How to build authority like Ben Franklin’s father
I once picked up a story from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography about his father.
Franklin Sr. was apparently very well regarded in his community as a man of sound judgement.
Franklin Jr. says that he was often visited by both politicians and clergymen to give his advice on certain matters. All this without his invitation.
And not only that, but he was often an arbitrator in disputes among the residents of his town.
In fact, Franklin even refers to his father’s work as “consulting” (though I am sure he didn’t mean exactly how we think of consulting in a business sense today).
How does a mere Candlemaker become the sought-after conscience of government officials, pastors, and “private persons”?
“At his table he liked to have, as often as he could, some sensible friend or neighbor to converse with, and always took care to start some ingenious or useful topic for discourse, which might tend to improve the minds of his children.”
Franklin Sr. wasn’t necessarily the most knowledgeable guy in the room (though he couldn’t have gained his reputation without knowledge).
Instead, he was the facilitator of discussions. Particularly smart discussions.
And you can do this as well. Whether that means sharing interesting articles with your coworkers. Being the one who asks the question that starts the smart conversation.
Or even reporting things from the autobiographies of famous people to your email list (ahem).
This is of course a double-edged sword. Because you have to gain new knowledge to share new knowledge.
So as you gain new knowledge, you also build your own authority among people who may be interested in buying from you or partnering with you.
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