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What Does It Take to Be Influential?

No, you can't make a difference by yourself, but everyone that you recruit can help you. If you want to succeed, you have to make people want to spread the word and just asking them to won't work. If you focus on all the tips above, you should be a long way down this road already.
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What does it take to be influential? Let's start off with a little background. I've been thinking a lot about influence lately -- mostly about how to get more of it so that I can do more good in the world. My mission here is to spread the message of risk-taking far and wide. In order to do that, of course, I have to get people to listen. So far, so good. is 5 years old. To date, it's the most successful project I've ever had. Even though has risen quickly in the blog-o-sphere and a lot of people see it as an overnight success, what most don't know is that I've been working online and blogging since early 2009 and writing for even longer.

I've learned a lot over the last couple of years or so about what it takes to gain influence and spread a message. I've learned what works and, of course, what doesn't.

How do you get more people to listen to your important message?

If you want people to listen to you and spread your message, you have to tell them an amazing story. Average just won't do. In most aspects of life, 85% effort will get you close enough, but not when you're trying to change the world. You need to tell a sensational story that people are eager to listen to and you have to live that story, not just talk about it.

That's why Everett Bogue lives with less than 100 things. This is why Adam Baker traveled the world with his wife and toddler. Johnny B. Truant calls this storyselling; you have to sell every idea you have.

Don't just tell it, live it. You can use all the strategies that make up the rest of theGuerrilla Influence Formula, but if you don't do this part first, you won't get anywhere.

Be clear and consistent.

Create a compelling elevator pitch that quickly describes what you're all about and tell it over and over again. Make people want to ask you more about it. Work your pitch into every aspect of what you do online and offline.

Always show complete confidence in yourself even when you're just getting started. People must know that you believe in yourself before they'll believe in you.

Speak to your audience, not yourself.

Every time you say something, think very hard about why you're saying it. Make sure that the message you send will help the people you're talking to, not just yourself.

This seems simple, but it's all too easy to forget. What if I had just announced my product today and didn't offer anything else? Would you have found that useful? Would you still be reading?

Pay attention to your reputation.

Branding is not just for big businesses, it's for you, too. Whether or not you're trying to, you're building a brand with each thing that you do, everything you say, how you look, and who you hang out with. This is what forms your reputation.

Since you're going to establish a brand whether you want to or not, you might as well put some thought into it.

Hold passion & authenticity as guiding principles.

These two qualities go hand in hand, and displaying them is the best chance you have at getting people to pay attention to what you care about. They're also extremely vague and hard to nail down.

Finding your passion does not mean finding what inspires you every single day. For me, no such thing exists. No matter how excited I am about something, I know I'll eventually get temporarily bored. Finding your passion means finding the things that will motivate you to keep digging after you reach that boredom. It's looking at something and saying,"even when I go through a dip and feel like quitting, I'll still be committed to keep going."

Being authentic means looking at yourself as a whole and asking if what you're about to do makes sense. If it doesn't, you can be sure it doesn't make sense to anyone else either.

Focusing constantly on these two things and finding where they intersect is the most important factor there is to creating something people will care about.

Be insanely useful and tell a story.

You can create the most useful "how-to..." instructions in the world, but if you can't insert them into a story that people can visualize and relate to, you'll bore them and they'll leave. If you only tell stories and don't relate them to a lesson that people can apply to their lives, you don't really have a message.
Put those two together, though, and you have something that will engage and help people. That's what draws a crowd.

It's okay to be persuasive.

If you want to change something, you need an agenda. If you want that agenda to be successful, you need to sell it. There's a common sentiment that people don't like to be sold to or persuaded. It's not true. They don't like to be pushed.

People love to be persuaded as long as it fits with their own worldview. When your view conflicts with someone else's, that's when there are problems. By focusing your message and being persuasive, you'll grab the attention of the right people and others will simply move on.

Be uniquely you.

Make people value your message by showing them that you're the only person they can get it from. Focus on your message (even when it gets hard), be authentic, and talk to people like you're having a conversation, not reading a text book.

Be a contrarian and shine a light on the things that everyone agrees on but aren't actually founded.

When you hold uniqueness as a virtue, you can't be copied (at least not successfully), and people will always come to you to get "the original."

Take a stand.

Avoid false dichotomies, but don't be afraid to draw a line in the sand. When you truly believe in something, don't be wishy washy - say what you think.

Yes, you'll turn some people away, but you'll fiercely attract people that agree with you.

Make people want to share your message.

No, you can't make a difference by yourself, but everyone that you recruit can help you. If you want to succeed, you have to make people want to spread the word and just asking them to won't work. If you focus on all the tips above, you should be a long way down this road already.

Solve real problems for real people, make it extremely relatable to everyday life, and nudge people to share it by making it their idea instead of yours.

Tyler Tervooren founded, where he shares research and insights about mastering your psychology by taking smarter risks. For more, join his Smart Riskologist Newsletter.