Book Summary of ‘Instant Influence’ by Michael Pantalon

Would the ability to influence your customers, your work colleagues, your partner or even your children be valuable to you? Michael Pantalon wrote the book Instant Influence to do just that. He gives us a scientifically supported method that gets people to take action because they want to. In fact, it’s even possible to use the Instant Influence methodology on yourself. Spend the next few minutes with me exploring how you can be a master of influence.

Can you motivate anyone in 7 minutes?

Have you ever found yourself wondering why the people in your life won’t change, despite the numerous logical reasons you’ve pointed out to them? As it turns out, that type of persuasion rarely – if ever – works. As Pantalon tells us, people change because of their own reasons. That’s the secret sauce of Instant Influence –it helps people discover their own justification for doing something, even something they thought they didn’t want to do.When someone genuinely doesn’t want to change, change won’t happen. But even the most reluctant of us has a tiny spark of desire to change hidden within. Helping us find that spark can literally transform our lives.

How?

People take action when they hear themselves say that they want to. Get someone to tell you why and action to change is almost sure to follow. Pantalon uses this notion at the heart of his Instant Influence method and he extends it with the following four assumptions:

1. We are free to choose how we behave. 2. Other people can threaten that freedom by attempting to impose control. 3. We tend to react very negatively when our freedom is threatened, making us more resistant to the control being applied. 4. Our freedom can be restored by asserting self-determination and taking control ourselves.

The key point is how we frame our attempt to influence. We need to take the frame of our focus not our own. Our influencing conversation must contain statements such as:

“This is your choice, not mine.”

“It’s completely your decision.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want”

“I can’t make this choice for you – it’s up to you.”

All of these give power back to the influencee, brightens the spark and gives ignition to change.

Pantanlon’s Instant Influence method consists of six progressive steps leading to change. In challenging situations we may need to move through each stage. In other cases – having created the spark – the influencee takes control and accelerates the process themselves.

But let’s move step by step.

Step #1: Why might you change?

The first challenge we must meet is how to put the influencee in a position where they are able to visualise themselves in the desired situation. In most cases you will have identified what you want to change and what the desired outcome should look like. It’s not news to your family member who doesn’t have a healthy diet that continuing down that path might lead to health problems.

So you need to phrase questions in such a way as to challenge the influencee to see themselves in that scene. Instead of focussing on the negative behaviour, Pantalon suggests we look for desirable behaviour close to where we want to get to.

He suggests asking questions such as:

Why are you doing …..? (Where the focus is close to the target) for example, “Why did you choose salad today” for someone who wished to lose weight. Follow up with “Why would you do more?”

Pantanlon suggests we could focus on the past and ask: “Why have you ever[done the thing we’re talking about]?”

There are some questions we need to avoid especially as we have identified, those which sound like orders:

Why don’t you…? Why haven’t you…? Why wouldn’t you…?

Pantalon then suggests we use a technique psychologists and counselors call reflection. Reflection is the process of repeating back, or echoing, what the other person has just said, as if you are holding up a mirror to his words. We need to reflect back even the tiniest spark of motivation to help the other person see more clearly what it is he already wants. Having kindled the spark we need to give it more oxygen.

Step #2: How ready are you to change?

The next step starts with the deceivingly simple question: on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”, how ready are you to make that change? The goal of Step 2 is to help you and the other person gauge their motivation.

Pantalon suggests we don’t attach too much importance to the numbers. A low number doesn’t mean that they’re not likely to take action, nor does a high number mean that they are likely to take action. What’s important isn’t the number but the process of thinking about why they might want to do something.

We then move quickly to…

Step #3: Why didn’t you pick a lower number?

This is where the technique gets interesting. Why would someone who they think is trying to encourage them to do more ask why we didn’t do less? If somebody picks a low number, this will usually stop them in their tracks. Then they’ll start thinking of the reasons why they didn’t choose a “1” instead of a “3”.

This is where the person starts to uncover some real reasons why they are ready to change. The critical part is that the reasons for change are coming out of their mouth and not yours. They are no longer being told what to do and will now feel like they are ready to make a change because they want to. This is incredibly powerful stuff.

Step #4: Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?

Here’s where we start to crystalise the benefits of change. We can suggest that the change has already happened and encourage the person to visualise the change in detail. Ask them what would be different in their life. What would they be able to do now that they’ve changed that they couldn’t do before?

If you feel like things are going really well, you can even ask them to give a deadline of when you think the change would be complete. Pantanlon’s research has shown that people are far more likely to change if they think of the upside of changing, rather than the downside of not changing.

Step #5: Why are those outcomes important to you

In step 5 we are getting close to visible change itself. But before then we need to once more take the frame of the influencee. Pantalon asks us to ask them to dig deep for reasons to make the change. The familiar Five Whys technique is of value here. Ask, “Why are those outcomes important to you?” and for each answer ask why.

By the time you’ve got to the fifth why, you’ve most likely reached a true personal reason, close to the heart of the influence. Don’t be surprised if they become emotional at this stage. It’s sometimes quite a journey. Invariably, the answers move almost magically from the practical and impersonal to the heartfelt and deeply personal.

Again, the technique of reflection is valuable. The influencee needs to hear back how you understand how they’re hopeful, what they want, why they want it and how they truly believe things could be better.

Step #6: What’s the next step, if any?

The final step no longer looks at the whys, but turns to the hows. “What’s the next step, if any?” Adding those two little words – if any – is another way to reinforce the other person’s autonomy: it’s still up to her to decide whether there will be a next step.Now you are ready for one final action.

Ask their permission to meet again after an appropriate time has elapsed to review progress and to re-commit to the change. As stated, it’s likely that all six steps may not be necessary. Taking a structured approach to encourage change can often be the trigger for the influencee to take control themselves.

Influencing yourself

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about influencing others, but you can also use the Instant Influence technique to influence yourself. Here is Pantalon’s self-influence process:

Identify a change you’d like to make or an action you’d like to take. Formulate it in terms of behaviour, not results.

Write down the first Instant Influence question (Why might I change?), and then write down your answer. Move on to the next step, writing down your answers until you reach Step 5.

When you get to Step 5, write “Why?” then answer. Repeat four more times so that you’ve asked and answered the “five whys.”

When you reach Step 6, choose a small, manageable step, and pick a time that you will check back in with yourself to review your progress and choose a next step.

Advice for applying the method

Start small. Keep looking for smaller and smaller beginning steps until you find one that feels safe or that you can at least visualise doing.

Allow for the possibility that any problem might have many different solutions.

Focus on action, not decisions. We often focus too much on the how when we really should be looking at the why. But sometimes the how is the problem, and acquiring skills may be all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.

Don’t judge or self-censor. Just be open to the process.

Prepare to be surprised. You will almost certainly learn something new about your own reasons for wanting something.

Trust the process. You may find yourself taking action almost without realising it, so don’t feel you need to force yourself.

Have you consulted an expert? Experts may be able to identify whether the problem is one of skill or will.

Motivation is like a seed that sprouts and begins to grow while still underground. We may know it’s there, but we don’t always trust that one day it will break through to the light.

Affirm the influencee’s right to say no. Affirm their ownership of the decision.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Spin Selling’ by Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham starts his book Spin Selling with some key advice: “Don’t trust what top performers tell you.“ We could surmise this is so they protect their “secret sauce” and maintain their competitive edge. But Rackham tells us it’s not. By spending a significant number of hours, he and his team have pulled together the real reasons, and all the true information we need to take on board. Having spent time observing top performers, he has distilled their expertise into a methodology we can all use to better our sales: SPIN Selling.

Lesson 1: A sales call in four stages.

Nearly all effective sales calls can be broken down into four stages.

Stage 1: The Preliminaries – the warming up events at the start of the call.

Rackham tells us there is no better way of opening a sales call. Conventional wisdom says that if we can somehow tap into an area of personal interest of the buyer we can form a relationship more quickly and the call will be more successful. For example if there is a family photograph on the desk, talk family: if there’s a golfing trophy – talk golf. But this is all conventional wisdom. It may have worked ten years ago when the world was not as connected and people bought from people they liked (or knew).

Today in the connected and distributed world, this is far from reality. The problem is greater with large sales when the transaction consists of many interconnected discussions and evaluations of your product or service, many taking place when you’re not there. It’s hard to be liked by or known to everyone in that loop. Today we are more likely to hear, “I like ______ [enter your name here], but I buy from his competition because they are cheaper.”

Alternatively we could make an opening benefit statement: “Better performance is a key issue in your market today, Sir, and our product can increase that tenfold!” Again conventional wisdom, but it’s not effective. By immediately focusing on our perception of the buyer’s needs, we are running the risk of alienating them and having them put up barriers. Who are you to tell them what they need? Who are you to offer unsolicited option?

Rackham suggests the preliminaries, whilst needed to break the ice, are not as critical in the successful large sale. Instead, he suggests we should focus more on how long the preliminaries take. Too short and we appear overly keen and abrasive, too long and the buyer can get bored and disengaged. So timing is critical and time is precious. As a rule of thumb, Rackham advocates that it’s best to err on the short side: no-one has ever complained that a seller didn’t waste their time! Get in, focus on your objectives and get on to the more important stage: investigating.

Stage 2: Investigating – Where SPIN begins.

Use open questions to elicit fact. We’ve all heard that advice. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Structure questions so they invite description. Take a leaf from Inspector Columbo and ask questions and investigate. In essence this is the heart of SPIN Selling… but it’s not without structure. Rackham’s methodology for investigating breaks down into four types of questioning: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff (or SPIN).

