Monday, December 17, 2012

Power of Influence

As I was writing my next column, about compliments and shoes, I stumbled upon a friend’s Facebook post that stopped me dead in my thoughts.

I typically multi-task when I write: check email, check Facebook, check, check my banking account (yikes!), and so on. This was a typical writing morning. Sitting at the bar in my favorite coffeehouse, surrounded by the sounds of grinding espresso, steaming milk, soft Christmas carols, and joyous chitchat. Pure inspiration.

182 words. Staring at me from the computer. That’s all I had. I was struggling, as I sometimes do…so much for pure inspiration. Then I read a post by a friend on Facebook and I was floored. Now this was inspiration, pure thought-provoking inspiration.

What was I thinking? I’m sitting here, writing about my black patent pumps and two enlightening interactions, but they paled in the comparison to what has occurred in our world. The post was about the massacre at Sandy Hook. It was poignant, well written, exceptionally insightful, emotional, and timely (and I thought I was the writer!). Two feelings jolted through me when I finished reading: pride and embarrassment.

Pride: I’m proud to know this person. Proud he took action and beautifully expressed his thoughts. Proud he woke me up. Proud he showed me what is important, what matters, and who matters.

Embarrassment: That I would brush past the incidents of Sandy Hook and continue with my life like normal, not taking advantage of my position to share insights with YOU.

My friend isn’t a writer. He simply posted his thoughts on his own Facebook page where his 816 friends may or may not read it. That was his platform. And he took advantage. Why wouldn’t I do the same?

So I opened a new blank word document and started writing (this).

Sandy Hook was a horrible tragedy. It is a huge indicator of something terribly wrong with our society. I don’t know the answers, but I do know it can’t be ignored. Maybe that is the answer. To stop ignoring the signs that tell us something or someone is “off.” The gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Reports quote people who knew the gunman describing him as “disturbed” and “weird.” And my stomach turned when I read, “I can’t say that I’m surprised.”

A very sick person executed the Sandy Hook massacre and no one who knew him was surprised by the actions he took. Yet they did nothing to stop him. They did not speak up. They did not listen to their gut. They did not take action. They failed.

It’s time to start taking actions that will surprise people, possibly even shock them. They may be unpopular. They may not be politically correct. They may piss some people off. But if you look back through history, our biggest change agents never did what was popular, they simply did what they thought was right. And until every single person recognizes his or her own power of influence, nothing will change.

Someone who knew the gunman had the power to influence change.

This is my power of influence. I am blessed to write on a platform with hundreds of thousands of readers. And you have your own power. Do you recognize it? How are you using it? How are you taking advantage of the people you know, the people who listen to you, and the people you influence? How are you using your power to make this world a better place?

Our world has become robotic. Speaking out isn’t encouraged. Raging against the machine isn’t encouraged. But being politically correct is. Screw that. Do you want to be thought-less follower or a powerful influencer?

I have the power.
You have the power.

What will you do with it? Will you use your power to influence and cause positive change?  Or will you simply ignore the calling to use your power for something greater and continue down the PC path? I won’t. Neither should you.

I’m your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Take Action: Sign the National Sympathy Card for Sandy Hook. 

Read the Facebook post that inspired this article:
With a couple buddies watching football devastated that the Steelers failed yet again to act like a decent football team. As we are finishing beers the night game was interrupted by the president's speech.

Our table went quiet and we listened.

It was very appropriate that football was put on hold and there were no complaints. In fact there were no comments.

Grown men went quiet and thoughtful. We all felt like crying and some of us did.

The speech was exceptional- thoughtful, heartfelt, poignant, & powerful. Politics don't matter now. Perfect little kids without a care in the world except for recess have been murdered in their classrooms in a world that they thought was safe and secure.

They were thinking about Christmas when they went to school for the last time and they hugged their moms/dads and said I love you, see you when I get home.

They never came home.

These aren't my kids. They aren't my friends, they aren't my family. I don't know these kids or their families.

I do know they were innocent. I know they were loved. I know they were American babies at school during a loving & happy time of year.

