Rotarians learn about Power of Persuasion from author

Michael Angelo Caruso talks to Clarkston Rotary Club about how to engage people in the first 15 seconds. Photo by Trevor Keiser.
Michael Angelo Caruso talks to Clarkston Rotary Club about how to engage people in the first 15 seconds. Photo by Trevor Keiser.

Rotary District Governor Michael Angelo Caruso was the keynote speaker at the Clarkston Rotary Club’s Aug. 29 meeting. Caruso talked about The Power of Persuasion and how to engage someone in 15 seconds.
Caruso, who is a motivational speaker and author, says 15 seconds is all that is needed for a person to make a judgment, good or bad. And while many people say “I don’t judge” or “I’m not judging you,” he says he hopes people are using judgment in daily life. Such as walking down a dark alley and making a judgment on the person at the end of it or making a judgment on the person you’re looking to hire at work as to whether or not they would be a good fit for the company.
“The American judicial system is predicated on judgment,” Caruso said. “Judgment by itself is not a bad thing. It’s pre-judgment that we want to avoid.”
One way to engage people in 15 seconds is to have a good “elevator speech.”
“A good elevator speech not only has people smiling and psychologically moving towards you, but it has them physically moving towards you as well,” Caruso said, noting that his father “had the best elevator speech ever.”
“He retired from Ford early. He worked there for 30 years and retired at age 62. And he would take it to wedding receptions, chambers of commerce and things like that. People would say to my young looking dad ‘what do you do for a living?’ My dad would smile with a big Italian grin and he would say ‘my job is to help other people feel good about themselves.’”
Caruso, who was raised in Trenton, has had three careers. He spent his 20’s touring in a rock band with his brother doing openings for acts like Rick Springfield, Cory Hart, and Joan Jett.
“That’s where I got used to being in front of audiences,” he said.
In his 30’s he was in the telecommunications business and made 50 outbound calls a day. That’s where he learned sales, because he was selling on the telephone with no visual cues. Then in his 40’s he became a published author and speaker, which has led him to where he is today.
“I knew I liked being in front of people and I knew I had good content. I knew I had a message for people, I knew I had a delivery system. The only question was would the free market economy support my efforts? And it sure did,” Caruso said. “It didn’t take me long to figure that out, but I had to quit my job to do it. Like most people, I had to find my way.”
He believes “the best life is a vocation married to an avocation.”
“I can’t imagine a job without some sort of service,” he added. “And I can’t imagine service work without some sort of complimentary job or occupation.”
This is where Rotary comes in, Caruso loves that he’s able to tie his job of motivating and encouraging others in with his service with Rotary.
“I guess some people struggle with this. ‘If I work at such and such a job, I can’t do service.’ I have found a way to make it work,” he said. “I encourage everybody to give it a go. It just makes life so much more interesting and so much more fun.”
Caruso is celebrating 20 years this year as a Rotarian, which he says is interesting since this is his year that he’s also the district governor.
“I never thought this kind of leadership position would come to me, but it just goes to show that if you do something long enough, people start to notice and I am just grateful for all of Rotary has given me,” he said. “It’s funny we extensively join a service organization to give, but I make no secret of the fact that I have gotten a lot from Rotary as well. I am champion giver, but I get a lot in return. It’s an interesting equation.”
For those who are dedicated to the club, Caruso said “Rotary is like church.”
“I get together with a bunch of people who are liked minded people for an hour,” he said. “We give to the offertory basket and we worship something bigger than us.”
And finally, Caruso also loves that Rotary afford him the opportunity to make friendships even outside of his own club.
“Some of my best relationships are with people who are not in my club,” he added. “But the best part of all is the people we haven’t even met yet, new visitors, new members that kind of thing.”
To learn more how to engage someone in 15 seconds checkout www.michael Clarkston Rotary Club meets every Monday at 6:30 at Buckshots Bar & Grill, located at 7048 Gateway Park Drive. For more information visit