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promotion: anything you do, or any quality of your relationship with another person, that causes benefit to that person specifically by their becoming involved in something that they would not have been involved in without your influence.

Promotion is a process involving indirect relationship development: through your relationship with another person, a secondary relationship with a third entity is produced.

Indirect relationship development is very common practise in many social structures and institutions throughout all societies and cultures. In business it is "recruitment", in religion it could be called "evangelism".

This is the concept called enrollment by Erhard, Sterling, and other groups that came out of the Erhard movement. The awkwardness of the words used to describe it come partly from the fact that there is no clear way to express the concept with a single word in English. (For more on my word choice, see here).

Promotion shares a lot with sales ability and similar skills. When the interaction stands to benefit both parties, or benefits mainly the self, the situation is a lot more complex. There is usually a lot of conscious intent on both sides to make a decision; market forces play a role; there is the possibility for deception, bullying, manipulation and other shadows of the core personality types. There is a vast body of wisdom in business culture regarding sales, most of which deals with those complexities. However, in this discussion it is assumed that the one doing the promoting does not benefit in any direct physical or financial way. If this is understood (and sincerely believed) by both parties, warrior issues such as trust become a lot less of an impediment.

The Dimensions of Promotion

The way you conduct promotion in your interactions with others, reflects certain elements of your personality. There are three distinct "dimensions" of promotion. I will describe each through an archetype — a type of person, or relationship, that is an extreme manifestation of that dimension of promotion.

Referral: the Neighbor

Referral is the type of promotion you get from neighbors, strangers on the street, etc.

"How can I fix the siding on my house?" "Oh yeah I'll tell you. Call Jensen. They did a great job on my garage last year, gave me a good price."

Very easy. It's responsive promotion, they're just responding to an initiative taken on by you.

Endorsement: the In-Law

Endorsement is the type of promotion you get from relatives and co-workers.

You're a senior in high school — your aunt's husband corners you at Thanksgiving, and he says, "hey, when you get to college, you really should join Phi Sigma Kappa. It's the best thing I ever did in my life." And then he'll go to Phi Sigma Kappa and tell them, "hey when this guy shows up, you really should give him an offer to join."

That's active promotion, it takes active work — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. The endorser must build relationship and trust.

Affinity: the Brother

Affinity is the type of promotion you get from a brother, or a "soul-mate".

Your brother and you are very close. He takes up contredancing, community theatre and climbing. The first two interest you little, but climbing inspires you. You take up climbing too. No discussion takes place, but you realize, had your brother not started climbing, you would not have been able to realize it was appealing to you.

Affinity-promotion is entirely passive. It happens to you when you have a lot of affinity to someone. You naturally become promoted on any idea, experience, or other aspect of their life that might naturally benefit you. It happens to someone else when they have an affinity to you, and become interested in something they see in your life.

(Notice that this is the only type of promotion that is a noun, but not a verb: you cannot "affinitate" someone.)


Each type of promotion requires a different amount of contact, and confers a different amount of satisfaction for you, and benefit for the other person. Referral is least contact, least reward, and affinity has greatest contact, greatest reward. "Contact" is time spent together, shared experiences and so on. It is not a "cost" or painful effort. If promotion is painful for you or for the other person, you and they won't get any net benefit except by lucky accident.


As with archetypes in general, each of these dimensions has a "shadow side" — an opposite, destructive version of the same relationship style. Here are the dimensions again with their positive and destructive forms. The opposite of endorsement is discouragement, the opposite of affinity is alienation and the opposite of referral is passive neglect:

dimension Positive Form Destructive Form
proactive (active) endorsement discouragement
resonant (passive) affinity alienation
responsive (reactive) referral passive neglect

Here we should notice that affinity has an opposite that is active: It is much easier to destroy or prevent affinity than to build it.

Three Dimensions

The three types of promotion are dimensions. Your own personal promotion style, the type of connection that works best and most naturally for you, will consist of some mixture of the three types.

Like mathematical dimensions they are orthogonal — each is independent of the other. Each person exhibits a certain amount of each — having a lot of one dimension does not imply, or preclude, having a lot of another.

However, there is no particular advantage to any particular balance of the dimensions, as there is with character traits such as the mature masculine and feminine archetypes. There is no concept of "Be a Three-Dimensional Promoter". Each person will have a different mix of the three types. Everyone must find the balance of the three types that works best for himself/herself personally.

