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Mastering The Art of Influence to Gain Positive Impact and Leadership Prowess

Unlock the secrets of impactful leadership with The Art of Influence by Chris Widener. In this insightful review, delve into the transformative strategies for gaining influence and discover the power words that propel leaders toward unparalleled success.

Ready to elevate your leadership impact? Dive into the full review to uncover the dynamic techniques presented in The Art of Influence. Empower yourself with the skills to gain influence and shape a positive trajectory for your leadership journey.

Mastering The Art of Influence to Gain Positive Impact and Leadership Prowess

The Art of Influence is a compelling guide by Chris Widener that unveils the keys to gaining influence in various aspects of life. The book provides a strategic roadmap for readers to enhance their leadership capabilities and make a positive impact. With practical insights and motivational wisdom, Widener empowers individuals to harness the art of influence for personal and professional growth.

Chris Widener’s The Art of Influence stands as a beacon for those aspiring to master the nuances of gaining influence. The author seamlessly combines motivational storytelling with actionable strategies, creating a compelling narrative that captivates and educates. This book is a valuable resource for individuals looking to elevate their leadership skills and leave a lasting positive impact.


Leadership, Personal Development, Communication Skills, Influence, Success Strategies, Motivational, Self-Help, Business, Professional Growth, Leadership Psychology, Management

Introduction: Discover the secret to becoming an influential leader

The Art of Influence (2008) delivers timeless principles for becoming an influential person of admirable character and skills who leads through service. It outlines how pursuing excellence will transform anyone into a leader others naturally respect, engage, and follow.

One evening, the Drake family came together to celebrate. Marcus Drake was graduating from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and felt like he was ready to take on the world.

Later that night, Marcus opened his gifts: travel kits, pens, stationery, and an envelope from Grandma. Marcus tore the envelope open and found a card inside. On it was a handwritten phone number and a name: Bobby Gold – the tenth richest person in America. Grandma deliberately hadn’t told the ambitious Marcus that she’d been Bobby Gold’s beloved babysitter, decades earlier. And she’d arranged for Marcus to spend a few days with the renowned billionaire.

Wait a minute … Bobby Gold? You’re probably wondering why you’ve never heard of him. Well, that’s because he doesn’t exist. There’s a lot you can learn from him though, if you want to become the ultimate leader.

This summary is a parable that will help you transform into the most effective and admired leader possible. We’ll use it to explore the four golden rules of influence. But first, let’s take a look at the nature of influence itself.

Why influence matters

Heart pounding with excitement, Marcus Drake made the call. To his surprise, the flamboyant billionaire promised to pick him up from the local airport and fly him to New York. At the arranged time, Bobby Gold arrived in his private luxury jet. He gave Marcus a tour of the plane, then got down to business.

Bobby started by asking questions. What makes a person stand out, especially when they have the same education or skills as their peers? And how can they distinguish themselves if they already work as hard as possible? Having stirred Marcus’s curiosity, the billionaire revealed the secret.

Mastering influence is crucial for success, both in business and in life generally. It’s the art of personal growth, not just persuasion. When you persuade, you’re making an argument for why people should follow you. But your aim should be to become someone people are attracted to. Mere hard work is insufficient. You must focus daily on managing perceptions by being your authentic self.

Bobby explained that shaping yourself into an admirable person who inspires trust is essential for influence, because people want to deal with someone they can rely on. And so, with the foundation for success laid, Bobby moved to his next principle.

Invest in your character

Fresh out of business school, Marcus Drake was learning life skills on a private jet from someone who hadn’t attended college. Bobby Gold had dropped out when he saw the opportunity to invest in tech. And he’d never looked back.

Bobby gave Marcus a pen and paper, and asked him to write down the things he looked for in every leader. Bobby’s list included honesty, passion, vision, fairness, decisiveness, good listening skills, courage, optimism, the ability to communicate, and the ability to empower.

Bobby pointed out that most of the items on Marcus’s list had to do with character. That’s because gaining influence requires developing both a strong character and key skills. Character traits like honesty, passion, empowerment, fairness, courage, and positivity are crucial. So are skills like vision, decisiveness, listening, and communication. This combination is what shapes a great leader who people trust and follow. But, as Bobby advised Marcus,  character matters more than skills.

Skills can be learned in workshops but character is built through life’s journey. To attract people with certain traits, exemplify those yourself. Want to attract passionate people? Be passionate. Want visionaries on your team? Be visionary.

