Be Humble…We Decide If You Are Influential, Not You!

My sincere apologies, but I have NO idea to whom I should attribute this quote that I found on Twitter last week:

If you have to tell people you are influential, you are not.

I love that quote. A lot. In fact, I hope Twitter adds a button that allows me to auto-Tweet that quote everytime I need it. And sadly, I need it a lot, because everyday there are countless people who are trying to “tell” me how important and influential they are.

I mean, honestly, I don’t need to hear about all your speaking gigs (most of which are volunteer but are being billed as mega-paid keynotes)…

Chris Guillebeau

And then you meet someone doing it right: We had the pleasure to welcome Chris Guillebeau on the High Velocity Radio Show today. Now, here is a guy who has achieved a lot: published author, cool speaking gigs, entrepreneurial success, wildly successful blog, and world traveler. He lives the life many people want.

But to listen to him on the show today? You heard a very humble, pleasant, normal guy (just like you and me) who was more interested in serving and helping others than talking about all his accomplishments. It was a breath of fresh air. [CLICK HERE to listen to his interview.]

To be honest, I actually find it fascinating to observe these two dichotomies on the social web. Don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy watching people act as if they are all-important, someone to whom I should pay all kinds of attention. It is kind of entertaining…

Perhaps this makes me a bad man…

I suppose, then, that is why I get such pleasure at observing people like Chris Guillebeau. He strikes me as the kind of guy I would model myself after should I ever achieve his kind of success. Humble, honest, forthright, and someone with a service mentality.

[I hope you kick my butt if I ever act otherwise...]

But the main point of this post isn’t to talk bad about people who self-promote, or to talk positive about people like Chris Guillebeau….the goal here is to tell you that actions make you influential. Not your words or tweets.

People who serve, people who help others, people who share the cool things that others are doing…those are the actions that make you influential.

I remember watching a presentation by Chris Brogan. Someone was asking him about how it was possible to engage and build community with a twitter following of 150K+ followers. Brogan said having a large following allows me to shine a brighter light on the good works of others.

The comment hit me like a mack truck.

And that’s why people like Chris Brogan are, in fact, influential. Because he doesn’t just say it. He does it.

We asked Chris Guillebeau on the show how someone can write a book. His answer? Simply….”just start writing.”

Actions, in other words, are the keys to being influential. Doing. Executing. Delivering. Shipping. Not talking about it. Doing it. And do it enough and do it consistently, people will notice, people will start talking about it, people will start sharing with others…

…and that’s when you achieve influence. The marketplace decides who has influence. Not you.

So, honestly, it is simple. If you want to achieve influence, start doing the things that influential people do. Serve others. Help others. Care about others. And whatever you do, don’t just WISH you were influential, BE influential. The minute you simply focus on helping others, instead of caring about being influential, will be the moment you start to be influential.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

  • Jonathan Saar

    Thunderous applause!!! Great post Todd. I wholeheartedly agree with everything here. You just need to go out there and do what’s right. If people feel you are genuine it will only draw them closer. I roll my eyes every time I get a follower with some fancy title that rhymes with “uru”. Very cool reminders in your post today.

  • Todd Schnick

    thanks friend. i LOL’d at your “uru” line…

    and the key word in what you said, being “genuine.” you lose that when you boast influence, methinks…

  • Ginakaysellshomes

    Yep I can’t imagine why someone would boast at their influence. I mean, I understand marketing oneself as an expert, but not in a developing field. Maybe not even in a massively changing field. But here – are we talking only social and new media? PR and marketing? Is *anyone* an actual expert any more – even in traditional business such as manufacturing, restaurants, bookstores? The business models that used to work are rapidly becoming defunct.

    Let’s lead the way, but not at the expense of our credibility.


  • Todd Schnick

    oh, i love the question you pose: “is anyone an actual expert any more?”

    i will ponder that one for a while. aren’t we always learning and evolving? the marketplace is always changing and adapting…

    thanks for the thought!

  • chrisguillebeau

    Hey Todd! Thanks man… I enjoyed the show, and I appreciate you guys putting up with my ramblings. Looking forward to seeing you in this thing we call “real life” in a couple of days.

    Yours in World Domination,


  • Todd Schnick

    it was a pleasure getting to know you, and it will be cool to meet IRL… really looking forward to it… travel safe!

  • indepth_wraps

    I agree with you 100%. I run into “networking experts” and “social media experts” every day. Apparently the criteria for being an expert at anything these days is putting it on your Twitter profile. In most cases the 20,000 people following these “experts” on Twitter haven’t ever heard a word they have said. The same “experts” can’t tell you anything about anyone they follow, they are just building numbers.

    The funny thing about those who think they have influence is that they placed themselves on such a pedestal that they no longer allow themselves to be influenced by others. Closing that door will keep you from the possiblity of improving yourself. The people I find influencing my life the most these days are the ones that speak very little, but act constantly.

    Thank you for your post, very relevant to the atmosphere we live in these days.

  • Todd Schnick

    oh, i so agree with you that “those who think they have influence no longer allow themselves to be influenced.” so dang true. and i think the bigger problem, actually.

    more important than just irritating the likes of me, they have stopped learning…

  • XposeYourBrand

    Todd you know I’m stilling this right??? Ha ha how funny and so true, I wish people would get over themselves proof again that we live in such a narcissistic society!! I think twitter should add this as a button and quickly!!

  • Todd Schnick

    ha. the button cannot be added fast enough!

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