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Classic Influence: Timeless Lessons from the Legends

Focused on the strategic application of the wisdom of history, Classic Influence is an adventurous exploration of the heroes of history and the timeless lessons we can learn from the champions, titans and legends of leadership, influence, and power. Listen in as your host—the Harvard and Columbia trained researcher, author, and speaker, Dr. Johnny Welch, M.B.A.—unveils the hidden blueprints, unlocks the key secrets, and reveals the practical insight and timeless wisdom of history’s saints, sages, sinners and superstars of success. Discover the strategies, tactics, tips and mental tools you can use to master the power and praxis of leadership and influence to achieve your own most daring dreams and goals.
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Classic Influence: Timeless Lessons from the Legends
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Now displaying: 2021
Dec 16, 2021

A brilliant military strategist and tactician, Alexander the Great stands as one of the greatest figures in history. Alexander was far from the typical military or political leader, however. He was a critical thinker who, like many of his leading Greek contemporaries, prized clear, rational thinking and concise, straightforward speech. Alexander did not hesitate to engage in critical reflection and self-examination, challenging biases, questioning assumptions, allowing for reasoned, respectful critiques. He never simply accepted things as they were, or appeared to be. In this episode of Classic Influence, we travel back to ancient Gordian to learn one of the early, representative legends in Alexander’s storied military career. This episode also explores one of the key secrets to Alexander’s success. Explored from the perspective of ancient philosophers, modern business titans, one of the most brilliant scientists that ever lived, Albert Einstein, and one of the most celebrated coaches in the NFL, Vince Lombardi, this episode also reveals the near universal power of simplicity, and why this critical principle of success is so often underestimated, underutilized, and undersold.

Oct 29, 2021

Joan of Arc’s story remains one of the most remarkable stories in the long history of military leadership. Consider this singular, striking distinction: “Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen” (Garlow). In the words of Winston Churchill, “Joan of Arc was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.” But what is it that set Joan of Arc so far apart? In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to France during the Hundred Years’ War to explore the most critical, definitive factor in her success, the key lessons we can learn from her example, and why the wisdom of her leadership continues to echo across time to this day.

Aug 31, 2021

After leaving for law school in London at age 18, when Mohandas K. Gandhi finally returned to India in 1915 he was 45. Despite his prolonged initial absence, the deeply spiritual Gandhi quickly rose to become one of the most influential figures in India's history. In fact, for a man who possessed little more than a loincloth and glasses to defeat what at the time was the greatest empire on Earth, without so much as throwing a stone, we might well look to Mahatma Gandhi as the most brilliant strategist and transformational leader that ever lived. In 1999, TIME magazine credited Gandhi as runner-up to Albert Einstein for “Person of the Century.” But Einstein himself said, “Mahatma Gandhi's life achievement stands unique in political history. He has invented a completely new and humane means for the liberation war of an oppressed country...We may all be happy and grateful that destiny gifted us with such an enlightened contemporary, a role model for the generations to come....[who] will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.” Today, known as “The Father of India” and “The Apostle of Non-violence,” Mahatma Gandhi is a global icon. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to India in 1915 and discover how Gandhi built an unbreakable charismatic bond with his followers and, in the process, forged the foundation of his influence in India, Great Britain and beyond.

Aug 4, 2021

On Christmas Day in 1119 A.D., countless prayers were finally answered when a French knight known as Hugh of Payns banded together with 8 other knights in a brotherhood of highly skilled religious warriors. The nine knights all took “vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” and pledged themselves to protect the Christian pilgrims who were traveling on the roads to Jerusalem. Operating as a sort of elite special forces of the Middle Ages, the exceptionally disciplined and well-trained military order was unlike any religious order that had come before. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to the Holy Lands during the Crusades to explore the key factors that led to the surprisingly rapid rise of the Knights Templar, the most formidable military order in the history of the world. This episode also reveals the one central factor that best explains the Templars’ eventual downfall and their scandalous, viciously concocted end.

Jun 8, 2021

Episode Overview: In the 12 century B.C., after the ancient city of Troy fell following the Greek’s cunning trick with the Trojan Horse, a number of Trojans escaped with a fleet of ships. After years of wandering in search of a new home, the Trojans endured a particularly treacherous episode of violent weather and rough waves in the Mediterranean, a storm which nearly destroyed their fleet. When they finally landed on the banks of the Tiber River to take shelter, the women soon decided that they had had enough of the aimless wandering. The men, however, were intent on returning to the ships and continuing with their mission as soon as the storm passed. According to Virgil, what the women did next altered the course of Western history. Listen to this episode of Classic Influence now and discover how a crafty and courageous use of leverage won the day for the women and changed the future of ancient Rome. This episode also reveals some of the most useful ways of thinking about leverage, how leverage can heighten your odds of success, and a handful of simple, easy-to-implement examples of leverage that you can adapt to your own goals in support of your own effort and will to succeed.

