If your idea was edible, would it be broccoli or would it be a cheeseburger?
Jonah Berger, author and marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania told an audience in Chicago for the Engage 2017 conference recently, “Ideas do not sell themselves. The notion that if an idea is good, people will share it, is wrong.”
The goal is to make our ideas tastier. More cheeseburger and less broccoli.
In his books, Contagious: Why Things Catch On and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, Berger details the science and the steps behind making sure that your ideas as a leader will be shared and put into action.
Knowing how to ensure your ideas are heard and shared widely is critical for women leaders, particularly because women often feel silenced and undervalued in the workplace and in the culture. Research supports this notion as do common behaviors.Knowing how to ensure your ideas are heard and shared widely is critical for #womenleaders Click To Tweet
Many women have experienced a time when an idea is ignored until it is “hepeated.”
Brandi Neal explains in Bustle, “If you’re a woman or non-binary person, you’ve likely had the experience of suggesting something that has fallen on deaf ears. But, when the same idea is later expressed by a man, it’s heralded as brilliant. Now, there’s a word for that: Hepeated. What does hepeated mean?”
Neal writes, “Hepeated just might be the new mansplaining, and it happens when a man repeats your ignored idea, and everyone thinks he’s a genius. Nicole Gugliucci, a social advocate and professor, took to Twitter to explain the term. ‘My friends coined a word: hepeated,’ Gugliucci tweeted. ‘For when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but then a guy says same thing and everyone loves it.’”
This tendency for reactions—or non-reactions—in the workplace is backed up by other new research findings.
A new survey of “more than 24,000 workers in tech and other industries at public and private companies of different sizes study by the employment firm Comparably finds that 60 percent of men surveyed think that there are enough women in leadership positions at the companies where they work. Only 49 percent of women in the survey agreed,” writes Jane Burnett in The Ladders.
In other words, there are enough women talking and working and offering their ideas. The workplace does not need any more.
One of those challenges is having a larger public share your new idea. You can overcome that by addressing your “curse of knowledge,” or assuming your audience knows as much as you do, Berger says.
Say you are an expert in your company in a specific area but few people understand it or know about it. “Having access to that information makes you look in the know and gives you social currency,” Berger says.
Social currency is the first of six steps or STEPPS to having your idea catch on and he offers them in a resource workbook.
It is critical to be able to communicate the information in a palatable, or tasty way.It is critical to be able to communicate your idea in a palatable, or tasty way. #WomenLeaders Click To Tweet
“Cool information is an appetizer to draw people in,” he says. You also have to know “how to make an audience feel smart, special and in the know.”
You can communicate your idea in a way to “make it stick,” Berger says, “and find the inner remarkability that is surprising, novel or interesting.”
That can be presenting your idea in a different way with a demonstration in a meeting perhaps. One of the best ways to communicate is through stories, which Berger calls “the Trojan horse of information.”One of the best ways to #communicate your ideas is through stories Click To Tweet
That could be one clue behind the virality of author Emily Esfahani Smith’s April 2017 TED talk, that has earned nearly 1.5 million views. It starts with her personal story.
“Tell your story” is also the last of the 9 Leadership Power Tools developed by Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. According to Feldt, “Your story is your truth. Your truth is your power. Telling your story authentically helps you lead (not follow) your dreams and have an unlimited life.”
Berger would agree. He adds, “Stories are really powerful They have hooks that stick in our minds. It is not just a story, but a vessel for information.” He adds, “Stories are the currency of connection.”
So as a leader if you want people to listen to you, hear your ideas, share your ideas, and put them into action, understand that “stories carry our ideas along for the ride,” Berger says. Then “figure out what your kernel is, your key idea.”
You want your ideas to be shared and repeated by as many as possible—and attributed to you.