A Lesson in Influence…from Ashton Kutcher?


Lately, I’ve been all about breaking the rules. Getting people to think outside the box. Trying new things in the classroom. And this week, I learned something:

If you don’t have influence, none of it really matters.

Over the past few days, in a social feed near you, you may have seen links to a video clip of an actor, Ashton Kutcher. Now, maybe you know of this guy…the guy from Punk’d. The guy from Two and a Half Men.  The guy from That 70’s Show.

Yeah, him.

At first glance, it’s not unusual to see him making headlines. After all, he’s a pretty popular guy. At the time of this writing, he has over 14 million Twitter followers, is getting ready to release a movie about Steve Jobs, and stars in a highly-rated TV show (I’ll spare you any post-Charlie Sheen “Jump the Shark” commentary). And let’s be honest, he’s not bad to look at either.

But what was THIS video clip all about? After seeing a couple dozen posts, I finally caved and watched it. I’m so glad I did. The video was from his acceptance speech after receiving a Teen Choice Awards (the program aired earlier this week). Not exactly a credible source for leadership development, eh? Once Ashton took the stage, and got past the eardrum-piercing screams of thousands of teenage girls, he started talking.

And what he said impressed the heck out of me.

I’m not going to write about it; I encourage you to take a moment and just watch the video yourself at the end, but I will say a few words:

As learning professionals, we talk about being advocates for learning in our organizations. Assessing needs. Sharing recommendations and best practices. Being a trusted advisor to the business. But none of that means a darn thing unless we have influence. Whether your audience is one person, or in Ashton’s case, a room of thousands, we need to recognize and leverage the opportune moments we are given to influence up, down and across our organizations, to bring learning experiences to the workplace.

Watch the video here:

Your turn: How have you used your expertise to influence people and programs in your organization?  What challenges have you faced…and how did you overcome them?

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