Want to know what goes on the mind of a highly influential person?

Curious about what prompts their persuasiveness?

Here is a comprehensive list of the questions that regularly float through influential minds. These are the touchstones influential people use to find their persuasive hooks and hot-buttons.



We’ve all heard the phrase that everyone is tuned into their favorite radio station WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? (Though I’m curious if that analogy will be understood by millennials. Everything now is pretty much podcasts and streaming music isn’t it? … But I digress.)

Instead of “what’s in it for me?”, influencers regularly ask instead, what’s in it for them?

How can your mark benefit from your suggestion? How will they be better? Consider all the potential layers of improvement that you could bring them. How will they…

  • Get more money
  • Increase their free time
  • Have more energy
  • Hear fewer complaints from co-workers or significant other
  • Elevate their status
  • Get recognition from someone they care about
  • Advance their career
  • Live with less stress
  • Attain more power and control
  • Have more fulfilling relationships
  • Enjoy their work more

The list can go on and on.

Always tune in to what they will get if they take action based on your suggestion.

This is how influential leaders delegate. Not every order given has to attach to, “what’s in it for you.” But when you notice a dip in motivation, a stagnation in productivity, or a reluctance to execute, then it’s time to come back to this influential question, “What’s in it for them? If you notice these symptoms, then the likely cause is that they have lost the why behind the work.

I’ve written about the most powerful word you can use when giving suggestions or assigning work. To make your recommendations more powerful and palatable to your mark, make sure you follow the power word, “because”, with the answer to, “what’s in it for them?”



Looking for connections is an influencers full-time mission.

They look for ways to connect with their mark. Then, they look for connections between the mark’s influential triggers and the influencer’s connections.

Being aware of the connections between people is equally important.

Your mark won’t always be right in front of you. Sometimes, the person who you’d ultimately like to influence (get funding from, sell a product to, bring on to your team) isn’t directly connected to you. You might have a few degrees of separation.

The loftier your influential goals are, the more you’ll have a string of marks that need to be persuaded along the way to your ultimate goal. This is why the observe, connect, influence process never ends. And why it should always be a part of your conscious conversations. You might need to observe one person and build a connection, in hopes to influence them to make an introduction to your true mark.

The bottom line is: always nurture the relationships that you have.

Don’t take your current connections for granted. If you call out of the clear blue asking for important introductions, you’re not likely to get it. You lost the rapport. But, if you sustain a strong connection, then your ultimate influential goal is much easier to accomplish.



What are their hobbies? What do they read? What shows do they like? What do they do in their past time?

I speak a lot on business influence, and one key thing to remember is that business influence is often achieved through personal interests. Meaning, non-business related discussions.

Talking with someone about their interests is a key component of the “connect” phase.

Now, let’s dispel one myth around this connecting-through-shared-interests.

People make the mistake of believing that they have to share the same interests as their mark in order to create rapport. While it is an easier path to connection, it doesn’t mean you are S.O.L. if your mark is an avid golfer and you don’t see the merit behind hitting a small white ball all over highly manicured grounds. (And who can blame you?)

If you don’t know much about their interests, that’s ok. You still can bond over them.

The objective isn’t for you to talk about how much you like something; the objective is to get them to talk about how much they like something.

As they speak on their love of horse riding, mountain biking, or poker, they experience all the happy chemicals by talking about their pleasure anchor (aka hobbies and interests). And by just getting the opportunity to express their joy to someone, they then feel connected to you.

There are common desires and tendencies that you can use to your advantage in this scenario. 1) we like to be seen as experts in the areas of our profession and personal interest. 2) we love to sway people to our own opinions.

Understanding these two principles means that you have a clear path to connection, even if you don’t particularly care about origami, or cosplay, or botany, or…whatever.

You can seek to learn. Be curious. Inquire about their interest. Delve into the specifics as well as the reasons why they enjoy it. You’ll be amazed at how asking about one innocuous detail can lead into a monologue about the hidden beauty behind coin collecting…or whatever.

And, be sure to perk up your ears when they go into a monologue. Don’t tune it out. While they speak, you will pick up valuable influential intelligence that you can leverage at a later date.



Influencers are always aware of who is already influencing their mark. Everyone has a circle of friends or colleagues whose opinion has more weight than others. Sometimes your path to influencing your mark begins by first influencing one of those people first.



Knowing who your mark looks up to can help you use a few influential tactics.

First, your mark’s role models provide key insight into their values.

Second, who they look up to in an embodiment of who your mark aspires to be. Which means, that when you bring up their role model, you are essentially calling upon their higher self. And their role model is a perfect shortcut way to have that discussion.



Influencers operate within the perceived reality of their marks’. So, understanding how your mark sees themselves is critical in how you frame your influential discussion. If your mark sees themselves as inherently lazy, then you will point out how your idea is super easy and takes little to no energy to accomplish. If you mark sees themselves as a pessimist, then you will present your idea with contingency plans for all worst case scenarios.

Listen carefully for when your mark self-labels. “I’m just someone who…” “I am a…” Anything that begins with the phrase “I am” is important information about their own self-perception.



tumblr_mbmtizVwUW1rvg8j5o1_500Not everyone has a Moriarty, but we do have people that we don’t like and people who we hope to never be like. An enemy isn’t necessarily someone your mark goes to battle with. It’s more like someone who your mark just can’t resist voicing their resentment towards.

Why is this important?

Difficult relationships are usually the result of mismatching values. So, take note of whatever your mark can’t stand about their enemy. Your mark has the opposite values of their nemesis.

Second, just as your mark’s role model can be a benchmark for what your mark is moving towards, their enemy can be a benchmark for what they are moving away from. If your mark is taking a path that is detrimental, you could point out how that same path is something that their enemy might do. You’ll quickly see your mark change route after that realization.

These are just a few of the questions that influencers ask themselves when they consider how to persuade their marks. The answers to these questions make your suggestions more compelling and instantly more persuasive.

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