Apr 29, 2021

On September 26, 1918, in the midst of World War I, George S. Patton’s moment of testing had arrived. Patton was leading a light tank brigade up a hill overlooking a German occupied town when he was suddenly face-to-face with his greatest fear. What happened next changed Patton’s life forever, transforming him from what he himself referred to as “an utter, craven coward,” into the great 4-Star General, “Old Blood and Guts,” widely revered as an audacious hero of World War II. Listen in and discover what happened to Patton when he and his men were trapped in a hailstorm of machine-gun fire, how he responded to the panic inducing barrage of racing bullets that surrounded him, and the key takeaway lesson he shares about finding courage under fire. Highlighting the nexus between courage and rapid growth, this episode of the Classic Influence Podcast also reveals Patton’s strategy for keeping his fears forever in check.

Apr 8, 2021

One cold evening in January 1936, with the world in the midst of the Great Depression, Dale Carnegie addressed a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at the luxurious Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City. Despite the global economic crisis, Carnegie, in a series of full-page newspaper ads, had promised the attendees that they could increase their incomes, and he was about to deliver on that promise. But how exactly did Carnegie come to discover these priceless, proven secrets of social, professional, and financial success? In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to the 1930s and discover how a man born into poverty on a farm in Missouri came to become one of the best-selling authors of all time, “The Father of Self-Help,” and, in time, the head of a thriving personal development empire the likes of which the world had never before seen.

Mar 11, 2021

On December 17, 1903, a pair of self-taught, visionary American engineers achieved their dream, forever made the world a smaller place, and helped usher in the age of globalization. It was the first successful piloted, powered airplane flight in history, and with it the Wright brothers revolutionized the world. Competing against the greatest minds in science and technology at the time, the Wright brothers were far from the most likely candidates for pioneering aviation success. Neither one of the brothers graduated high school, went to college, or had any formal training as an engineer. Nor did they have the financial support of the more established aviation pioneers. And, yet, they had everything they needed to succeed. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to the late 19th century and see what set these two middle-class Midwestern bicycle mechanics apart from the aviation pack. Listen in now and you will also learn the one critical characteristic of success shared by most everyone of America’s most wealthy business titans, including Andrew Carnegie (1835—1919), John D. Rockefeller (1839—1937), Warren Buffet (1930—), and Bill Gates (1955—).

Feb 22, 2021

Abraham Lincoln was born to poor Kentucky farmers in 1809. Raised in a one-room, dirt-floor log cabin on the American frontier, Lincoln’s early life was filled with long hours of manual labor, and many years of trial and tribulation, setback and struggle. But Abraham Lincoln, fiercely ambitious, was determined to rise up from his humble origins, and make his mark on the world. “The way for a man to rise,” he said, “is to improve himself in every way he can.” And, so, Lincoln worked hard, educated himself, and found ways to grow and improve. Eventually, he carved out a career for himself as a successful prairie lawyer. And, yet, he still wanted to do more. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to America’s pre-Civil War era and learn how Abraham Lincoln, ultimately, after a lifetime of heartbreaking setbacks and defeats, achieved the ultimate election victory by steadfastly turning his unquenchable ambition toward serving the people and winning their esteem. Drawing on Winston Churchill’s address at Harvard University in 1943, this episode also reveals one of the main, most widespread reasons why people fail to achieve their greatest, most ambitious dreams. 

Jan 29, 2021

In the 1950s, still at the start of his acting career, and frustrated by the lack of work, Don Rickles began hustling gigs as a standup comedian in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Finding that his audiences were also failing to respond to his prepared material as a comic, Rickles started to boldly lash out. In fact, he began insulting people in his audience, particularly the hecklers. With this, Rickles finally began to see his audiences respond. Sometimes, however, Rickles went too far, boldly insulting the wrong person at the wrong time, and suffering some humiliating consequences as a result. Listen in to this episode of Classic Influence, and learn how boldness can backfire when it rises to a level beyond what your target or audience will endure. Given the potential consequences of a lack of boldness, which are often even more severe, this episode also reveals the essential approach to take to build your capacity for bold action, and, thereby, tap your true potential, and succeed in your chosen field. Finally, returning to the opening story of this “Take Bold Action” series, you will discover the single most critical secret of Napoleon Bonaparte’s remarkable return from Elba and which, in defiance of Europe’s greatest powers, enabled him to once again become the Emperor of France.

Jan 7, 2021

In 1553, Mary Tudor’s dying brother, King Edward VI of England, was plotting behind the scenes to remove his half-sister from the line of succession. In the midst of the English Reformation, and the wider European Protestant Reformation, the Protestant King Edward was eager to keep Mary, a loyal Catholic, from reversing his and his father Henry VIII’s precious Protestant reforms. But Mary Tudor was not having it. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and she was the granddaughter of Isabella of Castile. The crown of England was hers by right of law, and she would not permit her brother or his scheming, double-dealing counselors to deprive England of its rightful heir. In this episode of Classic Influence, we’ll travel back to 16th century England and watch as Mary Tudor attempts to boldly seize the English throne, and thwart her brother’s foolhardy coup. Looking to Mary’s daring example, this episode also reveals five critical factors to consider before implementing any significantly risky, bold action plan.

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