The Wisdom of Walk-Ons & Pitch Ninja

One of the great things about writing a book is that it opens doors to meeting interesting people who are willing to share their knowledge and their books with you.  This exchange fosters the kind of peer-to-peer learning that serves as the foundation for The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Success & Growth.  Who we surround ourselves with matters – even if it’s just for a few days!

This past week, I was honored to speak to groups of students at Northwestern (Kellogg) and University of Chicago (Booth) business schools.  In addition to everything I learned from the great questions and insights that came from some of the world’s finest business school students, professors Paul L. Corona (The Wisdom of Walk-Ons) and Mike Moyer (Pitch Ninja) generously shared their books with me.

Paul Corona offers powerful lessons for business and life in his book, The Wisdom of Walk-Ons!  Let’s face it, most of us are walk-ons, not scholarship athletes.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we’re not capable of achieving success beyond measure in our respective fields – if we put our minds to it.  Three well-told, true stories reveal seven strategies we can all apply to our own lives!  Two of the strategies near and dear to my heart are: appreciate your supporters and help others succeed. (By the way, if you ARE a scholarship athlete, there’s something for you here as well).  Enjoy the Foreword by legendary Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden and read a book you won’t be able to put down.

As for Mike Moyer’s, Pitch Ninja, I was privileged not only to read the book, but also I got to see Mike deliver a live presentation about the book, using the incredibly effective pitching and presentation concepts he espouses.  Trust me, when I say they really work.  I’ve witnessed and participated in numerous presentation training programs in my career, and I’ve never come across anything quite like Mike Moyer’s program.  I’m in the process of creating a PowerPoint presentation about the power of peers specific to business leaders, and I can’t wait to implement everything from the Zone Program and my new special Ninja moves, to providing real flow, and of course, using “Magic Hands!”  (Now you have to read the book, right?)  Great stuff!

It’s one thing to promote really good content, yet it’s especially rewarding to support good people.  Paul was kind enough to take me to lunch, and Mike drove me from the University of Chicago campus back to my downtown hotel at the end of the day – proactive acts of kindness that made my week.   You can support them too by buying both books.  You’ll be glad you did!

Iowa and The Pervasive Role of Peer Influence

All you have to do is check out the findings from the Edelman Trust Barometer to understand why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had such strong showings in tonight’s Iowa caucuses.  Consider that Sanders polled at just 7% in Iowa a year ago, and Trump, while a well-known brand, finished second despite lacking the necessary ground game that’s been historically required to finish in the top tier.   Chris Matthews regarded tonight’s caucuses as a resounding defeat for the establishment.  According to Edelman, trust in institutions, whether it’s media, government, business or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), continues to wane.  So it stands to reason that trust in institutional or establishment candidates has taken a hit as well.

What happens when people can’t trust their institutions?  They lean on each other for advice and support.  People will trust the prevailing sentiment of their peers – peers who share a common interest in a candidate during a particular moment in time – more than they will rely on the media or the leadership of either political party.

Young people have spread the word among one another that Bernie is their guy.  They gather in huge numbers at his events and extend their formidable reach on social media.  Up to now, the only question was whether this enthusiasm would translate into votes.  It appears that, at least in Iowa, we have our answer.  As the Sanders campaign enters the New Hampshire primary, they do so with a new bounce in their step.  Trump’s followers don’t share a specific age demographic, so much as they are bound by a common anger at nuanced policies, the gridlock of institutional politics, and a landscape littered with political correctness – especially when it comes across as disingenuous.  2016 is not the year for the “contrived candidate.”

The most recent Edelman survey showed that “trust is rising in the elite or ‘informed public’ group – those with at least a college education, who are very engaged in media, and have an income in the top 25 percent.  However, in the ‘mass population’ (the remaining 85 percent of our sample), trust levels have barely budged since the Great Recession.”  While each candidate approaches the issue of unfairness differently, it’s definitely resonating among the 85% who are tired of getting the short end of the deal!  It’s no wonder they’re seeking someone who is different.

Does this mean that none of the establishment candidates have a chance to win their party’s nomination for president?  Of course not.  They just have to stop acting like establishment candidates and start tapping into the power of peers that’s at work during this election year! On to New Hampshire!

Update: Sanders and Trump win big in New Hampshire!