At the core of gaining power and influence lies a purpose greater than personal advancement. It is about making a meaningful impact in the workplace and beyond, with the goal of contributing to the common good and positively shaping society.
Robert L. Dilenschneider formed The Dilenschneider Group in October, 1991. Headquartered in New York, Miami, and Chicago, the Firm provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and leading families and individuals around the world, with experience in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions and crisis communications to marketing, government affairs, and international media.
Prior to forming his own firm, Robert served as president and chief executive officer of Hill and Knowlton, Inc. from 1986 to 1991, tripling that Firm’s revenues to nearly $200 million and delivering more than $30 million in profit. He was with that organization for nearly 25 years. He started in public relations in 1967 in New York, shortly after receiving an MA in journalism from The Ohio State University and a BA from the University of Notre Dame.
In this episode, Robert dives into an insightful perspective as he uncovers the key elements that contribute to wielding power effectively. From mastering the art of communication to cultivating a strong network, Robert sheds light on the essential skills needed to navigate the intricate landscape of influence. Additionally, he explores the power of storytelling and leveraging social media to gain a foothold in the ever-competitive landscape.
What you will learn from this episode:
- Gain insights on how to bring what you do everyday to a higher level and make a difference in the world
- Find out the mistakes women make that you should avoid and know the three ways to truly gain power and influence and move ahead without stepping on anybody’s shoes
- Learn how to gain power and influence, make your voice heard and drown the negativity that hounds social media
“You really need to find a way to be decent, supportive to other people. Don’t be rude, don’t be crude, don’t knock people. Be civil with other people. You’ll find it comes back many, many times over.”
– Robert Dilenschneider
Valuable Free Resource:
- Grab a copy of Robert’s book and make a difference in your personal life and workplace: https://robertldilenschneider.com/product/the-ultimate-guide-to-power-and-influence
02:57 – What got him to write the book ‘Ultimate Guide to Power and Influence
03:44 – How his work in PR influences writing ‘Ultimate Guide to Power and Influence’
04:54 – Words of wisdom for mid-career professionals who are in crisis in different aspects of life
05:56 – Using power and influence to advance in one’s position
06:58 – Power and influence being more than just effective communication
07:32 – The best way to get far ahead in your communication skills
09:21 – Humility in failure as a key to a successful future
11:21 – Best tips for using social media for a woman in transition
12:50 – How to sell your idea and get people interested with what you put out there
13:39 – 3 Ways to avoid this huge mistakes women are making trying to have power and influence
14:50 – What he wants people to take away from his book ‘Ultimate Guide to Power and Influence’
15:46 – Talking about a lecture series called ‘Civility in America’ and what is his involvement with it
16:48 – Robert giving answers to very important questions involving women
“If you’ve achieved great success and you like it, stay with it. Do more. You’ll eventually be discovered. And that’s a better position than yearning to get to a higher position.” – Robert Dilenschneider
“Find ways to build your network. Make sure that people around you know what you’ve done and frankly, talk about you. Don’t talk to them about yourself. Have them talk to other people about you. That makes a huge, huge difference.” – Robert Dilenschneider
“The key to using the media is to have a story that has something you want to say. If you’re in transition and want to get ahead, what benefit can you bring to the party in terms of where you want to go?” – Robert Dilenschneider
“It’s very easy to receive negative comments about your reputation online, it can be changed. The best way to change it, however, is by advancing your own point of view and making that point of view so powerful it eclipses what’s online.” – Robert Dilenschneider
Ways to Connect with Robert Dilenschneider:
- Website: https://robertldilenschneider.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-dilenschneider-964176/
- X: https://twitter.com/DGI_NYC/photo
Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown:
- Website: https://www.sarahebrown.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/knowguides
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahebrownphd
- To speak with her: bookachatwithsarahebrown.com
Full Episode Transcript:
Robert Dilenschneider 00:00
The woman in business, 40 years ago, was no place. Today, they’re on the move. And they really need, in my view, to think about the ideas of power influence so they can get further ahead in their jobs.
Sarah E. Brown 00:22
Hello, everyone! Welcome to The KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women, where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I’m your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.
