Excellent Book! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive

If you don’t read Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive, By Robert Cialdini, you are doing yourself and your organization a huge disservice.

This awesome book, by the best-selling author of Influence, is a quick read with many, many tips on how to improve your relationship and your ability to influence those you are with. While the word “influence” can often connote tricking someone or taking advantage of them, it is not the case with this book. All of us, no matter what business we are in, are always selling something. Even if it’s ourselves, we are selling our credibility, our time, our service, or even merely our ability to get things done.

This book gives you 50 tips on how to be more persuasive. The best part about this book, though, is that each of the 50 chapters, one covering each tip, is no more than five pages long. And each tip is written with a little wit, entertainment, and in an easy to read style. This means you can pick up and read a single tip, even when you only have a few minutes. More importantly though, each chapter gives specific examples on how and when to use each tip. There are many, many other books on improving sales, finding common ground with people you work with or your customers, or even Getting To Yes!, but I don’t think that there’s a single book that packs so much information that you can start using today, and use every day, and that can be read so easily and quickly.

I hope you pick up the book. If you don’t, someone else will and they will have a leg up on you.

If you’ve already read this book, let me know what your favorite part is. What the best tip you know of to be persuasive?  Give me a call at 248-455-6500 or email me at agoldberg@ajglaw.com

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Create Distinction: The Lifeblood of Your Company

All businesses, especially those in the service industry, struggle with distinguishing their business and services from those of competitors. Scott McKain, tackles this issue in, Create Distinction: What to Do When “Great” Isn’t Good Enough to Grow Your Business. Scott is a leading expert on business and professional distinction, the founder of the Ultimate Customer Experience, and also cofounder of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty.

McKain examines many of the ways businesses attempt to compete with their competitors. He accurately points out, though, that most businesses spend too much of their time evaluating their competitors and competing with them, instead of “competing for the customer.” Continue reading “Create Distinction: The Lifeblood of Your Company”

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A Great Book I Just Read: A Confederacy of Dunces

There’s not a single word to describe this novel, so I’ll try seven: outrageous, hysterical, brilliant, originally creative, goofy, zany.  Of course, there are many more adjectives that can describe A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

confederacyofdunces

While my reading tastes usually run to non-fiction and business books, I picked this one after Amazon recommended it while I was scrolling through other books (I don’t know whether to thank Amazon or be scared they knew I would like this).

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Here’s What Happens When You Leave Everything Behind

Entrepreneurship doesn’t just describe business owners, it can describe adventure travelers as well.  As I read AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller (link to book here), I couldn’t help but think his thru-hike from Georgia to Maine was a true entrepreneurial endeavor.

Most dictionaries define entrepreneur as one who “by risk and initiative manages a business for a profit.”  My definition is a little broader:  I believe an entrepreneur is anybody who confronts challenges, perseveres, takes risks, has unbridle optimism that is clouded by realism, and is willing to surmount obstacles and self-doubts.  Miller embodies all these adjectives as recounted in his book.

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Forget The Philosophy, Go For The Jokes

After finishing the monumental work of The Path Between The Seas: The Creation Of The Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough, I went for something a little lighter: Plato And A Platypus Walk Into A Bar… Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes.  It was exactly what I needed.

Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you about all the philosophers that were covered and the unique philosophy of each. Rather, this book ended up being laugh out loud hysterical with great jokes. There are jokes for opening a speech, jokes for a dinner party, and some you can tell to your family and friends. Yes, some are a little blue, but there are many that are clean and hysterical.

If you have a sense of humor and love great jokes, read this book. Oh yea, and if you like philosophy and humour, you should read this book also. It’s a quick read and I promise, promise, promise, you’ll laugh out loud and smile.

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The World’s Greatest Engineering Project

David McCullough’s exhaustively researched tome, The Path between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914, is on par with all of his great works.  McCullough is best known for in-depth research of singular events, including The Great Bridge; 1776; Truman, The Jonestown Flood; and others.  McCullough writes with great insight, humor, and elegance that even over 500 pages, it’s still a pleasure to read.

As I read this book, I realized I had absolutely zero knowledge of the building of the Panama Canal.  The initial involvement of the French, the French and American political scheming of where the Canals should be built and the type of Canal, how the Canal would be funded, who would be in charge of the construction, and more.

There is absolutely no way for us to imagine the unfathomable physical and engineering size of this project without statistics, and David McCullough provides plenty.  The amount of dirt that is moved, the number of dynamite blasts, the number of people killed during the construction, and the number killed by yellow-fever, malaria and other diseases.  There is no shortage of statistical information to provide the reader with an in-depth understanding of what it took.  Though, some may think the statistics themselves overwhelm the book.

One of the great lessons I learned from the book was that “necessity is the mother of invention.”  The Panama Canal was based on a grand idea by people with great personal and political ambition.  However, they had no idea of the true cost to construct, the engineering challenges and perils, the human toll it would take, and the brute required to build the Canal.  In all these cases, the people who were committed to the project created new methods of excavation, developed new methods to transport the excavated dirt, discovered the cause of (and way to cure) yellow fever, and created new methods to expedite the laying and re-laying of train tracks to speed the construction.  There’s no better way to understand this than to compare the pace of construction in the early years versus the later years (and McCullough gives us great comparison for this).