Situation Questions focus on establishing facts. Finding out the background of the customer’s situation and what they are doing now. This is critical if we are to advance our opportunity. For a small sale it’s binary – there are only two stages: Sale or No Sale. For a larger sale there are two more intermediate stages: Continuation and Advance. The continuation stage is effectively permission given to keep talking. We may not be progressing rapidly, but at least we are moving in a forward motion and it’s not a termination of talk. The Advance stage is more positive. It’s the cue to “tell me more”.

So, the more effective situation questions we ask, the more successful the interaction with the buyer will be, and the better chance of advance. Situation questions get the buyer talking. Situation questions control attention, identify needs and give clues. Rackham warns us however that situation questions persuade while reasons don’t. Effectively, when we identify an interest in the buyer’s response, we should avoid jumping in with reasons why our products meet their needs. There’s more benefit to be accrued.

Problem identification is the second element of SPIN. A potential buyer who is 100% satisfied with the way things are, will not feel the need to change. Only when that level of satisfaction drops to 99.99% is there a chance of a sale. What we need to do is establish where there may be a problem, and from that problem, comes a need. It may start small with minor snags in the product or process , then develop into clear dissatisfaction and finally to a want, desire or intention to act. In each of these stages the problem is amplified and the need increases. That is the objective of this stage, to ask questions to identify the problem and grow its perception to the action level. Problem identification is key. Without clear definition of the need, there is simply no need to buy.

The third element of SPIN is Implication.

There are two types of need: implied and explicit. In the first type we find more complaints. “Our current systems doesn’t do X” or “I’m not happy with our product failure rate” are examples. In implied needs there is a problem but no real identification of how it can be resolved. This is not an issue to the SPIN seller. Indeed, developing implied needs is the key to breaking down 100% satisfaction, and identifying the chink in the armour which our product or service can resolve. We need implication questions. Implication questions increase the buyer’s perception of the problem’s seriousness. Implication questions tip the balance from the status quo toward the new problem-free scenario.

Rackham’s research suggests decision makers will respond favourably to a salesperson who uncovers implications. In essence, we are helping them see beyond the now and into the better future. But there is a negative side. Sellers who raise too many implications can make the buyer feel negative and depressed. If we make problems greater, we need to give a way out and that’s the fourth element of SPIN: Need-Payoff.

Need-Payoff. With implication things are a bit open ended. On the other hand explicit needs are more defined. “We need a faster system”, “We must have back-up capability”. These are explicit needs and point us, the seller, and the buyer in the same direction to problem resolution and sale. It’s in this area Rackham suggests that a great salesperson excels. When they hear implied needs they take notice and make the intangible tangible. They turn implied into explicit.

Basically, need-payoff questions build up the value or usefulness of the solution. Need-payoff questions focus the buyer on problems and solutions not problems and difficulties. Good need questions induce the buyer into personalising the benefits of the solution and with personalisation comes adoption. By asking the buyer to verbalise their thoughts we are effectively placing them as the “expert”…and everyone likes being considered an expert! This again, covertly moves the buyer to a positive decision, after all it was their idea – wasn’t it?

Rackham reminds us however, that for large sales many discussions on the viability of our product or service takes place without us being there. By focussing on needs when present, we align discussion to the buyer’s lens – their needs and their business – rather than to our product which perpetuates the need when we are not present.

Stage 3: Demonstrating capability.

In many sales transactions capability is demonstrated by informing the buyer of the features and advantages of the product or service. Better however – according to Rackham – to focus on benefits. So what is the difference? Features describe facts, data and product characteristics. They are merely statements, maybe of use in a small sale but effectively neutral in larger sales. Advantages show how products or services (or their features) can help the customer. These bring some positivity — but more so in small sales than larger. Benefits however, show how products or services meet explicit needs as expressed by the customer.

A major barrier that may remain at this stage of the sales transaction are objections. If we do encounter them then we’ve performed poorly in the earlier stages. Rackham says, rather than skilling up on objection handling – which is a regular focus of other sales training programmes – we should focus on objection prevention. Back to Need-payoff questions. Most objections are to solutions which don’t fit needs. The cure is simple, don’t talk about solutions until enough questions have been asked on needs. If objections are with costs then again there is a weakness in needs alignment. If the solution fully addresses a need, and that need is critically perceived by the buyer, money will be lees of an issue.

So the crux of demonstrating capability is to ensure the buyer embraces the advantages and visualises their use within their organisation. Again its personalisation – putting your solution in the center of your buyer’s vision.

Stage 4: Obtaining Commitment.

The journey is nearly over. We have three more activities to carry out. The first is to check that we’ve covered key concerns. In larger sales both the product and customer needs are likely to be complex. As a result, there may be areas of confusion or doubt in the buyer’s mind as commitment nears. Successful sellers take the initiative and ask the buyer whether there are any further points that need to be addressed. If none, then purchase is one step closer.

The next step is to summarise the benefits. It’s unlikely that the buyer has a clear picture of everything that has been discussed. Successful salespeople pull the threads together by summarizing key points of the discussion before moving to commitment. Finally, we need to propose a commitment. Don’t ask for an order. That is not proposing a commitment. It’s not what successful sales people do.

Successful sales people advance a sale. As a result of the commitment the sale will move forward in some way. (Remember the multiple conversations?). The commitment is the highest realistic pledge they are able to give. Successful sellers don’t push beyond this point. If an order is the commitment – well done – however one step closer is better than nothing.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Relationship Edge’ by Jerry Acuff

The Relationship Edge is a reminder that business always has, and always will be, about building relationships.

In this summary, we’ll learn what a valuable business relationship actually is, and how you can go about building them.

The payoff for following the principles you’ll learn in this summary and book are huge. Most importantly, you’ll have a systematic way to engage with people with whom you don’t naturally connect – people you meed for the first time, people you don’t know well, and people you haven’t connected with in a very long time.

What is a valuable business relationship?

Of course, it’s not enough to just build a relationship, because everybody . What we are talking about here are valuable business relationships.

The most valuable relationships, Acuff tells us, have lots of AIR – Access, Impact, and Results.

Access is exactly what you think it is. People will take your calls, answer your emails, and believe that any time with you is time well spent.

Impact means that you have you have an opportunity to influence the relationship in a positive manner, and vice versa.

Last but definitely not least, there’s results. Without it, you don’t have a great business relationship, you have some rapport or maybe a even a friendship. But not a successful business relationship.

When we have a valuable business relationship, people are proactively doing things to help each other succeed. It seems simple, but like in any pursuit, if you don’t focus on and master the basics, you’ll never succeed.

So that’s what a valuable relationship looks like, but that doesn’t tell us how to build them.

Building them includes mastering a conscious, systematic and routine process – having the right mindset, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing.

Of course, the process of building a relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and it will typically progress through six stages that Acuff calls the relationship pyramid.

The relationship pyramid

Here are the six stages, starting from the bottom of the pyramid and ending at the top:

  1. People who don’t know you by name;
  2. People who know you by name:
  3. People who like you;
  4. People who are friendly with you;
  5. People who respect you;
  6. People who value a relationship with you. This last step is your goal with any relationship you want to build to the highest level.

In any relationship you have you’ll probably recognise it at one of those stages. Before we move on to discuss how we can start moving up the pyramid, there are a few points to keep in mind.

First, movement up the pyramid doesn’t have to be sequential. You can’t skip any of the steps, but you can jump through multiple steps at once.

Second, it is a lot easier to move down the pyramid than going back up. Trust is a big issue in relationships, and once it’s gone, it’s tough to get back. So remember to continuously nurture the relationships that already have at the top of the pyramid.

Lastly, this process won’t work on everyone. Sometimes people just won’t want to have a relationship with you, no matter how hard you try. You need to learn to identify those situations, and move on when it it’s clear that you are up against a dead end.

Now let’s move on to the tools you can use in building a valuable business relationship.

Having the right mindset

Think well of yourself

As Acuff says in the book, to build any successful relationship, you must think well of yourself. If you can’t see yourself having a relationship with a high powered executive, you can’t have a relationship with a high powered executive.

Without the belief that you are capable of building relationships with the people you want to business relationships with, you won’t get very far.

Once we’ve got over that hurdle, we can move on to…

Think well of others

Zig Ziglar has a quote that is often repeated, and it’s worth repeating again here:

You can get everything you want in life if you simply help enough other people get what they want.

In order to do that, you need to have a genuine desire to help other people. If you don’t, the entire process of continuing to build relationships is going to burn you out, quickly.

Why? Because as Acuff says, relationships are built over time, and time is one of the most important elements of relationship building. Spending time with people is just part of the deal. The more time, the better.

Things that will make this better and easier for you when you spend time with people include:

  • having a natural curiosity about others;
  • focussing on others instead of yourself;
  • appreciating and understanding the other person’s points of view;
  • having a desire to make people feel important;
  • listening to other people because you want to hear.

For some people this just comes naturally. But it can also be taught. In the next section we are going to talk about asking the right questions, which will help you uncover information from people that will help you make a stronger connection with them, which will help you think better of them, which will make you want to spend more time with them, which will ultimately end with you building the relationship you want to build.

It all starts with…

Asking the right questions

The best way to make connections with people you are building relationships with is to find out what they treasure. As Acuff points out, if you know what and who people treasure, and you act on that information to show you know you care – they are much more likely to tell you want they need professionally.

The best way to find out what people treasure is to ask them questions. Lots of them.

