The most powerful form of influence

November 5, 2014

648341_1379364303.1241What do you think most people would do if they found $40,000 on the street?  This is exactly what happened last September to Glen James, a homeless Boston man who found a backpack with over $40,000 in it.  James flagged down a police car and handed in the backpack.  The police located the distraught owner, an overseas student and reunited him with his backpack.  For his actions, James received a citation at Boston police headquarters and was widely praised.  But wait – there’s more!

James’s story compelled Ethan Whittington, a 27-year-old from Virginia – a complete stranger who had never been to Boston – to launch a fund for James.  In four hours, Whittington’s campaign raised $3,152, but in a few days, the tally soared to almost $100,000.  Whittington said he planned to keep the fund open for as long as people wanted to give.

Whittington said, “It’s just inspiring to see somebody do an honourable thing like that.  If everybody could have the humanity that he did that day, it’d be a special thing.”
And the money keeps growing as James’ actions move people all over America.  Whittington thinks a home is now a reasonable goal for James, a softly spoken man in his mid-50s who has been living on the streets for five years.  Glen James changed his life simply by being who he was: an honest human being.

This is the most powerful form of influence: influence not by doing, but by being.  And it’s so hard.  I know I often let out a precautionary shout in many situations, particularly with my family ‘Do as I say, not as I do!’ And in leadership this is also our daily challenge.

So who are you being?  Please comment, I love hearing from you.


Dry facts and data fade from memory over time, but an engaging story is difficult to forget. In Hooked, communication and business storytelling experts Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu use real-world examples and proven, effective techniques to teach the skill of great business storytelling. They explain what good storytelling is, why business leaders need to learn it, how to create effective stories, and how to practice for perfection.

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