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Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton are persuasive people — but why?

Steve Martin of Influence at Work shares thoughts on why some people are persuasive.

April 28, 2012
  • Former President Bill Clinton is an example of someone who is considered very persuasive.
Former President Bill Clinton is an example of someone who is considered… (Daniel Berehulak, Getty…)

Why do some people reach greater heights than others? Often, they simply have the persuasive stuff.

Oprah Winfrey: She may not be an expert in healthful eating or relationships or novels, but millions of people follow her advice anyway. "She's positioned herself as a friend and an advisor," says British persuasion expert Steve Martin. "But she can also say: 'I'm one of you.' That's important."

Steve Jobs: The late co-founder of Apple was a master at building buzz. The initial scarcity of new products like iPhones and iPads only boosted their appeal, Martin says. And those long lines in front of the Apple stores were like potent advertisements in their own right. The message was clear: If so many people were so desperate for the new gadget, it must be worth having.

Bill Clinton: "He would be on my list of the top five most persuasive people in history," Martin says. But in this case, he adds, the appeal is a little baffling. "I can't explain it. There's just something about him. He could say anything and you'd believe him."

Glynn "Scotty" Wolfe: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this California minister was married 29 times before his death in 1997. His exact courting technique is lost to history, but it must have been something.

— Chris Woolston

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