One morning on his walk to work in mid-town Manhattan, an advertising executive sees a beggar with a sign around his neck, which reads I AM BLIND. Passers-by were ignoring him and his donation cup was empty. The exec put some money in the beggar’s cup and began a conversation. He explained what he did for a living and asked for permission to modify the sign around the beggar’s neck. The beggar agreed, so he took the sign and added a few words.

That night, on his way home, the executive stopped to say hello to the beggar, and was pleased to see his cup overflowing. Perplexed by his sudden success, the beggar asked the exec “what did you do to the sign?” The exec said; “I just added four words to your original sign, so that it now reads “IT IS SPRING AND I AM BLIND”.

This story, often attributed to the advertising legend David Ogilvy, contains powerful lessons in effective communication, such as providing context before content and speaking to the emotions of those you seek to influence.

For me though, it reinforces something beautifully simple, which has taken me 25 years to truly understand. If you want to engage others, transfer knowledge and enable them to execute on your ideas, you must speak to their heart first, then their head and their hands. More specifically; a story for the heart, insights for the head, and strategies for the hands, in that order.

It’s simple, not easy

The positive feedback I’m given most often, is that I’m able to “make the complex simple.” In truth, that’s because this simple ‘heart-head-hands’ formula underpins every coaching conversation, every speaking engagement, and every single one of the 150+ lessons in Enixa 2.0, the recent rebuild of my leadership app.

Beware though, simple does not mean easy. As Mark Twain famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” It’s incredibly challenging to take something you know very deeply and make it easily accessible to others. The rewards, however, are enormous.

The power of speaking to the heart, head and hands

When you ‘speak to the heart’ of others, you overcome their fears, worries and cynicism. They will more easily lower their defences, feel a sense of connection with you, and open up to your ideas. That is the moment to ‘speak to their head’; to share your wisdom, research, analysis and insights, so that they think about their world in a new way. If you’ve done these first two steps well, your audience now wants you to ‘speak to their hands’; to give them practical strategies and tactics, so they can take action on your ideas.

As an added bonus, you will gain new levels of understanding, clarity and insight into your own content, because using the heart-head-hands formula forces you to work through complexity and arrive at something simple.

Putting it into practice

The next time you need to engage an audience on something important, ask yourself;

  • What story could I tell to convey the key idea and create emotional engagement?
  • What 2-3 insights could I share to drive the idea home?
  • What 2-3 actions would I recommend the audience take in order to apply the idea?

Influencing your stakeholders towards positive action has never been more important. I hope this blog will help you in the endeavour.

Enixa 2.0 is now live

If you would like to see the ‘heart-head-hands’ formula in action and be among the first people to experience Enixa 2.0, you can take a 30-day complimentary trial of the app at Once you’ve had a play with it, I’d love to hear your feedback.

If you’d like to explore using Enixa 2.0 with your team or organisation, get in touch with us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

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about PETER

For two decades, Dr. Peter Fuda has been a Sherpa to leaders, teams and organizations across the globe. He’s coached more than 250 CEOs to measurably higher levels of performance. His consulting company has delivered dozens of cases of business transformation and thousands of individual cases of leadership transformation, at a success rate of greater than 90%.

Find out more about Peter

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I introduced Enixa to my top 100 leaders to create more capability and alignment across the team. Within a few short months, its powerful impact was evident, individually and collectively.

Andy PennCEO, Allied Pinnacle