Those families will never have another great Christmas. Their families will never be whole. This time of year will now just be a reminder of a loss and a heartbreak that can never be healed.

The rest of us will move on. We will survive. We will forget as time passes. Columbine came and went- we were shocked, we felt remorse, we forgot. Virginia Tech came & went and set a new record for horror. The nation again stopped for several days and focused on a campus that had been shattered. Then we gradually moved on again.

This pattern will continue to happen unless something changes. It has happened in high schools, in colleges, in elementary schools. I don't know what the answer is and I am sure evil will continue to exist no matter what we do.

With that said I am feeling both very sad & very stupid. What did we think was going to happen? We make speeches and express outrage and then when it comes time for change or solutions we revert to partisan politics. Whatever your point of view was before the tragedy you revert to that position and start explaining why people that think like you do are not responsible. We blame the other side, we equivocate, we rationalize... And we do nothing. That isn't actually true- we move on from remorse and point fingers at others, we point across the aisle, we point at schools, we point at police, we point everywhere but in the mirror.

We are Americans.

There are not two sides to that statement.

We are ALL at fault because we will not stand together and move forward. We have all forgotten the pledge of allegiance... "Divided we fall"

Our children are being killed in their classrooms.

The president will TRY to change the laws about guns in the near future. If you saw him tonight you can be sure that he wants to do something tangible to try to change our future.

Maybe you didn't vote for him. Maybe you don't like him. Maybe you disagree with his politics, his policies, his point of view.

Maybe OUR American babies are more important than your politics, your policies, and your point of view.

I don't know the answer. I don't know what the president will try and I don't know if it will work. I will support it regardless. I will take the leap of faith because any tangible action is better than inaction. We know what happens if nothing changes- American children die.

We must move forward united, we must not forget, we must not point fingers. Let's try something new. If it doesn't work we can try again. These are OUR kids and OUR future. They are more important than I am. They are more important than you are. There were no shootings of any kind at the schools I attended. I never had to hide in a closet from a madman trying to kill me. Things have gotten worse not better and we have let down the next generation. We have not provided them the same thing that our parents provided us. I am at fault. You are at fault.

What are we going to do now?

United we stand.

Posted by Eric Stilley
December 16, 2012

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit or contact the friendly folks at Buy Gitomer via email at or by calling 704-333-1112. For exclusive content first, follow Stephanie on her Sales Barista Facebook Page.


  1. Wow... Wow..... is there really anything to add to that? Eric just said it all, and said it eloquently. Don't you all feel helpless? Don't you wish you could just grab our politicians and shake them? Get a grip. Kids are dying. Put some focus on this issue. You spent billions on your campaigns, and countless hours of effort and manpower getting elected. If we put half as much effort into doing something about this issue, anything...... we might just save one more kid. And it would be worth it. Please put down your political signs for once and get something done for once. That is why we elected you, and I'm sure that is the reason you ran for public office in the first place. Everyone just seems to forget that when they actually get in office. America is a country that protects their kids better than any other. We have just failed and we are sad, embarrassed, and we're pissed. Very pissed. I call on politicains from both sides to get something done with this problem, or we will get something done with you come election time. We are not playing this time.

  2. Definitely very eloquent. I agree with most, except the lines: "I don't know the answer. I don't know what the president will try and I don't know if it will work. I will support it regardless."

    Um, no. I'll consider the proposals and ideas put forward by all and support that which I think will be the most beneficial for OUR children and OUR country.

  3. right..there is nothing to add to that. Pray for the families & do whatever you can to assist. And, anonymous, I'm with you!

  4. Absolutely wow. There is nothing else to say but wow...after you read that. We absolutely have to take action and not let this tragedy just fade into the background as so many others have. Eric, what an inspiration of words to cause us all to reflect. Stephanie-thank you for sharing it.

  5. I know our politicians will take two years to get this done, create 2000 pages of legislation which no one will read, and take care of a few of their "special interest" friends in the process. Let me make it very simple for you.