Know Your Style

When coaching people who wish to succeed at promotion, and if they are new to me or are frustrated with their level of success, I start by identifying their style. This can usually be done by first identifying what style(s) of promotion work on them.

Here is a way to gain an understanding of your own style.

(For a one-on-one process, estimate 2-5 minutes for set-up, 5 minutes for the guided visualization and about 10 minutes to attain closure on the follow-up questions. For multiple participants, 5-7 min for set-up, 5 min for GV and 7 min per person for the follow-up.)

Guided Visualization

Take a moment to relax, and clear away present thoughts and concerns.

(pause ~= 15 seconds) Think back to an early time in your life that you began doing something really .fulfilling. and/or .enjoyable.. In particular, select something that involves other people in some way. It should be something you were really glad you became involved with.

Some clarifications: It should be a decision that was consequential — that is, it mattered whether or not you got involved. Also, it doesn't matter if you are still glad you did that thing, but it should be something you were glad you did back at that time in your life.

I am asking for an early choice you made, early in your adult life.

(If you are working within a group where most members made a possibly difficult or emotional choice to join the group, and especially if the group places a lot of emphasis on getting others to join, you may add a statement like this example.) : This will probably not be your decision to join [name of this group].

(In place of the following, you should substitute your own personal example):

For me, the first two relevant examples are in college — when I visited the fraternity house that I ultimately wound up joining — and when I decided to try out for the Glee Club. Both were a source of abundant joy, connection and community that helped me move forward in my life at the time.

Again, I would suggest that you choose an event in your life that is as early in your adult life as possible — preferably before you began to develop ideas on how to most effectively invite others, into new opportunities for their lives.

Take a moment or two more. (pause) A time in your life, when you chose to .join. or .begin., something .new. and .wonderful..

Start focusing on the beginning of your participation in that group or activity — or perhaps a bit before you began.

Find the day, hour and minute, when you were present to your opportunity, and chose to take it.

Try to find the moment when, deep inside, your heart shifted over to the side of taking this opportunity.

You can .probably. remember that moment fairly well — the exact time your decision happened. It is often well before you actually informed someone of it.

Where were you? Was anyone with you at the time? If there was someone with you, did they have anything to do with your choice?

If a person affected your choice — what were they doing, and/or saying? If they were .speaking.? — Did it have anything to do with the .opportunity.? And if .so., were they actually suggesting you do it or just sharing their .own. .experience.

.If. another person was not involved in your choice — what .was.? What were you .thinking. about? What were your .feelings.? And what were your .emotions. like?

If you have identified all these things about one opportunity you chose to take, I invite you now to look for another example from your life.

(After an appropriate amount of time, "return to the present" and/or "open your eyes")


If there was not any person involved, or if their involvement was minimal, the Promotion style that worked on you was referral.

If there was a person involved: consider what it was about their relationship with you that had you choose to take the opportunity. Did they respond to your request, like the Neighbor — or actively work to get you involved, like the In-Law — or passively allow you to discover it, like the Brother?

Be aware that these different styles usually occur in combination. Try to identify how much of each — for example, the person's active Endorsement was a large part of it, and our Affinity was smaller but still significant.

If you thought of other similar "big choice" opportunities in your life, answer the same questions for them.

Here is the universal truth:

The Promotion style that works well on you, is probably the style that you can employ most effectively in your relationships with others.

specific examples pending — contact me if you wish for clarification

End of Exercise

Values of Each Dimension

Because affinity involves the most contact, it results in the greatest odds of a "proper match". Those who get there from affinity are really meant to be there, will get the most benefit, and will benefit others even more through their participation and by their success story as witnessed by others. Perhaps even more important, affinity builds the most trust, and thus it is the type that works best with people who are predisposed to be nontrustful.

Because endorsement is direct and goal-oriented, it works best for people who are direct and goal-oriented, on both ends of the exchange (the one doing the promoting, and the one hearing him/her). If the endorser manages their efforts efficiently, it will produce the most results per unit time.

Because referral is responsive, it happens only by chance (if you seek out people to ask you for a referral, then you are endorsing your own skills as a referral agent, and by implication you are endorsing whatever you give as the answer when they ask for a referral). However, when referral does happen, it produces results with only a very tiny amount of effort — therefore its return-on-investment ratio is higher than the other two types.

