October 2006 - Editor's Perspective

The Dog Days of Summer

This issue was an exceptionally exciting one for the Electronic Retailer magazine staff. We had a rare opportunity to feature on our cover one of the most engaging people today, and hands down, the most famous dog psychologist in the U.S. I’m speaking, of course, about the “Dog Whisperer” himself, Cesar Millan.

On one summer afternoon, Cesar and his wife, Ilusion, invited me to their Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles for a sit-down interview. We met for more than an hour, talking about everything from his inability to trust people in the beginning of his career to his sincere belief in the power of visualization for making the impossible possible.

“The biggest asset you have is the ability to visualize the big picture,” he says. Thus, if you concentrate hard enough and picture success, then you can achieve it. Cesar even admitted that he visualized himself appearing on “Oprah” years before he actually met her and Sophie, her cocker spaniel. A moment he regards as one of the major highlights of his career.

When I first met Cesar in person, I noticed that he was every bit the pack leader he has professed to be. He was friendly, but a little intimidating. However, what I realized was that the longer I sat down and talked to him about his background, the more I felt at ease.

I came away from my interview with Cesar and Ilusion inspired by their story. It’s not just about having a hit show on cable or selling millions of how-to books. It’s about believing wholeheartedly in a product. In Cesar’s case, it is his skills as a dog psychologist and educator of people. While he has found success in the DR space promoting his books and DVDs via short-form spots, it’s very apparent that people connect with Cesar because he firmly believes in what he’s promoting.

About a month after my Cesar interview, I was inspired once again during the closing general session at the ERA 16th Annual Convention. This time it was by renowned social psychologist, Dr. Robert Cialdini. His keynote address about the “Power of Persuasion” really hit home.

He summed it up in six principles of ethical influence, which include reciprocation, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus.

I then began to think how Cesar fits into those principles. First, in terms of reciprocation, he is the first to provide a service, which is training humans and rehabilitating dogs via his television show. People reciprocate by going to his website, attending his seminars and purchasing his books and DVDs. Next, his method of training and educating both dog and owner is a scarcity-and unique compared to anything on television today.

Third, Cesar demonstrates authority through his ability to be an effective trainer. In terms of the fourth principle, consistency, the Dog Whisperer repeats the same message in every show, which is to be a pack leader to your pet. With the liking principle, Cesar is able to gain the audience’s trust, as well as from the people featured on his show. Lastly, he demonstrates the final principle, consensus, by showing the success stories in his show.

I firmly believe we could all learn something from Cesar Millan and Dr. Cialdini. If anything, they have provided us with valuable tools for being a leader in our business, in the industry and in our household.

Vitisia Paynich


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