My first understanding of the power of influence came as a 21 year old at 1 New York Plaza, New York City. During a job interview with a sales trader at Goldman Sachs, I remember him telling me the most frustrating thing about his job was that as soon as GS showed up in the queue to buy, the stock would instantly move higher.
His job was to buy stock for an institutional client at the lowest price possible. But because GS was one of the most powerful investment banks at the time, other traders would instantly try and front-run a GS order.
The thinking always went like this: If GS is selling, we should probably sell as quickly as possible because they probably know something we don’t know and vice versa.
Due to the constant front-running, algorithmic trading and dark pools were created to obfuscate large buyers and sellers. When there was simply too much stock a client wanted to offload, an investment bank would act as a principal, buying the stock at a discount in hopes of re-selling the stock to other clients at a premium. With enough discretion, taking such risk often paid off. But sometimes, the bank would get slaughtered due to loose lips.
The Power Of Influence
Nowadays, the most common example of influence lies in an announcement that XYZ famous investor took a stake in ABC stock. For example, whenever Warren Buffet says he bought something, you can be sure the stock will jump several percentage points. The only way you can really get an edge is to buy Berkshire Hathaway stock.
None of us will ever be as influential as Warren Buffet, but over time, we can all develop our own sphere of influence.
The easiest way to develop influence is do something and succeed over and over again.
For example, after you’ve done 1,000 successful eye surgeries, you will become the leading eye surgeon in the land. You will be invited to conferences, be able to direct research funding, and receive a steady stream of clients. Your influence will enable you to raise prices, create courses, license your name, and get rich in the process.
If you’ve done 25 surgeries, and botched five of them, nobody will ever want to see or hear from you again.
Develop expertise through consistent execution and patience.
Influence Can Come From The Smallest Idea
Although a lot of folks from all over come to Financial Samurai to learn more about personal finance, this site is really tiny in the grand scheme of things. I don’t expect to influence the world, especially since I’m an unemployed nobody.
I only expect to help the 3% of you who actually take my advice. That’s right. Based on conversion metrics, roughly 97% of you read something and never take action. That’s cool, because it just means something isn’t painful enough for you to do something about it.
Because I like to check out open houses, on average I speak with three real estate agents every week. I always ask the real estate agent at least three things: 1) How do you think the market is doing versus this time last year? 2) Where do you think the market is heading over the next 12 months? and 3) Where is the best place in the city to buy?
To my surprise, over the past several months, more than half of the experienced real estate agents have told me the western side of SF is the best place to buy. They pointed to Inner Sunset, Parkside, and Golden Gate Heights as the primo neighborhoods to make the most amount of money.
Several even listed reasons why Golden Gate Heights is the best area which sounded eerily similar to the reasons given in my post published in 2014 called, “The Best Place To Buy Property In San Francisco Today.”
Then one realtor handed me a flier with this chart below. It’s Redfin’s 10 hottest neighborhoods in the ENTIRE country to close out the year 2017. Notice anything interesting?
There are around 150,000 neighborhoods in America and 119 neighborhoods in San Francisco alone. What are the chances that Golden Gate Heights, a tiny neighborhood, would even make the list? My guess is less than 0.1%.
When I Googled,”the best place to buy property in San Francisco,” I found my article in the #1 or #2 spot of the results. So I asked all the realtors whether they had heard of Financial Samurai before, and all of them said yes.
Ah hah! It seems that three years after I made a strong argument for Golden Gate Heights, Google now agrees with the argument, many realtors now agree with my thesis, public company Redfin agrees, and now a herd of new buyers agree.
In fact, just the other day, our local paper republished a post originally published on Business Insider about Golden Gate Heights.
I might not be able to influence the world with my tiny site, but I have been able to influence the population looking to buy real estate in San Francisco. In turn, this influence has helped improve my net worth given I’m long a panoramic ocean view home in Golden Gate Heights.
Who said the only way to make money blogging is through online advertising? My biggest mistake was not buying two GGH properties before the mass media and real estate companies decided to agree.
Will they give me credit for the thesis I made in 2014? Of course not. But it doesn’t matter because what I care most about are the results. Inception is about planting an idea a long time ago and making the evangelists believe it was their idea all along. Having someone else, especially in a position of power, speak for you is much more effective than speaking for yourself.
The author of the Business Insider article graduated in 2013 and came to SF in 2015. From her perspective, GGH is an incredible revelation. For FS readers and long time SF residents, not so much. To be able to influence the mass media can be very lucrative. Why do you think billionaires like to buy newspapers like The Washington Post?
Achieve Financial Independence With Influence
The most important place to grow your sphere of influence is at work. Do what you say you will do in a professional manner for a long enough time and you will get paid and promoted.
Once you’ve developed a solid track record at work, develop influence with your clients and competitors. If your clients all believe in you, then you can go anywhere and your clients will follow. The more you are respected and feared by your competitors, the more they will want to poach you for bigger bucks and a larger role.
To really scale your influence, establish a presence online. Compared to offline reach, online reach is unlimited. I could have tried to meet every single realtor in San Francisco to make my Golden Gate Heights pitch in person, but that would have taken forever and expended too much energy. Instead, I simply spent a few hours typing a post, then let the internet do its thing.
Once you develop influence you can scale your influence into any number of things:
- Public speaking
- Building a business
- Creating a subscription newsletter
- Managing other people’s money
- Selling your own product
- Running for political office
- Selling other people’s products you believe in
- Getting other companies to hire you away for big bucks
With so many new ways to make money beyond your day job, your financial worries should decrease, if not disappear altogether. Achieving financial independence is only a matter of time.
Key Points Of Influence
* Influence must be earned through repetitive successful outcomes.
* You will only gain influence if you do what you say you will do.
* Providing an opinion when you have no skin in the game is pointless.
* The stronger your brand, the longer you can make your influence last.
* Once you gain influence, you can leverage your influence in many different directions.
* You can skip the long slog of developing your influence by joining a firm that already has influence. However, you might always feel like an impostor piggy backing off your firm’s reputation.
* Try and build a network of influential friends. Life get so much easier if you do.
Explore real estate crowdfunding: If you’re looking to buy property as an investment or reinvest your house sale proceeds, take a look at Fundrise, one of the largest real estate crowdfunding platforms today. They allow everyone to invest in mid-market commercial real estate deals across the country that were once only available to institutions or super high net worth individuals. They are the pioneers of eREIT funds and they are creating an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of tax-efficient Opportunity Zones. Thanks to technology, it’s now much easier to take advantage of lower valuation, higher net rental yield properties across America.
* Shop around for a mortgage: Check the latest mortgage rates online through LendingTree. They’ve got one of the largest networks of lenders that compete for your business. Your goal should be to get as many written offers as possible and then use the offers as leverage to get the lowest interest rate possible. This is exactly what I did to lock in a 2.375% 5/1 ARM for my latest refinance. For those looking to purchase property, the same thing is in order. If you’ve found a good deal, can afford the payments, and plan to own the property for 10+ years, I’d get neutral inflation and take advantage of the low rates.
Updated for 2019 and beyond.