The Soulful Art of Persuasion: The 11 Habits That Will Make Anyone a Master Influencer

An interview with Jason Harris, about his book “The Soulful Art of Persuasion: The 11 Habits That Will Make Anyone a Master Influencer”.

The Soulful Art of Persuasion is a revolutionary guide to becoming a master influencer in an age of distrust through the cultivation of character-building habits that are essential to both personal growth and sustained business success. This isn’t a book full of tips and life-hacks. Instead, The Soulful Art of Persuasion will develop the habits that others want to be influenced by. This book is based on a radical idea: Persuasion isn’t about facts and argument. It’s all about personal character.


Who is this book for?

Jason Harris: I decided to write this book now, The Soulful Art of Persuasion, because we really are living in a age of distrust. And with everything that’s happening in the world today, fake news, phishing scams, no interest or trust in Google or Facebook, more than ever we’re in our own echo chambers on social media, the world’s become really divided. And this book, the idea behind it is that what motivates people, what persuades people, what moves people is really your character. And your character is what builds trust with people that aids in persuasion. Persuasion is important both for business success, sustained business success, and personal growth. So the time and the climate is perfect for a book like this.

What is the big idea behind the book?

Jason Harris: This book is a broad-based book that I think applies to anyone, anyone who’s persuading, which is all of us. We are all persuading every day of our lives. We’re persuading a boss to give us a promotion. We’re persuading the job interviewer to hire us. We’re persuading our significant other to take a trip we wanted to take. We’re persuading maybe our kids to get ready and go to school or do their homework. But little instances of persuasion happen daily in all of our lives. So anyone that wants to become a better persuader, this book is for that. And the reason why it made sense for me to tackle this topic is I’ve spent 20+ years in advertising and marketing where we’re persuading at the highest level. We’re persuading clients to buy our ideas. We’re then persuading the ideas that we put out there into the world. We’re persuading consumers to buy the products or services that we’re telling stories about. So I’m taking now those skills and those tools and making it broad, that could be useful for anyone.

What is a tip for being more persuasive?

Jason Harris: I have a chapter in the book called Never be Closing. And that sort of debunks the idea that you think of, which is the known idea of ABC, always be closing, which is about just getting the sale. It’s about landing that transaction. And the flip of the switch there is to play the long game and build relationships over time, and don’t have short-term thinking. Don’t have, “I have to close this sale at all costs or make this deal or make this thing happen.” It’s really about looking at your career, your business, whatever you might be persuading people to do, looking at it by playing the long game. And knowing that it’s a long haul and creating relationships over time is what pays off the most.

What is an example of “never be closing”?

Jason Harris: One specific action you can take is this idea of give yourself away where you try to become habitually generous and you try to give something away at every interaction. And that can be giving away time, advice, ideas, counsel, connecting with other people, giving them a contact. And sometimes it can even be stuff, giving someone a book or a note or a message or a text that you’re thinking about them. So becoming habitually generous is one way to build relationships. And when you give something away habitually without ever expecting anything in return, it magically pays with compound interest over time. If I pitch someone and we don’t win it, I stay in touch with that person. And over time, there’s been a lot of cases where by staying in touch with that person and never letting the relationship drop to zero, I end up winning them back. And that’s sort of part of the mentality of never be closing and playing the long game, is in situations where you don’t always win but you can always win something in the long run by keeping the relationship alive.

How can you stay connected to a prospect or client?

Jason Harris: So, one way to add value to a client that you didn’t win. Let’s say you, in my world, you pitched a sneaker client that you didn’t get the business, but you can send them articles of new products that are coming out or new innovations that are coming out. You can send them a text message with some crazy retail store that you saw on a trip to Barcelona. So you’re thinking about their business and just dropping nuggets, but you’re not thinking about their business and then asking them to hire you. You’re just mentally staying in contact with them and acknowledging and showing that you care, and adding value by giving them information that might pertain to their business.

What are some key takeaways from the book?

Jason Harris: When you think of this common humanity and that we’re not all that different, it’s easy to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and to make a connection. When you think about us as radically different or have wildly different needs or wildly different values, it’s just not true. We all are humans. We all crave, unless we’re psychopaths, but we’re almost all coming from the same place where we want human connection, we want to put good stuff into the world and we want to bond with people that are either in our industry or that we’re friends with or that we work with. And so when you have that mindset, you sort of work and react differently because you’re coming from a place of shared interest. You’re not coming from a place of us versus them. Anyone can develop the habits and traits to make them a master influencer. And we inherently will have some of these traits already. Some of us might naturally be empathetic, some of us might naturally have generous characteristics, or some of us might naturally know how to be ourselves in any situation.

Jason Harris: Some of those things will be really hard for us. Some of us might not be natural storytellers. Some of us might find it harder to connect with other people. And so these are 11 habits, some of which you’ll have to work on much harder and some of which you’ll have naturally, but if you really work on these 11 habits over time it’s like exercise, any muscle that you work on over time will develop. And if some of these habits are harder for you, some of these characteristics, you work with them over time and then they become part of who we are. And so my belief is if you follow this book and you really apply the principles, you will just be, A, better at your job, you will be better at persuading people, you’ll be more influential. But you also have a better quality of life because you will have developed, I think, characteristics that people can trust.

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Book Author

Jason Harris is the CEO of the award-winning creative agency Mekanism and the cofounder of the Creative Alliance. Harris works closely with brands through a blend of soul and science to create provocative cam – paigns that engage audiences. Iconic brands include Peloton, Ben & Jerry’s, MillerCoors, HBO, and the United Nations. Under his leadership, Mekanism was named to Ad Age’s Agency A-list and twice to their Best Places to Work, and to Creativity’s Creativity 50. Harris has been named in the Top 10 Most Influential Social Impact Leaders, as well as the 4A’s list of “100 People Who Make Advertising Great.” His methods are studied in cases at Harvard Business School. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @Jason_Harris.