
Want more? Check out The Smiling Ox Paradox®, our flagship program about influence and the science of becoming one of those rare people that others are compelled to follow.