About and Contact
My name is Steve Booth-Butterfield and I created Healthy Influence to connect proven persuasion research to practical real world situations. I have over 30 years experience in the application, research, and training of persuasion in government, academic, and commercial settings. For details on my work, please consult my online curriculum vita. For a brief Work History, please scroll down.
In government, I served as a scientific administrator in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as Chief of the Health Communication Research Branch from 1998 until 2002. I directed a large budget, multidimensional program of eighteen to twenty people doing basic and applied research projects with an in-house message engineering team and a state of the art research lab. I also got to serve on a wide variety of inter-Agency teams consulting with groups from Defense, Commerce, Labor, as well as other Health and Human Services agencies.
In academic settings, I have taught and trained all ages from first grade to adult and all levels of instruction from survey to doctoral studies. From 1988 until 1998, I was an award-winning professor at West Virginia University in the Department of Communication Studies. I've been using technology for instructional goals throughout my career and WVU provided me with many interesting opportunities in this regard.
In commercial settings, I've consulted with a variety of business, government, and academic organizations with a prime focus on Healthy Influence concepts. It's amazing how important communication and persuasion theory and research can be in the Real World. Some of the most interesting work I've done has been through this kind of consulting. References are available upon request.
Please use "DrSBB at Healthy Influence dot com" to contact me with any questions or comments you have.
My Work History
At age 13, I earned my first pay check from the Fox Valley Country Club in North Aurora, Illinois. I ran an industrial-strength dishwasher, bussed tables, cleaned and stocked the bar, and on weekends drove a beer cart around the links, using my persuasion skills to hype cold beer on hot afternoons. (Selling cold beer on hot afternoons sounds like shooting fish in a barrel, but you can increase your sales and tips with a little skill.) Nowadays, no one but the Mafia would permit a 13 year old to do any of this. The job was a step up from my prior work: I'd been the neighborhood paperboy and ran a lawn-mowing business as an "independent consultant and contractor."
Throughout my adolescence and young adult years, I had a variety of blue collar and mall rat jobs. I played grease monkey at an automotive supply and repair shop that taught me how to handle cars, trucks, tractors, big rigs, and men.
I did jobs at the Gap and Musicland, then a tuxedo rental shop, and Eddie Jacobsen's Men's Wear all in Kansas City. (Eddie Jacobsen partnered with Harry Truman in a failed endeavor that motivated Mr. Truman to try a new line of work.) In these jobs, I learned about shoplifting, cash register con games, and testifying in criminal court against con men.
During much of this time I pursued a theatrical career in academic, community, and professional venues. I might still be the cliched starving actor if one night on stage I hadn't realized that I was bored. The feeling was so powerful I almost walked off stage without thinking. Fortunately in that moment, someone spoke a cue line and I just fell back into the performance. When the run of that show ended, I walked away.
There followed a couple of factory jobs starting with a brief stint in a shoe factory. The building could have been the stage for a bad Dickens novel or maybe a scene from a muckracking journalist story. Then the factory job that changed my life: A year as a union butcher at a hog slaughtering plant. Boy, if this knife could talk, the stories it could tell. I learned about occupational injury, the head table, tough women, pulling guts, trimming loins, spectacular car wrecks, union rules, and the working man's PhD.
After learning the way of the assembly line, I decided to return to school and finish my bachelor's, then Master's degree. In education I did the work equivalent of mall rat, grease monkey, go-fer jobs: substitute teaching, academic counselor, grad assistant. Then, I got the academic's PhD or in my case, an EdD. I chose an EdD because I felt pretty good about my research skills and wanted more focus on education, teaching, and curriculum. The rest is detailed in my CV. Lots of publication and presentation and course development and instruction and lots of service with interesting kids and projects.
Then a major shift with the move into the Federal government for four years. This was the best job I've had to date. Al Munson recruited me to run the Health Communication Research Branch which was the biggest candy shop offer I could get. Al was the mentor I always wanted and his counseling, friendship, and leadership changed me powerfully. The job was a constant delight of diversity, challenge, and sheer size. I got to blow stuff up underground in various mines (you haven't lived until you've lit up a drift with the sticks from several boxes of explosives in a hard rock mine - feels like the first time); handle the after action "Lessons Learned" planning from 9/11, the Anthrax attacks, and the Oklahoma City bombing; brief the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors; and nearly jump the new CDC Director who was publicly insulting my boss - Al literally pulled me down in my chair. Everyone should spend a year working in the Federal government.
Currently I work as an independent consultant using the Healthy Influence concepts and perspective.