Promotion as an Aptitude or as a Skill

Although it is usually something that happens without people planning it or forming strategies, etc., promotion can be and often is, something that is undertaken deliberately. If you attempt to undertake it deliberately, you will find you have a certain amount of ability at promoting, and perhaps not as much ability as you might want. It can be thought of either as an innate aptitude, or as a learned skill. The truth is a combination of both.

If You Wish to Improve Your Promotion Ability

Recognize that your style is some combination of the dimensions described above: referral, endorsement and affinity. Identify how much of each you possess. The best way to do this is to look at how you have been promoted by others in your life, and how things you care about were promoted to you. In other words: look at what happened or existed, that caused you to discover, and become involved in, the opportunities that have benefitted you the most. Whatever was being done to you, is what you responded to best, and this is the style that will work for you when you are trying to help others.

(More specific advice for each archetype is pending. This is an area where individual testimonials and case studies are useful; if you want to contribute, contact me.)

The Great Secret

Here it is!

You will be most effective in your promotion efforts with others, when you interact with them in the same way that has been most effectively used by others to promote you.

That's it. Seems pretty simple, right?

This has actually been part of our culture at least as far back as Martin Heidegger, the 20th century philosopher, who said (paraphrased): Your way of being creates your reality. To be more specific, in the context of what we are discussing here: The way a man relates to others creates the reality of how others can effectively relate to him, in order to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Now we move to a more complex ability, that of "promoting the promoter".

Pitfalls of Promotion Coaches

A promotion coach is someone (consciously) helping someone else improve their promotion ability. Notice that to be a "coach", your coaching must be freely allowed or sought out.

The most common pitfall is mismatched style — for example, endorsing to people whose style is predominantly affinity, or using affinity with those stronger at endorsement.

If your style is endorsement, and you endorse promotion to all the people you are coaching, those who prefer affinity may feel ignored, alienated, pressured, or worse.

Alternately, if your style is affinity, and you use affinity in all your discussions of promotion to the people you are coaching, those who respond better to direct endorsement will not get into action — because they see you as the leader, and you are not doing any endorsement to them. Your endorsement-type people will sit down and rest, or lose interest. They might even abandon the goals, commitments or affiliations that initially caused them to be interested in promotion in the first place.

This is an example of how the King archetype is useful. The King represents the one's ability to make a conscious choice to be a different way (e.g. the Lover in the case of relating to affinity-based men, or the Warrior when relating to endorsement-based men) when the need arises.

Recommendations for Promotion Coaches

Know Their Style — either by seeing them in action, and observing their success; by learning from them how they have been successful in the past; or by helping them identify it themselves (see above under headings Know Your Style and If You Wish to Improve...). The first is preferable because recent experience is more relevant, because memory is distorted by time, and because an independent point of view makes for a more accurate assessment.

Once you know their style, Use Their Style With Them. If they are good at endorsement, then you should endorse endorsement: encourage them to take action, set goals, be specific, etc. In your work to encourage, use the same techniques with yourself — setting goals, tracking your success etc. Alternately if they are stronger at affinity, build affinity with them; do not endorse affinity but inspire by letting them witness affinity in action, e.g. by telling success stories. Better yet, let them enjoy telling their own stories of the giving, and receiving, benefits of affinity.

If you are sufficiently skilled in all types of promotion, the foregoing should work well. There is an alternative for those wishing to practice the art of charisma, which produces the ability to have affinity with almost everyone. The charismatic coach can promote by telling success stories that exemplify the promotion style of the person you are coaching. This is often more difficult, because of the demanding requirements of being charismatic.

And now we move to an even more remote abstration, and consider the coaching of other promotion coaches.

Coaching the Promotion Coach

Teach the distinctions given above to your aspiring promotion coaches. Learn what their style is (see above). Then, use their style to encourage them to follow the techniques for coaches given above.

(For reference, the more common way is to: gain mastery at promotion, then lead by example. This way does not involve understanding the distinctions of promotion styles and why such understanding is helpful. As a result, much effort aimed at promoting promotion (whether by endorsement or affinity) falls on deaf ears, or worse.)

Please keep in mind that, even if these ideas seem new to you, they may not be new to some or all of those you are coaching. Conversely, even if the material is not new to you, it is probably new to some of those whose success you are owning. You need to ensure that all of those whose success you are owning are provided with the opportunity to benefit from this teaching.

