Are You an Influencer?

by Jonathan Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2013


Who are we influencing and who is influencing us? These were ideas often explored by the late Jim Rohn, who was known as “America’s foremost business philosopher.” His message of discipline and individual responsibility inspired millions of people to advance in their personal development and callings.

Kyle Wilson headshotJim’s audience often heard stories about and quotes from Jim’s own mentor, Earl Shoaff. Lesser known perhaps, but also paramount to Jim’s message being heard worldwide was Kyle Wilson, who founded Jim Rohn International (JRI) in 1993. Kyle is a marketing visionary who describes himself as one who “connects experts and talented people with the marketplace.” Much of Jim’s success as a world-renowned motivational speaker can be traced to Kyle’s marketing and development behind the scenes. In thanking Kyle for his partnership and friendship, Jim put it this way, “Friendship is wealth and you have made me a rich man.” Aside from JRI, Kyle founded Your Success Store, which delivered inspiration from the likes of Mark Victor Hansen, Brian Tracy and John Maxwell to more than one million customers. His newest project is called “Lessons From…”


I recently caught up with Kyle to discuss some of Jim’s outlook along with his own, and to learn more about his next venture.

– Jonathan Simpson

1-2-1: What do you think Jim would say to those discouraged in the midst of the struggling economy, shifting values, and worldwide tensions?

KW: At the end of the day we have control over the things that truly impact our lives. That was Jim’s message. How you are improving your health? How is your relationship with your kids working out? How hard you are working? How strategic are you?

How engaged are you in being a student and learning and growing? How are you stewarding your finances? And most important, your own personal ATTITUDE? These key areas have nothing to do with what party is in power or who the president is.

Jim Rohn QuoteAs Jim Rohn would say, whether it’s the Democrats or Republicans in office, your own personal philosophy and decisions have the greatest impact on how your life works out. Now some issues may seem big, very big! But our freedom to choose and make choices overrides any other outside forces. When you have the power of choice it’s hard to be a victim.

Now to put this in perspective, I have monthly contact with a couple working in Africa. Often times, the biggest challenge they’re solving for themselves and their community is where their next meal is coming from. Disease on top of drought, hunger, theft, and corrupt government interference are all there bearing down on them every day, making survival the highest priority. Freedom is a little known concept, much less the concept of success. When I talk to them, I’m beyond thankful for all the freedoms and luxury I have here, including the power of choice. To paraphrase Jim, “America is easy, Kenya is hard!”

And at the end of the day the only thing we have 100% power over is own personal choices. Choices of attitude, thoughts, habits, work ethic, health, et cetera. Your health, your relationships, your work ethic, your tendency to spend or save and—perhaps most important— your attitude are ALL determined by you.

1-2-1: What do you say to those who believe we are losing the battle on principles and personal development?

KW: First we need to pray. My prayer list includes the president, congress, and my local government. We don’t have to like decisions of our leaders. But we can make a decision to support them through prayer.

Secondly, we need to work on our ability as influencers. Jim said that the “power position” is not the king. The “power position” is the influencer who influences the king. There were six or seven presidents to one Billy Graham who counseled them.

Lastly, in general, I believe fear-based arguments are counterproductive. Just as I believe complaining is counterproductive. What you focus on does expand. That’s why it’s important to be grateful for what we have (ask the children of Israel about this one). I believe we have been lured into this glass is half empty mentality and missing all the big opportunities we have on every level to make a difference. Again America is easy, Cuba is hard.

1-2-1: How can we become better influencers?

KW: We should remember that we lose our ability to have an influence when we distance people. When people feel judged, they will distance themselves from you. Your agenda may work for you if you are a radio talk show host but it might not be effective in building relationships. If you are called to reach people outside, you have to have empathy. Empathy opens the door.

If you’re going to have influence, you can’t just go out on Facebook and create enemies, IF you want to reach people outside your sphere. If the only people who ‘Like’ my Facebook comments are people that would always be in agreement with me, I have zero influence outside my own group.

I had a mentor and pastor named James Jeter. He individually impacted thousands of people, including myself. He was not judgmental. Now, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have beliefs and convictions, but his highest value was not about “being right”, it was to reach people. If you are open to hear someone out, they will be open to hear you out. I remember Bob Mumford once saying “every relationship should be reciprocal.”

If you’re a missionary in Iran, can you wear what you believe on your sleeve? You have to be a little smarter, right? A little more strategic? Whether here or there, wearing it on your sleeve is not where the work gets done. This gets down to results. If it doesn’t work then I have to question the authenticity of my thesis of “that’s the way to do it.” I don’t mind turning people off or having people disagree with me, but what I do mind is not getting results. It’s not effective when you’re distancing the very people you want to influence, so you might want to rethink your strategy.

1-2-1: Same in the workplace, right?

KW: Yep. “Walk it, don’t talk it.” If you’re the real deal, you don’t have to say a word. At JRI we had a daily prayer time that the employees who chose to participate took turns leading each morning. I remember telling one young lady who was a new hire about our prayer time and she responded that she was “not interested.” It seemed a little bit offensive to her. We said “no worries”. About three months later she came and said that she had a prayer request. Then I noticed over time she began to participate a little more and then a little more each day. I could tell she was changing. It wasn’t long before she was leading the prayer time once a week.

Well, at the end of the year, I would always have our staff list the top twenty things that had happened to them over the year; business, personal, or whatever. That year she listed that she had “become a Christian”. And what was really cool to me was that no one proselytized her at all; in fact not one person in our organization even went to the same church, yet she found it by being around it, not from our “outreach”. I am still in touch with her today. I was proud of the fact that we had not been agenda- driven with her. We simply wanted to run a successful business that cared about our customers, our products and services, as well as our team.

1-2-1: What’s next for you?

KW: Well, after I sold JRI and Your Success Store in October 2007, and then working for 18 months for the organization that purchased us, Jim became ill and passed away a year later. I then decided to take a sabbatical, plus I still had a few years left on my non-compete. I had been brewing on an idea however to build a new venture around “lessons from sports” where I could engage coaches and athletes and draw out their stories.

As I began to think about other professions I realized there were other good “lessons from” opportunities. I could do “lessons from hunting”, “lessons from selling”, “lessons from real estate”, “lessons from public speaking” … you name it. As I began to list them out, I came up with over a thousand “lessons from” topics and was able to secure the domains for each. So this is my current project, something I’m really excited and passionate about.

The most exciting part is the opportunity to connect with experts in unique fields from all demographics and backgrounds. Waiting those few years for my non-compete to end was an exercise in patience, but was also a huge blessing and opportunity to grow in many ways. But I can tell you now that it’s ended I’m ready to pour it on!

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About the Author:

Jonathan Simpson

JONATHAN SIMPSON is a frequent contributing writer to CSM’s Marketplace Exchange.