The Art of In-House Persuasion (VIDEO)


Guest Post: Susan Herr, PhilanthroMedia

If your boss and colleagues don’t understand the very strategic work you are doing, is it your fault or theirs?  That is the question that Network for Good’s Chief Strategy Officer Katya Andresen forces us to consider in this interview I recently conducted with her on “The Art of In-House Persuasion.”

According to Katya, many of us focus the power of our marketing and communications skills on what inspires external audiences while failing to apply the same care and consideration to colleagues whose buy-in is the first step in any viable campaign.

Katya first developed these concepts for a workshop I dropped in to grab footage from at the 2011 Communications Network Conference in Boston. Far and away the most engaged session, I attended, I was struck by how readily attendees could distill attributes of their colleagues in to archetypes like the “monkey” and the “genius.”

There was a lot of laughter in the session but it wasn’t at the expense of our colleagues.  Katya made clear she doesn’t mean these as derogatory terms but overblown stereotypes intended to capture the essence common workplace behaviors.  (She cops to having attributes of the monkey and the genius herself, as do I.)  She is suggesting that, once armed with insights gleaned by focusing on what tends to inspire our peers, we can share ideas in ways more likely to be embraced.

So when I asked Katya if what she is proposing is simply a way to manipulate others, she forcefully responded:

 “…understanding where another person is coming from — and connecting to their world view — is respectful.  That’s not manipulation.  And frankly, trying to convert someone to your worldview and just bulldozing forward your agenda in the name of authenticity, I don’t think that’s a good way of communicating.  It’s not respectful and it’s largely ineffective.”


I’ve justified a world of words under the banner of personal authenticity. This five-minute video is worth a listen if, like me, these days you are more interesting in simply winning the good fight.

Susan Herr, a regular Communications Network contributor, is president of PhilanthroMedia.


  1. Rebecca ArnoRebecca Arno02-08-2012

    Susan: Thanks for posting this! (The always brilliant) Katya makes a great point about the value of knowing your audience internally and putting as much work into positioning for them as you might for external audiences. Love the “monkey” and “genius” archetypes!

  2. Mitch HurstMitch Hurst02-08-2012

    Grantmaking foundations have historically fallen short when it comes to internal communications. There are a variety of reasons for this. In some ways grant programs operate similar to academic schools at universities, which have a fair amount of autonomy and don’t have real incentives to cooperate with others.

    It’s unfortunate because quality internal communications and creating an atmosphere, as Katya says, for listening and respect for your audience is what leads to the emergence of new ideas and innovation. Too often we think of internal communications as a technology platform rather than the creation of an environment that fosters real collaboration.

  3. Marc MoorghenMarc Moorghen02-27-2012

    Great video post. Haven’t we all encountered the Genius Monkeys? I like the simple, but elegant solutions that Katya proposes. Wish I’d watched the video sooner.

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