Classic Influence Podcast:
Timeless Lessons from the Legends
The Wisdom of History
Welcome to the Classic Influence Podcast show where we explore the timeless lessons learned from the legends of influence, leadership, and power.
Whether you work in business or politics, education or entertainment, or whether you simply want to tap more of your potential power and find greater success, your capacity for influence is indispensable to getting the outcomes you desire. Influence is the master key to success.
Distilled from the stories of history’s heroes and today’s superstars of success, this show is based on the idea that, as Isaac Newton once said, we can see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants.” “Look back over the past,” wrote the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, “…and you can foresee the future too.”
Drawing on his graduate school training at San Diego State and Harvard, as well as his training and experience as a qualitative researcher at Columbia, where he now teaches, Dr. Johnny Welch, M.B.A. (author of Mastering the Power of Grit and The Magic of Assuming Command) reveals the most critical patterns and themes that surface in the research of those who have mastered the power of influence—champions and heroes who stand as icons of influence, timeless legends of leadership, power, persuasion, and sway.
Listen in as we work to unearth the wisdom and insights of the legends and heroes of history to discover the strategies, tactics, tips and tools you can use to master the power of influence to achieve your own most daring dreams and goals.
Remember: “History belongs above all to the man of deeds and power,” wrote the influential German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “to him who fights a great fight, who needs models, teachers, comforters and cannot find them among his contemporaries.”
Note: To see the list of Classic Influence Podcast episodes (and where to subscribe), with links to the resource guides, click here: CIP Episodes.
Put Your Name on the Building, Assume the Title and Position You Desire: Steven Spielberg Occupies the Universal Lot
Discover and Destroy Limiting Beliefs: Martin Luther Triggers the Reformation, Forever Altering the Course of History and the Power of Leaders Around the World
Martin Luther changed the course of human history in 1517 when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church. But Luther’s bold move and revolutionary stand was not without grave risks, including the distinct possibility of being burned alive. But what enabled such a humble, scholarly, and deeply religious Augustinian monk and theology professor to take such a bold, irrevocable stand against the mighty Roman Catholic Church? Listen in and learn what gave Luther the power to change the world.
Steel Yourself for Success: Harriet Tubman Takes Command and Leads Her People to the Promise Land
Exploit the Hidden Power of Simplicity: Alexander the Great Fulfills the Prophecy of the Gordian Knot
Believe Absolutely to Inspire Absolute Belief: Joan of Arc Turns the Tide of the Hundred Years’ War
Win Lasting Influence, Listen for the Underlying Need: Mahatma Gandhi Builds the Bedrock of an Unbreakable Charismatic Bond
Build Habits of Mastery and Self-Control: The Making and Unmaking of The Knights Templar, the Most Formidable Military Order of the Middle Ages
On Christmas Day in 1119 A.D., countless prayers were finally answered when a French knight known as Hugh of Payns banded together with 8 other knights in a brotherhood of highly skilled religious warriors. The nine knights all took “vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” and pledged themselves to protect the Christian pilgrims who were traveling on the roads to Jerusalem. Operating as a sort of elite special forces of the Middle Ages, the exceptionally disciplined and well-trained military order was unlike any religious order that had come before. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to the Holy Lands during the Crusades to explore the key factors that led to the surprisingly rapid rise of the Knights Templar, the most formidable military order in the history of the world. This episode also reveals the one central factor that best explains the Templars’ eventual downfall and their scandalous, vicious end.