Asking the right questions

Acuff lists out 20 questions you can use to get the ball rolling with anybody you meet:

  1. What do you do when you are not working?
  2. Where did you go to school (and how did you choose it)?
  3. Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there?
  4. What was your high school like?
  5. What do you enjoy reading when you have the time?
  6. How did you decide to do [whatever it is they do for a living] for a living?
  7. Tell me something about your family.
  8. Where is your favourite place to vacation?
  9. What kind of vacation would you like to take that you have not taken?
  10. What community associations, if any, do you have time to be involved in?
  11. What sports, if any, do you enjoy participating in?
  12. What sports do you enjoy watching?
  13. If you could have tickets for any event, what would it be?
  14. How did you decide to settle in this area?
  15. Tell me something about yourself that would surprise me?
  16. What things would you really want to do more of, but don’t have time for?
  17. What challenges/issues in your work might I, or my company, be able to help you with?
  18. What is the most frustrating thing about being in your business these days?
  19. In your opinion, what two or three qualities make a top-notch [insert your job role here]?
  20. If all work paid the same and you could go around again, what would you do?

Of course, these are just some of the questions you can ask the people you meet.

If you want to create more questions, or make it easier to remember those 20, remember the acronym FORM. It stands for family, occupation, recreation, and motivation (as in what motivates them in life). Asking questions about those things will always get you to uncover the things that they treasure.

Asking these questions right

Once you have the right questions to ask, you need to make sure you ask them right.

There are two things you need to do in order to expect the questions to uncover anything of substance.

First, you need to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety. People will often feel more safe if you are open and share with them as well. For instance, after you ask somebody where they are from and they answer, you can respond by telling them where you are from and something about why you moved there.

Another technique for making people feel comfortable is to ask their permission to ask a question. For instance, you might say something like the following:

“Before I talk about my product, I thought it might make sense for me to ask you a different kind of question. Do you mind if I ask what you enjoy reading when you have the time?”

As Acuff points out, almost nobody will answer “no” to the permission question, giving you the ability to continue asking personal questions and building the relationship on a personal level.

The second thing you need to do is ask good questions. A good question doesn’t suggest an answer, and invites the person to answer openly and honestly.

When you transition from personal to business questions, the best questions are the one that gets your prospect to think differently about an issue than they did before.

Doing the right thing

As Acuff points out, relationships aren’t built on your mind-set or the information you gather, they are built on your actions. Ultimately, you don’t build them on what you say, but on what you do and how you do it.

One way to show that you value a relationship is to give inexpensive, unexpected and thoughtful gifts based on information they have shared with you. Let’s say that somebody told you that they really enjoy a particular author’s work. And let’s say that you happen to be at a conference where that author is presenting. You might suck it up and stand in line to get an autographed copy of the book to send to them.

But as Acuff points out, gifts like golf balls, pens or coffee mugs with your logo on them don’t count. Neither do things like dinner or taking somebody out golfing. Those things don’t show any special thought or care for the person you trying to get closer to – those are expected on thoughtless gifts.

Other things you can do to show you care about them is remembering important dates like their birthday or wedding anniversary, important family names, or special interests the person might have.

Being alert for when something relating to those things pops up, and acting on it in a timely manner, will go a long way in building the relationship.

Another thing that most people value highly in a business relationship context is access to people they view as important. So if you know somebody that the other person respects and looks up to, find a way to connect them to that person.

You can also remain alert to major events in their lives. Things like a marriage, promotion, or a negative event like a serious illness or business downturn stand out here. When it comes to the negative major events, most people turn away. If you are genuinely trying to build a real relationship with these people, being there for them in good times and bad are opportunities to bring you even closer.

Pyramid Hopping

Building relationships takes time and work. But sometimes there’s a path to accelerate the process, and it’s called pyramid hopping.

This is when you actively pursue contacts by leveraging the relationships you have with people on your Relationship Pyramid.

The higher you are on someone’s Pyramid, the stronger the endorsement you are likely to get when her or she introduces you to the person you are trying to connect with.

As Acuff says, it’s the difference between “I don’t know him very well, but I’ve been in some meetings with him and it seems like you two might have something in common” and “You need to meet Jerry because he can help you.”

Just like everything else to do with relationships, it works better if you have a strategy. The heart of the strategy involves three steps.

First, you need to uncover who has you at the top of their pyramid. You should have a pretty good sense of this already. But to be clear, it doesn’t include every one of your 500+ LinkedIn connections.

Second, you need to uncover who is at the top of those people’s pyramids. Those are the people you’ll most likely get a strong introduction to. This typically requires asking them specifically who they know in a particular field that you want an introduction to.

Third, when you ask for the introduction, you need to be as specific as possible about what you are asking for. The more specific you make your request, the more likely it is that you’ll get the introduction you are looking for.

Conclusion

As we continue to dive deeper into technology and tools designed to help us create connections with people, it’s easy to forget that we still need to build real relationships with people based on principles that work.

Building and maintaining meaningful relationships has always been, and always will be, critical to your success in business or your career.

So, as we wrap up today, think about one specific action you can take to climb your way to the top of the relationship pyramid with just one of your contacts. Do that, and then keep doing that every single day for the rest of your life.

Eventually, you’ll get to exactly where you want to go.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Leadership Gap’ by Lolly Daskal

Lolly Daskal has seen it all in her years as an executive coach. She’s spent countless hours in boardrooms, executive suites and corporate jets. She’s helped leaders navigate both success and failure.

Through her work she has identified the one thing that separates the best from the rest – great leaders have the ability to rethink who they are. Many leaders get stuck because they rely on what has worked for them in the past, even when it is no longer working. Great leaders, on the other hand, are open to learning and growing to better serve the people they lead.

In her book The Leadership Gap, she introduces us to a system of seven archetypes that will help view yourself objectively so that you can identify the gaps you face as you work towards greatness.

You’ll see parts of yourself in each of these archetypes. We shift between them depending on the situation.

But you’ll also recognise yourself in what Lolly describes as leadership gaps. These gaps sometimes lead us to the “shadow side” of our leadership archetypes, ultimately holding us back from becoming successful.

Once you are able to see yourself objectively, you can start to create a path forward. That’s exactly what we’ll explore as we introduce you to each of the seven archetypes.

The Rebel

The Rebel is somebody who sees something that isn’t right in the world, and then does everything in his power to correct it. In a business context, you’ll notice them overcoming huge roadblocks to save project, or in extreme cases, a company.

When we think of rebels, we think of people like Rosa Parks and Elon Musk. They seem to ask themselves, “how can I push the envelope?” in every situation.

The rebel’s strength is self-confidence, backed up by competence. As Lolly points out, confidence alone is not sufficient. You need both in order to become great as a rebel leader.

The rebel’s leadership gap is self-doubt – in most cases, the irrational kind. Almost every high achiever faces some degree of self-doubt. After all, they are trying to do what other people would not, or could not, do.

When self-doubt creeps in, it leads to the leadership gap archetype called The Imposter. It’s the never-ending sense that somehow you will be “found out.” It’s the need for perfection, when you know that perfection is impossible. It’s comparing yourself to others, when you know that there’s always somebody better, faster and stronger.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to overcome this gap and find your inner rebel when you need it most.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect.
  3. Make a list of your accomplishments to remind yourself that you are indeed capable of great things.
  4. Create an inner circle for support.
  5. Assess your skills and work on strengthening the skills that cause you to doubt yourself.
  6. Constantly remind yourself of the cause you are working towards. Self-doubt has a habit of disappearing in the face of a worthy cause.

The Explorer

The Explorer is somebody who knows when to rely on their analytical mind, but also when to rely on their intuition. In particular, they use their intuition to test the boundaries of what is known, and how things are currently done.

When we think of explorers, we think of people like Jeff Bezos, Sarah Blakely and Neil deGrasse Tyson. They seem to be always asking themselves, “what can I discover?”

The explorer’s strength is intuition. Intuition is knowledge based on experience, stored deeply in your brain, and available quickly on demand. Most people commonly refer to this as listening to their gut, but as Lolly explains, it’s a little more complicated than that.

The explorer’s leadership gap is manipulation. When people trust your intuition as a leader to guide them, it’s a slippery slope to use it to get whatever you want. Sometimes this leads to using intuition to manipulate others to gain their control.

When this happens, we end up with leadership gap archetype called The Exploiter. They will set themselves up as the expert in a situation even when they are not. They will withhold information from others, and they will often make threats to get what they want.

When you find yourself slipping from the Explorer to the Exploiter, there are a number of things you can remind yourself of to get you back on track:

  1. Look for opportunities to praise instead of prey. Don’t take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.
  2. Don’t make others give up something in order to serve your own self-interest.
  3. Mean what you say and say what you mean. The Exploiter will often say things other people want to hear, but aren’t quite true.
  4. Leverage your qualities as an Explorer – the power of self-assurance, the ability of persuasion, the capacity for decisiveness, and the quintessence of preparedness.

The Truth Teller

The Truth Teller is somebody who believes he owes it to the people in his life to be honest, open and sincere at all times. He will the tell truth when it serves others, even when he runs the risk of offending people.

When we think of truth tellers, we think of people like Ronald Reagan, Indra Nooyi, and Winston Churchill. They seem to be always asking themselves, “where should I speak up?”

The truth teller’s strength is candor, which one of the hardest things we can do. A research study at the University of Massachusetts showed that 60 percent of adults can’t complete a ten-minute conversation without lying at least once. So, somebody who can speak the truth in all areas of their life is a rare bird indeed.

The truth teller’s leadership gap is suspicion. Truth tellers can easily succumb to the suspicion that those around them aren’t telling the truth. Then, little by little, it becomes easier to justify not telling the complete truth yourself.

Ultimately this path leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Deceiver. Deceivers are remarkably charming (it’s easier to be charming when you’re not restricted to the truth), they are emotionally manipulative, and wonderful at distraction. They are also notorious blamers and never take accountability for their actions.

