A Curious Tale of Persuasion

A guy comes up to you with a sincere smile and asks: "Can I have US$1,200 to go play Pokemon Go in Japan?" How would you respond?

If you're going “Huh? What the hell!?”, know that this actually happened.

A guy from California with a Youtube channel set up a crowdfunding campaign to finance his trip to Japan. To play Pokemon Go.


If you’re thinking “There's NO way he got $1,200”, you’d be right. 

He got US$18,935 - or 15 times what he asked for.

What's equally amazing... he didn't get it from a few bizarrely generous people or rabid super-fans. Instead, 1,199 people gave him money.

(Screenshot of his campaign page)

(Screenshot of his campaign page)

(His name is Nick btw, and his channel is Trainer Tips.)

I'm guessing you're reacting the same way I did: with disbelief.

Yes, he did say that the money he spent would help the local economy devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, but c'mon, he could've done that with his own $.

The people who donated must've lost their minds, I thought, or they were stupid.

But then I quieted my inner hater. 

I've learned that when I think everybody is stupid, the person who’s not getting it is most likely me. After all, almost 1,200 people gave him money!

And more would've donated had he not shut down the campaign early, prompting comments like this:


So the proper question is... Just HOW did he manage this impressive feat of persuasion?

I set out to investigate, and found four things he did that were as powerful as they are simple.



1. He produces content that people VALUED

These below are among the first few comments you see below his pitch video:


Confession: I'm a Pokemon Go player myself, and can say without reservation that he provides truly useful and insightful content to players.

And he does so through skilfully produced videos. Every single day. That's an unfathomable amount of work, and most people know it - and appreciate it.

Another confirmation of value: He identified an big flaw in the game and proposed detailed changes. Then a few weeks later, Pokemon Go rolled out a huge update that looked just like what he proposed.

I guess even the game-makers value what he has to say.


2. He showed himself to be GENEROUS

He doesn't just produce valuable content. He posts them on Youtube, and puts very few ads in them.

In fact, a bunch of his fans suggested that he should put in more ads to make more money, and he said NO.

Why? He doesn't like ads himself, so wouldn't wanna impose ads on others.

Lots of people also said he should use the extra $ to fly his girlfriend to Japan with him, fly himself to other countries, and buy himself goodies, and he said NO.

He ended up giving ALL of the extra $ to charity in Japan.

So again and again he showed himself to be generous - he ain't all about the money.

And when you give people value, and you're generous about it, people give back to you. Not everyone, but a lot of them will. If you need proof of this (after all that Cialdini has written on reciprocity as a persuasive power), this is it.

(Interesting side note: last month he got the biggest backlash he's ever gotten for something he proposed, and the main accusation was... GREED.)


3. His audiences truly LIKE him

Besides Reciprocity (if you give to me, I should give to you), Cialdini also wrote about Liking (we're more likely to say yes to someone we like).

And Nick's audiences really like him as a person. In comment after comment, this positively leaped out of the screen at us.

But... why do they like him?

For one, Cialdini writes that we like people who are similar to us.

And Nick is as relatable as they come. Lots of Youtube stars today are OUTSIZED personalities, overly-dramatic performers, and spotlight hogs who thrive on exaggeration.

Nick is different. In fact, the only things that are OUTSIZED about him are his glasses and the passion he has for the game.

He simply comes off as a soft-spoken, humble and genuine guy - something that people didn't tire of pointing out:


I found endless comments like these on the page and on his channel.

You'd be amazed by what people are willing to do when they genuinely like you.


4. He's super transparent about things

Prior to embarking on his Japan trip, he provided an item-by-item breakdown of his spending, to show that he'll keep himself safe and comfortable, but won't splurge on luxury.

And after the trip, he again gave a precise breakdown of how much he'd spent, and how much he'd be donating to which charity.

In browsing the comments on his channel and crowdfunding page, the word trust came up again and again:


Surely the level of transparency he displayed contributed to the trust people placed in him, which in turn made them more likely to donate.


In sum

Focus on the value you're giving to people.

Be generous about it.

Be humble & genuine (because people like that)

Be transparent (because that gets people to trust you)

And you'll be amazed at what they'll say yes to.


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