Get Leverage, Change the Calculus: The Crafty and Courageous Roma and the Birth of Ancient Rome
In the 12 century B.C., after the ancient city of Troy fell following the Greek’s cunning trick with the Trojan Horse, a number of Trojans escaped with a fleet of ships. After years of wandering in search of a new home, the Trojans endured a particularly treacherous episode of violent weather and rough waves in the Mediterranean, a storm which nearly destroyed their fleet. When they finally landed on the banks of the Tiber River to take shelter, the women soon decided that they had had enough of the aimless wandering. The men, however, were intent on returning to the ships and continuing with their mission as soon as the storm passed. According to Virgil, what the women did next altered the course of Western history. Listen to this episode of Classic Influence now and discover how a crafty and courageous use of leverage won the day for the women and changed the future of ancient Rome. This episode also reveals some of the most useful ways of thinking about leverage, how leverage can heighten your odds of success, and a handful of simple, easy-to-implement examples of leverage that you can adapt to your own goals in support of your own effort and will to succeed.
Find Courage Under Fire—Count the Costs, Then Forge Ahead: General George S. Patton’s Greatest Nightmare and Moment of Truth
Make Your First Dollar, Profit from the Power of Proof: Dale Carnegie’s Baby Steps Rise to Blockbuster Success
Escalate the Intensity, Increase the Stakes: Orville and Wilbur Wright’s Extraordinary Obsession with Flight
Own the Need, Achieve the Dream: Abraham Lincoln Assumes Command of the Problem at Hand, and Pilots His Path to the Top
Take Bold Action (Part 5): Be Bold in Pursuit of Your Aims: The Celebrity Power of Frank Sinatra, and the Daring Don Rickles, Upstart Comedian Extraordinaire
Take Bold Action (Part 4): To Achieve the Unbelievable, Back Bold Action with a Bastion and a Base: The Herculean Daring of Bloody Mary’s Fight for the Throne
Take Bold Action (Part 3): Boldly Strike Out to Accelerate Your Ascent: Theodore Roosevelt Boldly, Brazenly Begins Anew
Take Bold Action (Part 2): Dare to Defy the Established Order, Risk to Skip Ahead: Huey Long Cuts a Barrier-Breaking Path to the Top
Take Bold Action (Part 1): Be Bold and Let Boldness Do Its Work: Napoleon Bonaparte Escapes His Island Prison
Profit from the Power of Frames to Achieve Your Aims: President Franklin Roosevelt Reframes His Race for a 3rd Term
Wield Power with Wisdom, Get Both in and Out of the Game: Martin Luther King Jr. Assumes Leadership, Becomes the Symbol of the Civil Rights Movement
Hammer Optimism into Your Plans: Ernest Shackleton's Miracle Trip from Elephant Island
Adopt the Champion Mindset: Arnold Schwarzenegger Takes the Throne
In 1970, Arnold Schwarzenegger won both the Mr. Universe and the Mr. Olympia contest making him the greatest bodybuilder in the world. At just 23 years old, he was also the youngest Mr. Olympia ever. Of course he won the genetic lottery, only a fool would deny that. But that was only enough to get him into the game. What set Arnold Schwarzenegger apart was his profound ambition, relentless work ethic, and an ability to stay hyper focused on his dream. But the real secret to Schwarzenegger’s success was a hard lesson he had to learn, and it was the key to scores of others. In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll travel back to the first decade of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s meteoric rise and discover what we can learn from his story about how to achieve your most difficult goals.
Escalate Your Commitment. Burn Your Ships: Hernando Cortés Conquers the Aztec Empire
Mine the Miners—Create, Don't Consume: The Pioneering Producers of the California Gold Rush
Cast Off the Culture of Comfort, Convenience and Ease: Theodore Roosevelt Becomes the Apostle of the Strenuous Life
Writer and explorer, fighter and reformer, scholar, historian, statesman, and sage; Theodore Roosevelt disdained idleness. “In this life, we get nothing save by effort,” said the Panama-Canal-Building, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning President. “I never won anything without hard labor and…working long in advance.” In fact, the “highest form of success,” Roosevelt said, comes “to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil.” Listen in now to this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, and discover how Theodore Roosevelt became first an apostle, and, ultimately, the champion and exemplar of the Strenuous Life. This episode also exposes the frightening prospects for those preoccupied with comfort, convenience, and ease. Finally, you’ll learn how hard work and strenuous action are like secret weapons of success enabling you to achieve what Roosevelt called “the splendid ultimate triumph.”
