Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Persuasion and Compliance Evolving in 2023

Kevin Hogan Persuasion and Compliance

Here’s how I would like to see you influence…

Learn to control as many variables as possible and get the most specific outcome you desire.


A friend had a meltdown today. A meltdown is an expression of all negative emotions present at the same time which more often than not triggers someone ending up in a fetal position or depending on the context and environment, yep…an absolute turnaround in a matter of minutes.

Specifically.  It’s going to require two parts love, three parts persuasion.

Imagine meltdown and then continue.

Control Variables to Specify Outcome

“Hey what’s up?”

“Kev, life just sucks, I’m out of control, my Dad is disappointed in me and hates me, my husband bought an expensive screwdriver set and we’re sitting here with nothing, my family abandoned me when I needed them most, I have no money, my rent is 3 weeks past due, my car is broke and I’m seriously depressed.”

Meltdown increases as things are itemized, obviously.

There are no classes at University or in the company training to deal with crises.


Most people say, “oh it’s not all that bad,” (which is deadly to the human psyche and judgment machine in the brain – the person is MELTING DOWN LIKE CHERNOBYL) or “everything will be all right,” (gotta love positive thinking for idiots…people who don’t want to work towards an outcome) or “how can I help?” (intuitively seems smart but it’s a MELT-DOWN not a DRIP-DOWN.)

Crisis Management 101

What to do?

Break state.

I kissed my friend once on the forehead as she lost water weight in tears at a rate of about three ounces per minute. I gave her a decent sized hug, but not for too long, because this is what everyone else would do – everyone else screws up meltdowns, stopping after the hug,  and… well, screws it up for the rest of us in the situation later. We have to do it right.

PICK SOMETHING to solve quickly. ONE THING.  Change the overwhelm imagery to ONE THING.

Prevent Screwing Up Meltdown

“So your Dad hates you?”

“Well no, but he’s constantly judging me when I don’t meet his expectations.”

“Got it.”

“Your dad isn’t exactly in a great frame of mind in general, and lately has been sort of a mess – true?”

She nods.

“OK so, here’s the deal. You can’t use your Dad’s current judgment of your life experience and decisions as a guide post, true?”

Nods her head.


Nods head harder. I’m mostly sold.

“So you obviously are needing someone to understand your experience or tell you that you are screwing up or doing something well…someone who is not you. So here’s what we’re going to do. (Time doesn’t permit 8 hours of therapy). We’re going to have me be your judge of character, decision making (because I don’t have enough to do), general sanity… and life experience for the next 30 days. If you start to flip out, you call me or come to me, deal? (Flip out?!??! Yes, flip out.)”

“Can I tell you what I think? (Always wait for permission.) You’re actually doing fairly well. (NOT GREAT, NOT WELL) You aren’t setting the world on fire, but you are above neutral and more than half the world is behind you. So your Dad is wrong about the things you told me and someday soon he’ll be back in his normal neurotic space at which point you can revert to dealing with your family as your personal  judge until you decide you need to be your own judge. Cool?”

“Next, your husband is not a terrible guy and he loves you, true?”

Head nod.

“So the screw driver set. OK, he probably didn’t need to buy the set, but he didn’t ask you to pick it up, which I suspect would have led to different conversations, so the dude was making choices that may not have been perfect, true?”

Head nod.

“Not perfect, but not totally insane…. OK, so you call him and say this, ‘I’m sorry I blew on you about the screwdriver set. I’M SORRY.'” (NOTHING ELSE – JUST THE SCREWDRIVER SET. Your friend only screwed up…on the screw-driver). As soon as you are done you say, ‘gotta run, love you.’ and get off the phone and talk to me.”

What’s going to happen is this. She will call the husband. The husband is flipping out because he doesn’t know what the hell is happening. She apologizes about ONE THING. EVERYONE can apologize about the TINIEST thing of 10 things…. And then he will apologize for not asking her first. Then, she will tell him that he was doing his best and she appreciates it. He will tell her that she’s beautiful and he loves her. The call will last 20 minutes instead of the two because once ONE PERSON says they are sorry, the other person will as well, and the world will be substantially better shortly.