If you find yourself identifying as a deceiver, here are some ways to get yourself back on track:

  1. Learn to be flexible. Deceivers tend to see the world in black and white.
  2. Communicate everything – the path to the deceiver often starts with withholding information, not outright lies.
  3. Look for solutions, not blame. When you create a culture where solutions are rewarded and mistakes aren’t punished, the truth can be told by everybody – including you.
  4. Model your own high standards – don’t tolerate liars and cheats.

The Hero

The Hero is somebody who takes action while others sit on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to step up. They act in spite of overwhelming odds and opposition. They are willing to put their careers (and sometimes lives) on the line for a shot at greatness.

When we think of heroes, we think of people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, Malala Yousafzai, and J.K. Rowling. People like this seem to always be asking themselves, “where is courage needed?”

The hero’s strength is courage. Science doesn’t yet understand why people take on heroic tasks, but we do know that it’s an activity that has distinct characteristics. It is performed in service of others in need, voluntarily, with the recognition of the risks, and without expectation of external gain.

The hero’s leadership gap shouldn’t surprise us – it’s fear. A hero in one situation can be paralysed by fear in another. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “fear defeats more people than anything in the world.”

Fear can lead to the leadership gap archetype of The Bystander. Why? It’s easier to watch things unfold rather than take action. What you don’t realise is that when you are a bystander to an injustice, you make it easier to rationalise being a bystander as well. It’s contagious, and it’s destructive.

If you find yourself tempted to be a bystander in a situation that calls for action, you can close the gap by doing the following:

  1. Create a bias for decisive action. As Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear and do it anyways.
  2. Stand tall, literally. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities have shown that practicing the “power pose” for a few minutes increases testosterone and lowers cortisol, making it more likely you’ll take action.
  3. Remind yourself that you are in control. You ultimately decide whether or not you take action

The Inventor

The Inventor is a visionary, constantly inventing new products, or improving existing ones. An inventor typically refuses to settle for anything else than excellence. They are experimenters, knowing that small bets pay off in big wins. They are also willing to fail in order to pursue those wins.

When we think of inventors, we think about people like Walt Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Blake Mycoskie. They seem to be always asking the question “how can we make this better?”

The inventor’s strength is integrity. As Lolly says, in order to have integrity you need to know who you are, you need to know what you stand for, and you have to know what your code of conduct is. When an inventor has integrity, there is no stopping him.

The inventor’s leadership gap is corruption. Every single day you’ll face opportunities to let your integrity slide. The seven deadly sins – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony are good places to start.

Once your integrity starts to slip, you are on your way to becoming the leadership gap archetype The Destroyer. Instead of making the world better with their ideas, product and companies, they serve their own purposes and make things worse.

Here’s what to do to close the gap if you find yourself tempted to let your integrity slip:

  1. 1. Look for the good, not the bad. A destroyer tends to focus on the negative in any situation, which makes it harder to stick to your code of conduct.
  2. Set high personal standards, and avoid the temptation to cut corners, even when others aren’t looking.
  3. Get to know yourself. Integrity is created and maintained through constant self-examination.
  4. Honour your commitments.
  5. Take responsibility when you fall short on your commitments.

The Navigator

Navigators know where to go, and they know how to bring people with them. They have a way of making the complicated simple, and the simple understandable. Even more importantly, they know how to navigate themselves.

When we think of navigators, we think of people like Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. They seem to be always asking “how can we get to where we need to go?”

The navigator’s strength is trust. They trust in their own ability to lead, and they also know how to build trust in those around them. Trust allows people to open up without the fear of being hurt. To take the appropriate risks without the fear of reprimand.

The navigator’s leadership gap is arrogance. When you have a high level of trust in your ability to navigate an organisation towards success, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. “I’ll just tell people what to do and they’ll do it” is something you might find a person like that saying.

This path ends up with the leadership archetype of The Fixer. As Lolly says, a fixer is a navigator that nobody trusts. The fixer feels the need to help save people from themselves instead of leading them. They micromanage.

Here’s what you can do to close the gap if you find yourself slipping into the fixer role:

  1. Learn to fix the fixer – start with fixing yourself.
  2. Be mindful of boundaries – don’t let yourself get swallowed up in other people’s challenges. Give them the opportunity to fend for themselves.
  3. Pay attention to communication, commitment, competence and character.
  4. Demonstrate trust by honouring, admiring, and appreciating those around you.

The Knight

The Knight is a loyal protector and defender with unwavering beliefs. Knights will stand beside you and serve you before they serve themselves.

When we think of knights we think of people like Mother Teresa, Herb Kelleher and Jill Abramson. They always seem to be asking themselves “how can I serve you?”

The knight’s strength is loyalty. Loyalty expert James Kane tells us that there are three specific things that determine whether or not we feel a sense of loyalty to another person, brand or organisation: (1) a sense of trust, (2) a sense of belonging, and (3) a sense of purpose. A knight taps into all three.

The knight’s leadership gap is self-serving. As human beings, we have a bias to serve ourselves first. One of the manifestations of that is to rationalise that what’s good for you is also good for others.

This often leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Mercenary. They have a lack of dedication to the cause, inadequate loyalty, and usually a shortage of competence.

Here are some ways you can get back on the path of the knight:

  1. Realise that thinking about serving others first is what ultimately leads to the highest levels of success.
  2. Pay attention to how people respond to you.
  3. Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
  4. Get to know the people around you – it’s easier to serve people you connect with.
  5. Be honest with yourself. You can’t expect loyalty from others if you don’t model it yourself.

Conclusion

Being a leader is tough, and you will almost always find yourself in times of darkness. But as Desmond Tutu once said, “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

In those situations, you now have the tools to choose the light over the darkness by choosing the leadership archetype that the situation demands.

The rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight are all inside you.

Make your choice, and make it a good one.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Instant Influence’ by Michael Pantalon

Would the ability to influence your customers, your work colleagues, your partner or even your children be valuable to you? Michael Pantalon wrote the book Instant Influence to do just that. He gives us a scientifically supported method that gets people to take action because they want to. In fact, it’s even possible to use the Instant Influence methodology on yourself. Spend the next few minutes with me exploring how you can be a master of influence.

Can you motivate anyone in 7 minutes?

Have you ever found yourself wondering why the people in your life won’t change, despite the numerous logical reasons you’ve pointed out to them? As it turns out, that type of persuasion rarely – if ever – works. As Pantalon tells us, people change because of their own reasons. That’s the secret sauce of Instant Influence –it helps people discover their own justification for doing something, even something they thought they didn’t want to do.When someone genuinely doesn’t want to change, change won’t happen. But even the most reluctant of us has a tiny spark of desire to change hidden within. Helping us find that spark can literally transform our lives.

How?

People take action when they hear themselves say that they want to. Get someone to tell you why and action to change is almost sure to follow. Pantalon uses this notion at the heart of his Instant Influence method and he extends it with the following four assumptions:

1. We are free to choose how we behave. 2. Other people can threaten that freedom by attempting to impose control. 3. We tend to react very negatively when our freedom is threatened, making us more resistant to the control being applied. 4. Our freedom can be restored by asserting self-determination and taking control ourselves.

The key point is how we frame our attempt to influence. We need to take the frame of our focus not our own. Our influencing conversation must contain statements such as:

“This is your choice, not mine.”

“It’s completely your decision.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want”

“I can’t make this choice for you – it’s up to you.”

All of these give power back to the influencee, brightens the spark and gives ignition to change.

Pantanlon’s Instant Influence method consists of six progressive steps leading to change. In challenging situations we may need to move through each stage. In other cases – having created the spark – the influencee takes control and accelerates the process themselves.

But let’s move step by step.

Step #1: Why might you change?

The first challenge we must meet is how to put the influencee in a position where they are able to visualise themselves in the desired situation. In most cases you will have identified what you want to change and what the desired outcome should look like. It’s not news to your family member who doesn’t have a healthy diet that continuing down that path might lead to health problems.

So you need to phrase questions in such a way as to challenge the influencee to see themselves in that scene. Instead of focussing on the negative behaviour, Pantalon suggests we look for desirable behaviour close to where we want to get to.

He suggests asking questions such as:

Why are you doing …..? (Where the focus is close to the target) for example, “Why did you choose salad today” for someone who wished to lose weight. Follow up with “Why would you do more?”

Pantanlon suggests we could focus on the past and ask: “Why have you ever[done the thing we’re talking about]?”

There are some questions we need to avoid especially as we have identified, those which sound like orders:

Why don’t you…? Why haven’t you…? Why wouldn’t you…?

Pantalon then suggests we use a technique psychologists and counselors call reflection. Reflection is the process of repeating back, or echoing, what the other person has just said, as if you are holding up a mirror to his words. We need to reflect back even the tiniest spark of motivation to help the other person see more clearly what it is he already wants. Having kindled the spark we need to give it more oxygen.

Step #2: How ready are you to change?

The next step starts with the deceivingly simple question: on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”, how ready are you to make that change? The goal of Step 2 is to help you and the other person gauge their motivation.

Pantalon suggests we don’t attach too much importance to the numbers. A low number doesn’t mean that they’re not likely to take action, nor does a high number mean that they are likely to take action. What’s important isn’t the number but the process of thinking about why they might want to do something.

We then move quickly to…

Step #3: Why didn’t you pick a lower number?

This is where the technique gets interesting. Why would someone who they think is trying to encourage them to do more ask why we didn’t do less? If somebody picks a low number, this will usually stop them in their tracks. Then they’ll start thinking of the reasons why they didn’t choose a “1” instead of a “3”.

This is where the person starts to uncover some real reasons why they are ready to change. The critical part is that the reasons for change are coming out of their mouth and not yours. They are no longer being told what to do and will now feel like they are ready to make a change because they want to. This is incredibly powerful stuff.

Step #4: Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?