    1.Do not ban guns, they are not the problem.
    2. Ban assault weapons, they amplify the problem. No one needs an assult weapon to hunt. No one needs a 30 round clip. You get one shot at a deer if you're lucky. When the second ammendment was written by our founding fathers, I'm sure they didn't think about AK-47's.
    3. Ban bullet proof armor. Who needs this other than police or security? I have never seen a deer shoot back. You only wear this because you think someone is going to shoot at you. Why would that be?
    4. Ban armor piercing shells. (They actually call them "cop killers" on line. Why do you think they call them that?) No one needs to shoot through the door of a Buick.
    5. Get tough on background checks. There are still too many bad people and people with mental illness getting guns. Now I think we're on to something. Maybe it the wacko with the gun, not the gun?

    There you have it. Book it, pass it, Obama signs it. Done. Tomorrow. It's really not that hard Congress. Stop worrying about the "special interest" buddies you will piss off by passing this. You need to worry about pissing us off.

    1. You, my friend, should be the president of this country. Good old common sense is what's lacking in our president and most politicians.

    2. WRONG! The 2nd Ammendment was not put in place for Americans to safely hunt. It was put in place to protect our persons and property and as a fail-safe against a tyrannical government.

      Making any gun illegal simply makes it easier for criminals to have the upper hand! If assault weapons kill people (instead of blaming the person pulling the trigger) then spoons make people fat. WAKE UP!

    3. If you think that your Bushman AR-15 is going to stop a tyrannical government with tanks, drone aircraft and nuclear missiles from doing anything it wants to you, then you need to WAKE UP. Our education system and collective drive toward liberty and justice is our fail-safe against tyranny. Killing one another just gets in the way of that.

    4. Similar situations that turned out different

  6. Passing stronger gun laws is a start but we must recognize that there is issues behind these actions and we need to find solutions to help people deal with whatever issues they have - mental illness, anger, loneliness, bullying, something. WE need to become a more compassionate people and learn to help one another and get along despite our differences.

  7. I googled “I can’t say that I’m shocked” and “Lanza” and didn’t come up with anything. Where is that quote from?

    You state, “no one who knew him was surprised by the actions he took” but my sources — media — don’t provide any evidence of that. What are your sources?


    1. From the NY Daily News.

  8. We continue to look at the result and not the cause. The real issue is we have a lack of mental health care in this country. We have a system that identifies problem children or adults, but then we fail to have a place for them to get help. Our answer today is to wait until they have committed a crime and then we throw them into the prison system which offers no help. Eric is right on in his sediments, I just hope the subject turns to mental health and what can we do to protect society and these disturbed individuals.

  9. Well articulated. But the root cause needs to be addressed. What happens to a country when you take God out of it?

    1. You hit the nail right on the head! This is the root cause of all the problems in this country.

    2. The most fanatical, religious countries are the ones that experience these tragedies most. Middle Eastern societies and America. There's no religion in schools in Canada, and you don't hear about shootings of any kind up there. Just sayin'...

  10. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. If there was one single responsible concealed gun carrier at Sunny Hook the shooter would not have been able to kill so many innocent lives. The answer isnt "more gun restrictions" its "less gun restrictions for the law abiding citizens."

  11. I take Stephanie's message as a call to action that is broader than the current horrific events. It's beyond a responding to violence, changing gun laws, or roiling against politicians.

    Let's act with a moral compass to do what's right every single day. Most days that is helping to create something positive in the world - buy a stranger a coffee, volunteer your time to a charity, give public kudos to colleague... anything positive.

    As individuals, we're responsible for our own actions. Make those actions count for something.

  12. We are all responsible for our own actions. Make those actions count for something. Well said Bob A. Relying on government to "save" us will only leave us disappointed and in many cases, worse off. For God's sake quit thinking about only yourself every day. Take time to help someone less fortunate so we can show our children that we care for each other. Be a POSITIVE INFLUENCE.

  13. I'm no rocket scientist, but it's clear we've devolved into this current atmosphere of disaffection and disenfranchisement of individuals who carry out these kind of crimes.

