I walked into a wine store. To put that in context, walking into a wine store is something I haven't done for a while. Online shopping – thanks to the siren call of fabulous Vinomofo - has become my standard way of buying wine these days.
Upon entering the store, I wandered about aimlessly – what to buy, what to buy? A dinner party with friends that night, and Mexican and Japanese flavours were on the menu. You get my challenge.
Then I hear a call from across the sea of boxes in an otherwise deserted store. “Are you right there?” It’s the man behind the counter. Unassuming. Unmoving. Offering what seemed like only a token gesture of assistance.
“Ummm...” An uninspired start from me. “I’m after a wine to take to a dinner party – something that will go with Mexican and Japanese food.“
In an instant, the guy behind the counter transformed. Throwing off his just-another-sales-assistant disguise, he turned into Wine Man. (At least, that’s what I shall now call him.)
“Now that’s a challenge! This way...” With a flourish of his hand, he briskly walked past me with the enthusiasm of an Olympic swimmer collecting their gold medal.
“Let’s do tempranillo!” he declared. Within moments I’d been given a tour of the tempranillo range – the one on special, the one with extra years on it, the one that is like eating plum tart... I felt like he was showing me photos of his most treasured memories.
Needless to say, I bought the tempranillo. But here’s the thing. At no point did I consciously try and assess whether his recommendations made sense. Nor did I even try to compare the various options. All I was registering was Wine Man’s enthusiastic commitment to the conversation – and from that point on, he had me at hello. He was invested. He cared. He wanted this to turn out really well for me. He wanted my hosts later that night to say, “Yum, that’s a delicious wine” (and they did!).
If you’re someone who needs to influence others and get people buying into your ideas, there’s plenty to learn from Wine Man. He’s the perfect example of what I call a Catalyst – someone who's well equipped to influence positive change because he cares. After all, if you want people to buy into your ideas, you need to buy in first.
In contrast to the Catalyst, it can sometimes be easy to slip into the role of the Courier. While couriers might be good at delivering information, letting people know about an idea or an initiative – that’s the extent of their commitment. Couriers carry information, but not influence.
Before you set out to generate people’s buy-in to an idea or initiative, work on yourself first. How can you get your own conviction up, such that you become a catalyst not just a courier? This often takes time – time to work on a clear sense of purpose, to have a conversation with your own boss until you understand the importance of an initiative. Asking yourself "So What?" until you’re happy with the answer - until you’ve lit enough of a spark within yourself to want to start getting others on board.
Building conviction is something you can work at. Even a champion like Mohammad Ali had to work hard on fostering his own sense of belief. As he once said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
You can read more about what it takes to become a catalyst and get people to buy into your ideas here.
* Tempranillo, it turns out, could well be my new favourite wine grape.
Until next time!
Thanks to Herbert Kajiura for the image in this month's post.