Here’s where we start to crystalise the benefits of change. We can suggest that the change has already happened and encourage the person to visualise the change in detail. Ask them what would be different in their life. What would they be able to do now that they’ve changed that they couldn’t do before?

If you feel like things are going really well, you can even ask them to give a deadline of when you think the change would be complete. Pantanlon’s research has shown that people are far more likely to change if they think of the upside of changing, rather than the downside of not changing.

Step #5: Why are those outcomes important to you

In step 5 we are getting close to visible change itself. But before then we need to once more take the frame of the influencee. Pantalon asks us to ask them to dig deep for reasons to make the change. The familiar Five Whys technique is of value here. Ask, “Why are those outcomes important to you?” and for each answer ask why.

By the time you’ve got to the fifth why, you’ve most likely reached a true personal reason, close to the heart of the influence. Don’t be surprised if they become emotional at this stage. It’s sometimes quite a journey. Invariably, the answers move almost magically from the practical and impersonal to the heartfelt and deeply personal.

Again, the technique of reflection is valuable. The influencee needs to hear back how you understand how they’re hopeful, what they want, why they want it and how they truly believe things could be better.

Step #6: What’s the next step, if any?

The final step no longer looks at the whys, but turns to the hows. “What’s the next step, if any?” Adding those two little words – if any – is another way to reinforce the other person’s autonomy: it’s still up to her to decide whether there will be a next step.Now you are ready for one final action.

Ask their permission to meet again after an appropriate time has elapsed to review progress and to re-commit to the change. As stated, it’s likely that all six steps may not be necessary. Taking a structured approach to encourage change can often be the trigger for the influencee to take control themselves.

Influencing yourself

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about influencing others, but you can also use the Instant Influence technique to influence yourself. Here is Pantalon’s self-influence process:

Identify a change you’d like to make or an action you’d like to take. Formulate it in terms of behaviour, not results.

Write down the first Instant Influence question (Why might I change?), and then write down your answer. Move on to the next step, writing down your answers until you reach Step 5.

When you get to Step 5, write “Why?” then answer. Repeat four more times so that you’ve asked and answered the “five whys.”

When you reach Step 6, choose a small, manageable step, and pick a time that you will check back in with yourself to review your progress and choose a next step.

Advice for applying the method

Start small. Keep looking for smaller and smaller beginning steps until you find one that feels safe or that you can at least visualise doing.

Allow for the possibility that any problem might have many different solutions.

Focus on action, not decisions. We often focus too much on the how when we really should be looking at the why. But sometimes the how is the problem, and acquiring skills may be all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.

Don’t judge or self-censor. Just be open to the process.

Prepare to be surprised. You will almost certainly learn something new about your own reasons for wanting something.

Trust the process. You may find yourself taking action almost without realising it, so don’t feel you need to force yourself.

Have you consulted an expert? Experts may be able to identify whether the problem is one of skill or will.

Motivation is like a seed that sprouts and begins to grow while still underground. We may know it’s there, but we don’t always trust that one day it will break through to the light.

Affirm the influencee’s right to say no. Affirm their ownership of the decision.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Make It Stick’ by Marc McDaniel

The first line in the preface of Make It Stick says it all:

“People generally are going about learning in the wrong ways.”

There is plenty of research done by cognitive psychologists to show that most of what we’ve learned about learning turns out to be wasted effort at best, and harmful at worst.

In this summary we are going to cover (a) what learning is, (b) what doesn’t work in learning, and (c) multiple strategies for making your learning more effective.

Your journey to making your learning “stick” begins now.

What Is Learning?

The definition the authors give for learning is this:

Acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.

Then they go on to explain their three immutable aspects of learning:

  1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is still there later when we need it.
  2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives. Just like we can’t advance through middle school without some mastery of language arts, maths, science, and social studies, we can’t advance in work without mastering job skills and how to deal with difficult colleagues. Then, in retirement (if you ever end up retiring) you pick up new interests you need to master. You have an advantage in life if you continuously learn.
  3. Finally, learning is an acquired skill, and the most effective strategies are often counterintuitive.

Learning Is An Acquired Skill

Learning is most definitely an acquired skill, and in order to develop it, you need to believe that you can do it. Carol Dweck calls this the Growth Mindset in her fantastic book Mindset, which you should most definitely read.

Every time you learn something new, you actually change your brain. This is called neuroplacticity, which is a scientific term that describes the lasting change to the brain throughout your life.

So while it’s true that some of your intelligence is determined by your genes, it’s also true that you can learn to become a more effective learner.

How well you learn, which will become an increasingly important skill in the next ten years, is completely within your control.

Understanding this, along with understanding how to deal with failure (where the most important learning occurs), will determine the trajectory of your life.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to what doesn’t work in learning.

What Doesn’t Work

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

– a quote often misattributed to Mark Twain

Before we move into what works about learning, we have to unlearn a lot of the things we thought we knew about learning.

The strategies that most people use in order to get through school with passing grades are often the least effective strategies if your goal is to actually learn the material.

The first ineffective strategy is rereading. The strategy most people employ when studying for their tests are to reread the notes they took in class along with the books that they read during a course.

The authors point out that rereading has three strikes against it:

  1. It’s time consuming;
  2. It doesn’t result in durable memory (you’ll forget what you reread shortly after rereading it)
  3. It often involves a kind of self-deception, where you feel a growing familiarity with the content, which you mistake for mastery of the subject.

For those reasons, you should stop using rereading as one of your strategies.

The second ineffective strategy is called massed practice, which is the single-minded, rapid-fire repetition of something you are trying to burn into memory. The most common application of this strategy can be found in students cramming for an exam the night before.

As the authors point out, these strategies will make you feel like you are mastering these subjects, but you are not. For true mastery of a subject, those two strategies are a waste of time.

In addition to those two ineffective strategies, there’s a commonly quoted theory that people have a learning style that they learn best through.

For instance, some people are auditory learners and some other people are visual learners, and so on. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing there is no empirical research that backs up that claim.

However, there is research that suggests you’ll learn better when you engage as many of your senses as possible when you are learning.

Now that we’ve got what doesn’t work out of the way, let’s move on to what does.

What Works #1: Retrieval

Practicing retrieving new learning from memory is the primary study strategy to replace rereading.

As you are learning something, instead of just highlighting things you want to remember, pause periodically and ask yourself questions like:

  • what are the key ideas?
  • what terms or ideas are new to me?
  • how do the ideas relate to what I already know?

This works much better for a few reasons.

First, it eliminates the reliance on the sense of mastery you’ll feel because the subject matter is familiar.

Second, you find out what you actually know. If you don’t actually understand how the knowledge might connect with other knowledge you have, you haven’t really wrestled with it and fully understand it. And now you’ll be armed with where you don’t quite understand the subject, and can go back and deepen your understanding.

Third, it forces you to understand the central precepts of what you are learning rather than on the peripheral items.

As the authors point out, your brain is not a muscle that gets stronger, but the neural pathways in the brain do get stronger when you retrieve from your memories – which is what you do when you quiz yourself.

When you start doing this for the first time it will feel awkward and frustrating. It’s also likely that it won’t feel as productive as rereading your notes.

What Works #2: Space Out

Your learning is much stronger when the retrieval practice is spaced out. So, in addition to testing yourself shortly after you learn something, you’ll continue to test yourself on the knowledge over time.

In order to put this into practice, you’ll need to overcome your natural inclination to focus on one subject and work on it until you’ve “mastered” it.

Your intuition will tell you that you are making progress, which will reinforce your belief that your strategy is working.

However, you’ll fail to see that almost all of these gains are coming from your short-term memory, which will quickly fade over time.

Instead, by spacing your retrieval practice, you’ll be able to retrieve the knowledge more readily, in more varied settings, and apply it to a wider variety of problems.

You know, in a way that is actually useful to you as you try strive to accomplish your goals in our business and life.

Again, this way of learning is going to feel more awkward and difficult than cramming. But when you are reconstructing what you learn from your long-term memory, you are strengthening your mastery of the topic.

What Works #3: Interleaving

Interleaving is the practice of two or more subjects or skills during a single session.

Here’s the example the authors give in the book. Suppose you are trying to teach new employees a complicated new process that involves ten procedures.

The typical way of doing this is to master procedure 1, repeating it until you seem to have it down, and then move on to procedure 2, and so on.

Interleaving practice would suggest that you practice procedure 1 a few times, then switch to procedure 4, then to 3, then back to 1, and so on.

Doing it this way will feel slower than ploughing through the procedures one by one, and you’ll notice a difference, but the goal isn’t for you to have the topic in your short-term memory, it’s to master it and implant it into your long-term memory.

The research shows unequivocally that for mastery and long-term retention, interleaving practice is the way to go.

There’s another benefit that both variation and interleaving bring to the table that aren’t immediately obvious. It allows you to extract the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, further allowing you to be more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations.

Which has to be the point of learning, right?

What Works #4: Elaboration

Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know.

There are many ways you can do this, but the most powerful way would be to explain it to somebody else in your own words, while connecting it to other material you already know.

As an example, reading these books and summarising them is my way of implementing this practice into my learning journey.

Another powerful form of elaboration is to find a metaphor or visual cue for the new information. For instance, when teaching the structure of an atom, many science teachers will use the metaphor of the solar system, with the planets orbiting the sun, just as electrons spin around the nucleus.

This technique is extra powerful because there’s no known limit to what you can learn if you make elaboration a cornerstone in your learning strategy.

What Works #5: Generation

Generation is an attempt to answer a question or solve a problem before being shown the answer or the solution.

After growing up in a school system that only rewards having the right answer in the right way, this technique might strike fear in your heart.

This is what happens in experiential learning – you set out to accomplish a task, you run into a problem, you look for information that will help you solve the problem, and then use that information to solve it.

