Building Influence Show feat Michael P Toothman



Stop leading with what you want quote- Michael P Toothman


This is Episode 05 from Season 01 Education. Season 01 contains eight episodes featuring guests who work in education. Each episode features a single guest, looking at their personal lives and careers, considering their perspective as a leader and creator. These interviews are candid and unfiltered.


Michael helps people become future-proof so they won’t be replaced by technology. He has led some of the world’s coolest projects, integrating consumer electronics, digital content, software interfaces, and blockbuster films to form elegant entertainment systems, thrilling millions of airline and business jet passengers.

As a university educator, Michael has mentored and trained over 5,000 project managers from over 1,000 companies in 48 countries.

In June 2020, Michael was featured in Forbes for his expertise in digital learning and he was interviewed on China Global Television that same year about the future of online education.

Michael has developed and delivered customised educational solutions to companies as diverse as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Yahoo!, People’s Republic of China Ministry of Commerce, Southern California Edison Company, and the India Ministry of Communications.

He is the 2018 Excellence in Teaching award winner through the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).


  • Started out with a career in the air force, then worked as a project manager on probably some of the coolest projects in the world and happenstance made me an educator (for the last 17 years) (03:03)
  • Everything is so transactional these days, people are so focused on what they want but try to become an expert collaborator. Don’t feel like it’s always gotta be you driving the boat. Collaborate and leverage the skills and talents of others as they leverage yours (4:38)
  • All your mentors don’t have to be alive. Many of my mentors are dead which means that I read their books. I found that it’s not very productive to ask, “Will you be my mentor?”… It’s a relationship so if it’s a new person you meet at an event, it’s going to be a hard ‘No’ every time. Instead, what I say is, “Can I buy you a cup of coffee? I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you.” Most everyone will have a cup of coffee with you (7:04)
  • What has been key in me building a strong digital profile: content, content, content. Find the social media channel that resonates with you… constantly be writing, constantly be sharing…In the early days, you might not have anything to teach. So document your journey (9:08)
  • The best way to document? Keep a journal at work. When you go through a situation, take a few minutes to review. What was the situation? What was so challenging? What did you do that works and equally, what did you do that was a failure? Too many people on social media are perfect – don’t be perfect. It will empower others to share what didn’t go well and that’s how relationships are built (11:39)
  • I picked the top six people I wanted to collaborate with. Read their posts, and every day, I would put in a comment on their posts. I would amplify what they were saying and back that up with my own experience. Over time, they saw me as an equal partner (13:27)
  • Good networking tip: stop leading with what you want. Work on building the relationship first (15:07)
  • One tip for building relationships is to have the other person recommend a book that you should read (15:47)
  • 70% of success is about showing up. Get on the channel and engage with people. Answer questions, post  a couple of comments on things you are interested in. Over the next couple of months, you will see areas where you can amplify someone else and post your own ideas. It just takes time. Once you are producing content, making comments on your industry, people will pay attention (16:41)
  • I’m a great digital pruner (19:54)
  • When I get a connection request, I check them out. I want to see longevity. I want to check their content. Is it sales-y kinda stuff? Are they in education, project management, tech or other founders? I want to connect with these kinds of people but I also want to connect with people who are completely out of my field of expertise if they have a really good platform  (21:25)
  • How much time I spend on social media (24:10)
  • Education without a purpose is kind of worthless at times. So I make sure that people can walk away from every interaction, every class, knowing that there’s something they can do tomorrow ….. And always be getting feedback from people (25:38)
  • How I discovered my strengths: My journey has been challenging. One thing I can say about myself is that I am not afraid to fail (28:36)
  • Stumbling blocks in my career: We hold ourselves back by our opinion of ourselves and sometimes, it’s our inner circle (34:48)
  • My body of work: future-proofing people (39:41).


Michael P Toothman on Twitter
Michael P Toothman on LinkedIn

This episode is brought to you by Digital Confluence, a digital marketing company that helps businesses amplify reach and engagement through relevant tailored content.