Duncan Stevens is a keynote motivational speaker: A progressive people development business focused on helping brands, companies, teams, and leaders become more persuasive and more effective through what they say and how they act. Typical results are converting more customers into sales, retaining more clients, creating more cohesive and effective teams and more influential leaders. He is also the founder and CEO of the Influence Association:
Helping businesses around the world to unlock their potential to give them the edge. An exclusive international consulting company that works with select brands, companies, and individuals to increase their influence and effectiveness to take their business or personal aspirations to the next level. They use Principles of Persuasion, our unique Effective Influence Model, and a range of persuasion tools and techniques to help companies exceed their goals. He also runs ‘Playing With Minds’. He travels the world performing Influence-based ‘Mentalism shows’ at corporate events, theatres, and more.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Duncan Stevens: Hi there, my name is Duncan Stevens is the author of the best-selling book, Effective Influence, founder and CEO of the Influence Association, and has a proven track record of helping businesses and companies increase their effectiveness around the globe. As a master of influence and persuasion, I share my knowledge, tools, tips, and techniques through my masterclasses and keynote speeches. Several recognizable companies have brands are using my strategies and techniques today to become more persuasive and more effective in what they say and how they act. Alongside my speaking commitments, I also own and run the Influence Association aimed ad helping businesses and organizations start, grow, and scale their enterprise. Finally, I travel the world performing my Influence Mentalist stage show at theatres and corporate events.
Having graduated with a degree in Business Management, I was selected from over 5,000 applicants onto a management program with a focus on turning around under-performing retail stores and opening flagship stores each turning over 5-25 million pounds. After 5 years, I spent a further 5 years in a coaching and training environment before touring his Influence show. Today I’m a keynote speaker, trainer, and facilitator, who works with leading brands and global companies to increase their influence and effectiveness.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Duncan Stevens: I never really wanted to work for anyone else but took me 5 years in the industry to have the balls to just do it myself.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Duncan Stevens: Labelling one person is unfair. The best or most successful entrepreneurs have many mentors (that they may not know about). Podcasts, videos, and media, and training programs all contribute to being an authentic version of myself.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Duncan Stevens: I started off doing my work part-time and then when I realized it was slowly building pace I decided to give it the room it needed and went all in and quit my job. What did I learn? Passion is the rocket fuel that drives us. Tap into that passion in whatever you do and you will truly be successful.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Duncan Stevens: As a speaker ‘Duncan Stevens’ the brand. A progressive people development business focused on helping brands, companies, teams, and leaders become more persuasive and more effective through what they say and how they act. Typical results are converting more customers into sales, retaining more clients, creating more cohesive and effective teams and more influential leaders.
I am the CEO of myself and my business. I am accountable to myself. My responsibilities include outsourcing work, quality control, research, HR marketing, and more. Whilst I am the CEO of one, my part-time team spread all over the world has the same requirements as a large organization – this is just more hands-on.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Duncan Stevens: CEO Stands for nothing unless you can deliver the requirements of your organization. CEO has the best attributes of all managers. Is a CEO a CEO if he is never present, just sits on the board, doesn’t contribute, and is mean to the team. However, a CEO is someone authentic, listens to others and acts on their concerns, and includes everyone in their decisions, outcomes, and goals either directly or indirectly.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Duncan Stevens: More small details and more hands-on management is required. Each CEO role is different but essentially the main difference is the time required to invest in that role.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Duncan Stevens: As mentioned in the previous example. Steering the ship to either hide, thrive or survive. Guiding the ship to others manage its existing business or grow its business. You are essentially a metaphorical compass giving direction and clarity from your experience.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Duncan Stevens: Reducing workforce to deliver the same prices and level of customer service. I had to lose members of staff who had been with us from the start. The positive impacts were maintaining levels of customer retention and an increase in profitability.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Duncan Stevens: Success is happiness. Happiness in itself can be defined as growth. Either growing your health, wealth, or relationships. This can be your inner or outer versions of each of these. Balancing all 3 of these contributes to happiness and therefore success. There’s no point in being the richest man in the graveyard is the old adage.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Duncan Stevens: I am a people person. This is crucial to any level of leadership. If you can communicate or show you are reliable, credible and trustworthy and an empathetic active listener to your team you will be successful. Whilst devoting as much time to nurturing your team is important – it is equally important to be disciplined with your time and schedule every element of your day to ensure structure and productivity.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Duncan Stevens: Simply by pivoting into new areas. We nurtured existing relationships and made personal relationships to see how we could help or be of service. We stopped selling to our customers and purely focussed on helping them. As CEO I had to distance myself from the bottom line.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting on their journey?
Duncan Stevens: Don’t choose one mentor. Read, listen, watch and observe as much as you can. Be curious and be authentic. Be the best version of yourself, ignore the naysayers, and just do it. Find a passion and let that drive you. Understand that people are core to any successful business so may as much attention to them as anything else.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Duncan Stevens: Playing the piano.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Duncan Stevens: JUST DO IT. BE ORIGINAL. (Bit of a pun there)
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Duncan Stevens for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Duncan Stevens or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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