This has the added benefit of helping you uncover the difference between what you thought the answer would be, and what it actually was. I’ve found that this helps create humility, because the answer is almost never what you expect it to be.

What Works #6: Reflection

Reflection is the act of taking a few minutes to review what has been learned in a recent class or experience, and then asking yourself some questions:

  • what went well?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what might you need to learn for better mastery?
  • what strategies might I use the next time I encounter this problem?

What Works #7: Calibration

Calibration is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don’t know with objective feedback so you can avoid being carried away with illusions of mastery.

For instance, airline pilots have gauges and dials in the cockpit that let them know critical things like whether or not they are on the right course to reach their destination, and whether or not the airplane is level.

Without objective feedback on what you know and what you don’t know, there’s no way to figure out where you need to improve.

What Works #8: Mnemonic Devices

Finally, mnemonic devices are tools which allow you to organise large bodies of information in a way that makes it easier to recall.

For instance, the book Made To Stick (a classic marketing book by Chip and Dan Heath) uses the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S. to help us remember what makes marketing messages stick: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional stories.

While you won’t likely be forced to recall information in the real world like you do on a test, and very little of what you do in your work will require you to make split second decisions (and thus prevent you from referring to notes you might have made on a subject), the more information you can store and recall in your brain, the more creative and innovative you can be in your solutions.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘When Millennials Take Over’ by Maddie Grant & Jamie Notter

About every 20 years, a new generation enters the workforce. And, often, people freak out. Today, it is the Millennial generation (born 1982 to 2004). Back in the 1990s, it was Generation X, with their disrespect for authority figures and cynicism. Before that, it was the Baby Boomers with their long hair, protests and self-focus.

This has been going on for generations and generations. Each new generation brings a shift in values, so every twenty years or so we have to adjust to the newest generation that takes over the workplace.

Millennials are revolutionising the way we view business. The social internet is powerful, but it was never going to revolutionise management on its own. And that’s where the Millennial steps in.

Over the next several years, Millennials will ascend into management positions. And with that will come change. This book is a guide for leaders who want to participate in the revolution, rather than be run over by it.

After some research, Grant & Notter discovered four organisational capacities that we think will prepare organisations to be successful:

Digital: Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organisational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world. Millennials are the first generation to have only worked in a digital workplace, and they are used to being able to leverage that power. Digital organisations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on the user, both internally and externally.

Clear: Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving within organisations. Clear in the Millennial era is about leveraging transparency in systems to allow better decision making. Clear organisations make smarter decisions that produce better results.

Fluid: Fluid is about increasing and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way. Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting and learning at all levels of the organisation. Fluid organisations serve customers more effectively and are more agile in strategy and execution.

Fast: Fast is about taking action at the exact moment that action is needed. Fast organisations jump ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.

We’re optimistic about this revolution and about the future of business. And optimism, not coincidentally, happens to be a key trait of Millennials.

Generations

To get a better understanding of the future of business, we’re going to take a look at the past. The hype and the oversimplifications that dominate the conversation about generations have prevented us from seeing the serious implications that generational differences have for business.

Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe are arguably the most credible authors when it comes to generations. They have discovered a pattern about the generation cycle. According to them, once every four generations (about 80 to 100 years), there has been a major war that marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The first major transition was during the Revolutionary War in the 1770s, then four generations later the American Civil War, and then the Great Depression and World War II.

If you skip ahead 80 years from the Depression and World War II, it is right now. If the pattern is correct, we’re due for a significant transition from one era to the next.

In the last decade there has been a lot of evidence that suggests our machine approach to management may not be around for much longer. Not coincidentally, machines are not very good at engagement or agility. The Internet will certainly play a role in the shift, especially with how we run our organisations.

Millennials are not the first generation to be frustrated with bureaucracy and hierarchy, but they are the first generation to have been given tools to get around them. Growing up in the context of great abundance, Millennials have a hard time in a workplace where they are expected to follow orders, wait for others to make decisions, and do things the way they’ve always been done. Millennials want to do something different.

Digital

Digital is the first of the four capacities because in many ways it is the most obvious characteristic of the Millennial generation. You don’t have to be an online retailer to embrace what it means to be digital, it’s more about the digital mindset. It’s about organising and working in ways that leverage and build off of what digital technology has made possible in today’s world.

A big part of that is personal service. The digital mindset enables a personalised focus on each customer, something that was impossible in the previous eras. Organisations that embrace this mindset will put the customer first when it comes to decision making and provide as much customised attention as possible.

Digital companies are also constantly improving. Innovation is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Companies that embrace the digital mindset can innovate business product offerings, business models and even internal management processes with a sharp focus on continuous improvement.

Being digital doesn’t mean you need the latest technology. That can be a part of it, but it mostly means putting the user first, serving the bulk of your customers, and continuously innovating and improving.

Truly digital companies integrate these principles into the framework of their organisation. They invest more in technology. They focus on internal culture. They enhance their digital collaboration.

To make your organisation digital, try to enable these principles. Create space for experiments. Let your employees try new things without fearing punishment. Guide your employees and give them better feedback. Hire for culture fit and personal growth. Revamp your HR department. Have them focus on using a hiring system that gets better candidates and reliable data around technical and collaborative skills.

Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make them easy. The digital mindset is about a relentless focus on the user (both external with customers and internal with employees), the ability to personalise their experiences, and continuous innovation – unlocking new value through learning and improvement.

Clear

There is an assumption in management that releasing too much information will lead to chaos, mistakes, misinterpretations, inefficiency and an overall lack of coordinated effort. This can be true. The solution is to control the information.

Sharing information doesn’t have to result in chaos. For example, let’s look at open-source software. By sharing the code and letting people change it, the software actually became more stable. Making it open allowed the right information to make its way into the right hands.

This is the core of clear: making more information available to more parts of the system to enable better and more strategic decision making, thus improving results. Clear organisations start with the assumption that information is and should be available. From there, they sharpen the focus to ensure that the correct information ends up in the correct place, relying on the power of an intelligent, decentralised system rather than central control.

Millennials are used to having all the information they could ever want at the tips of their fingertips. They have always had Google. In the workplace, they are frustrated by the lack of information flow. We’ve all felt it. It’s frustrating feeling like we have little power and are missing out on opportunities.

There is no one perfect way to make your organisation clear. Clear companies have a few things in common.

They work out loud. The internal work that gets done is never private; it is transparent and visible. When everything is visible, employees will make better decisions about how to get the work done, without requiring any actual layers of management.

They bring clients into their system. The clients are in on the transparency as well. They help make decisions and assist with project management. By creating a system where everything is more visible – to everyone – it becomes easier to come to decisions in a collaborative way, in which everyone’s relative expertise is accounted for in sharing the decision-making load.

To make your organisation clear, you must define your company culture. Here’s our definition of culture: the collection of words, actions, thoughts, and “stuff” that clarifies and reinforces what a company truly values. Most importantly, culture is the way people work together.

Share your data and be clear about who makes what decisions. Lack of clarity on these issues is often a huge inhibitor to good decisions. Give everyone access. Millennials know that, to do a good job, they should be able to find the information they need inside their organisations.

Fluid

Fluidity takes a look at the structure of a management system. Hierarchies have their purpose. They are efficient and coordinated, and they provide a key benefit that we cannot live without: they reduce the cognitive load. However, maintaining distributed authority doesn’t necessarily require the vertical nature of traditional management hierarchy.

One alternative to a hierarchical pyramid is a circle. In this system, people are organised based on the work they do and their domains of expertise. There are separate processes to deal with operational tensions (working in the business) and governance tensions (working on the business). This does not make everyone equal. It makes it more fluid.

It is not the lack of hierarchy or uniformity of decision-making authority that makes an organisation fluid. It is the ability to shift and morph those things to accomplish more. A fluid hierarchy learns how to shift decision-making authority and action to the individuals and groups who are best equipped to be successful given the context.

You can shift the power to those who have best access to the information or those who are closest to the customer, rather than always relying on the senior managers who may not have context-specific perspective.

The essence of a fluid hierarchy is a refined understanding of how a group of people can most effectively get done what needs to be done. “Managers” are valuable, of course, but they may not always be the best person to make every decision. Look at all of your team members as equally valuable.

A few things characterise a fluid organisation. They create power flux. They balance their expertise. Some employees have an expertise with customers, some with numbers, and some with finance. Give different employees different authority based on their expertise. Fluid organisations communicate well and thoughtfully – which is key to making a fluid hierarchy work.

To be fluid, your organisation must find its true mission. It must think beyond the profit margin. And it must be proactive. You need to look deeply at your organisation and your business model to understand what drives success and clearly identify how being more fluid does or does not connect to that.

Fluid hierarchies are more dynamic and flexible, which puts the responsibility back on the people to do a better job. The ability to confront and work through conflict, without any drama, is crucial to making a fluid hierarchy work. When decision-making is more fluid, your employees will be forced to figure things out on their own, and that will require smooth handling of conflict when it emerges.

Another key aspect to a fluid hierarchy is authenticity. Authenticity is when your external behaviour and the way you engage with others is very closely aligned with your deeper identity, purpose or even destiny. Authenticity is important because when your employees are confident that their coworkers are consistent, it will become easier to speak the truth, challenge each other and tackle the tough issues.

Fast

Fast is about speed. New technology is being developed constantly, and it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve. In the last century, we’ve dramatically increased productivity and efficiency, but there’s always room for improvement.

The most important type of speed is the kind of speed that enables you to leap ahead when the context demands it. This is evident in the speed of social media growth. It took 13 years for television to reach 50 million people. Contrarily, by year 13, Facebook already had 1.2 billion active users.