My guest today is Robert L. Dilenschneider. He goes by Bob. He formed the Dilenschneider Group in October of 1991, headquartered in New York, Miami, and Chicago. The firm provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and leading families and individuals around the world with experience in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions and crisis communications to marketing, government affairs, and international media. Prior to forming his own firm, Dilenschneider served as president and chief executive officer of Hill and Knowlton, Inc. from 1986 to 1991, tripling that firm’s revenues to nearly 200 million and delivering more than 30 million in profit. Dilenschneider was with that organization for nearly 25 years.
He started in public relations in 1967 in New York, shortly after receiving an MA in journalism from the Ohio State University and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. And he’s also written a book called The Ultimate Guide to Power and Influence: Everything you Need to Know, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in this interview. The book is structured into 15 insightful chapters, each focusing on a unique aspect of power and influence, from taking the first steps critical to your future, to understanding the power of personal connections, to learning how to pivot in your career. This guide covers it all. Bob, thank you so much for being here today,
Robert Dilenschneider 02:39
Ms. Brown, it’s terrific to be with you and your reputation precedes you, so it’s very special for me to be with you on this program.
Sarah E. Brown 02:46
Oh, well thank you. We’ll talk about reputation in a minute and please call me Sarah. So, tell me what inspired you to write the Ultimate Guide to Power and Influence?
Robert Dilenschneider 02:57
About 40 years ago, I wrote a book called Power and Influence, and it was a bestseller. And about two years ago, my editor came to me and said, your book is hopeless and out of date. A lot has happened in the last 40 years. Will you update it? And so, I did, and I updated it with stories and examples of different ways to think about power and influence. For example, the woman in business 40 years ago was no place. Today, they’re on the move and they really need, in my view, to think about the ideas of power and influence so they can get further ahead in their jobs.
Sarah E. Brown 03:36
So, your day job is in PR. Tell me how that informed your desire to write this book and the message in it.
Robert Dilenschneider 03:44
Well, I basically deal with a lot of the elements in PR that are about communications. And so, in order to really expand on that and understand those elements, I wrote a number of books. This is one of them. And there’s a book on civility, there’s a book on branding, there’s a book on making it. But this is my baby, this book on power and influence. And I think it’s already had pretty good success. It’s been a bestseller and I think that people are really benefiting from reading it. The reader mail I get is quite extraordinary. A lot of it, by the way, comes from women who read the book or read some of the chapters and said, I like these ideas. I’m following them. That gives me a wonderful feeling and encourages me to do more.
Sarah E. Brown 04:34
So, for mid-career professional women, the bulk of my audience, let’s say they find themselves in a crisis. It could be a crisis on the job, it could be a crisis of finding them unexpectedly out of a job. Where should they focus in this book and first, and what lessons do you want them to learn?
Robert Dilenschneider 04:54
The basic thing they should do is, regardless of what they’re involved in, is tell it all and tell it fast. In other words, get what you’re involved in out there with whatever facts and information you have and do it quickly because people’s attention span is not what it used to be. People move very quickly these days, and you have to be able to tell your story in a very short period of time. It used to be that long form journalism was a very basic part of the journalistic world. The New Yorker would write five or six pages. New York Times would write two whole pages on a topic. Nobody does that any longer unless it’s a scandal. So, you got to find a way to communicate your story quickly and with facts and examples.
Sarah E. Brown 05:44
Okay. And let’s suppose that there’s a mid-career professional woman listening to this who’s not in crisis right now. What’s the key message for her?
Robert Dilenschneider 05:56
She should think about the next steps she wants to take in her career. If she’s very successful doing what she’s doing, she should think of ways to do more of it, leverage more of that, because that way in the organization she is involved in, she’ll be well thought of. If she feels that she’s done a good job and can go to another level, she should think about how to get there, who to influence in terms of getting to that position. And she should start out on a program that is aimed at doing just that. For example, if a woman is in a position, she’s done a good job, wants to go to the next position, who are the decision makers she needs to treat? Who are the people that are going to make the decision to put her up there? And obviously those people want one thing, they want to look good themselves. So, you have to tell them, if you’re a woman doing this, here’s what I’m going to do for you. That generally gets a very good reaction.
Sarah E. Brown 06:51
And is that the essence of the importance of effective communication or is there more to it than that?