Skills, on the other hand, allow you to translate character into action and impact. And character ensures that skills are used ethically and for good. Together, these two aspects of leadership empower you to live a life of purpose and principle.

Stay inspired by things that represent cherished values like hope, freedom, and opportunity. Use these values as fuel to keep improving daily. And make it your life’s work to keep shaping your character and skills, since each reinforces the other.

Are you a fisher or a hunter?

A glorious view welcomed Marcus Drake and Bobby Gold as they flew into New York at night. After landing, they jumped into a luxury SUV, with Bobby’s security team following them in another.

Bobby wanted to know if Marcus was a fisherman or a hunter. Marcus proudly said he’d always been a hunter.

But Bobby knew this wasn’t something to boast about. Gaining influence requires adopting a fishing mindset, rather than a hunting one. The hunter chases and pressures prey. But the fisherman attracts what they desire by being patient and using the right bait.

To do that successfully you’ll have to master four fisherman skills.

First, believe in abundance. When one deal falls through, stay confident that the sea holds countless more opportunities. There’s always more fish in the sea as they say, so maintain an optimistic perspective.

Second, only fish where the fish are biting. Don’t waste time on the utterly disinterested. Focus where interest is highest. But don’t completely ignore those who aren’t buying now. It’s good to build a relationship with them. They’ll eventually need your services as their appetites grow and evolve. As Bobby pointed out, Marcus was currently single and probably didn’t see the value in life insurance yet, but he’d likely change his mind if he ever had children.

Third, develop an attractive bait. And what’s the best bait in life? It’s not your goods or services. It’s you! Your bait is your character and skills. Build admirable qualities that appeal to people’s values. Strengthen abilities that help you connect. Becoming quality bait will attract more fish.

Finally, tailor your bait to suit the fish you want to attract. Some fish prefer flies, others want minnows. Every prospect has unique preferences. Do your research and adapt. First impressions especially matter, so present yourself well. Use the right approach and presentation for each fish, and remember that people are not buying the product. They’re buying you.

Avoid aggressive hunting techniques like manipulation or pressure selling. They damage long-term relationships and reputations. Patience and preparation are key to ongoing success. Nurture contacts before urgent needs arise, and you’ll be remembered when the timing is right. Do this persistently, and influence will blossom.

Now, it was time for Bobby to reveal the four golden rules of influence.

Rule number one: Live a life of undivided integrity

Bobby Gold didn’t waste any time getting Marcus Drake in on the action. The billionaire took his new protégé to explore a deal the next day – the acquisition of a company valued at $50 million.

As they sat in the boardroom of the company, an assistant came in to remind the CFO about a parcel he’d forgotten to send the day before. The CFO told the assistant to mail the parcel and tell the receiver it had been sent yesterday.

Bobby asked Marcus to review the company’s figures, then the two visitors left to contemplate the acquisition. Bobby remarked that the science was right. The numbers looked good, but it was the art  the company’s way of doing business – that concerned him.

If the CFO lied about minor details, why wouldn’t he lie about bigger issues? That small lie about the parcel had cost the CFO the $50 million deal. By pulling the plug on it, Bobby had revealed a golden rule of business.

Living with complete integrity is the first rule of influence. Integrity means being whole and undivided in your ethics.

Lies divide you into separate identities, destroying trust – and relationships depend on trust. In leadership, sales, and life, trust requires integrity. Even small deceptions create suspicion and doubt.

Mistakes happen, but it’s important to always strive for improvement. Address cracks in the structure you’re building before they bring down every wall. Keep improving through self-awareness and feedback. Integrity attracts influence more than anything else. Passion and logic aren’t enough without integrity, if you want to establish a firm foundation.

Integrity aligns with the fishing mindset. People take bait from those with honesty and principles, and even minor unethical behavior makes people question larger truthfulness. A divided life repels, rather than draws in.

With that golden rule revealed, Bobby told Marcus it was time for some baseball.

Rule number two: Always demonstrate a positive attitude

Bobby Gold wasn’t immune to billionaire eccentricities, so he’d bought himself his ultimate luxury – a major league baseball team from Chicago. The team hadn’t been playing well, but Bobby had hired Tom Martin, the coach with the best win record in the league.

Bobby and Marcus flew from New York to Chicago, arriving just in time to chat with the coach before a game. In the legendary coach’s office, Bobby let Tom Martin reveal the next important lesson.