    In the last 50 years, our society has taken a very different path from the one I grew up on. My folks ran the house, not us four kids. Their lives were centered on their partnership as our parents and guidance counselors. They stayed married even when it might not have been easy.

    We had to wait for things. Want a bike? Wait until your birthday. Heel fell off your shoe, let's get it fixed. We didn't get what we wanted when we wanted it. It left us something to look forward to.

    Lots of kids had issues, but they weren't labeled, medicated or over protected. We lived in active neighborhoods where those same kids had a place and friends. They didn't put a check next to your name on a list and label you damaged forever and ever.

    Suffice it to say, technology and the anonymity it allows have changed the face of growing up in an immeasurable way.

    Violent video games have to have an impact, don't they? Why do people continue to deny that? Why do parents continue to buy them or allow them in their homes?

    To a large extent, we don't even look each other in the eyes anymore. Only when a hugely horrific incident like this occurs are we jarred out of our stupors long enough to touch each other. In a few short weeks we'll be back to our over stimulated, numbing normality.

    Is it any surprise people already suffering from debilitating mental illness go off the rails?

    I agree with ridding civilian society of military type weapons and ammo, that's a no-brainer.

    BUT, how about bringing back something a little more basic? Shut down commerce on Sundays. Make it a family day. A time to reflect on the week. Check in with each other. Get to know each other.

    This is much more complex than guns and mental health. It's, in my opinion, a symptom of a society having lost its reason for being.

  14. I think the Sandy Hook school shooting was absolutely horrible. My prayers go out to all those who were affected by this senseless tragedy, and who will have to live with the aftermath of its effects. No words can ever undo the unspeakable evil committed by a truly deranged individual.

    That said, when I worked in sales, I typically followed the same basic model physicians often use: Recognize Symptoms, Identify Possible (and Most Likely) Causes, Test to Eliminate Non-existent Problems, Diagnose the Problem, then finally, Prescribe a Solution and Check for Efficacy with a Follow-up.

    Too many people will use this incident as the cause célèbre for their own personal soapbox issue, whether it's gun control, mental health treatment, a culture that glorifies violence, video game violence, school security, or whatever. I don't want to do that.

    Instead, I suggest that a rational approach to the problem might yield better solutions. We might even be able to find one that solves several of the problems we face as a nation, so we as a society actually derive some benefit from an otherwise useless tragedy, while preserving our freedoms.

    I don't claim to have *the* only right answer, but here are some possibilities no one seems to have identified yet:

    1) Take some portion of unemployed people (giving preference to those who already have military/law enforcement/security training), and hire them as plainclothes security guards for our schools. These individuals could serve the same function as air marshals do on airline flights.

    2) Give a tax credit for secure gun storage purchases (safes, etc.) Many criminals obtain their weapons illegally or by taking them from law-abiding gun owners, so why not address this?

    3) Allow concealed carry for teachers and other trustworthy persons, but require biometrics as part of the gun, so only they are able to fire it.

    In summary, if your car stopped working, you wouldn't ask your mechanic to replace every part in the car-- you'd want to fix just the thing which is broken. Common sense would suggest that rationally making it much harder for events like these to occur in the future will be both cost-effective, as well as yield better solutions for us as a society overall.

    Banning guns, while the hot topic for some, has historically lead to other problems (such as governments of those countries massacring millions of their own people). A rational, trained, armed citizen who is at the scene of a shooting (who can return fire, killing or disabling the deranged shooter) has thus far been the best preventative measure of fewer fatalities when something like this occurs. That may not be the politically correct answer, or the knee-jerk emotional response, but it is the bottom-line result.

  15. Conscience. The shooter did not have one. No difference with Terrorists. Its not bombs, it’s their heart. If the heart has only evil thoughts in it, evil actions will happen. If we start instilling values into our life and our kids life’s, then we can hope for evil to be put down. I think we need to seriously consider the values in our lives and our homes, pray and ask for wisdom and truth. Those are the only things that can change an evil heart.

    As for the discussion on Guns… God and Guns do keep people free.