If you say, “call your hubby and talk to him, he’s smart…” well, he’s not. He’s a husband. He’s an idiot (normal husband) and he won’t get the scripting right if we don’t get him the right cue line. And of course you can’t tell your friend this, but you know it.

A half hour later they will have resolved the MELTDOWN ELIMINATION.

You weren’t stopping an argument (a creative discussion), but stopping a meltdown – and there is a big difference. (Usually they go together but you can’t count on it.)

And they will live happily ever after for at least 2 – 5 weeks at which point another meltdown will occur, probably triggered by a glimpse of the husband, and probably because of something stupid. You can’t save the world but you can STRONGLY INFLUENCE the outcome of a person’s life.


You Too Can Influence

And you thought an Influencer was the cute girl on Instagram.


That is how I want people to shift minds.

Now look at some proven and also new ways to change minds and  gain compliance.

Legend Point: Words are one small tool to change minds. The DELIVERY method, the context, the environment, identification with another are all huge factors in whether you can successfully change a person’s mind today.


Color influences. Nuances of color schemes shift our thinking today in a different way than they did a decade ago, but major color groups like primary colors continue to have predictable impact on people.

Kevin Hogan Influence of Color

Influence is in part about understanding EVERYTHING in your environment. You begin to find out why everything works the way it does. The person who understands what is really happening around them is the person who will be the most influential and of course, successful. An influencer must understand context, environment, and humans far better than everyone else, or you end up being the nonconscious one.


The Strip and even downtown Las Vegas is a unique example of “living influence.” The environment changes from hotel to hotel in a dramatic fashion that is matched nowhere on this planet.

Environment changes perceptions. Environment changes memory. Environment changes how you and I are influenced… and colors imprint images into the mind in unique ways.


A big part of life is doing things that are the same every single day. MOST behavior is simply replicated hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year. How do you influence in an autopilot life?

Las Vegas creates a different life experience. You have so much unfamiliar stimuli that you are hypnotized by the environment.

Now that’s interesting from the perspective of influence. Consider this…

If YOU owned a casino, you would want the people entering the space to stay as long as possible. Unlike a restaurant where you generally have an upper limit on what can be spent in 2 hours, a casino still has an upper limit, but it is a much higher upper limit. In other words – if $200 is your bill for two people in two hours, that’s a lot different than a $2,000 limit for two hours. I’ve always liked business models that engender long-term relationships.

And because of the law of large numbers, the longer people stay the more likely the entity with the most money is to win all of the money. That just means that the casino can endure a longer streak of you winning, than you can endure longer streaks of the casino beating you. And this is true for people who count cards and actually hold a per hand advantage over the casino. All this means that you are going to make a lot of money in any business where you control variables.

There are literally only a dozen tables in all of Las Vegas where the rules are in my favor to the point in which I have an advantage if I count cards and play every hand mathematically. And yet, because the casino has an endless bank, even with an advantage,  it’s very, very hard to beat the casino at blackjack.  I looked the other day at my casino records and Vegas beat me in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I beat Vegas every year from 2015 – to date.

Color’s a big part of Las Vegas. Color schemes are created in such a way as to draw attention from a visitor and direct their behavior.

The research on how various colors change minds and alter behavior is quite remarkable.

Change the context…

Different colored walls change the behavior of students. Certain colors cause grades to rise. Other colors cause kids to be more happy or induce sadness. The same colors that trigger students to improve academically don’t make them happier.

Primary colors always take me to Star Trek. Star Trek influenced the world. Part of the influence was in the stories. A big part was the libertarian philosophy. Some was in the scripting that generated dramatic identification. Some was in the characters. Some was more subtle…

Influence: A Context Impact

When I was at the Wynn Hotel last week, I was looking around at some truly beautiful creations, and my mind flew straight to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek; because Star Trek is colors. Bold blues, greens, reds, yellows.

That triggered another thought about how almost everything in Star Trek has since materialized.

Colors Materialized will Influence

One thing about the Sci-Fi future which is happening right now in 2023 is that people are losing much of their individual identity as they post pictures of themselves with E.T. like shaped heads and the ears and nose of animals…and, while that will continue, there is also backlash against that.

Some people want to be recognized as unique and colorful individuals themselves.