Robert Dilenschneider 06:58
Oh no, I think there’s a lot more to it than that. I mean, what graphics are you going to use to tell your story? Who’s going to endorse you and how are you going to get them to endorse you? What kind of a network do you want to build? All of those things and more are things that people should spend time with and think about. And of course that is the message of the book Power and Influence.
Sarah E. Brown 07:19
Just out of curiosity, how do you think communication skills, and I include in that presentation skills, but even beyond that, how do you think communication skills in general are best learned?
Robert Dilenschneider 07:32
Well, the one way to really learn a communication skill is to try it and fail. If you do that, you’ll learn a lot and quickly as a result. Having said that, if you could find a mentor, somebody who’s willing to spend time with you and talk with you about how you can move ahead, that’s very useful. Many years ago I worked with a man named Ed Doherty, who was a brilliant writer. Ed called me to his office one day. I went down to get the compliment that I was going to, had done a good bit of work. Ed looked at me over his glasses and he said, what nationality are you? I said, pardon me? He said, what nationality are you? Greek? Are you Chinese? What are you? I said, I’m American, I’m very proud of it. He said, well, this doesn’t read like English. He said, you really have a totally different focus. And we spent the next two hours going line by line, literally word by word, him teaching me how to do that. It was extremely important. I think if anybody listening to the show has the ability to find such a person, that person will make a major difference for them in their lives. Don’t do it alone. It’s not the best way to do it. You do it alone, you might be successful and you could hope for success, but it’s better to have somebody out there supporting you along the way.
Sarah E. Brown 08:52
Well that’s great advice. I want to unpack that in a minute. And because I have a learning and development background, and one of the things we know about the way adult learners learn best is by doing something and failing. So the more we can orchestrate something for them to do so that they can fail in and be in a safe environment, the faster they will learn something. So I think that concept is really cool. So you have a whole chapter in your book on failure.
Robert Dilenschneider 09:21
Very important. And the key to failure is humility. You need to understand once you fail and we all fail, I mean even the best of us fails. You got to be humble about it. You got to say, what can I learn from this? What lessons can I take away? You don’t want to sit there on the edge of your couch or your chair and say, dog on it, I failed. You don’t want to do that. You got to get up, pick up your shoes and say, no, I’m going to turn this into a positive experience. Too many people spend time focusing on negatives. Well, they really should be focusing on positives, the key to your future.
Sarah E. Brown 09:58
With the rise of social media. And I don’t know if it was prominent when you wrote your first book or not. I’d be interested in that as a perspective. Was it?
Robert Dilenschneider 10:06
No, not at all. Nobody knew about the internet. There was nothing.
Sarah E. Brown 10:10
Okay. So what guidance can you give women now about using the media and in general, and particularly when they might be in transition?
Hi, this is Sarah Brown again, the host of the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. I hope you are enjoying this episode and gaining some tips and inspiration on how you can be happier, more successful, and experience less stress at work. If you would like to learn more about how you can empower the women in your organization to do the same, simply click on the show notes to see how you can connect with me as an added bonus for my podcast guests you’ll see how you can book 30 minutes with me to explore how you can implement a scalable self-coaching program for the women in your organization. Simply visit bookachatwithsarahebrown.com. Now, back to this informative episode!
Robert Dilenschneider 11:21
I think the key to using the media is to have a story that has something you want to say. If you’re in transition and want to get ahead, what benefit can you bring to the party in terms of where you want to go? How can that pay off for people involved for the company or the organization? How can you win so everybody wins? That’s really a kind of an important position. I think the key to success is, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and most importantly how it benefits the person you reported to and the organization you’re with.
Sarah E. Brown 11:59
Okay. Do you have any guidance on protecting your reputation online or otherwise for that matter?
Robert Dilenschneider 12:07
Very easy to receive negative comments about your reputation online. There are organizations that can change that. It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, it’s expensive, it can be changed. The best way to change it, however, is by advancing your own point of view and making that point of view so powerful it eclipses what’s online.
Sarah E. Brown 12:34
Oh, okay. Got it. So you talk about in your book the importance of making your idea more exciting and you talk about it being important for keeping you going in addition to us being a selling point. So can you say more about that?