Construct Your Own Heroic Life History: Ragnar Lothbrok, The Everlasting Legend of the Viking Leader
According to legend, Ragnar Lothbrok was the most famous Viking of his age. And he remains one of the greatest heroes of Viking history. But did a Viking leader named Ragnar Lothbrok actually exist? In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll explore the power of this everlasting legend, and why the Vikings told and retold his story over and over again. This episode also reveals the power of story and legend and myth, and how a compelling epic can shape and, at last, radically transform the future. Drawing on the example of Ragnar Lothbrok, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and others, this episode also unmasks the power of your personal story, the cardinal importance of assuming your rightful role as both the author and the protagonist of your own heroic life history, and the power the storyteller role plays in the pursuit of your own grand aspirations and goals.
Spurn the Most Treacherous of Emotions, Beware the Ambitions of the Beast: The Hubris of Emperor Nero, Rome's Original Antichrist
Nero stands out as one of the most monstrous, and universally hated emperors in the long history of the Roman empire. And, yet, the reign of the once popular emperor began in relative peace. What allowed for such a dramatic transformation? Were there any early signs of what barbaric slaughtering was to come? In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll travel back to ancient Rome and watch as Nero, flooded with unquenchable hubris, burns his own ambitions to the ground. Drawing on the wisdom of ancient Greece, celebrated theologians, and modern presidents, this episode explores why hubris is at the dead center of the most toxic of human emotions. For those with enough foresight and social intelligence to appreciate just how hazardous hubris can be—the key lesson from Nero’s life—this episode also reveals a few key tips for keeping a grip on this most treacherous of emotional states.
Milk Your Assets, Face the Brute Facts: The Cunning and Charismatic Cleopatra Assumes the Egyptian Throne
Flooded with political ambition and romantic intrigue, the saga of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra, has captivated historians and storytellers throughout history. Contrary to the modern myth, however, it was not beauty, but her cunning and charisma, her savvy and self-belief, that enabled Cleopatra to make her mark on the world. In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll explore how Cleopatra defied the political patriarchy, and influenced Julius Caesar to support her ambition to rule.
Surface Your Submerged Assumptions: President Kennedy and the Curious Consensus for the Bay of Pigs (Part 2 of 2)
John F. Kennedy is widely regarded as one of America’s most popular presidents. On matters of leadership, communication ability, and social intelligence, political scientists and historians continue to rank Kennedy as one of the greats. In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast we explore how President Kennedy responded to his biggest blunder as President, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the leadership lessons we can learn from his response. Drawing on the wisdom of ancient Greek philosophers and modern management scholars, this episode also reveals one of the most common causes of failure, along with a couple of key tactics you can adopt to avoid this type of mistake, and significantly improve your probability of success.
Look First to Your Frames for the Seeds of Success: Russell Conwell's Acres of Diamonds (Part 1 of 2)
Revealing the surprising power of mental maps, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast takes you on a journey to the diamond mines of Golconda, and extracts the lessons we can learn from the tragic loss of the Persian farmer depicted in Civil War captain Russell Conwell’s most famous essay, “Acres of Diamonds.” Drawing on Henry David Thoreau’s experience living in the woods at Walden Pond, this episode also briefly explores the power of the unconscious mind, and the inherent inclination for people to slip into mindless mental habits and routines, often undermining their own deeply held desire to succeed. Geared toward avoiding the mental traps and flawed conceptual maps that so often hold people back, this episode concludes with a few key tactics you can adopt to improve your thinking, and, therefore, your decisions and your life.
Craft a Compelling Image to Increase Your Influence and Amplify Your Power: Blackbeard Becomes the Dark Lord of the Skull and Crossbones
Blackbeard remains the most famous pirate in the entire Golden Age of Piracy, and for good reason. In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll examine the key characteristics that set Blackbeard apart from the pack, and how this cunning pirate captain used the power of a fearsome image to achieve his aim. We’ll also briefly explore the five most fundamental factors in creating an effective image or personal brand, a vital part of the process of maximizing your influence and power. Finally, you’ll discover why the most effective impressions must begin with a deep understanding of your audience.
