Influence Tips From Elvis Presley”s Back Up Singer (Ray Walker)

Published on June 29, 2012 by

I never saw Elvis in concert, much less met him. The closest I ever got to the King of Rock and Roll was in meeting Ray Walker of the Jordanaires, who sang backup for Elvis for 14 years. After seeing Mr. Walker perform at an event, I joined the small crowd around him to ask a question, hoping only for a quick answer before someone else grabbed his attention. To my surprise, he instead said to me, "I have to change clothes before my next performance, but let's go back to my dressing room."

I spent an hour with Mr. Walker, and I got the answer to my question—plus a couple of wonderful stories about Elvis (for the record, Mr. Walker had nothing but great things to say about his dear friend The King). Mr. Walker made me feel like I was the most important person he could have been talking to that day, though I highly doubt that was true.

He was gracious and courteous, and he asked me a number of questions about myself, my work, and what I envisioned for my future. Ray Walker's kindness and humility made a huge impression on me, and I will never forget that hour.

Why am I telling you this story? To help you understand that celebrity or not, you make an impression on every person you interact with—especially those you see every day. People's opinions of you have a lot to do with how you treat them and others around you.

Others may or may not be impressed by how smart or gifted you are, but they will always remember how you made them feel (bonus: If you make them feel good about themselves, they will likely think that you are smart and gifted!). Here are a few things to keep in mind when interacting with your colleagues, friends, family, and everyone else you talk to on a regular basis.

Direct the focus outward. Make the conversation about the other person, not you. I know, I know—you wish that someone would do the same for you. Try to lead with a positive example.

Listen wholeheartedly. Too many people listen only to find a place to interject their own stories. Try to hear the other person without half a mind on what you will say next.

Don't talk trash. Resist the urge to gossip. Saying negative things about somebody else will only make you look bad in the end.

Be gracious. Mr. Walker actually gave me his home phone number, as well as an offer to stay at his home if I ever happened to be in the area. Talk about gracious!

Love who you are and what you do. Mr. Walker exuded a quiet but positive energy. It was clear to me that he was happy with his life and his work, although he didn’t feel the need to boast about either.

Mr. Walker is a class act. Do others say the same about you? Your career success is tied directly to how you treat those around you. While your co-workers will likely be glad to celebrate your accomplishments, what's most important to them is how you make them feel about themselves. That’s human nature! So listen to your colleagues—really listen.

Be respectful, considerate, and interested in their achievements. Make it all about them, just like Mr. Walker made it all about me. You may think I'm asking a lot, but you will likely find that what you get back over time will be far more than what you give. Life seems to work that way—even in the world of work and business.

2 Comments

  1. Cynthia Graham

    That is wonderful! I have known Mr.Walker since I was a child. He is a wonderful person and has made a huge impact in my life. I love him, I know he has earned his place in God's kingdom. One of the finest men I have ever met.

    • Alan Allard

      Cynthia, thanks for sharing about Mr. Walker. It's amazing how much of an impact he made on me from that one hour conversation.

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