This book is the longest one to date on my list of books.  While some parts were difficult to get through as the continued description of the excavation and political intrigue did become a little trite at times, and my engineering knowledge is quite limited, it does fall in the category of my great interest of reading non-fiction books on a singular topic, such as on the building of the Hoover Dam, the construction of the national highway system, and 1776 (also written by McCullough).  For those of you with similar interests, this definitely needs to be added to your list.

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Revealed: The Secret To Being More Creative

Creativity:  Nobody knows where it comes from, but everybody wants it.  Most people can’t define it, but they know it when they see it.  It’s a misunderstood topic, but many of us spend countless hours trying to become more creative.

Creativity

In his groundbreaking work, Creativity:  Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (ten bonus points if you can pronounce his name), undertakes a systematic discussion of creativity, what it is, why it is fascinating, why we should study it, all based on over 30 years of research studying more than 90 creative people.  His book is a comprehensive study of how creativity occurs and how creative individuals have influenced their fields.

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“Why” Did I Waste My Weekend Reading This Book

Number 13 on my great big list of books I’m reading this year is Simon Sinek’s Start with Why:  How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.  It is intended to expand on his 18 minute Ted Talk, one of the top ten most watched talks of all time.  Instead , it’s a rambling repetitious repository of ideas covered in his Ted Talk.

Why Book

Sinek’s premise is that companies must start with Why they are in business to create loyal and lasting customers, while How you do it and then finally What you do are only secondary to success.  His ideas are initially well explained and interesting.  However after the initial jolt, the book goes downhill.

His nauseatingly never-ending slobbering, fawning and blubbering at the feet of Southwest Airlines, Apple Computer, Harley-Davidson and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech is just too much bear.  He uses these examples so much, one would be forgiven if they thought these were only successful enterprises and ideas ever created.

Sinek all too often takes success businesses and persons, describes how they run/operate, and then simply states “They were successful because they started with WHY”.  There is no proof these enterprises even began this way, are operated in this manner, or even succeeded because of WHY.

But Sinek falls into a more fatal trap: He repeatedly uses examples of the same companies and the same people to reinforce his thesis in different ways.  It becomes interminable and insufferable.

So I don’t fall into the trap of being overly repetitive like Sinek, this is the end of my review.  Save yourself the trouble and just watch the video here.

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Entrepreneurship Is Always Hard

I opened up The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (on the list of my 24 books I’m reading this year) with great anticipation.  I had heard much about it, and how it had great business wisdom.  Ultimately, I have very mixed thought about this book.

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First, what I didn’t like.

At the beginning of each chapter, he had rap lyrics I didn’t understand and didn’t even know how they applied to the chapter.  Also, I have a strong distaste for the swearing and use of the N-word in rap lyrics.  It was all lost on me.

Next, the author’s expertise in writing this book comes from founding and selling a billion dollar software company.  However, I found him to be smug and cocksure when providing his advice.  Maybe it’s my Midwest perspective, but I would have liked a little bit more humility.

Also, this book focuses on Horowitz’s experience building a software company.  While tech might impact many parts of our economy, it actually makes up only 6% of U.S. GDP.  I think many of the lessons from the book might only apply to tech, and to a greater extent, the Silicon Valley culture and environment.  I’m not sure his perspective and ideas translate to the other 94% of the economy, and especially manufacturing companies or the Midwest.

Lastly, I think this book i really meant for the 1% of CEOs who manage $100,000,00+ companies.  It’s not for the average entrepreneur trying to hit $5,000,000 in sales or even $1,000,000 in sales.

What did I like about the book?

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Trampled By Vowels, Consonants and Words

Anagrams.  Acrostics.  Isograms.  Alphagrams.  My mind has been bludgeoned with these and many other lexicographic terms as I just finished Word Freak:  Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players, by Stefan Fatsis (Number 24 on my list of books to read this year).  On the heels of George Plimpton, but before A.J. Jacob brought the genre of experiential writing to the bestseller list, Fatsis left his job as a Wall Street Journal reporter, and spent two years immersing himself in Scrabble, learning the game, its strategy, its history, its culture, and its players.

Books

This is an obsessively and deeply researched book by a journalist who became devoted to his subject and his own personal quest to achieve Scrabble Division 1 ranking.  Although it’s a nonfiction book, it’s driven by four main characters, all of whom are obsessed with Scrabble, and who play professionally.  Fatsis delves deep into their backgrounds, their psyches, their personal quirks (of which you can imagine they are numerous), and the Scrabble subculture of which they are all a part.  He does a great job of character development, plot development, and makes you think as if you were right there sitting in the smoke filled bars, Greenwich Village, and national tournaments with the players.

Fatsis examines the nuances of the games and how it covers many academic fields from Mathematics and English, to Statistics and Science, and beyond.  If you have an interest in any of these field, this book has something for you.  But even beyond this, and even if you are not a Scrabble lover, this is an entertaining read with humor, wit, and more, all in one book.

If you got some time on your hands and aren’t sure what to read, pick this one up.  I know you’ll enjoy it.

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