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To Sell Is Human

The surprising truth about moving others

Daniel Pink

Californian company which helps security organizations integrate and analyze their data, doesn't have a training program for new recruits. Instead it requires them to read two books. One is a non-fiction account of Sept 11 attacks, so they are better attuned to what happens when govts can't make sense of information. The other is a drama instructor's guide to improv acting, so they understand the importance of nimble minds and skills.

Mimicry wins friends and influences deals because of our basic nature - we have evolved to trust those who are similar to ourselves. Not just look like us, but have same behavioural patterns. Dutch study found that waiters who repeated diners' orders word-for-word earned 70% more tips than those who paraphrased orders.

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Best ice-breaker is a simple "Where are you from?" which gives chance to say "I'm from ChCh but I moved north bc it was too damn cold." or "I grew up in ..... but moved here to work for ...."

Jeff Bezos runs meetings at Amazon with an empty chair at table to remind staff of the most impt person in the room - the customer.

Lot of motivational theory suggests that self-talk "I can do this" "I'm strong" etc. But Pink suggests model should be the kid's TV character Bob the Builder, who gets his team into action with the phrase "Can we fix it?" Yes, positive self-talk is better than negative, but it turns out the most effective self-talk is not about shifting emotions, but about shifting way look at situation, and the language that you use. By asking a question, you are eliciting answers, and within the answers are the strategies for actually performing the task.

For example, you may be anxious about an impt presentation. You could give yourself a short-term emotional boost by telling yourself "I'm the best. This will be a cinch." But if instead you asked yourself "Can I make a great presentation?" leads to "Well, yes, I did last month when I prepared all that background stuff and broke everything down into 3 simple charts." But that time I also spoke too quickly so I need to rem to pace my speech.

Thinking through doom-and-gloom scenarios and preparing for the worst helps you manage anxieties. For example, guy preparing for a job interview wrote a rejection letter to himself with the usual anodyne phrases - made himself laugh and helped him realize that wouldn't be end of the world if he didn't get the job.

Nobody saves enough for retirement. Partly because we just don't identify with the 65 yo 'me', so all the sermons are just so much hot air. What did persuade people was to present an aged version of themselves in the mirror - when they ran a study on people who had seen that, people allocated twice as much to a pension account.

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If you want to move people need to give them something to compare it with. Robert Cialdini and the breadmakers. Story of walking past a beggar with a sign saying "I am blind" but not getting much charity. Ad man improved sign with "It is springtime and ... I am blind" and passersby opened their wallets.

Figured out a way to get teenage daughter to study. Sermons and orders and requests didn't work. But tried this:
Q1: "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being totally unwilling to study, and 10 being totally ready, how ready are you to study?"
then after got a number, Q2: "Why didn't you pick a lower number?"
Changes it from being a Yes/No situation to a blurrier "Maybe". As she explains why she's at 4 rather than 3, she starts to think of her own reasons for studying.

More books on School and Education

Elevator pitches are passe. These days need:

Maurice Saatchi One Word Pitch. Today attention spans not just diminishing, but have become fleeting. So if can get one word associated with yr brand - like 'Search' or 'Priceless'.

Question pitch As in Ronald Reagan's "Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?" Asking a Q forces you to at least make some effort to consider. But does't work if your argument is weak. When Mitt Romney tried same Q, people shrugged - they either thought they were much the same or they blamed people like Romney or Bush for the situation.

Rhyming pitch Famous O.J. Simpson trial "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" but we are used to wisdom tidily packaged like this - "A stitch in time saves nine". What's happening is that rhymes boost our 'cognitive fluency' - they are smoothly and easily understood and our brain equates that smoothness with accuracy and authenticity. Especially if you put it at the end of your presentation. Remember, pitches that rhyme are more sublime.

Twitter pitch. Explain your value in 140 characters or less. Cuts through the PR babble and forces you to the basics. One example was a haiku written by a guy applying for a scholarship at Tippie College of Business at Uni of Iowa. He wrote
Globally minded.
Innovative and driven
Tippie can sharpen.
Which won him a $37,000 scholarship, or around $600 a character. So probably a bright future.

Three key Q's with a pitch - what do you want them to know? what do you want them to feel? what do you want them to do?

pecha-kucha pitch (Japanese word for 'chatter' pronounced 'puh-chock-chuh'). Twenty slides, each of which is on screen for 20 seconds. The pitch is 6 minutes and 40 seconds long, no more no less. No more Death by Powerpoint.

Kenya has terrible road death stats, mainly due to matatu cabs - small 14 seater vans with wild young men who drive like maniacs. Intervention study of 2000 vans - those with even number last digit on number plate became control group. Ones with odd number had stickers applied to seat backs, saying things like "Don't just SIT there as he drives dangerously! STAND UP. SPEAK UP. NOW!" Insurance claims by vehicles with stickers fell by two-thirds. Serious accidents halved. Lesson that if want to change people, make it personal, and make it purposeful.

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Radiologists don't see much of their patients - spend most of their time diagnosing screen images. Study where added a photo of the patient which automatically appeared at same time. One thing radiologists do is report 'incidental findings' - pathologies that weren't looking for but noticed anyway. Then 3 months later, radiologists given same images to check, but this time without accompanying photo. This time, 80% of incidental findings went unnoticed, even though they were looking at exactly the same images.

Each year, 1 in 20 hospital patients catch an infection. The best way to prevent that is for everyone to wash their hands regularly. But the frequency of this is very low, and it's very hard to get people to wash more often. Studies with different signs by soap dispensers show that most effective are ones which remind you that patients suffer if you don't wash properly.

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