The 7 Systems of Influence and How They Can Help Us Create, Leverage, and Maintain Influence

(part 2 with Josh Steimle)

The 7 Systems of Influence and How They Can Help Us Create, Leverage, and Maintain Influence

Welcome back to another episode with Josh Steimle. Previously, we discussed Josh’s career and content writing. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss the 7 Systems of Influence and how they can help us gain influence with our ideal customers.

The 7 Systems of Influence

The seven systems of influence include vision, genius zone, audience, content, action, collaboration, and love. They act as a framework, a way of thinking and organizing information, to create influence and then leverage that influence to achieve goals.

Arguably the most effective way to get what we want is through influence. We say knowledge is power, but knowledge can’t really get us anywhere without influence. So the seven systems of influence are the fundamental steps, or systems, we can use to create, leverage, and maintain influence.


The first system is vision. For anything we want, we have to clearly visualize it. For example, if what we want is our child to take out the trash, we have to visualize it. Whether it is something small like that or something big like creating a billion-dollar business over the next 10 years, we have to visualize it. Then we have a clear vision of where we need to be going, and it will be much easier to stay focused on it.

We may run around chasing a goal that we haven’t fully visualized. We end up chasing visions we don’t really want because they have not been fully formulated. By sitting down and going through the right process, we can clarify our vision and make sure it’s what we really want. Then we focus our time and resources to ensure that vision happens.

Genius Zone

System number two is the genius zone. This system asks questions such as “Who are you? What are you good at? What is your knowledge? What is your experience? What is it that makes you special? What can you do that no one else can do?”

Josh grew up skateboarding. He ran a skate shop as a kid, and today, he’s still connected to the industry. So, he knows a bit about skateboarding. However, he isn’t the only one with that knowledge; there are probably 20 million other people in the world who know as much as he does about skateboarding. Josh also knows a bit about marketing, having run a marketing agency for 20 years. But again, he’s not the only marketing expert in the world.

When Josh overlaps these two expert zones, they create a genius zone. There aren’t many people who have his knowledge about skateboarding and marketing combined. This makes him unique in this area. So, he could go to a company like Nike with this experience and help them market shoes to skateboarders.

This is a simple example of overlapping two areas, but we might overlap in five different areas. It might include the language we speak, somewhere we live or some other experience in our background. When we start listing out our expert zones and looking for unique connections and overlaps, we’ll find genius zones that nobody else in the world has. Typically, we have one genius zone that stands out to us, one we are passionate about and want to spend the rest of our life doing.


The third system is the audience. Who can we serve with our genius zone? The question is not “Who is anyone in the world who might care a little bit about our genius zone?” The question is “Who are the people who desperately need what we offer through our genius?”

Josh likes to ask his clients how many customers they would need to totally change their business. For those who are doing consulting, the answer is typically 10 or 20. Josh then asks how many potential customers they have in the world. His clients respond by saying, “millions.” Then Josh says, “If you only need 10 or 20 to change your business, why are you creating your content and messaging for millions? Why would you create content marketing and messaging that appeals to millions rather than to the 10 people you would ideally love to work with?”

We can pick and choose. For example, with Josh’s published author program, he decided he wanted to work with entrepreneurs. He could work with a lot of people and help them to write books, but he loves working with entrepreneurs. So, he decided to narrow it down and only work with entrepreneurs,  creating content marketing and messaging directly for them. Because of this, they often feel like Josh is speaking right to them, and they want to work with him because of that.

61% of consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a company that provides custom content (Source:


Content is system number four. Now that we know our ideal audience, we can ask what will motivate them to take action. We often think of content as a book or website, but it’s also our words or example. It can be the chore chart on the fridge to track tasks for our kids.

If we’re trying to build a billion-dollar business over the next 10 years, then it’s important to ask: what’s the content we need to create to recruit partners, to recruit clients, and to get people to fund this?


Everybody needs a plan _Blog

System number five is action. What is the plan to get this done? If the content is a book, the action questions may be how are we going to finish this book? How are we going to write it? How are we going to get started? Are we going to write the book ourselves or hire a ghostwriter to do it?

“Everybody needs a plan to actually get to a destination.” – Josh Steimle


The sixth system is collaboration. The central question of this system is how can I work with other people to get 1,000 times the influence that I have on my own?

Josh has a friend, Derek Andersen, who started a company called Startup Grind. The company started because Derek began interviewing successful entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. He hosted a fireside chat and only about 10 people attended, but they wanted him to do more. About 20 people attended the second one, and more went to the third one. Someone came to Derek and asked if they could host one of the events in San Jose. Derek said yes, and they partnered together to start Startup Grind. Today, Startup Grind has 800 or 900 chapters around the world, and they’ve hosted millions of people at their local events. Derek has been able to influence millions of people, which he never would have been able to do by himself.

Collaboration allows us to spread our influence a lot further than we could otherwise on our own. We can think about: who can we work with? Who has the same audience? Or who has the same audience but is selling something else? How can we find somebody who wants to connect with the same audience we want to connect with? How can we collaborate in a way that we both end up with more influence?


The final system of influence is love. This was a difficult system for Josh to come up with. He had the first six, but he knew something important was missing. He realized it was love through a discussion he had with his business partner about parenting. Josh’s business partner said, “If you know your parents love you, it really makes up for a lot of the mistakes they make because you know their hearts are in the right place.”

If feel like you are trying _Blog

The truth of this statement stuck with Josh and made him realize that love was the last element he needed in his systems. We often let people do crazy things if they have good intentions, but love is all about goodwill and good intent.

“If people feel like you are trying to help them because you really want to help them, then you can get almost everything else wrong in the systems of influence, and you will still have influence. But if you get everything else right—the vision, the genius zone, the audience, the content, everything—you can do everything else right. But if there’s no love, people will just ignore it, and then you have no influence.” – Josh Steimle

Why are they called systems? 

Josh calls them systems because they don’t have to be done in order like steps. As with a car and its propulsion system, steering system, navigation system, etc., all the systems work and run at the same time. Then we can move from point A to point B. However, if one of those systems is not working well, it can throw everything into reverse.

The Importance of Data in Marketing

One of Josh’s favorite interviews from his book, Chief Marketing Officers at Work, was with Seth Farbman, the former CMO of Spotify. Seth told Josh a story about the importance of data in marketing. Seth and his team were looking at Spotify user data, and there was a group of people listening to Spotify consistently for about seven or eight hours without any interaction. They weren’t changing or skipping anything. Seth was unsure what these users were doing for so long without interaction, but he eventually realized they were sleeping with music on. 

This realization allowed Spotify to set up many playlists for people to use while they were sleeping, and to further entrench themselves with that user group. Spotting trends from data can lead to product development and new ideas. Looking at the data allowed Spotify to do marketing that further connected them to their users.

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Josh for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. It is important to visualize our goals so we have a clear direction and increase our chance to accomplish them.

2. We can combine our expert zones to create a genius zone, which becomes a skillset unique to us.

3. We must think about who our ideal audience is to create content marketing and messaging that will appeal specifically to them.

4. If we’re trying to build a billion-dollar business over the next 10 years, then we have to think about what content we are going to create that will help us do so.

5. In order to achieve our goals, we need a plan of action.

6. We can collaborate with others to gain even more influence.

7. Without love, the other systems of influence won’t help us. We have to care about our audience and our business.

8. Use the systems together to achieve our goals.

9. Spotting trends from data can lead to product development and new ideas.

Connect with Josh

If you enjoyed this interview and want to connect with Josh you can find him on LinkedIn at or visit his website at

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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