Conducting seminars for over 30 years, logging more than 2.5 million miles in the air, and traveling around the world, I thought I understood what every audience needed. After all, when it comes to persuasion, I’d like to modestly put forward the notion that I am considered an expert. I have written books on the subject, I’ve consulted with countless Fortune 500 companies on the subject, and I’ve stepped in front of tens of thousands of people to tell them what I know about the subject. But back in the summer of 2012, nothing could prepare me for the audience I met in a church in McLean, Virginia.

I had received a call from my friend Will, who told me about a group that he had been volunteering to help for the past few years, and they ...

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