Robert Dilenschneider 12:50
Have to stretch yourself. Have to say, what’s going to really be exciting for me and for my audience? And what new idea can I put out there? And what kind of language can I use that really is exciting? Don’t go for too long sentences and long paragraphs. Use sentences, 4, 5, 6 words tops. Use sentences, use paragraphs that maybe are two, three lines tops. Find a way to tweak it all together so that the person reading that material or you reading the material to somebody over the net says, gee, that’s interesting. I’d like to know more.
Sarah E. Brown 13:28
Ah, okay. So Bob, what are common mistakes you see women in particular making when trying to gain power and influence?
Robert Dilenschneider 13:39
I think that’s a great question. I think one huge mistake is once they have achieved success, they don’t live with it. They try to get to an even greater position. You don’t have to do that. If you’ve achieved great success and you like it, stay with it. Do more, you’ll eventually be discovered. And that’s a better position than yearning to get to a higher position. That’s one. The second is finding ways to build your network. Make sure that people around you know you know what you’ve done and frankly, talk about you. Don’t talk to them about yourself. Have them talk to other people about you. That makes a huge, huge difference. The third is try to understand the objectives of the person above you and say to that person yourself, if the company has this objective, if Johnny or Sally has this objective, how does what I do relate to that and how can I help them? So a key is helping other people achieve their objectives. They’ll never forget it. They’ll appreciate it.
Sarah E. Brown 14:43
Okay. So what do you hope is the overall takeaway message from your book?
Robert Dilenschneider 14:50
You can live a better, more interesting, more exciting life and you can learn along the way in terms of living that life. You can find a way to take your situation and improve on it so it’s exciting. So when you get up in the morning, you say to yourself, this is really good. I’m looking forward to this. I’m looking forward to going to work today, not, oh my God, here, I’ve got to do it again. So I think that’s very, very important. And when you get to work, and this is a big part of the book, saying to those around you, let’s do something really important today, let’s take this to a higher level. Makes a big difference.
Sarah E. Brown 15:33
Okay. So Bob, somewhere I read that you are participating in a lecture series called ‘Civility in America.’ Tell us more about that and how you got involved and what it is.
Robert Dilenschneider 15:46
I feel very bad about what’s going on in America today. I don’t think we’re civil to one another. I think that there’s an awful lot of backbiting and negative things that are out there. So as a result, I started a program 10 or 11 years ago to try to bring civility in the marketplace. And I set up through libraries and other organizations, speeches by top people who came forward to talk about the importance of civility and why you should be civil to one another. And I found over time that it works. I published books on civility. I published a chapter on civility. You really need to find a way to be decent, supportive to other people. Don’t be rude, don’t be crude, don’t knock people. Be civil with other people. You’ll find it comes back many, many times over.
Sarah E. Brown 16:37
Okay. So Bob, what questions should I have asked you that I didn’t ask you that would help the women listening today really get your message?
Robert Dilenschneider 16:48
It’s a great question, first of all. So that’s one thing you should have said, in my opinion, what questions should you have asked? Well, I suppose you could have asked, ‘If I’m a woman am I going to be discriminated against?” And the answer is, you shouldn’t let that happen. There are ways to avoid that, but there still is serious discrimination in the workplace. I think as long as you realize that and understand how to deal with it, you’re going to be very successful. The second is, is there any task that a woman is not really fit for? And the answer to that is maybe, I mean, if you’re out logging in the Pacific Northwest, cutting down trees, cutting off branches, maybe that’s something a woman doesn’t want to do, a man doesn’t want to do either, either, by the way, but it’s got to be done. So look at those assignments that you don’t want to do. Third is to look at assignments you do want to do. What really is exciting about your position and about your company, about your organization? And how can what you do lead to that? Add to it. Those are some basic points.
Sarah E. Brown 18:02
Very cool. Well, that’s a great takeaway message. So Bob, thank you for being with us today.
Robert Dilenschneider 18:08
It’s terrific to be on a show like this. Again, largely because of your reputation. People really like you. And so if you have guests on, they’re going to say, my God, this is really terrific. I guess that’s also going to increase your listenership.
Sarah E. Brown 18:24
Well, thank you so much.
Robert Dilenschneider 18:25
Have a good day.
Sarah E. Brown 18:27
Thanks for listening to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you are hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes, and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books, or contact us for a chat. Goodbye, for now.