Why Should I Read | Influence

We tend to focus on a single piece of information when making choices.

Most of the time this helps. Here’s how.

Recently, on a flight from Singapore to the US, I was eating sushi with my brother in the Tokyo airport. I’ve never had saké before and wanted to try. However, when the waitress placed a box and chilled shot glass in front of me and filled both the glass and the box with alcohol, my enthusiasm waned. I realized I had no idea of the “right” way to drink saké.

I cast searching glances at every patron in sight but no one had a box of liquid in front of them.

Divorced from the internet because of airplane mode, I had no one to model proper drinking technique. Finally, I turned to the well-dressed businessman next to me at the bar and confessed,

“Hi sir, I’m a dumb American, how am I supposed to drink this? Right out of the box?”

He assured me that I was on the right track and I enjoyed the cold saké out of the box and munched the Narita roll with my brother before our flight.

We often use “social proof” (the actions of those around us) to figure out the right way to act in uncertain situations. This allowed me to enjoy saké in a foreign airport….but there are ways to hack these systems to influence. Imagine if I had seen someone pouring the box back into the shot glass, I would have blindly followed suit, assuming it was correct.

This book is about the six most powerful ways in which humans tend to develop automatic responses. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a cognitive psychologist, has spent his life exploring and testing these tactics. He’s even gone undercover into organizations that cleverly use our human nature to gain compliance from us.

influence titile.jpg

Again, most of the time these mostly automatic responses are beneficial, like looking around to figure out how to eat foreign foods. Yet sometimes others exploit these tactics to get us to bend to their will in ways that we may not realize.

As I said in my video on this topic, “[read this book] if for nothing else than to understand how to withstand some of these tactics.” Please remember though all of the compliance tactics discussed in the book or this post can be employed for good or for evil, depending on the motives of the person using them.

Here’s the list of six and a .gif to help you understand each.

Reciprocity.. Free samples at the supermarket are a subtle favor for passers-by and often individuals will buy even if they didn’t like the sample. We are compelled to respond in kind to favors and concessions we receive from others.

biden sample.gif Of course, Vice President Biden munching Costco samples is always relevant.

Consistency. We have an almost obsessive desire to act and appear consistent with what we have already done.  Our self-image is one of the most reliable factors we can look to when making decisions.Writing something down can help change the way we view ourselves.

Bart image.gif

Remember Bart writing line after line.

Social Proof. Especially when in uncertain situations, we look to the actions of those like us to figure out how to act. This was the saké situation or the BBQ Stingray I referenced in the video.

scaredy cat.gif

Those cats are as much affected by each other’s reactions as they are startled by the moving paper bag.

Liking. All things being equal, we do more for those people we like. All things aren’t equal, but we still do more for those people we like. We also tend to like attractive people, people who seem similar to us,  and those people who like us back.

obama selfie.gif

President Obama has both likability as well as an every-man quality that many find appealing. Plus he takes selfies..

Authority. If a man in a police uniform came up and berated you for jaywalking, it wouldn’t likely occur to you to ask for his badge number. The appearance of authority is often enough cue for us to comply. Even if the appearance is just a well tailored business suit.

leo con man.gif

Leonardo DiCaprio could convince anyone with that pilot’s uniform.

Scarcity. You remember wanting the last cookie just because your brother wanted it, right? Even if you were full, the value of the cookie went up because other people might take it. We often act like grabby kids.

black friday.gif Think Black Friday shopping.

Thanks for checking out what I can almost 100% guarantee is the only blog post explaining Cialdini’s influence tactics with .gifs

Here’s a mildly academic takeaway from John Stuart Mill to make you feel smart because of your access to the internet.


John Stuart Mill, the British economist, political thinker, and philosopher of science, died more than a hundred years ago. The year of his death (1873) is important because he is reputed to have been the last man to know everything there was to know in the world. Today, the notion that one of us could be aware of all known facts is only laughable.

Influence, pg. 207

Keep reading Friends!

Until next time (I’m switching to every other week with the blog, due to other projects taking off). Follow along on twitter! @jondelange


Why Should I Read | How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, believes that being lucky is your key to success.

Before you click away, I agree with you that this philosophy doesn’t lend itself to observable reality which is why I don’t hold this worldview (In fact, I’d recommend you go read “The Magic of Thinking Big” instead of this book).


Adams’s book is illustrated at every turn by stories like how he lost his voice for several years. I truly enjoyed this book, and have several tactics I can fit into my own worldview after reading it. Here are my two favorites.

Systems are for winners, Goals are for losers. 

Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.

Here’s the thing, I believe in objective truth, that our actions have real consequences, and our universe functions according to its created order. Within this framework, I see tremendous value in these two tactics.

Systems: Think of it in these terms, someone sets a goal to lose 10 pounds. While they may achieve it or not, they are putting stress on themselves to get there. On the other hand, someone who builds a system of eating healthy foods and trains themselves to desire activity need not worry about weight loss. It happens naturally.

If you can build a system for yourself, it will eventually beat a goal. A system plays the odds in your favor, while a goal makes a situation into a win/lose scenario.

A system builds a foundation so that when you do reach your goal, the improvement stays.

There are always exceptions, obviously, but when you do set goals, try to think of the system that under-girds your success.

Skills: If you are bi-lingual, you can be an average employee and get promoted faster than someone who lacks that extra skill.

Scott Adams describes himself as a mediocre artist who happened to have a background in corporate America, average humor quality, and who could write a little. These skills combined to propel him to fame as the creator of Dilbert.

Adding skills to your life allows you to take advantage of opportunities that seem tailor made for someone with your unique combination.

There are always exceptions, obviously, but when you do learn skills, try to think of those that will add the most width to your life. Skip the basket-ball spinning skills, of course.

This tactic also discounts the outside possibility that you have world-class ability or potential in a single area. If that’s the case, extra skills may detract from your time spent in pursuit of that area.

Read more from Scott Adams on doubling your odds of success at Forbes.com

As previously mentioned, I wouldn’t recommend this as the only book you read on success, but it is a fun read. From re-learning to talk, learning hypnosis, affirmations, failing as a restaurant owner, Scott Adams has experience in it all.

Until Next week,

Keep Reading Friends!


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