What Your Business Can Learn from Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels knows more about persuasion than most senior marketers. Modeling her approach to people can improve every aspect of your business--from employee engagement to customer loyalty.

But do you have the humility to learn from her?


Jillian Michaels' took the hard road to fame and fitness: she overcame her own weight problem.  She also learned a lot in the process.

A lot about herself.

A lot about others struggling with their weight and fitness.

A lot about the mechanics and science of health.

And a heck of a lot about motivation and tenacity.

She turned her accomplishments as a weight loser into a career as a fitness training expert. From there, she became hostess of the NBC's The Biggest Loser with 15 million weekly viewers.

She has product lines that cover the end cap of seemingly every aisle in Walmart.

She has a net worth that makes most people blush.

And she did it all doing what most marketers only talk about.

What is Jillian Michaels' secret?

Jillian Michaels practices--lives--Persuasive Design. 

Jillian Michael doesn't do what she wants to do.  She doesn't tell anyone what they should want or believe.  She doesn't try to convince people that their feelings about weight wrong.

Convincing people to do what you want them to do is usually a fool's game. And Jillian Michaels is no fool.

Jillian Michaels is a master of persuasion.

She designs for persuasion. She lives persuasion.  But persuasion isn't convincing.

Jillian Michaels helps people do what they already wish to do--but don't. 

People go to Jillian when they've decided, "I want to lose weight. I want to eat better. I want to be stronger. I want to be beautiful."

Jillian doesn't kidnap people and chain them up in an abandoned warehouse on Chicago's South Side until they drop 20 percent body fat.


She finds out about their lives, how they eat, how much they weigh, and how much they want to weigh.  She asks a lot of questions to learn all she can about them.

Manipulation?  No. Coersion?  Never.  Persuasion?  All. The. Time.

By learning what customers want, Jillian's system can provide a roadmap to getting them there. She can recommend products and training plans to help.  She give reminders--sometimes blunt reminders--of what people want from her. She might distract them from the short-term negatives involved in the program, but she never manipulates people into doing something they don't want to do.

Persuasive Design

Persuasive Design has been around a long time. It usually refers to physical products, like light switches and automobile dashboards.  B. J. Fogg's Persuasive Technology lab at Stanford works on persuasive design for software systems.

But persuasive design improves lives in more ways than products and applications.

The next time a process needs improvement, a program needs more participants, a departnment need better engagement, or your customer service team needs  happier customers, try thinking like Jillian Michaels.

Ask yourself  these questions:

  • What does my [customer, employee, call center rep, wife] want?  
  • How can I help them get it?

These simple questions start you on the path toward persuasive design.

Let me know if you need help along the way; that's what I do.