Beyond that, coaching the coaches is similar to any other type of leadership work: identify their skills; empower them to use those skills in ways that fulfill your vision as well as their own; when possible, draw your inner circle from among the ranks; pretty nearly any of my core values, etc.

Quick Introduction (Elevator Talk)

(This is useful for making a quick introduction of the material, particularly when speaking to a group of promotion coaches in a meeting.)

This concerns something I call promotion. For now we'll just define that as any time an interation, or relationship, between two people, helps one of them begin doing something that is beneficial to them. (Define promotion however you wish, and use a different word if you feel it is appropriate. Or, give a specific example of the type of beneficial result your people want to be producing.)

I have found that there are three types of relationship, and of communication, that are involved in successful promotion experiences.

Some people discover most of their new things on their own, and have to be the one taking the initiative in order to decide to jump into something. The role of others is strictly just to give answers to questions like "Where can I get this thing that I want?" Often many detailed questions will be involved, all entirely thought up by the person who is learning about the new opportunity.

Another kind of person will discover things they love only through a deep and close connection with someone else who is involved with something similar. Very little actual conversation or detailed questions take place.

The third kind is people who respond best to the direct approach, and will only take the steps if someone is asking or encouraging them to do it. Here the depth of the relationship doesn't matter, just basic personality skills like respect, listening and a positive attitude.

These three occur in combinations too, it's like three different dimensions of your personality.

That's great, and nothing really new — but here's the surprise — The way you will succeed at promoting others — is the same as how others have been sucessful at promoting you.

The common pitfall is to treat what I have been talking about as willingness or ability to respond to the direct approach in one case — and willingness or ability to take the initiative on their own in the other case.

The important insight I am teaching is that — people will not change their level of willingness or ability to do either of these things — not by deeping the relationship — not by growing older and learning the lessons of life — nothing.

A friend of mine who works in a coffee shop, and has lots of regular customers — could easily gather together 15 people who are all completely willing and completely able to buy the new fruit smoothie drink — and furthermore know him really well, and who he knows really well. And I could then separate them into two groups, (or really more of a spectrum) where on one side of the room are the people who will benefit only from being directly asked, and the others who will only benefit from having the opportunity to take the first step themselves.

The first group can all know him really really well — and all of them are completely willing, and completely able, to buy the new drink — but they'll only do it if he asks.

Likewise, the other group, despite having a really deep relationship and equally willing and able to try the drink, will not respond to the direct sell approach, and in fact such an approach is likely to distance the relationship just a little bit.

The important insight here is that, their level of willingness and ability is not going to change over time. The ones who need endorsement aren't going to change, and neither are the ones who need the affinity and referral relationship.

The three dimensions, again, are: endorsement, affinity and referral. Described by adjectives — endorsement is proactive; affinity is resonant (or passive), and referral is responsive (or reactive). Notice that two of them involve direct action (you can endorse and you can be endorsed, likewise you can refer and you can be referred) but the third, affinity, does not involve a direct action in an of itself — two things resonate with each other but only when both are in a situation that permits the resonance.

The dimensions each have an archetype: the in-law for endorsement, the brother for affinity, and the neighbor for referral.

Why "promotion"?

I learned this concept under the names enroll (verb) and enrollment (noun). The verb was being used as a transitive verb, with a person as direct object and an activity or idea as indirect object: Mark enrolled Robert into being a better listener. The only way enroll is used this way in the world at large, is in the limited usage "I enrolled my son into the Sawyer Preschool".

Another usage of enroll that appears to have inspired Erhard or his followers, is the intransitive usage, for example "Yesterday I enrolled in the Army". No-one enrolled me — I did it myself. The similarity of this usage to "signing up" (filling out a form, registering, paying money, etc.) has caused them trouble because of the negative sterotypes of selling and salesmen that goes with it.

So, I deliberately chose a new word. After considering other options (endorse, encourage, publicize, foster, help) I chose the word promote because its five common usages (based on definitions here) all correspond to different parts of the phenomenon I had come to know as "enrollment":


Originally conceived for a trading-card game I created in early 2005, as part of a project to explain the situation around my departure from SMD.

Lyons claims that the basic idea of dimensions of enrollment are related to ideas put forth by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

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