In the first post in this overall series of blogs on “How to Sell Your Ideas,” I spoke about the human tendency to reduce cognitive dissonance by changing one’s beliefs to make everything fit together neatly. Robert Cialdini’s tool of public declaration is another example of this principle. If you can get someone to say something publicly, they will later tend to believe it.

Here is how this can work for you.

If you can get an important person to speak favorably about your project in public, they are far more likely to support it in the future. During the Clinton administration, when Pinchot & Company was working on reinventing the Forest Service, we got to a connection to Al Gore’s speechwriter — much easier than getting to talk to Al Gore. By getting the speechwriter to write an appreciation of our project into a Gore speech, he became more likely to support us, which was quite helpful later.

Working with influential people in preparation for a meeting in which the plusses and minuses of your idea will be discussed can have two kinds of impact:

  1. If they speak out in support of your idea they may sway others.
  2. Having supported your idea in a controversy, they are much more likely to support it in the future

Find ways to get people to stand up for your idea publicly.

Next Week

Next Monday’s post: “Social Proof

Posts in this Series:

How to Sell Your Ideas

Express Gratitude

Avoid Triggering the Organizational Immune System

It’s Only a Test

Framing Ideas so they Get Support

Restarting the Clock

Don’t Run it up the Flagpole to See Who Salutes

The Risk of Not Doing It

Handling Objections

The Complex Sale


Gifford Pinchot III is an American entrepreneur, author, inventor, and President of Pinchot & Company. Gifford is credited with inventing the concept of and word “intrapreneur” in a paper that he and his wife, Elizabeth Pinchot, wrote in 1978 titled Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship. His first book, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (1985) presented an expansion of the intrapreneurship concept.