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Success Advice

The Key to Success: Understanding and Constructively Using Our Influence



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All humans strive for success, although not all of us think about success in the same way. Yes, there are many stereotypical views of success and sometimes these views can get in the way of individuals realizing that they actually have already achieved it.

In my experience, success is a result of understanding and using our individual influence in a positive way. Leaders understand that it’s not the control they have over others that makes them successful, but it’s their ability to positively influence others to accomplish goals and develop as human beings. 

To achieve the kind of success that allows us to be a positive influence for ourselves and our teams, consider these tips: 

1. Slow down

One of the most important habits successful individuals cultivate is the ability to slow down. Slowing down allows us to become more aware — more mindful — of our thoughts, words, decisions, actions, and reactions, which all define our influence. It allows us to become fully aware of our environment. 

2. Listen to learn

When we give ourselves the opportunity to listen, we ensure that we’re truly present for the conversation and we are able to listen to learn. Listening to learn can enhance our objectivity, empathy, and ability to accept that not everyone has the same opinions or perceptions as us. In doing so, we create an environment for everyone to learn and grow. This can be difficult if the person with whom we’re conversing doesn’t choose to slow down or listen to learn. However, using our positive influence, we can show them the way. If necessary, ask them if they would like to continue the conversation another time, but don’t completely dismiss their points. Leadership always comes back to slowing down and listening to learn.

“The best way for us to perhaps influence others is to instead focus on ourselves by doing our best – then others will be influenced from our leadership by example.” – Lisa Kardos

3. Encourage honesty as the best policy

If we find ourselves in conversations in which the other party isn’t listening to learn or slowing down to give full attention to the situation, our ability to be honest about their inattention and cursory decision-making can steer the other person back on track. By being honest, we can bring others back to the present to pursue the common goal. Additionally, being honest will aid immensely in our influence because people trust us to tell them the truth.  

4. Learn to delegate effectively

Managing delegation is a large part of managing and leading teams. It involves a careful selection process in which the delegated task is assigned to the right person for that task. Knowing the right person requires recognizing the one with the skills necessary to complete that task or the one that is ready to grow in learning about that task. If the delegation process is not done mindfully, team members can become disconnected to the common goal. Think about the telephone game we played as kids; if we didn’t communicate the message appropriately to the chosen person, the meaning became muddled or lost.  

5. Create a positive culture

Culture is people. It’s formed by our whole team. For success to be fully realized, the environment must be a positive one in which everyone can do their best work, innovate, and create together. A positive team culture is a by-product of helping everyone slow down, listen to learn, employ honesty, and delegate effectively. But these are only parts of a positive culture. When the environment is stable and everyone can bring their authentic selves to the workplace, the foundation for a positive culture becomes established. We choose what type of culture we work in everyday by the actions we take and the influence we exert on our team.  

It’s true that success has many forms, but if we’re looking to build success that several individuals can revel in, we must understand our influence. As leaders, our most important responsibility is understanding that our influence on others matters, and it’s through our influence that others become inspired to provide their best work, help our clients, add to a positive culture, and much more. Helping our team members to understand how they contribute to team success and giving them a purpose to keep striving will ensure their team success — as well as our own.  

Brian Smith, PhD, is founder and senior managing partner of IA Business Advisors, a management consulting firm that has worked with more than 18,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers and employees worldwide. Together with his daughter, Mary Smith, he has authored his latest book, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team (BookBaby, March 2, 2021). Learn more at

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How to Choose the Best Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers



how to choose the best affiliate programs for your blog

Picking the right affiliate programs for your blog is really important. It can make a big difference in how much money you can make and how much your readers get out of your blog. With so many choices out there, deciding which ones to go with can be tricky. 

This guide is here to make it easier for you. It will give you clear steps and helpful tips to choose affiliate programs that fit well with what your blog is about, what your readers like, and what you stand for. 

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Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Before you start picking affiliate programs, it’s important to really understand what affiliate marketing is and how it works. 

Basically, affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service on your blog, and then you get paid a little bit every time someone buys something or does something because you recommended it. 

It’s great for both the person selling the product and the blogger, because the seller gets more sales with low risk, and the blogger can make money from their blog.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

1. Assess Your Niche and Audience

The key to doing well in affiliate marketing starts with really knowing what your blog is about and who reads it. Consider the following:

  • Your blog’s content: What topics do you cover? Ensure the products or services you promote are relevant.
  • Your audience’s interests and needs: What solutions are they seeking? Choose affiliate programs that offer products or services that solve their problems or enhance their lives.

2. Research Potential Affiliate Programs

Once you know what your blog is about and what your readers want, start looking for affiliate programs. Choose ones that are well-known for good products, great customer service, and helpful support for affiliates. Resources to find these programs include:

  • Affiliate networks like ShareASale, Commission Junction, and ClickBank.
  • Direct searches for “[Your Niche] affiliate programs” in search engines.
  • Recommendations from other bloggers in your niche.

3. Evaluate the Commission Structure

The commission structure is a critical factor to consider. Look for programs that offer competitive rates that make your efforts worthwhile. Consider:

  • The percentage of commission per sale.
  • Whether the program offers a flat rate per action (e.g., per sign-up).
  • The cookie duration, which affects how long after a click you can earn commissions on sales.

4. Consider the Program’s Reputation and Sureness

Join affiliate programs with a solid reputation for quality and sureness. This not only ensures that you’re promoting good products but also that you’ll be paid on time. You can:

  • Read reviews from other affiliates.
  • Check the program’s history and background.
  • Look for any complaints or issues reported online.

5. Analyze the Support and Resources Offered

A good affiliate program gives you things like ads to use, training on their products, and helpful managers. Having access to these resources can really help you do a better job at promoting their products.

6. Understand the Terms and Conditions

Before signing up, thoroughly review the program’s terms and conditions. Pay close attention to:

  • Payment thresholds and methods.
  • Any restrictions on how you can promote their products.
  • The program’s policy on affiliate marketing on social media platforms.

7. Test the Product or Service

If possible, test the product or service before promoting it. This firsthand experience allows you to offer genuine charge and build trust with your audience.

8. Look for Recurring Commission Opportunities

Some affiliate programs pay you again and again for subscriptions or services that charge fees regularly. These can provide a more stable income compared to one-time sales commissions.

Implementing Your Choice

After choosing the best affiliate programs, the next step is to smoothly include your affiliate marketing in your content plan. This includes:

  • Creating valuable content that naturally incorporates affiliate links.
  • Disclosing your affiliate affairs transparently to maintain trust with your audience.
  • Tracking your results to understand what works best for your audience and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

Picking the best affiliate programs for your blog involves careful planning, research, and making sure they match what your audience likes and needs. 

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers. 

The real key to doing well with affiliate marketing isn’t just about the products you talk about, but also how much your audience trusts and values your advice. 

With enough time, patience, and hard work, your blog can grow into a successful space that earns a good amount of affiliate money and helps your readers choose the right products.

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