featured image

Unleashed E62: Zoe Chance - Making Influence your Superpower

  • Home
  • Blog
  • Unleashed E62: Zoe Chance - Making Influence your Superpower

Table of Contents

Would you consider yourself an influential person? When you speak, do people listen? You can suggest a solution to a problem, but can you sell it? If you lack influence and want to improve in that area, our episode featuring Zoe Chance might just change your perspective and grant you a new superpower. 


A common misconception is that in order to be influential, you need to speak in a more persuasive way or strongly enough to convince someone to change their mind. Zoe Chance dispels this and other misconceptions in her book, ‘Making Influence Your Superpower.’ 

“Along with saying no, the easiest thing you can do to become more influential is just ask. Ask more often, ask more directly, and ask for more.” 

Zoe runs one of the most popular classes at the Yale School of Management. She’s a climate philanthropist, writer, teacher, and academic with deep knowledge of behavioural economics; she also has years of experience in brand and campaign management, having worked with the likes of Mattel (for Barbie). 

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Understand the difference between changing someone’s mind vs changing their behaviour. Influencing others is not about changing their mind; humans will still behave in opposition to their minds, so you need to influence their behaviour directly instead.

  2.  Reduce friction for the customer or influencee. People will naturally do what feels easiest, so to change their behaviour, you need to make it easier for them to take a certain course of action – for example, reduce the waiting time on your customer service line. 

  3. Smile more. It seems insignificant, but smiling can mean the difference between changing behaviour or missing an opportunity. The secret to influencing others is showing yourself to be an approachable and empathetic person.  
Video Player

View or listen to this and other past episodes on the Unleashed Podcast Library

Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • Zoe has been influencing others positively since childhood. Even as a student in sports class, she would lead her peers to be the “fun” team and made enjoyment the focus rather than athletic ability.

  • Fast forward to today, and Zoe teaches one of Yale’s most popular classes, Mastering Influence and Persuasion. She has written a well-researched and eloquently worded book on the powers of influence and how to harness them to “make good things happen.”

  • First, Zoe dispelled a common misconception that influence is about changing people’s minds. It’s not. People may hold certain beliefs about how they want to behave, but it takes more than belief or opinion to influence behaviour.

    • For example, New Year's Resolutions – only 30% of people stick to theirs, despite best intentions. Why? Because what they want to do differs from what is easiest to do.
    • We often ask, “What can I do/say that will change their mind?” In reality, humans have many unconscious influences on their decisions that cause us to simply follow the path of least resistance.
    • True influence is about changing the actual behaviour rather than convincing someone to change their perspective.

  • The Customer Effort Score is one of the most paramount metrics to predict customer behaviour. The more effort it takes to do something directly correlates with the chance of repeat sales, loyalty, and negative word of mouth.

    • The amount of real effort it takes constitutes 80% of the metric. The other 20% is perceived For instance, sitting on the line to customer service for hours is physically undemanding but still feels like an enormous effort mentally (because it’s annoying!)

  • There are four methods for improving the Customer Effort Score by reducing friction for clients, customers, or people you want to influence:

    1. Ask customers directly for feedback.
    2. Use data analysis to see where customers are disappearing in the sales journey.
    3. Test your systems yourself as though you are a customer; observe which points would cause you to walk away and areas that could be improved.
    4. Copy other companies. Notice how it’s almost easier to buy something from Amazon than not buy something? These are the companies to watch and emulate their sales pipelines.

  • The ‘Gator’ and the ‘Judge’ are metaphors Zoe uses in her book for the two systems that determine 100% of our decisions and behaviour. The Judge applies logic and reasoning, while the Gator is unconscious, habitual, and inclined to choose whatever is easiest or most efficient. Since the Gator heavily influences people to choose whatever is easiest, we need to beat the Gator to the chase by making a powerful impression.

  • Thin Slice Research is the study of snap judgments. The idea is that the brief judgments we make based on only a ‘thin slice’ of information are very similar to the judgments we would make based on more information. To be influential, you need to control the ‘thin slice’ judgments that people make about you.

    1. Use responsive smiling – show that you are smiling because of the other person, not just as a general state.
    2. Ask follow-up questions to show that you are paying attention and care about the other person’s input.
    3. Use people’s names. According to Dale Carnegie, “A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
    4. Show that you care and see the person as an individual and you are open to their influence.
  • Be aware of framing, which is the way you position an idea you are trying to influence people with. For example – if you tell someone they are going to learn valuable marketing skills from your conference course, this frames it in a more productive light than simply outlining the guest speakers and topics. This is a simple tool we can all use to make our ideas or products more appealing.

Take Your Business to the Next Level

At Results we care about your success, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to run a business, and we’re here to help. Reach out to Nicole through our contact form for ways to unleash the potential of your business. 

Visit the Unleashed Podcast Library where you’ll find exclusive conversations with world-class thought leaders, authors, and leadership experts. 

Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.

Access the Full Episode Your Way

Click the logo below to subscribe to your favorite platform and never miss another episode recording. Remember to subscribe to your favorite channel and be the first to know when new conversations are available.

Results YouTubeResults SpotifyResults Apple Podcastspodbean

Zoe Chance

Zoe Chance headshot 3b Ian Christmann

Dr. Zoe Chance is a writer, teacher, researcher, and climate philanthropist obsessed with the topic of interpersonal influence.

She earned her doctorate from Harvard and now teaches the most popular course at Yale School of Management, which is the basis for her international bestseller, INFLUENCE IS YOUR SUPERPOWER. Her framework for behavior change is the foundation for Google’s global food policy, and before academia, she managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel.

Today, Zoe teaches smart, kind people to raise money for charity, get elected to political office, fund startups, start movements, save lives, find love, negotiate great deals and job offers, and even get along better with their kids. In other words, she helps people to use their superpower of influence as a force for good.

You can learn more at Zoe's website