The One Secret Tool To Influence People To Change Their Mind….

In the ‘Godfather’ movie, Don Vito Corleone sends his consigliere, Tom Hagen to meet Hollywood movie producer Jack Woltz and convince him to cast the singer/actor Johnny Fontane in his next movie. Tom meets Woltz, communicates Don Vito’s request and offers a return favour that his boss would solve the union problems faced by Woltz. He also offers him to de-addict one of his movie’s top star from heroin usage. But Woltz gets angry and shouts at him.

Later that evening, Tom meets Woltz again and tries to convince him.

Woltz and Hagen cross the garden, head toward the stables.				WOLTZ
I'm going to show you something
WOLTZ shows Tom one of his horses
You like horses? I like horses, I
love 'em. Beautiful, expensive

After nodding his head, Tom continues to discuss casting Johnny Fontane. He even mentions that Mr.Corleone has a special relationship with Johnny.

Mr. Corleone is Johnny's Godfather.
That is very close, a very sacred
religious relationship.

Hagen continues to point out that his action would anger Don Vito Corleone. Also mentions that Don Corleone does not offer a second chance.

He never asks a second favor when
he has been refused the first.

But Woltz still refuses to cast Johnny. Tom leaves.

Next day, early morning, Woltz wakes up in his bed after sensing something wet. He looks at his hands. The wetness is blood.

He pulls aside the bedsheet and sees a pool of blood.

He is frightened. He keeps moving the bedsheet aside until he faces the head of his beloved horse in the bed.

An ear-splitting scream rolls out of Woltz’s mouth and he continues to shake in an uncontrollable way.

So, What happened? Tom Hagen targeted an emotion here — Fear.


Our brain is not of one mind — It has two independent systems — Emotional Mind and Rational Mind. Our rational mind would want us to get up 5 AM, but when the time comes, our emotional mind would want to sleep for few more minutes and would finally win the battle of minds. Our rational mind would like to be on diet, but as soon as you see a desert, our emotional mind would force us to eat the desert. If you want to change things in life, your first priority is to appeal to the emotional mind and then you could reach the rational mind.

Tom Hagen has been appealing to rational mind of Jack Woltz, but the issue is of more emotional one(Johnny has ruined one of Woltz’s valuable proteges — so, the hate is more of an emotional one than rational). Finally, he chose a path of appealing to his emotional mind.


In the movie “Up in the air”, Ryan Bingham’s(George Clooney) job is to fire employees.

Ryan knows that people, at the time of firing, are emotionally vulnerable.Talking to rational mind would not help in calming the person.

Ryan has an assistant, a fresh recruit named Natalie — Due to her inexperience, Natalie while firing an employee, talks in terms of logical, analytical reasons than emotional ones. He, on the other hand, picks out the content that would target user’s emotional mind, chooses the words cautiously and talks slowly in a softer tone with a visible empathy. He knows that if he made an analytical appeal, then people probably would not hear or listen to him and ‘emotional hijacks’ may happen.

Conversation between Ryan and an employee

Ryan : Your children's admiration is important to you?
- Yeah.

Bob : Yeah, it was.

See the ‘Emotional Component’ which Ryan had tapped — Kid’s admiration of his father.

Ryan : I'm not a shrink, Bob.
I'm a wake-up call.

Ryan : You know why kids love athletes?
Bob : - I don't know. Cause they screw lingerie models?

Ryan : No, that's why we love athletes.
Kids love athletes

because they follow their dreams.

Bob : Well, I can't dunk.
Ryan : - No, but you can cook.

Bob : What are you talking about?

Ryan : Your resume says that you minored
in French culinary arts.

Most students,
they work on the fryer at KFC,

but you bussed tables
at Il Picador to support yourself.

Then you get out of college
and then you come and you work here

You could see from the above conversation that Ryan has done prior research about Bob and he has been customizing his communication to appeal to Bob’s likings, desires(Components of Emotional Mind).

Ryan asks,

How much did they first pay you
to give up on your dreams?

A powerful dialogue(awakening the buried emotional desire), slowly showing the employee that he is now free to follow up his earlier dream. Ryan continues,

I see guys who work at the same
company for their entire lives,

guys exactly like you.

They clock in, they clock out,
and they never have a moment of happiness.

You have an opportunity here, Bob.

This is a rebirth.

If not for you, do it for your children.

And Ryan continues to appeal to his emotional mind(enhanced by visual images of Bob’s children)

Ryan: Well, anybody who ever built an empire
or changed the world sat where you are right now.

And it's because they sat there
they were able to do it.

That's the truth.

When an emotional mind is in turmoil, the rational mind recedes the control of the mind and go to sleep. Unless you appeal to the emotional mind, you cannot wake up the rational mind.


Attila was the head of accounting for the Department of Youth Services (DYS), Boston, a social correction agency dealing with delinquent kids, through a network of nonprofit agencies. The accounting head, whom his colleagues called “Attila, The Accountant” was a strict disciplinarian, meticulous about following every rule in the book to the last detail. If a nonprofit vendor misses out any detail in their submitted expense report, like a date, Attila would return the report back rather than filling in the information himself. This delayed the payments to nonprofit vendors who are living on a shoestring budget to serve kinds.

The higher authorities tried to explain it to Attila about the dire consequences of his dictatorship actions. It didn’t help. Attila remained same. Finally, the authorities decided to appeal to Attila’s emotional mind — They asked him to visit those nonprofit vendor places.

Attila saw that those vendors are operating from old dilapidated buildings — He saw how they work hard but still financially struggle to keep the show running — He saw how his delayed payments are affecting the functioning of the system — A delayed payment means that the vendor has to delay payroll, postpone a doctor’s visit for a kid or cut the food expenses — He could realise the problems he has been causing.

Attila did not just see the problem, but he felt those problems — He really empathised with them — You feel the problem only when it touches your emotional mind — Attila came back to the office as a ‘Changed Man’.


Disney’s ‘The Animal Kingdom’ would not have been like how it is now. Then Disney’s CEO, Eisner wondered whether the mere presence of live animals would excite the visitors. Many meetings, discussions happened, but Eisner and other decision-makers were not convinced by those rational arguments.

Undeterred, Joe Rohde, the Imagineer-in charge of the project, felt that he needed to appeal to the ‘emotional mind’ of decision makers. He has to make them feel how people would experience and react to real-life wild animals.

At the next internal meeting, Joe Rhode opened the door and let a live 400-pound tiger to Eisner’s surprise. She went up to Eisner and rubbed her head on his leg and filled the room with a slight “Purr” sound. Eisner felt what it is to be standing next to a real tiger. He bought the idea. Countless meetings aimed to persuade the stakeholders came to an end.

References: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, Godfather screenplay from

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at or

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