Leverage the Paradox of Self-Reliance: General George Washington Wins the War By First Building Belief and Rapport
Surveying the disciplined strategy, transforming leadership, and dogged determination of General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast reveals three key lessons we can learn from Washington’s effective prosecution of the war in the years leading up to the alliance with France. Looking back to the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, echoed in the insights of modern social science, this episode also reveals the power of the paradox of self-reliance. Finally, illustrating how this theme surfaces repeatedly throughout history—beginning at least as far back as classical Roman mythology—you will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for why self-reliance is so fundamental to your ultimate success.
If you like this show, then you’ll love Mastering the Power of Grit, available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon. Following a format similar to this show, shared through their own compelling stories, Mastering the Power of Grit reveals the timeless lessons learned from the legends of grit, and the corresponding strategies, tactics, tips and tools you can use to master the power of grit to achieve your own most daring dreams and goals.
Assume Ultimate Ownership, Embrace Radical Responsibility as a Rule: President Lincoln Pays the Ultimate Price
Examining the extraordinary experience and soaring example of President Abraham Lincoln, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast explores one of the vital, indispensable prerequisites of success. Unmasking the secret behind the greatness of legendary leaders like Lincoln, this episode also reveals how people are so often duped into giving their power away. You will also discover how the ultimate ownership mindset leads directly to the power and strength you need to achieve your ultimate dream.
Develop Deep Self-Belief: Napoleon Bonaparte's Lucky Star
Drawing on the experience and beliefs of Napoleon Bonaparte and his “lucky star,” this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast examines the extraordinary power that becomes yours through simple self-belief. Grounded in the success literature and the academic literature in positive psychology, you will also learn strategies and tactics you can adapt to develop your own unshakeable self-belief, the indispensable prerequisite for achieving your greatest ambitions and goals.
Aim First for Self-Reliance: The Roots of Cornelius Vanderbilt's Transportation Empire
Exploring the roots of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s early success as a budding titan in the transportation industry, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast is designed to enhance your understanding, and deepen your appreciation for the importance of self-reliance to your success. Drawing on the wisdom of some of the early self-help thinkers, this episode will also help you to gain a better understanding of how a lack of independence, autonomy, and self-will can leave you weak and vulnerable, ultimately stunting your growth, and undermining your efforts to succeed.
Dare to Run More and Greater Risks: P.T. Barnum Risks It All on an Unknown
Drawing on one of the transforming incidents in the early days of P.T. Barnum’s life as a showman and promoter, in this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast you’ll discover the indispensable role of risk in seizing ambitious opportunities, overcoming limits, and conquering unfamiliar terrain, and how bold, calculated risk-taking is often what separates the superstars of success from the vast majority who are merely mediocre. You will also learn five key tactics you can use to strengthen your capacity to run more and greater risks, as you learn to take the bold actions necessary to expand and accelerate your success.
Expand Your Perspective, Effect Strategy to Win the Greater Game: The Supreme Pontiff's Immaculate Deception
Continuing with the life story of Cesare Borgia, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast explores Cesare’s approach to dealing with the Borgia family’s nemesis, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (who later became Pope Julius II), as an illustration of the dangers of failing to think strategically. In this episode, you’ll discover the power of maintaining a strategic perspective, and the significance of expanding your perspective to include the broader context of your strategy, tactics, decisions, and goals. This episode concludes with four core strategic lessons we can learn from Cesare Borgia’s fall from power.
