The one true currency

How to become truly influential within your field – and why it pays to do so

Imagine you rub a genie’s lamp and he grants you a wish. You say: “I wish I had the power to be so influential that anything I ask for will happen.” Then you walk into a Ferrari dealership and request to have the keys to a new 458 Italia Spider. They comply and you drive off. You ask Richard Branson for free first-class travel on Virgin Atlantic any time you need it. He says OK. You talk to Roman Abramovich and he lets you use his mega-yacht any time you like.

Very shortly, you forget about needing money or assets or wealth. You have this new power of influence so all those things don’t matter anymore. Anything you want, you can have. What this demonstrates is that wealth is all about influence. The reason we like gold, silver or trusted currency is because it makes up for the influence we don’t have.

Because the Ferrari dealer isn’t influenced by our pleas for an indefinite test drive, we need to use the influence of money. A well-known, wealthy friend of mine once said to me: “When I was poor I couldn’t afford to eat out. Now I’m rich no-one will let me pay for my dinner!” This once again demonstrates that influence is as good as money.

It’s also worth asking the question: “Do people have money because they are influential, or do people who are influential end up with the money?”

Let’s imagine a wealthy media mogul who’s so great at doing deals he ends up with a lot of newspapers and TV stations. His influence goes through the roof and his ability to finance more successful deals goes through the roof too. He eventually leaves a vast fortune to his un-influential son. The son is not good at doing deals or negotiating. When the son wants something, he’s learned that he can just pay for it. Over time he pays too much for deal after deal and the money leaves.

Where does the money go? It goes to all the influential people who the son tried to pay.

Money moves to people with high influence. Influence and money go hand in hand.

When Tiger Woods was exposed in a sex scandal he lost hundreds of millions in endorsement income from his sponsors. He lost this money because his ability to influence had dropped significantly. As a high-performing athlete with a clean-cut image he was very influential, embroiled in a scandal involving deceit and lies he was not.

What does this all mean?

Firstly, if you want more money or more choices, you first need to become more influential (I’m talking real influence, not just word games or body language tricks). Secondly, your power to influence will mean you actually need less money anyway, because the things you want or need will also be provided by virtue of your influence.

Wealth is nothing more than stored up influence. If a unit of wealth (be it gold, shares, cash or art) ever loses its power to influence another person, it ceases to be valuable. In a survival situation, the value of a bar of gold bullion would fall through the floor. It wouldn’t buy a Swiss army knife or a box of matches from a fellow survivor. You would find your gold has no power to influence and hence it isn’t worth much. Once again, we see that wealth is merely a measure of influence.

The importance of knowing this is that, if you’re looking to accumulate wealth, you must focus less on the money and more on being a genuinely influential person.

Four ways to become more influential:

Produce value: Put a score on the board; create products that deliver great value; provide services that matter; help people; get stuff done. Be sure that you’re focused on value creation not just showing up.

Communicate powerfully: Be immaculate with your word. Keep your promises, and over-deliver on what you said you would do. Get good at being able to create strong agreements and to make a clear point.

Become incredibly well-connected: Mix with great people and expand your network of influential people. Host events, connect people, reach out and make contact. Follow up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Show genuine interest in others and look for ways to help.

Develop visionary thinking: Position yourself as a thought leader in your field. Find out what trends are coming, solve the problems of tomorrow, make predictions and share cutting-edge ideas.

Daniel Priestley is a successful entrepreneur, event producer and author of Become a Key Person of Influence. 


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