If you want to influence others, you need to have a strong, well-reasoned “Frame”.
My business partner and friend Gary Young joined me on the podcast to discuss “frame,” a term we use to describe someone’s point of view on the world. We discuss how entrepreneurs can hone their frame to influence and sell, and why the best salespeople tend to be introverts.
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Gary: “Frame is part worldview, part identity, and part posture. It tells people, ‘This is who I am, and this is my posture towards the world.’
We live in a mimetic society, which means most people with weak frames copy the opinions and actions of those with stronger frames. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you want to develop a strong frame and use it as a lever of influence.
Why I hire people with strong frames
In last month’s “Hiring & Firing” episode, I shared that I like to hire people with strong points of view because great ideas come from passionate people disagreeing. I’m essentially looking for people with strong frames. Yet, they tend to be in short supply.
Gary: “Most people haven’t really thought about the situation that they’re currently in before they’re in it, which makes it hard to have a frame.”
Frame in everyday life
When you find yourself falling for somebody, or believing everything someone says, or you change your views based on something you hear — you’re being influenced by people with stronger frames.
Gary: “The standard dating advice is ‘just be yourself.” Problem is, most people are mimetic creatures and should not be themselves because they’re boring. If you do interesting things that you care about, then you just tell people what those interesting things are, and that’s like 80% of dating. That’s an example of your frame.”
You want to be seen
The main idea is that you want to be seen. If you want to influence and not be subject to the whims of others, you have to have a strong point of view. You want to eliminate the things that make it hard for people to see you — it could be simple things like how you dress and introduce yourself — and get them to focus on your ideas and point of view.
Gary: In the simplest form, your frame could be standing in front of a mirror telling yourself affirmations — remembering your victories, things you survived, things you know — so that when you confront someone who disagrees, you can respond with confidence: “That’s interesting, because I had a different lived experience and I’ll tell you about it.”
Confident for a reason
Having a strong frame gives you an inner confidence because you know what you stand for. People will notice that confidence and try to mimic it. But that’s missing the point: A strong frame starts with a sound intellectual underpinning that doesn’t rely on others.
Gary: “If you tell yourself before you go into a meeting that everybody there loves you and thinks you’re awesome, you’re going to behave totally differently — and vastly more effective — than if you go in thinking, ‘Let’s figure out who likes me and who doesn’t.’
Philosopher Rene Gerard’s mimetic theory teaches us that most human conflict can be explained by people wanting the same things and copying one another to get them. Ours is a copycat culture in which people form opinions by looking around to see what others think.
This might have evolutionary benefits, but it seems like a fundamental flaw in humans that we look so much to others to form our own point of view.
Using frame to influence
In every moment someone’s frame is getting stronger and someone else’s frame is getting weaker. It’s like an erosion. Entrepreneurs who understand the concept can use it as a vehicle of influence. When faced with a strong frame, people don’t fight it — they adopt it.
Gary: “If you don’t have a frame of your own, you will end up adopting someone else’s.”
Frame in selling
You need to prepare for sales calls like a prosecutor building a case: Do your research and master the facts. Understand the value your product or service delivers and try to understand the worldview of the person you’re selling to. That builds confidence and conviction in what you are saying.
Gary: “Almost all of the really good salespeople I’ve ever met are way more disagreeable than most natural extroverts are.”
When the potential customer says, “This doesn’t sound like it’s for me,” offer a confident response: “You could be right. This isn’t right for everybody, but it has worked for a lot of people. Do you mind if I ask you a question?” and then ask them something that helps you understand where there might be a misunderstanding.
By making it clear to the parties involved that you have the strongest frame, people will naturally move over to your side.
Gary: “Someone who doesn’t really know anything about your product will often tell you, ‘Oh, that’s just not for me,’ and often the salesperson will accept it. And that’s weird because they don’t know about what you’re selling yet, and you’ve accepted their frame.”
Developing your frame
In the simplest form, your frame could be standing in front of a mirror telling yourself affirmations — remembering your victories, things you survived, things you know — so that when you confront someone who disagrees, you can respond with confidence: “That’s interesting, because I had a different lived experience and I’ll tell you about it.”
Gary: “Half the battle is figuring out what price you’re willing to pay and paying it. If your position costs you nothing, your position is not particularly strong.”
Hone your map and strategy
When someone doesn’t get what they want out of a situation, it’s typically because one of two things is wrong: They’re either operating with the wrong terrain map or they’re following the wrong strategy.
If you have high confidence in those two things — because you have a strong intellectual underpinning — that’s when you develop an indestructible frame. The world needs to break in order for your frame to break.
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“10 Rules To Live by for More Success, Happiness, and Freedom,” by Craig Ballantyne.
Mimetic Theory, by Rene Girard.