CINCINNATI, Dec. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" has put the spotlight on the power of underdogs. Continuing her list started in 2011, kindred spirit and author of "The Underdog Edge" Amy Showalter has released her list of the most notable underdogs of 2013.
"Understanding what makes underdogs persuasive is a useful exercise, because they simply have to try harder than everyone else to get what they want. They can be more persuasive than the powerful," said Showalter.
"We naturally assume that dominant, successful people are gifted persuaders: Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, etc. And perhaps they were, at some point in their careers. But persuasion is a 'gateway skill' to success. When one becomes sufficiently powerful, continued success relies more on the skillful allocation of accumulated power, than on persuasion," according to professor Kelton Rhoads of USC's Annenberg School for Communication.
"Therefore, we know that those who influence up, as documented in 'The Underdog Edge,' www.underdogedge.com, have probably more influence skills than those at the top, and we can learn from them," Showalter said.
Here is Showalter's list of top persuaders of 2013, from the known to the (as yet) unknown:
Edward Snowden – Underdogs frequently use unconventional tactics to win over others. Snowden alerted the world to the extent of the NSA's information gathering. As a result, the spying world is being reshaped, greater Congressional oversight of the NSA will commence, U.S. technology companies are under greater scrutiny and losing foreign clients, and mistrust of the United States leadership among world leaders has increased. This is quite an impact from an "ordinary" government contractor.
Alexandria Goddard – Alexandria is the crime blogger whose research of online conversations about the rape of a 16-year-old Steubenville, Ohio girl brought national attention to the case. Effective underdogs use vivid information to persuade, and she was able to capture twitter screen shots of tweets and photos taken that night by the perpetrators and those at the scene, sending them to law enforcement officials. In her words, "It was one thing for people in the town to hear about what was being said happened that night and another thing for them to be able to see it." Read her story here: http://jezebel.com/5969076/we-wouldnt-know-about-the-steubenville-rape-case-if-it-wasnt-for-the-blogger-who-complicated-things
The rapists were convicted, and last month, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a grand jury investigating the 2012 rape has indicted four more people in the case, including the school superintendent, two other educators and an assistant football coach.
White Castle – Underdog positioning is always contextual, and even a national restaurant chain faces uphill battles. In another example of using unconventional tactics, White Castle has been outspoken about the effects of Obamacare on their growth. Most companies would keep their heads down for fear of causing alarm among employees and shareholders, but White Castle http://www.whitecastle.com/company has challenged, in numerous media appearances, the impact of Obamacare to their growth plans. Unlike some businesses, they refuse to cut current workers' hours or slash benefits to comply with the new law. Because of their open concerns with the law, House Speaker John Boehner has cited their growth challenges in the health care reform implementation discussions, and they received a mention in Ted Cruz's filibuster. They remain the public face of the law's impact on expansion and growth.
Farmers' Markets –The research shows that one reason we root for and help the underdog is because it makes us feel good to help those who try hard, and don't local farmers work hard? According to the USDA, the prevalence of farmer's markets has grown by 183% since 2000 and by 33% in the last three years. This proves again that "small is the new cool." This of course has extended to the local food movement in restaurants, a major marketing tool used in the restaurant industry.
Malala Yousafzai – Although she came to our attention in 2012, her consideration this year for the Nobel Peace Prize and addresses to world audiences has catapulted her to a new level of influence. We know that credible underdogs suffer for their belief system, and Malala's suffering at such a young age magnifies her inspirational capacity. She uses her influence for those who have none: "I raise up my voice, not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard."
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SOURCE Amy Showalter