Exuding contagious optimism is the second golden rule of influence. Positivity uplifts and attracts followers. Pessimism repels. Make the choice to be hopeful, especially during challenges.

Coach Martin talked about how he’d transformed the floundering players by encouraging them and making them feel good. He put them in a state where they started asking what they could learn from setbacks, instead of wondering why misfortune chose them. Regret keeps you stuck, hope propels you forward, Coach Martin explained.

The root word of optimism is opt, implying everyone has a choice. You can opt to find the positive in situations. Never accept negativity. Choose to see potential, rather than limitations.

Effective leaders help people envision their highest possibilities. An upbeat, hopeful outlook draws followers. Watch what you tell yourself, and be careful what you say to others. Berating yourself breeds low confidence and poor performance. Positivity fosters positive outcomes.

Make positivity an everyday choice, Coach Martin told Marcus, just as an assistant coach popped in to say it was time for the game. Marcus had the thrilling privilege of watching from the owner’s suite. But in the middle of the game, Bobby signaled it was time to move on to the third golden rule.

Rule number three: Consider other people’s interests over your own

The third golden rule lay beneath the glitz of the baseball game, with the people who made the whole matchday operations run.

Bobby went about chatting with his employees like he had all the time in the world for them. He talked to ushers about their partners and peanut salespeople about their kids. He tried to find out how the maintenance people were going to spend their weekends but said nothing about work. His interactions went beyond the daily grind.

Building strong relationships by caring about others’ interests is key to gaining influence, Bobby told Marcus. It makes people trust and like you. And people will eagerly do business with someone who shows genuine concern for them.

Interact with everyone, regardless of rank. Learn about employees’ lives, families, and passions. Get to know them as people. Let them discuss their priorities and enthusiasms. People enjoy talking about themselves. Listening builds bonds and rapport. When you care about staff as people, they’ll treat customers well in turn.

Beyond being interested in others, share your own perspective. But shine the spotlight on others, first and foremost. People are drawn to those who uplift them.

When you focus on enriching others’ lives, influence naturally flows. Learn what matters to them. Help them achieve it. Show real concern for their well-being. Prioritize their needs above yours. Do this consistently, and all your relationships will thrive.

Rule number four: Don’t settle for anything less than excellence

Back In New York, Bobby took Marcus to see Paula Diamond, the ninth richest person in America. Marcus couldn’t believe it! He was going to spend time with not one billionaire but two! Like he did with the coach, Bobby let Paula Diamond reveal the next lesson.

Pursuing excellence in everything is the fourth rule for gaining influence. People admire and follow those dedicated to high standards. Opt for excellence rather than mediocrity.

Apply this across every domain, Paula advised Marcus. Excel physically through fitness and health; emotionally through managing stress; intellectually through continuous learning; and spiritually by contemplating life’s big questions and making peace with them.

Excel relationally by investing in family and friends. They alone love you back – work can’t. Excel financially through ethical means and generous giving. And excel at uplifting others through donations of your time, money, and expertise.

Excellence is a magnet. People want to improve their lives by associating with peak performers. Demonstrate excellence in all you do, and you’ll draw others to you.

Set high expectations for yourself and your team. If you see a scrap of paper on the ground, don’t just leave it there. Pick it up yourself and the next person will learn from your example. Great leaders attend to the little things. This motivates people to match your standards.

Strive to maintain a work-life balance. Aim for excellence at work, but also prioritize relationships beyond the office. Take time off and allow your employees to do the same. No success is worth losing your loved ones, Paula explained. Combine these good habits with excellence and good character to build lasting influence.

That concluded Marcus’s whirlwind education. Bobby had done what he could to share his wisdom. The rest was up to Marcus, just like it’s up to you.


The best way to achieve enduring success is by becoming a person of influence. And gaining that influence requires continuous commitment to developing your character, skills, and perceptions.

Approach influencing others with a patient, trust-building mindset, rather than being aggressive. Attract others with your strong character and impressive skills. Maintain optimism in the face of setbacks, and avoid manipulation and pressure tactics that damage relationships. Success comes from carefully nurturing contacts over time. And remember to uphold integrity above all else. Lies destroy trust and opportunities, so safeguard your credibility.

Strive for excellence across all life domains through high standards and work-life balance. Master the art of influence, and success will follow.

About the Author

Chris Widener

Nina Norman is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Nina has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. She is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Nina lives in London, England with her husband and two children. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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