Where traditional logic intersects emotional intelligence to enhance your communication, relationships, and prosperity.

A free, monthly newsletter The Persuasion Equation for Financial Advisers is based on the writings, popular workshops and expertise of Alex Ramsey, president of LodeStar Universal. Past copies are archived on our web site Copyright 2004 Alex B. Ramsey. All rights reserved.

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The Persuasion Equation this issue is in three sections:

1. Whacking the Dog? Create Urgency without Pressuring People
2. Keeping a CEO: The Real Coca Cola Challenge
3. Public Media Targets: Cosby, Kerry, Edwards


Ever smacked a dog? If you know anything about canine psychology, you know hitting is a short run play. It’s easy to do when angry, but dogs treated this way soon become destructive, aggressive, or cowering. At best, it’s a primitive form of discipline. At worst, it’s abusive. There are more effective ways to make your point.

Everyone realizes business transactions hinge on action. Creating urgency avoids complacency. But there’s a difference between urgency (getting your point across) and pressure (whacking). Unfortunately, many business professionals verbally whack their employees, prospects, and customers, creating pressure rather than urgency.

Pressuring people, like whacking the dog, is a primitive tactic. It’s not the best way to get what you want. Like hitting, it’s a short-term play. Pressure destroys trust and creates resentments. Relationships disintegrate under it. Fear, intimidation, and seduction top the list of pressuring tactics.

Once duped, people quickly wise up. As soon as they find a better option, they avoid doing business with you – or develop nasty habits to cope with the pressure. On the other hand, lollygagging, analysis paralysis, and other forms of procrastination waste valuable opportunities. People with poorly developed communication skills resort to pressure to force their opinions, sales, and actions they want.

As professionals, we have an obligation to make it clear how our ideas are important to others so that they find those ideas in their own best interests.

Exactly what one financial planner recently did not do. Having been introduced by a mutual friend, he suggested we exchange business leads. Not knowing much about him, I asked a few basic, but direct, questions. He apparently didn’t like being questioned. Mr. Charming morphed into Mr. Obnoxious, accusing me of making excuses for not giving him (almost a stranger) leads. He assured me I ought to introduce him to my colleagues “because.” Because, my foot. Feeling pressured, I quickly found a way to disengage.

Here are 5 ways to immediately create urgency and avoid pressure:

  1. Speak the truth without twisting details.
  2. Build your case around issues important to your clients.
  3. Listen to their concerns and considerations.
  4. Make a clear case to clients and prospects. Make sure they know what the consequences for them are if they fail to act.
  5. (Here’s the hardest of all) Once the case is made, detach from the outcome.

Making a strong case, you’ll be surprised how often your results are favorable. With weak logic and assumptions, well, go back to the drawing board. Strengthen your reasoning and stop pressuring people! You are smarter than that.

2. Keeping a CEO: The Real Coca Cola Challenge

Where was Coca Cola’s top brass when the CEO rulebook was handed out – sipping spiked Coca Cola on an Atlanta veranda? How is it possible such a successful company hosts a revolving door of CEOs who don’t “get” one of the basic job requirements of being a CEO?

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Many Chief Execs forget the “C” in CEO also stands for communicate.

A recent Fortune cover story revealed the reason Coke has gone through so many top guys: Smart minds, dumb people skills. Ever since the company’s beloved CEO Roberto C. (there’s that C again) Goizueta died in 1996, successors have struggled to communicate with subordinates and Coke’s powerful board. To everyone’s credit, Coke’s earnings have been good, although stock prices reflect market discomfort. So how do these new CEOs keep fizzing out? Undoubtedly, the answer is complex, but one thing is clear: Each underestimated the importance of good communication with his board of directors and other key players in his sphere.

What can you take away from this? How are you communicating with those who matter most in your world? Are you listening and are you sharing what others need to know to perform effectively, or are you too busy?

3. Current Media Targets and Comments: Cosby, Kerry, Edwards

In recent weeks, the anti-polemic Bill Cosby has turned into a grinch. Wearing a happy face, Presidential candidate John Kerry’s smile is a mile wide since announcing his running mate and giving what may have been the best speech of his life at the Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, excited VP nominee John Edwards upstages his boss from time to time, as when he stepped on top of Kerry’s words all over 60 Minutes. The interesting question is how well will these three popular targets fare over the course of the next few weeks? Here are a few suggestions for each of them:

  • Cosby has made his point. Everyone got it. Time to shut up, and let others either pick up the ball – or not. (See “letting go of the outcome” under pressure above.)
  • Kerry surprised the public and most pundits with his well-delivered and crafted speech at the Democratic Party Convention. Here’s what he needs to improve: The cadence of Kerry’s speech is often grandly rhetorical versus direct. It can sound canned. Notice how he elongates “Iiiiiii did such and such.” The inflection sounds unnatural, at times like a caricature of a politician. His handlers need to fix this if Kerry wants to earn voter trust. (Voice pressure.)
  • John Edwards has to learn to smile his gorgeous smile and keep his mouth shut when his boss is talking. (Energetic pressure.) Even better, smile and let his wife talk. She definitely sells without pressuring.

Score: Two mouths shut and one cadence correction.

(c) 2004 Alex Ramsey. All rights reserved. We encourage sharing The Persuasion Equation for Financial Advisors in whole or in part if copyright and attribution are always included.