Saturate Your Mind with a Lifelong Orientation to Time: Cesare Borgia's Fight to Rise
Exploring the remarkable power of your time horizon, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast reveals the surprising benefits of aligning with and orienting to the long view. Drawing on the life story of Cesare Borgia and his father, Pope Alexander VI, as well as the research of former Harvard professor of political science Edward Banfield, you will also learn the hazards of failing to implement this essential mental frame and how to avoid them, and three key application tools for helping to ensure your success. Finally, you will discover the single most critical secret of self-discipline.
Stay Hungry to Make Your Mark: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Drum Major Instinct
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we examine the role and importance of ambition to your success, and how misguided social norms can unintentionally sabotage your best efforts. Looking to the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and drawing on the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr., this episode also serves as a sort of call to arms for you to raise the bar and reexamine your focus in light of your true, perhaps hidden, aspirations.
Crown Yourself: Huey Long's Campaign for the Poor
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we reveal some of the key lessons we can learn from Huey Long’s 1928 campaign for governor of Louisiana, including the importance of transcending rules, boundaries, and cultural norms in order to get attention, gain power, and meet the needs of your tribe, or your own individual purpose and goals. We also look at how people can get trapped by the status quo, and how culture can be used and abused to reinforce the existing power structure. Finally, we explore the importance of being mindful, strategic and purposeful in regards to how the rules, norms, beliefs, and values of organizations and society can subtly constrict your thinking and, thereby, limit your vision, ambition, and goals.
Conquer Fear Through Action: Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we examine a revealing experience of Theodore Roosevelt in the Dakota Badlands. We’ll also explore a few lessons we can learn from his experience as well as a few of the tactics he used for overcoming his fear. We also look briefly at Eleanor Roosevelt’s experience during the women’s rights movement, and her approach to dealing with her own fears. This episode emphasizes the importance of both your actions and beliefs in regards to fear and how to adopt the most resourceful mindset about confidence and courage, one that will serve you throughout your life.
Hustle While You Wait: Walter Chrysler's Siren Call
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we look at the strategy Walter Chrysler used to crack into the automobile manufacturing business. We explore a few lessons we can learn from Chrysler, as well as a couple of short anecdotes from other historical legends, including General Stonewall Jackson and theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. This episode emphasizes the value of maintaining perspective, optimizing time, and hustling while you wait.
Start with What You Have, Where You Are: The Legend Behind the Story of Robinson Crusoe
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we explore the story of Scottish buccaneer and navigator Alexander Selkirk—the inspiration behind the legend of Robinson Crusoe—and the wisdom and insights we can gain from his experience as a castaway on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile. We explore the significance of self-reliance and resourcefulness, and the need to lean into your challenges, rather than turning your back.
Concentrate Your Power: Casanova's Great Escape
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we explore the success philosophy of the legendary seducer Giacomo Casanova. We also touch on some of the overlapping ideas from thinkers as diverse as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Andrew Carnegie.
Resolve to Pay the Price: Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll look at the development of the H-4 Hercules (Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose), around the time of World War II, and the lessons we can learn from Howard Hughes’ experience, including the importance of commitment, risk, hard work, follow through and conviction. We’ll also discuss one of the secrets of Hughes’ success.
Cultivate a Fantastic Obsession: Walt Disney's Epic Dream
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll explore the vision of Walt Disney, the role that a great dream or grand aspiration plays in ensuring your success, and how you can cultivate your dream until it becomes your own fantastic obsession.
Select Yourself: JFK's Campaign for President
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we look at John F. Kennedy’s decision to run for President, the pushback he faced from within his own party, and the lessons we can learn from his response, including the critical importance of being the master of your own fate.
The Power of Initiative: President McKinley's Message to Garcia
In this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast, we’ll explore the role and importance of initiative and the ownership mindset in your success. Drawing on the experience of Captain Andrew Rowan and President McKinley’s famous “message to Garcia” during Cuba’s war of independence from Spain, as well as the reception of Elbert Hubbard’s essay, “A Message to Garcia,” you’ll begin to see the surprising influence of men and women of initiative. You will also discover the one factor that makes this quality so essential to your success.