In an earlier article, “Cultivating Entrepreneurial Skills in Your Child,” I told a short story. In this story, I was five years old and wanted something and my father said to me, “What are you going to do to earn the money to buy this something?” I had no idea. One evening, while he was shining all his pairs of shoes for the next week, I sat and watched, and then I had an idea. I could shine his shoes and ask him to pay me. That is the day I became an entrepreneur.
What was missing in my article on the skills needed to cultivate entrepreneurial skills in your child was how to influence people. An entrepreneur needs the vital and most necessary skill of being able to influence others to be interested in and buy into their idea. That Saturday night, I influenced my father, who was more than capable of shining his own shoes, that I could relieve him of this task, and get paid for shining his shoes.
The question then, is how do you cultivate the skill of influencing others? None of us want to be manipulated and there is a difference between influencing someone and manipulating them.
When my father posed the challenge to make my own money, a spark was lit within me, the incentive to make money. I became inspired, driven to find a need, wanting to find a way to be successful and genuinely sought to find a path that could help me accomplish a goal while fulfilling some need.
That evening, while I watched my father shine his shoes, I realized that he did not enjoy this task. I became curious and started asking questions. My curiosity showed genuine interest in shoe shining and I felt compassion for my father because he would rather be at his desk on a Saturday night working on a speech. Through my curiosity and influence, I took over this task. As an executive coach, I have found that curiosity is a tool that opens doors and influences people yet is often underused.