Of course many other people often, but NOT ALWAYS, want to blend into the woodwork.

Those two pieces of the “yes” puzzle are of megalithic importance.

It whizzes past everyone and it’s hard to imagine selling, marketing or being very persuasive without an understanding of this.

Imagine if all the walls on Star Trek were a uniform color. In Roddenberry’s world, everything is colorful.

All of those differentiating color schemes help make up for the lack of “stuff.” There is no clutter in the Roddenberry future. There is nothing but the simplest of wall decorations. Furnishings are minimalistic. People’s identity is “crew member” which eventually influenced two generations of people like Steve Jobs, because we all became part of the crew. It was easy to fit in. And then in 40 years pretty much everything that was Sci-Fi in Star Trek is in use today.

But individual identity?

The new persuasion “techniques” of compliance require you wire into another person’s identity. Write that down and turn the page.

How Does Your Stuff Influence?

Look around your house, your office, from where you sit.

You have stuff. Even clutter.

How Your Stuff Influences You
Look at the stuff on your shelf units or decorations. What is all that stuff, anyway?

A few years ago I wrote a detailed article about what the offices of some seriously successful people look like. You’d probably be surprised to know that most of the working spaces of great minds was pretty darned cluttered.

For our purpose today, I’m more interested with the interests of all the surroundings on the people in the immediate area.

You can tell a lot about people by what they have around them. Where you live, how you live, and what is in the immediate vicinity all influence you.

I live in an 8,000 square foot home. The housekeeper says it’s like cleaning “a hotel.”

The great room (whatever that means) is as big as the first house I lived in with a family of 7 when I was a kid. Having grown up in a shoe box, you learn to get everything done in a very small space.

For me, I treasured my space. I also became very attached to some of the “stuff” in the environment, probably because we had so little stuff. I didn’t know it at the time of course, but two pieces of furniture from my childhood are still in my house today. The dining room table and a hutch. My first step dad had made both before he died.

Memories, good and bad, get attached to stuff.

Most people who have homes like mine have $20,000 dining room sets.

I’ve got a dining room table that I couldn’t get $20 for. I never really notice it, but when people come to visit who haven’t been here before, they notice. No one ever says, “hey you have a million dollar house, why don’t you have a table that you could actually sell at a garage sale in the city.”

To me, it’s the most important stuff in the house…and I have some stuff that I consider pretty cool.

That table influences my behavior. It triggers “family” and “love” and “decisions that matter” in my mind. Take the table and hutch away and you change performance, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, emotions.

The very idea of replacing the table and hutch is something difficult to entertain.

Family means a lot to me, and…

Stuff triggers a big part of who you are as a person.

Throw it away, and it changes your behavior, attitudes and emotions. Place it on the other side of the room… and it changes you. It changes everyone who works or lives there. Some changes are good, and some are not so good, but do understand that it changes.

That table is a daily reminder that family is first.

Adding Stuff Influences

Add one child (an object) to a family of 6, and the dynamics change.

Add a dog and that object (the dog) changes the environment and everyone’s interactions toward everyone else.

You take the dog out, it was your damn idea to get the THING.”

Objects (stuff/people) in the environment that are available (you are able to immediately observe them) CHANGE YOU. They INFLUENCE you.

As you think about stuff – everything that occupies space and that is available to you – you begin to understand influence in a dynamic fashion.

Identity Forms Around Your Stuff

When I was a kid, I collected coins. We had nothing, so I would work and save money. I’d ask to look through people’s change and ask if I could trade a Lincoln Memorial penny for a Wheat back penny. I knew someday the one would be worth more than the other, and the person with a pocketful of change had money they were going to spend today or they’d be saving it. This was the first of two coin collections I had stolen when I was a kid. The first when I was 12, the second when I was 15. In both cases, I had put everything I earned into the collections to save for college. In those collections, I developed part of an identity. A person who would save for the future. A person who recognized the value of having something to survive with when everything else in life goes wrong.

But, as time went on other parts of an identity formed. When people have things taken from them, they tend to:

a) Replicate that behavioral experience in the future.


b) They tend to develop generalized beliefs about people when part of their identity is taken from them.

If people are a victim of crime X, they tend to become a victim AGAIN in the future.

