Real Influence by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Synopsis of Content:

“Most people, most of the time, aren’t motivated to do what you want them to do”. This book is essentially about how to motivate others to do what you want them to do. On a basic level it is a book on sales. You must sell people on doing what you want them to do. To do that you apply a very basic sales technique: you identify what the other person wants and use that to influence them.

Goulston and Ullmen argue that the forms of influence taught in higher education are “disconnected influence”. It is trying to influence and motivate others without being connected to them. People recognize this immediately and are resistant to it.

They also argue that because we are convinced, often based on the very best intentions, that what we want others to do is adequate good reason for them to do it. By ignoring what others want and focusing on what we want we create a form of blind spot in our thinking which reduces our effectiveness.

To overcome this blind spot we must concentrate on effectively influencing others in the context of what they want and need. To do this they suggest four approaches:

  1. Seek to motivate others by inspiring them to achieve great outcomes. Do not settle for what is possible, look for what might be possible to inspire.
  1. Listen past your blind spot: find out what others really want and listen. Seek to truly connect with others.
  1. Engage people in their mindset: find out what they believe and what they truly want. You then explain to them how what you seek them to do will further their desires. In sales talk this means you provide them with a “solution” to their problems using your approach.
  1. Do More. It is not enough to merely identify their needs and try to solve them through your solution. You must go beyond that and do more than they could possibly expect. You must not just impress them with your solutions, you must wow them.

This approach is not easy. It is hard work. It forces you to really understand what you want people to do and why. It forces you to really listen and understand what they want and why and then reconcile the two.

When others feel truly understood and feel connected to you they are more likely to be receptive to your message and to allow themselves to be motivated to do what you want them to do to the extent it matches and meets their needs and wants. This must be a genuine process, not a sophisticated form of manipulation. People will sense insincerity and being sold. They must believe that you truly care about them and have a genuine relationship with them. This is the most effective way to influence others.


This book is very useful to anyone who wants or needs to influence others or to persuade them. It is therefore useful to anyone.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Well written and organized.

Notes on Author:

Mark Goulston, MD, is a psychiatrist and business advisor. He is author of the bestselling book, Just Listen.

John Ullmen, PhD, is an executive coach on influence. He is on the faculty at UCLA.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Overcome your blind spot by genuinely listening to others. This is hard work and requires continuous effort.
  1. Seek to understand what others really want and why.
  1. Identify how the ways you seek to influence others will meet their genuine needs and wants.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Copyright holder: Mark Gouston and John Ullmen © 2013

Publisher: Amacom

ISBN: 9780814420157

272 pages.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for May 2013

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.