Skip to main content

Rod Begbie: Being Right is Only Half the Battle


“The secret to career growth is having increasing impact over larger groups of people over time.”

”This isn’t being manipulative. This is doing your job.”


It's not enough to be right. "The most important part of our job as we level up in our careers is dealing with people." Begbie describes three techniques to get your ideas adopted: ask questions, share strategy, and circulate ideas. Or, as he puts it, three superpowers - how to read minds, how to control reality, and how to predict the future. These help scale up your impact and set direction.

How to Read Minds

Ask questions, especially when your first reaction is to push back and convince. You can only influence people if you understand what they believe. As you ask && listen they begin to understand you. Listening builds relationships. Three techniques: * The playback: repeat what you understood them to say. “What I heard you say is…” Makes sure you're on the same page. * Look for blur words, like ‘on time’ or ‘done’ - “What does mean to you?” These are places where misunderstandings creep in. * Elicit the next step. "On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you with the current state of our _?" Ask how to get from the current step to the next one. Start with the incremental thing.

How to Control Reality

Strategy done at the right level is the best tool for driving change. Make it explicit and share it.

Strategy techniques: The “Even Over” maneuver : “We will value Good Thing A even over Good Thing B”. We will value security even over shipping new features. Write it down and share it. That will surface disagreements early. This will help people make decisions the way you want - gives guidance so people can make their own decisions. you don't have to micro-manage.

How to Predict The Future

Circulate your ideas. When you have an idea, get feedback on it at an early stage. Get people used to it. Don't wait until it's perfect. Share it casually, it doesn't have to be a big formal presentation.
Ask questions to surface concerns and objections. “How would you react if I said…” , ”What would worry you if we…” Use that to refine your idea.
Build up your audience gradually and broadly: your team, peers, stakeholders, implementors, up, down, sideways.
Give ideas names. It’ll become true. Acknowledge objections. Write things down: what decisions were made, why they were made. It's shareable and reminds people about past discussions. Before a decision-making meeting, have a team huddle. Make sure you know what’ll happen before a meeting. You're more likely to achieve your goal.


Begbie is a good speaker. Humorous, engaging, and Scottish accent. Blur words