Clout is a strange word. It’s almost slang for a combination of ‘power’ and ‘influence’. If someone has to tell you they have clout, they probably don’t. It’s like charisma. You know it when you see it. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. It’s difficult to learn how to acquire it. At least, that’s what I thought until I read the last chapter of this book.
This short but perfectly formed book by CNN International news anchor, and presenter of CNNTalk, Max Foster, is a fascinating look into the phenomenon of what he terms ‘cloutology’. He looks at six case studies – all people he’s interviewed or observed at close quarters and then uses the lessons drawn to advise the reader on their own ability to acquire ‘clout’.
Max’s subjects are quite a diverse group – Steve Jobs, Tracey Emin, Stormzy, Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, Donald Trump and HM The Queen. He’s interviewed them all, apart from The Queen, who clearly doesn’t do interviews, but as CNN Royal Correspondent Max has observed her up close for many years. He uses his interviews to back up his thesis about how each of these people uses their ‘clout’.
In some ways this could be a seen as a ‘self-help’ book for those who are unsure about their own sense of ‘clout’. Indeed, the last chapter is all about self-analysis, using the six different criteria Max has applied to his six subjects. He thinks they all have 6 ‘C’s in common…
Max writes: “I’ve seen how people with clout aren’t held back by convention”, and he’s right. I think of all the people I know who I would say exude ‘clout’ and they’ve all been successful because at some point in their careers or lives they’ve dared to be different or they’ve defied convention. Think Adele. Think J K Rowling. Think Nigel Farage. Think Andrew Neil. Think Piers Morgan. Think Malcolm Turnbull. Think Pierluigi Collina. I could go on. Some of these people you will love and respect. Others you will loathe. But in their own particular fields, no one could deny they have clout.
This is one of those zeitgeisty books that could do rather well. It’s very short, at only 90 pages, but that makes it very digestible. Depending on the reaction to it, I wonder if Max might expand it into something bigger that one of the big publishers might take on. Perhaps I should become his literary agent…