Millennials are used to fast. And when they show up in the workplace, they expect this kind of speed. Millennials let go easily, while the rest of us hold on, and because of this, they’re always looking to the future. In order to leap to the next level, you need to let go of control. Giving up control is hard to do, but it’s worth it to make things go faster.

There are a few things you can do to make your organisation fast. To begin, try to build real internal and external relationships. With genuine relationships, you will gain trust. And with trust, it’s easier to give up control and gain speed.

The previous three attributes will help with speed as well. If you invest in technology and build a digital mindset, that will generate speed. If you get information where it needs to go, that will enable speed. If you give power to those on the ground, your organisation will become faster.

Get Out There

Digital, Clear, Fluid and Fast are powerful by themselves. But they will be much more successful when they are connected to a strong community. The transition needs human community to work, so integrate a community focus in addition to the four capacitates we discussed.

Furthermore, a strong and powerful culture will attract both the best customers and the best employees. And it will help you join the revolution.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video http://coachforprofit.com/andy/access/ and book some time https://www.timetrade.com/book/6KC81 or email me at andy@vanguardbusinesscoaching.com to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘To Sell is Human’ by Dan Pink

Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers only.

If you don’t recognise that line, it’s from one of the greatest movie scenes of all time – Alec Baldwin giving the branch office of a real estate sales firm a dressing down in Glengarry Glen Ross.

He goes on to tell them that ABC stands for Always Be Closing, and that third prize in the sales contest is “you’re fired.” Classic.

It used to be that sales were all about the closer. About getting the customer to sign on the dotted line and move on to next prospect, deal secured, back patted. What matter was figuring out what a person needed and “solving” their problem by convincing them that you had what THE thing that would make the issue go away.

That held true when information was controlled by a select few, when you had to rely on a salesperson to educate you about the virtues of a certain product and trust that they knew what they were talking about – and perhaps more importantly, that they were selling it to you at a fair price.

As technology made information more accessible and allowed people to research, browse and buy goods and services online, the role of the salesperson shifted to that of the problem finder. People may able to solve their own problems these days, but that only holds true if they are addressing the right problem.

In his book, To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink talks about the way selling now requires curating the massive amounts of information out there to find the most relevant and clarifying pieces. It’s part of a shift in the sales world from a culture of “Always Be Closing,” to Pink’s redefined ABCs, “Attunement, buoyancy and clarity.”

He sees selling as moving others and today we are going to explore how you can do the same.

A = Attunement

There are three keys to reaching attunement, which in its simplest form means bringing yourself into harmony with individuals, groups and contexts. It’s about looking at things from others’ perspective and making your actions and outlooks gel with those of others.

First, Pink says you must increase your power by reducing it. He argues that if you go into an interaction feeling like the person with the lower power, you are more likely to try to see things from the perspective of the person you are dealing with. That will actually help you get inside their heads and move them more easily.

Those who feel powerful tend to anchor too much on their own perspective, and often fail to adjust to others’ vantage point. They end up with a worse read of the situation in front of them.

Second, Pink says you must use your head as much as your heart. He talks about looking at a sales situation from the other person’s point of view as a cognitive exercise he calls perspective-taking. That’s different from empathy, which is an emotional response based on feeling. But he argues that both are crucially important.

He points to one study that simulated the sale of a gas station where the highest bidder was still paying less than the sellers wanted. But both parties had mutual interests that could help seal the deal. One group was asked to consider what the other side was feeling, while another was told to imagine what they were thinking. The last group was a control group, and had only generic instructions.

The emphasisers struck more deals than the control group, but the perspective-takers did even better: 76 per cent came up with deals that made everybody happy. They were able to draw what they needed from the situation and the needs of all involved to come to clear solution that left everyone feeling satisfied.

It’s just as important to read the way people in groups connect and interact with each other as it is to see a scenario form one person’s perspective. Pink calls this mental map of how people interact “social cartography,” and he says it’s a helpful tool to make sure you don’t miss out on a key player in the group – or waste your time pitching to the wrong person.

The third and last principle of attunement is a physical one: mimicking. You’ve probably heard a million times that you should subtly copy the other person’s mannerisms while at a job interview, but Pink takes it a step farther, as a means to connect with people and create a sense of trust.

It’s a skill you should use carefully – if people sense they are being mimicked they’ll just turn against you. But strategic mimicking of speech patterns, affective responses or overt behaviours can deepen attachment and help your ability to move others.

It creates a sense that you are in synch with other people and makes you feel like you are both on the same page.

Pink says that taken together, all these techniques will help become a better salesperson, all while developing stronger relationships with customers you’ll have a better understanding of.

B = Buoyancy

Buoyancy, or the way to stay afloat in an ocean of rejection, is one of the essential qualities to moving others.

He sees three components to buoyancy, which apply before during and after any effort to move others.**** The first is self-interrogative self-talk before you attempt the sale. Dozens of books have pushed the idea of the pep talk, arguing that if you pump yourself up before a big event you’ll get a confidence boost that will allow you to succeed. Anyone will tell you that such positive self-talk is better than the negative kind, and they are not wrong. But an even better option is interrogative self-talk, because asking yourself whether you can or can’t do something forces you to justify the ways in which you can.

That provides you with a deeper confidence because it makes you draw on examples of times when you did succeed in a similar situation and calls to mind the skills you know you possess and can use to tackle a challenge or problem. It may also bring to mind the intrinsic reasons why you are pursuing a goal, which will automatically make you more interested in achieving it than if you were just doing it solely because of external pressures.

The second component is positivity. Think of experiences in which you were planning to buy a product and the sales people were either kind or impatient, created positive or negative emotions. Were you not more likely to want to purchase something from the person you liked and who was kind to you rather than from the one who made you feel bullied?

Pink cites an experiment that divided participants into three groups. They were told they were planning a wedding. They had an agreement with a catering company that was going to charge them $14,000 for the food, but suddenly the vendor came back to them saying the price had gone up. In one scenario the vendor was friendly, in another antagonistic, in the third neutral. The study found that those who heard the positive-style pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as those who heard the negative one, even though the terms were the same.

Positivity requires you to believe in what you are selling, but it comes with a little twist. Too much positivity is not actually a good thing. It can make you delusional and keep you from the learning and analysis that comes with negative feelings. Some negativity is essential to keep you centred and allow you to get feedback on your performance.

The last component comes after the fact, and it’s what Pink calls the explanatory style. It’s the story you tell yourself to make sense of the way things worked out. How you think about your day and how you explain the worst parts of it can go a long way to determining whether you stay afloat.

If you give up too easily, think all failures are your fault and feel helpless toward what you think is a permanent circumstance, you will have a lesser chance of success than if you see rejections as temporary, specific and external. The right mix of those two world views can make you a realistic optimist – one that sees good things, but with eyes wide open.

If you put these ideas into practice, rejection may still sting, but you’ll probably find it a little easier to rise above it.

C = Clarity

Pink argues that the capacity to help others see their situation in different, more revealing ways and to identity problems they didn’t realise they had – or clarity – is one of the most important skills the “new” salesman must have.

And one of the most useful tools salespeople (or anyone) has to provide clarity is called framing.

Pink tells the tale of Rosser Reeves, an American advertising executive who made a famous bet with a colleague. The two men saw a homeless man begging for change with a handwritten sign that read: “I am blind.” He wasn’t doing very well, and looked discouraged. Reeves told his friend he’d be able to dramatically increase the amount of money the man collected by adding four words to his sign. The bet was on, and after speaking to the man, Reeves altered the sign. He sat back and watched strangers stop to talk to the man and fill his cup.

The words he had added were “It is springtime and,” so that the sign now read: “It is springtime and I am blind.” What moved people to help the man was the contrast those four words created. That contrast provided clarity to people who were now able to compare their reality with that of the man, and feel empathy.

It is why one of the most important questions to ask when seeking or trying to provide clarity is “Compared to what?” Pink describes five frames you can use to provide clarity to those you are hoping to move.

The first is the “less frame,” which says that framing people’s options in ways that restrict their choices can help them see those choices more clearly. Everybody likes options, but too much of a good thing may just become frustrating enough to make people walk away.

Next is the “experience frame,” which reminds us that people have stronger and longer-lasting emotions around experiences than material possessions. If you want to sell someone a car, you should emphasise the trips they will take, things they’ll see, friends they’ll visit and not the vehicle’s features. Customers are more likely to be sold on the idea if they can picture themselves living that life.

The “label” frame helps people define something by answering the “compared to what question.” It can put actions or experiences into context and outline what is expected, which tends to make people fall into line.

The “blemished” frame shows that if you bring up one negative aspect of a product after extolling many of its virtues, people are more likely to pick the “blemished” product than one that is purely positive. This seems to work best for people who are busy or distracted, and deemed to be putting in little effort into a decision.

Last there’s the “potential frame,” which suggests people are more interested in and intrigued by what someone might do than what they have already done. It’s the reason why good prospects are sometimes more exciting to a team than an established player, or why an up-and-coming designer catches everyone’s attention if she or he is deemed as “the next big thing.”

Pink offers one last tool on the way to clarity, and that’s an off ramp. He says you shouldn’t just point people in the right direction without giving them a roadmap to get there.

If you want people to move, or to buy what you are selling, you have to provide clarity on how to act as well as how to think. If you do that, Pink says, you will have little trouble convincing people to agree with you.

Conclusion

So there you have it – a primer on how to use the new ABCs of selling to get to where you want to go.

Good luck, and happy selling.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video http://coachforprofit.com/andy/access/ and book some time https://www.timetrade.com/book/6KC81 or email me at andy@vanguardbusinesscoaching.com to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Succeed’ by Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson

James Cash Penney was born on September 16, 1875, on a farm in Caldwell County, near Hamilton, Missouri.