You and I change and influence the world around us, as well.

Stuff… your relationship to stuff, the significance of stuff – changes your beliefs, your attitudes, ideas, and behaviors. It changes your trust level, your caring level, and changes how you make decisions.

Step Two – The smallest of changes, whether in a room, a scene, or in the New Compliance Technique, can cut compliance in HALF or DOUBLE “yes.” Write down, “Little Additions” and “Their Stuff.”

Influence: Stuff and Availability

Bring their past into the present?


Objects influence dramatically.

Think about the teenager (like me when I was 17). I was HAPPY to be off to college. I was tired of the responsibility of being the eldest of 5 siblings in the home. 15 years of that role had worn thin, and that caused massive friction between my Mom and my Self.

For a year, I had “threatened Mom” that I was leaving as soon as I could get to college. (Hee hee…this is so damn cute in retrospect.)

I was out the door. 17 years old.

Changes in What Persuades People My cousin took me to Vegas after I graduated. I played blackjack for 10 minutes until I figured I’d get carded. I went to the Folies Bergère at the Tropicana and watched 40 of the most beautiful women I had ever watched be more elegant than I ever had imagined. (Do experiences influence future experiences?!)

Then, University of Wisconsin. HA! “Freedom.”

I hated it.

I’d never seen so much alcohol and so many drugs in my life – and I grew up in Chicago.

I couldn’t study, I could rarely think because the dorm was so loud.

And the guy in the room next door played all the music that would eventually drive me from the dorm….back home.


It was familiar at home. All of the stuff made sense to the brain. The objects in the house….the dog, my family, the odd smells of home.

You can only be so productive in 96 square feet, which was my half of the dorm room.

But, there was more to it than space alone. It was my roommate’s music, which could have been a lot “worse” (it was actually great for people who liked it, of course) and his stuff in my field of view just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t a cowboy, didn’t know anything about everything he knew about. The influences were all a disaster. Everything changed and I didn’t adapt. But, I also had an out. I could go home. Had that option not been there, I’d have been in a different life situation.

What You See Influences You

I suspect you are like me in this respect:

I have books in book cases all over the house. The only ones that really influence me are the ones I read or the ones I have in my line of vision most of the time.

Environment Persuades If those books weren’t there, behavior would change. Attitudes, emotions, ideas….they all change.

Your stuff influences you.

Imagine that your walls are blank. Nothing there. Just empty walls.

How do you feel inside?

Just imagine yourself taking down everything and setting it in a storage room.

You change. You feel empty. Things LOOK disturbing. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unfamiliar and you want to fix the problem.

Remember that, and we’ll come back to it.

Write down, “Bringing the Past into the Present can = SECURITY.” Then turn the page.

Giving and Getting Stuff

Experiences are stuff because they too get coded into your memory just like your stuff does. In fact, sometimes experiences are more important than stuff in influencing your Self and others.

When you give stuff (or experience things with) to other people, it definitely influences them and who they are as well as how they will behave.

It’s Christmas.

You got a gift one year from someone who acquired the gift for free, like a promotional item.

That changes your behavior and emotions about your Self and it changes how you feel about the other person. It changes the relationship.

They got the calendar from the insurance guy for free…and then you got it at Christmas. The meaning behind the message is potent. No wonder the influence is so great.

Meanwhile, another person got you precisely what you would have bought your Self had you had the money and felt it would be OK to buy it for your Self.

You identify with that person. That person gets you. They read you. They actually care.

You feel very differently toward this person. You feel differently about your Self, as well. You behave differently once you have X when you didn’t have X before, and you like X.

The promotional item got tossed. It wouldn’t have, had the person been destitute, of course. But that isn’t generally the case. Ultimately, you were an after thought in one situation. In the other, the person took time to think about you, who you are, and what you like.

The Stuff You Save Influences

The stuff you save says a lot about what influences you.

I’ve saved a lot of little things over the years. The dining room table and the hutch are bold statements in one sense. Everyone sees them. There is a story in each. The little things show what influences as well. One thing I’ve saved is many letters and a few birthday cards from people who really mattered at a specific time. Or perhaps I’ve saved something someone signed who I cared about.


