What Makes An Entrepreneur Successful?

Influencing People!!

In an earlier article,Cultivating Entrepreneurial Skills in Your Child,” I told a short story. In this story, I was five years old and wanted something and my father said to me, “What are you going to do to earn the money to buy this something?” I had no idea. One evening, while he was shining all his pairs of shoes for the next week, I sat and watched, and then I had an idea. I could shine his shoes and ask him to pay me. That is the day I became an entrepreneur.

What was missing in my article on the skills needed to cultivate entrepreneurial skills in your child was how to influence people. An entrepreneur needs the vital and most necessary skill of being able to influence others to be interested in and buy into their idea. That Saturday night, I influenced my father, who was more than capable of shining his own shoes, that I could relieve him of this task, and get paid for shining his shoes.

The question then, is how do you cultivate the skill of influencing others? None of us want to be manipulated and there is a difference between influencing someone and manipulating them.

When my father posed the challenge to make my own money, a spark was lit within me, the incentive to make money. I became inspired, driven to find a need, wanting to find a way to be successful and genuinely sought to find a path that could help me accomplish a goal while fulfilling some need.

That evening, while I watched my father shine his shoes, I realized that he did not enjoy this task. I became curious and started asking questions. My curiosity showed genuine interest in shoe shining and I felt compassion for my father because he would rather be at his desk on a Saturday night working on a speech. Through my curiosity and influence, I took over this task. As an executive coach, I have found that curiosity is a tool that opens doors and influences people yet is often underused.

The key ingredient to influence people is curiosity. Intense curiosity.

Let me restate: To influence others, one must become curious. Curiosity is about being present in the moment, observing and asking questions. To be authentically curious, one shows an interest in the other person, developing an understanding of the challenges the individual faces. When one is curious it demonstrates that the other person matters and is important.

As an entrepreneur, your influence is built upon a deep understanding of people by uncovering their strengths, their weaknesses, and their needs. Through this process of curiosity, you gain trust and your influence is genuine and not manipulative.

Questions to ponder:

  • As a leader, do you show sincere interest in members of your staff and team?
  • What might prevent you from being curious?
  • How effective are you in influencing others?

Influencing others makes teams more effective. Being curious and open to new ideas and perspectives facilitates respect and innovation. Using curiosity can draw out information that might not have been considered and makes it safe for team members to share their ideas. In very simple terms, influencing others is about being curious about people.

Contact me today for a complimentary one and a half hour powerful coaching session. And remember, Success Starts With You.

Please share your thoughts and comments to deepen the exploration of this topic. Thank you.


Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph. D., International Executive Coach, Psychotherapist is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers), and founder of Success Starts with You. She was recently chosen to receive the Empowered Woman of the Year Award for 2021 given by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). She also received the honor as the top international coach of the year in 2020 by the IAOTP. She provides visionary leadership in her field and her many credentials prove she has the ability to empower women worldwide. Her exemplary role as a female professional in a male-dominated industry displays her influence, capability, and proficiency. Inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) is an honor in itself, only a few women are chosen for this distinction based on their years of experience, professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, and contributions to their communities. With innovation and compassion, these women empower others to reach their goals, while creating change for future generations. With over 2 decades of professional experience as a business coach and psychotherapist, Dr. Fouts has proven herself as an accomplished professional and expert in the field. As a dynamic, results-driven leader, Dr. Fouts has demonstrated success not only as an Executive Business Coach, but in every role she has held. Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for over 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Dr. Fouts leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness and discovering their blind spots. It can be lonely at the top and as a thought partner, she makes sure you are not alone. Dr. Fouts’ unique approach from other business coaches is that she helps get rid of thinking and behavioral patterns that tend to keep executives stuck. Her key areas of expertise include but are not limited to: small business consulting, enhancing emotional intelligence, self-awareness, unlocking fullest potential, brainstorming, identifying limitations, challenges, obstacles and optimizing performance. In addition, her successful career as a Psychotherapist and International Executive Business Coach, Dr. Fouts is a sought-after speaker whose key-note address to Women’s Leadership Conferences is Channeling Feminine Power in the Face of Adversity. Her newly released book, Cognitive Enlightenment, was to be presented at the London Book Fair, March 2020, the NY Book Fair, May 2020, and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2020 until COVID hit. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder. For more information on Dr. Fouts please visit:

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  1. As everyone knows, curiosity is the desire for knowledge, information and new mental stimuli that determine behaviors in the individual exploration. Curiosity is the instinct that drives us to ask, to explore the unknown and the uncertain, to discover and experiment, to make mistakes and learn from them, and interesting aspect of exploratory behaviors, sometimes individuals, for bring them along, they also run the risk. (an aspect that characterizes the leadership as well). Being curious, or better, follow your instinct and mind being curious is good advice, that works in all situations, especially in the hardest and most difficult. Provided that you are using them appropriately.
    A good leader has certainly this capacity and exercise it by asking questions, to get ideas, set the direction, put the right people in the right places, and ensure that resources are focused on the highest priorities. A leader must always be informed on the latest news in his field, both have the ability to optimize his time and resources, both to show a positive image to his team. It must therefore be curious and ask questions rather than give answers.
    Developing the ability to make the right questions you involve the other person, you gain time, you will get valuable information, but also makes us appear authoritative: people asking incisive questions is perceived as more expert and credible, getting the advantage of appearing more interested in others, correct and pleasant.

  2. I love this Dr Fouts! “To influence others… Curiosity is about being present in the moment, observing and asking questions. To be authentically curious, one shows an interest in the other person, developing an understanding of the challenges the individual faces” (Fouts, 2017).

    It’s obvious when we care. People can sense it. They can feel it. Entrepreneurs may have mastered the art of their trade, but in further support of your overarching message, to sustain success, their quest for continuous curiosity should never fade~

    • Thank you for sharing your insights, Dr. Beaman. It is so true that heartfelt concern for others can be keenly felt. Curiosity is like maintaining awe and wonder. To be successful that awe and wonder about others is paramount to staying ahead.