Seneca says don’t be scruffy – trawling this blog for sales advice

Today I’m preparing for a session I’m giving at the University of Cambridge tomorrow on how to sell ideas. To help prepare, I’m going back through old posts to gather materials on the art of selling. Here is the best of what I have found.

HS2 Seneca and the Art of Persuasion

In this post I explore two opposing approaches to influence and use HS2 as a case study for one of these. The first is the concept of the Overton Window, which describes the range of publicly acceptable views on a subject. Persuasion can lie in pulling at the edges of this range of opinion to shift the centre-ground of acceptability.

The second concept, referenced in the title to this post, comes from advice from the Roman Stoic to a friend of his on how to be a better philosopher. He advises that is best not be ‘scruffy’; rather to be recognisable to the townsfolk as being one of them, albeit with differing views. See the full quote here.

Rereading that post from 2018 now in 2020 I see how my privilege (white, male, cis-gender, heterosexual, neuro-normal) makes it much easier for me to look like the other ‘townsfolk’ I am trying to influence, especially when it comes to heads of companies. And so while I think Seneca’s advice still holds true, I recognise that it may be much easier for people like me to blend in to many establishment settings than someone without my privilege.

Aristotle, Seneca and Emotional Intelligence

In this post, I explore Aristotle’s three ‘artistic truths’ for selling: ethos, pathos and logos. This model is useful for shifting attention away from considering the just the argument (the logos) and focusing instead on building trust and empathy.

I touch on writing from Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence on understanding the anxiety, relevant to understanding fears about presenting.

I also refer to another of my favourite quotes from Seneca – this one about knowing how much freedom in which you have to operate.

Trust me, I feel your pain and I have a plan

This post picks up many of the posts above and adds to it the importance of getting really good feedback when developing a presentation, and to do it.

Vulnerability is missing

So far I haven’t written anything about vulnerability, even though this is becoming a more common theme in my teaching, relevant to clowning, facilitation and climate training. I also think it is something worthwhile exploring with respect to creativity and design. Watch this space.

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