All of those things prove something to the brain…a self worth trigger. At some time you mattered to someone. Everyone hangs on to something. What is that for the people you communicate with?

It can be many things, but if you didn’t have those things, you would behave differently.

Availability and Triggers

Today, you have your computer and it has all your files on it.

Most all of what is on your computer is not “available.” You can’t immediately see it.

You have to click to get it. It can never trigger you or influence you, only you can trigger it. If you are like most people you almost never will.

Triggers are generally gifts to the Self. Triggers get you up and moving.

Triggers help you make money. Triggers cause the impulse to act by asking the girl for a date.

Are there fewer triggers available in your environment?

LEGEND POINT: If there are fewer triggers available in your environment, then the introduction of a new trigger plays a greater role than it would have, say, a decade ago.

Being on someone’s Coffee Table today is easily worth double what it was one decade ago.

Your name in front of someone’s desk or table means far more today because there are fewer books, magazines, and calendars out there to trigger you. That means, when something with your name or connection is in front of someone else, the influence of that item is dramatically greater.

Write this down: The personal “touch” is becoming more important.

(And this is particularly in The New Compliance Trigger.)

Influence: Personalization

LEGEND POINT: Most everyone has “connections” and they are triggered by things that are personalized or individualized.

Personalization Influences People What do you open first when you get the mail?

The handwritten envelope or the envelope that had your name spelled incorrectly?

Of course.

How many handwritten envelopes do you see each week?

Not too many?

That is likely to mean that in most cases they become more valuable because fewer are available.

If ANYTHING of significance is in that envelope, the contents are likely to stick around longer on the counter than if it was computer generated.

Within understanding that personalized and individualized objects or hints of personalization can matter a great deal, consider just HOW that might look in the influencing someone.

Three years ago, the Harvard Business Review asked me to write about something unique that no one knew about in influence. There were a dozen ideas that came to mind but without question, this one is worth revisiting.

The Post-it Note Influences More Than You Think

Post-it Notes Influence

A couple of years ago I started studying various personalized and individualized objects. It turns out I wasn’t the only person who was interested in this influential gold mine.

You heard me talk about this at Boot Camp.

You’ve seen the sticky notes. Post-it Notes. They’re all over my counter. “Pick up this.” “Do that.” “Get this.”

They are more important and urgent than lists to attend to because they irritate the brain.

They take up space where it should be clean or look more uniform with the environment.

The brain wouldn’t fill in a Post-it note on the quick sweep of the room so when it sees the Post-it note, it would prefer that it NOT BE THERE.

Why? Because the way we tell ourselves to get stuff done meets with different results, depending on the medium we use to tell ourselves. You also know that how you tell OTHER PEOPLE to do something changes the results you are going to achieve.

FACT: The exact information in a webinar vs. a book will cause different behaviors.

FACT: The exact information in a webinar vs. a salesletter gets different sales results.

FACT: The exact information written on a birthday card gets different results than when a handwritten letter is used with the exact same words.

FACT: The YouTube video with the exact same message as the segment that appeared on TV will have dramatically different behavioral results on the person.

The MEDIUM matters far more than most anyone can guess.

Answer: Availability is Key to Action

I wanted the book, Invisible Influence to be something special. Whenever I’m working on something that is a top priority I cover the FLOOR with papers.

I had 1000++ square feet covered in the lower level with research papers, articles I’ve written, press releases from persuasion research, ideas for the book.

My problem of course was to whittle down 4000 pages and hone in on the most useful, coolest stuff without writing a “potpourri” book with 50 chapters that are 3 pages each. (Maybe I’ll do that next time.)

Once I put the clutter away, the amount of writing I did each day dramatically reduced. When I could walk the path it was easy because I looked at the titles and picked and chose what people need to know. But when you clean up, it’s a lot more difficult. This is why a lot of authors pin pages to their walls. Putting it on a computer is not efficient or helpful.

Legend Point: You need the stimulus AVAILABLE.

That is a key concept. YOU want to be on THEIR Coffee Table. Being on their Kindle doesn’t do you diddly.

But we’ll come there next time.

The pages on the floor trigger ideas, combinations of ideas, overviews of available knowledge. Without the trigger, there is no ACTION.

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