So here we are, 2021 has to be one of the most eagerly anticipated years of recent times, and today’s episode marks 100 episodes into the Inside Influence journey.
You know, honestly, I’m a little bit in shock with that last one. Three years ago, Inside Influence started out over dinner with a friend, we were talking about how the tools of influence had changed over the last decade. How we had watched the pyramid of influence completely turn on its head.
These shifts had taken us from an analog to a digital world. From those with a platform having the power and the voice – to those with an iPhone. From brands being the central holder and focus of attention – to human beings. From the information age – to a world of Epic storytelling. From success equating currency in the bank – to success literally now being valued on the currents of attention and engagement you’re able to command.
I can still remember the day when we press go on the first episode. Since then we’ve been on a ride that I could not have imagined. Diving deep into the world of global movements, WWF wrestling (that was a trip), the underbelly of Hollywood, FBI hostage negotiation, Unskippable storytelling and presidential politics. Throughout it all, the single point of focus has not changed – that being trying to decode this new age of influence. Essentially, unpacking exactly what is it that makes the people, movements or ideas of this new age utterly and truly compelling.
So for this episode, in case you’ve not guessed already, it’s just me. I’m flying solo. I wanted to take a moment to just reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past hundred episodes. And not only that, but some of the core lessons I’ve seen play out and take quantum leaps over the past 12 to 24 months.
However, before I do, it feels appropriate and somewhat necessary to me to take a moment just to acknowledge the year that has been.
We started 2020 on a trajectory that changed very quickly. I remember when lockdown first happened, when our businesses, careers, lives and families first underwent this giant shift. In the beginning, all I can remember thinking was – I don’t know what to say. I was being asked to speak on podcasts, interviewed for magazines and to be honest I felt like a fraud. The predominant voice in my head just kept saying the same words – I don’t know what to say. I felt like I just needed to shut up and listen, because I didn’t have the words to describe this moment. I didn’t have the words to be useful. I didn’t have the words to translate this in a way that I felt was helpful.
And so that’s what I did. I listened and it soon became apparent that nobody really knew what to say. And for me, as someone who defines my world through words, that was deeply unsettling. I think it was deeply unsettling for most of us. In particular, those in leadership positions, where you have people or communities looking to you to find the right words.
It felt like we’d been rugby tackled off the road well-travelled and onto a dirt track, where nobody had a map or suitable shoes. Even the boldest amongst us stumbled as much, if not more, than we stood. And so it opened a different conversation. I got to watch a new conversation unravel and unfold, and that was one of bravery.
This conversation became one of showing up – one of pulling close our communities, businesses, competition and communities. And one that, as I started to watch it unfold, began to amplify the speed and importance of the trends that, interestingly enough, we had already been uncovering in this podcast. These are the lessons I want to talk a little bit about in this episode
In essence, it turns out that the right words don’t matter as much as consistently showing up. It also turns out that relying on fear as a tool of persuasion can get you a very long way, a very long way, but not all the way. It also turns out that becoming fluent in the questions of those you are there to lead or serve, is way more important than being seen to have all of the answers.
Now, as I recorded this, a third wave of COVID-19 was predicted to hit Sydney. It’s no longer shocking, and any adrenaline we had left has gone. Now it’s about how quickly we can reset. How quickly we can reframe. How quickly we can focus on what is coming next, assuming and surrendering to the fact that it will probably contain just as many curveballs, if not more, than last year.
So, that takes us back to where we began, where Inside Influence began 100 episodes ago. What can we double down on if we want to expand our sphere of influence? I’ve framed the five points within this episode as the Five Flips – the five essential shifts in thinking, strategy and mindset – that will be needed in order to stand out and own the power of our influence in 2021 and beyond.