Leadership + Influence

How To Become More Influential

Reading between the lines.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

Influence doesn't primarily come from your ability to tell a story well. 

Influence primarily comes from your ability to interpret the stories other people tell themselves. 

Everyone's behavior is driven by the stories they internalize. Sometimes they're inherited stories — true, false, or exaggerated — shaped by previous generations and passed on. Sometimes they're stories we believe to be true simply because everyone else says they are, and we’ve never examined them beyond that. Sometimes they're stories we cling to because they're familiar, though at times toxic and harmful.

Examples of this include:

"I'm this, not that." 

"If I could only have X, I could achieve Y." 

"Their business is more successful because they are married/single/a parent/childless/have investors/have low overhead." 

"I can and should be doing everything. After all, "If you want a job done right, do it yourself."

"The way to land luxury clients is to wear more expensive clothes/change my entire lifestyle/have a pricey studio."

"If I close this part of my business or stop offering certain services in order to strategically focus, people will think it failed, so I need to keep it in order to maintain my reputation."

"I can't price that way until I've been in business for at least ten years. It wouldn't be fair to the industry veterans."

"My first marriage/career/business failed, so now everything I do needs to prove I'm not a failure."

"Having famous clients will make me more important and more accepted by others."

"If only the market here were like New York/Chicago/Los Angeles, I would really be able to thrive." 

"If I have that kind of wedding, my guests will think I'm showing off." 

"If I don't have this kind of wedding, my guests will think I'm not successful." 

Stories may help form a circle of "people who are like me," but the deeper stories that drive daily choices often go unspoken. As such, they make it hard to fit people in a box, a clean target market grouping on a business plan. 

Listening well — being focused more on being interested than interesting, reading between the lines — is perhaps one of the most crucial skills needed to grow as an entrepreneur and certainly the most necessary to growing in influence.

Originally published September 2013

Getting Through a Tough Season In Business

When it seems like everyone’s booked except you.

Event design by    Stefanie Miles   . Photography by    Cameron Clark   .

Event design by Stefanie Miles. Photography by Cameron Clark.

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.

In addition to proposal season being just around the corner, we’re also in the midst of a decline in wedding spending.

While some would like to pretend this isn’t happening, it is a FACT that spending is down industry-wide – around the world, not just in North America – in every wedding budget category with the exception of the Ultra Luxury wedding market (budgets of $500,000+ not including the honeymoon).

If you’re feeling like everyone on Instagram is slammed with work except you, please know this is not the case. It is a weird, unpredictable, difficult time for the majority of wedding pros worldwide. Many of your colleagues are stressed, too, whether they show it publicly or not.

It’s a tough time to be an entrepreneur in the bridal industry, but if you’ve made it this far, you can make it further. I know this because when I think back to when I started my company, I’m amazed at how gutsy I was. 

I’m not the only one. You were amazingly gutsy, too:

Try not to go into engagement season dejected or feeling left behind. No matter how hard this season of business may be, make sure to remind yourself that you can do hard things. You already have. 

A previous version of this post was first published March 2017

Remembering What You Want

Amangiri    event by    Johnny Roxburgh   . Photography by    Cameron Clark   .

Amangiri event by Johnny Roxburgh. Photography by Cameron Clark.

“Discipline is remembering what you want.” – David Campbell

We eat this, not that and commit to exercise because we remember that what we want is to feel strong and healthy.

We say no to certain types of projects and clients because we remember which things we want to have more room to say yes to.

We create personal boundaries surrounding our businesses because we remember that we started our companies in order to have more focused time with family and the people we love the most.

We schedule time for reading/exploring/art museum visits because we remember that we want new ways of thinking and that those will only come by exposure to varied and new ideas.

We schedule time for marketing tasks because we remember that the benefits accumulate like compound interest over time and that it's best not to wait until the referral well is dry to start looking for new life-giving sources.

Discipline isn't a dirty word nor an impossible feat. It is making choices, day by day, hour by hour, that keep in mind what we really wanted in the first place.

Originally published October 2012