CINCINNATI, Jan. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Underdogs have more power than you might think.
"This past year has shown that people or groups with little power can actually get their way. To qualify for the 2011 list, our underdogs had to achieve upward influence results, not just make noise," said Amy Showalter, president of the Showalter Group and author of the newly published book, "The Underdog Edge: How Ordinary People Change the Minds of the Powerful - And Live to Tell About It." For information, go to http://www.underdogedge.com.
"What makes the following underdogs worthy is their inherent marketplace disadvantage or power shortcomings relative to their competitors, their ultimate influence results (they won or won over others up the food chain), and their use of underdog extreme influence principles and tactics to achieve their influence goal," said Showalter, an influence expert who consults with organizations to get powerful people on their side.
Here they are, in no particular order, along with the underdog extreme influence tactics that fueled their success.
Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo - A rookie Democrat politician who "never got the memo" about not taking on the state's public employee labor unions. She led the reform of the essentially bankrupt Rhode Island State Public Employee Pension System. According to the Pew Center on the States, it may be the most extensive public pension reform in U.S. history.
Even though Treasurer Raimondo is a Democrat, she didn't engage in the typical alliances with labor unions. This unbiased approach to a serious problem is what gave her underdog street cred and allowed her to be the appropriate implementer for such massive change.
Sergeant Scott Moore and Corporal Kelsey De Santis - The U.S. Marines who invited actress Mila Kuniss and actor Justin Timberlake to attend their Marine Corp Balls. They used unconventional tactics while influencing up, and they also have major underdog street cred because of their sacrifice as members of the military.
Mohamed Bouazizi - On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, Tunisian Bouazizi went to work selling produce from a cart. Police had bothered him for years, fining him, and making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. Last December, a cop confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match. His death sparked public anger leading then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on January 14, 2011, after 23 years in power.
Even though his dramatic action took place in 2010, it influenced the Arab Spring movement that has inspired protests across the globe. His suffering and sacrifice emboldened those who are angry at their government and their accomplices, motivating them to get off their computers and on the streets. They became vivid, a key element of underdog persuasion.
Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow - Underdogs don't win using the same tactics as their Goliath competitors - they must engage unconventional tactics if they are to beat Goliath. Tebow is the avatar of unconventionality. Like David in the Biblical account of the battle with Goliath, Tebow uses unbound tactics to succeed. The Broncos have a winning record with Tebow as a starter, and were 1-4 without him at the helm. Plus, he is nice, and a cohesive team leader - more benchmarks we find to be integral to upward persuasion.
Kathryn Stockett, Author, "The Help" - Stockett displayed grit in pursuing a publisher for her book after 60 rejections. Although her book was a 2010 publication, she makes the list because the 2011 movie version of her book grossed over $169 million, making it one of the top grossing movies of the year. Plus, she writes about, you guessed it - underdogs.
The Tea Party - In 2010 they changed the composition of the U.S. House of Representatives. Their cohesive team leaders keep them focused on results - electing lawmakers who agree with their fiscally conservative philosophy. Its members continue to affect how the powerful in Washington, D.C. talk, strategize, and vote. Plus, they clean up after their rallies - more nice behavior.
New York Gay Marriage Advocates - Gay marriage advocates in 2011 were up against the Roman Catholic hierarchy and had been ineffective in the past with reports of disorganization and infighting.
When Republican party financial contributors Paul Singer, Cliff Asness, and Dan Leob joined the gay marriage advocacy effort, it got the attention of some Republican legislators who were undecided or against the proposal. As connected converts, they gave momentum to the gay marriage initiative. We know that underdog team members who are converts are very persuasive, but connected converts will give your influence campaign a jolt on steroids.