Sometimes it feels good to revisit our childhood. I had that experience the day after Thanksgiving as I watched “The Wizard of Oz” again. I did so because I enjoy the movie and the memories it brings back. I also felt like I might learn something from the great and powerful Oz. I wasn’t disappointed!
Dorothy and her friends – the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow – make their way to the Land of Oz because they all need something from the Wizard. The Tin Man wants a heart, the Cowardly Lion is looking for courage and the Scarecrow is hoping to get a brain.
When it comes to persuasion we’ll focus on the Scarecrow. The Wizard tells him all he really needs is a diploma. Once the Scarecrow has it in hand all of a sudden he believes he’s smart. See for yourself in the YouTube video clip below.
Now we all know someone handing you a diploma doesn’t make you a smart anymore than wearing a black belt to work makes you a martial arts master.
Even earning both of those prestigious things – a college diploma or a black belt in some martial art – doesn’t certify you as a genius or the next Bruce Lee.
However, each does make you better off. I can only assume someone who earned a college degree is more intelligent for having gone through the four-year process. As a result of their hard work and earning a diploma they’re more likely to land a good job and enjoy success as compared to those who don’t have a college degree.
Likewise, people who’ve earned a black belt should be much more capable of defending themselves should the need arise.
But there’s another benefit. Having a diploma, black belt or some other certification can make you more persuasive. And the more difficult or rare your certification, the more impressive (i.e., persuasive) it is. That’s the principle of authority in operation.
For example, did you know in 2005 more than 85% of United States citizens had a high school diploma but only 22% had a bachelor’s degree? Of course, getting a degree from a prestigious university will carry more weight than a more run of the mill school. After all, if you hear someone has a degree from Harvard or Yale you’re impressed, aren’t you? The exclusivity of a degree from a prestigious school is the principle of scarcity at work. And the more education you pursue (MBA, doctorate, etc.) the more impact it has.
When it comes to a martial arts black belt there are no official population stats. Having taken taekwondo for many years I can tell you very few people get involved in the martial arts and the vast majority don’t put in the years it requires to earn a black belt. When you hear people have earned a second degree, third degree or more, you know they’ve been practicing their craft for many, many years. The more degrees, the more impressive from an authority and scarcity standpoint.
So when people know you’re a college graduate, especially from a prestigious university, that gives you more credibility but a key is that people know what your credentials are before you attempt to persuade them. This is why speakers should always have a bio prepared for a third party to introduce them before they present.
The same effect can be had prior to important meetings with a newer client. Having a bio prepared for someone (an associate of the person you’ll meet, your boss, a mutual friend, etc.) to send via email on your behalf gets your credibility established before the meeting.
Here’s a powerful tip – you write the bio or email. That’s right, you write the bio or email then give it to the third party and tell them they can wordsmith it so it sounds like them. Never, ever, ever leave it up to the other person to write this on your behalf because they don’t know all you’ve done and accomplished. As you write the email it may feel like you’re bragging but it will sound perfectly natural coming from the other person.
Another area you want to make sure is current is LinkedIn. Does your LinkedIn profile show your degree? How about your awards and certificates? Do you mention any in your summery? LinkedIn is your online resume and people are checking it out so make sure it’s the best reflection possible of you and your accomplishments.
So here’s your take away. Work hard, do the things most people aren’t willing to do, and see them through to completion. Once you’ve done that and earned your diploma, certificate, award or some other acknowledgement of your accomplishment, make sure people know about it before you try to persuade. It’s a small thing but it can make a big difference when it comes to persuasion.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.