Sometime after that and before he died in 1971, he said this:

“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”

James was speaking from experience. He started out his career as a clerk at a store called The Golden Rule – which he eventually bought out and grew into the department store chain J.C. Penney.

What J.C. didn’t point out is that there is a right way and a wrong way to set goals, and knowing the difference can, well, make all the difference.

I’m sure like me you’ve probably set many goals, in business and in personal life and, unfortunately not quite achieved them. Well, in her book, “Succeed: How We Can Reach our Goals”, Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson tells us anyone can be more successful in reaching their goals. Based on the findings of several years of research into goal setting she clears the mist and shows us paths we can take to finally reach these goals.

It all starts with Self Control.

Halvorson asks us to think back to the achievements in our own life—the ones we are most proud of. In all cases she claims – quite rightly – that we will have worked hard, persisted despite difficulty, and stayed focused, when it would have been much easier to just relax and not bother.

What we used was self-control – the ability to guide our actions in pursuit of our goal and to avoid temptation, distraction and other demands. Halvorson suggests self-control is much like a muscle. We need to work it, train it and not strain it.

Self-control is learned and developed and made stronger or weaker over time. If you want more self-control, you can get more. And you get more self-control the same way you get bigger muscles—you’ve got to give it regular workouts.

Why or What?

Do we really know what our goals are and are they set properly? Halverson suggests not. She suggests we are often not specific enough – and in the absence of a specific goal and in the wrong context we are doomed to fail.

Halvorson suggests when actions are difficult to accomplish, we will find it is easier and much more helpful to think in simple, concrete ”WHAT” terms rather than lofty, more abstract “WHY” ones. What we want to achieve rather than why we want to achieve it. We should forget about the bigger picture and focus on the task at hand.

However, when we think “WHY” rather than “WHAT” we are less vulnerable to temptation and more likely to take better control. So, since both the “big picture” WHY and “nitty-gritty” WHAT modes of thinking have their advantages and disadvantages, Halvorson suggests the best strategy is to shift our thinking style to match the goal we want to achieve.

She suggests for long term high level goals we should think “WHY” and for short term objectives we need to be more concrete and think “WHAT”. WHY thinking leads us to pay more attention to what Halvorson and her fellow psychologists call desirability information. In other words, how fun, pleasant, or rewarding will it be?

More concrete, WHAT thinking leads us to place more weight on feasibility information—whether or not we can actually do whatever needs to be done. How likely are we to succeed? Halvorson declares people who think achieving their goal will be hard plan more, put in more effort, and take more action in pursuit of their goals.

On the other hand she suggests people who think that reaching their goal will be easy aren’t prepared for what lies ahead of them, and can be devastated when their dreams don’t actually come true.

Consequently, she suggests the optimal strategy to use when setting a goal seems to be to think positively about how things will feel when you achieve your goal, while thinking realistically about what it will take to get there.

When we are thinking about taking on a new goal, we must also think about the obstacles that stand in our way.

The Wonderful Thing about Triggers

Halvorson asks: What aspects of our environment can trigger the unconscious pursuit of a goal?

In short she tells us that just about anything can unconsciously affect our commitment to a goal: works, images, sounds, anything related to the goal can act as a trigger. Maybe now those “motivational” posters you see everywhere seem a little less silly, right?

Halvorson discloses that studies have shown that the mere presence of something that can help you achieve your goal can trigger it. Walking past the gym can trigger the goal of wanting to work out in it. So how can we influence our unconscious?

Halvorson gives us the following tips:

Align the cues you create to your own lens

Know what is influencing you.

Know what you believe about your abilities.

Set up the right environment.

Good or Better?

Halvorson and her psychologist colleagues refer to the desire to show that we are smart or talented or capable as having a performance goal. When we pursue performance goals, our energy is directed at achieving a particular outcome—like getting an A on a test or reaching a sales target. We choose these goals because we think reaching them will give us a sense of validation and then we judge ourselves according to whether or not we are successful.

On the other hand, the desire to get better and enhance our skills is a mastery goal. When people pursue mastery goals, they don’t judge themselves as much by whether they achieve a particular outcome. Instead, they judge themselves in terms of the progress they are making. These goals are about self-improvement rather than self-validation about becoming the best you can be rather than proving you are.

So which is best?

Halvorson says when we are focused on getting better, rather than on being good, we benefit in two very important ways.

First, when things get tough we don’t get so discouraged.

Second, when we start to have doubts about how well we are doing, we are more likely to stay motivated because we can still learn. So if we choose get-better goals, we have greater success because we enjoy the process of getting better.

If we focus on growth instead of validation, we are less likely to get depressed because we won’t see setbacks and failures as reflecting our own self-worth and we are less likely to stay depressed, because feeling bad makes us want to work harder and keep striving.

Promotion or Prevention?

Halvorson tells us of another complementary pair of goal definitions.

When we pursue a promotion goal we are trying to gain something. When it’s about gain, we are going to be motivated both by high value and a high likelihood of success. In fact, the more valuable the goal, the more we care about our chances of success.

But when we are pursuing a prevention goal, we are trying to avoid a loss. It’s about being safe and avoiding danger. A high-value prevention goal is one where safety really matters and where failure is particularly dangerous. So the more valuable the goal, the more we see reaching it as a necessity.

Halvorson states to be optimistic is valuable, particularly in pursuit of achievements – promotion goals. Realism, on the other hand, is invaluable in pursuit of security or avoiding disastrous losses – prevention goals.

Making goals our own.

The greatest motivation and most personal satisfaction we achieve are from those goals that we choose for ourselves. Research has shown that when people feel they have choices, and that they are an integral part of creating their own destiny, they are more motivated and successful.

Providing a feeling of choice and acknowledging people’s inner experience shifts their sense of control back to them and makes them feel like they are in charge of their own actions. From her research, Halvorson states that it isn’t so much actual freedom of choice that matters but the feeling of choice. Choice provides a sense of self-determination, even when choice is inconsequential or imagined.

If a goal is internalised, we get increased motivation, better performance, enjoyment and an increased desire to work. We also avoid the hassle of having to provide controls or incentives to bring about the behaviour we are after.

Bringing it all together.

Here are a few strategies the author suggests we follow when we have established the lens of our goal.

Halvorson advises us when achieving our goal means doing something easy, straightforward, or familiar, we are probably better off focusing on a good, performance goal.

But what if they are not so easy?

Halvorson says we can benefit from changing our thinking from why to what. Literal what-do-I-need-to-do-to-reach-this-goal thinking is enormously helpful when we are pursuing challenging goals.

What about the distraction of doing something else? Overcoming temptation is hard. It usually requires a lot of self-control. Halvorson advises this is another situation where it pays to think of our goals in terms of why rather than what. Giving our goal a prevention focus is also an excellent way to beef up our resistance.

What if we need to get something done quickly?

Halvorson’s answer is a simple one although the task may not be—give our goal a promotion focus.

Which kinds of goals work best when we want to be inspired?

Halvorson suggests giving our goal a promotion focus can heighten our creative powers. So, too, can goals that are of our own making—goals that fulfil our basic need for autonomy. In general, goals that are autonomously chosen are much more interesting and enjoyable to pursue than those that are chosen for us.

What if we want to have fun along the way?

Halvorson tells us to try focusing on getting better, rather than on being good.

Be Prepared Redux

Ok, so now we know how to identify and set our goals appropriately, but beware, it’s still not smooth sailing. There are still barriers to overcome.

Halvorson suggests there are plenty of different mistakes we can make, but the one most frequently responsible for our troubles is that we miss opportunities to act in a timely manner. We are regularly given, whether we notice or not, opportunities to act on our goals, but in most cases when one arises, we chose to do something else.

Halvorson makes it clear that there is no strategy more effective for fighting off these goal blocking situations than making an If-Then plan.

Simply put when you find yourself in a situation (IF) then you carry out a goal attaining action (THEN).

For example: If I’m watching TV then I’ll sit up straight to help my posture. If it’s Monday morning, I’ll go to the gym before work to get fitter. If I’ve had a large lunch, I’ll have salad for dinner.

So it’s back to self-control.

Halvorson suggests we use the acronym H.A.L.T. to remind ourselves of circumstances where our self-control may drop: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. In each of these situations self-control is threatened so what do we do?

Halvorson tells us to resist. If we reach for the comfort food or activity it’s hard to get back on the wagon. Stopping before we start is an excellent strategy to keep our need for self-control to a minimum.

Secondly, she tells us to focus on how well we’ve been doing and to consider just how much an effect on that progress, falling off the wagon would be.

Thirdly, she says, whatever we do, don’t try to pursue two goals at once that both require a lot of self-control. In these situations it’s hard to decide which to do and consequently we are likely not to do either.

Finally, here’s her one last strategy for overcoming a total loss of willpower: we should reward ourselves for being good. After all, a reward celebrates success and success is a goal we are after, isn’t it?

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video http://coachforprofit.com/andy/access/ and book some time https://www.timetrade.com/book/6KC81 or email me at andy@vanguardbusinesscoaching.com to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely

Have you ever wondered why people make the decisions they do? Given the data rich world we live in, you would expect that we would make rational decisions. Not so.

In his book “Predictably Irrational” Dan Ariely provides us with a number of examples of why we just don’t act as we should.

Humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly. Take Ariely’s example of TV’s in an electronics warehouse. Three sets are available for sale. One is priced high, one is priced low and one is priced somewhere in the middle.

Example 1: The Middle Makes Money

Now setting aside brand loyalty (and Plasma versus LCD), one TV is pretty much the same as another. So how do we decide which to choose? Who really knows if the Panasonic at €690 is a better deal than the Philips at €1,480? But given three choices, most people will take the middle choice. So guess which television the store prices as the middle option? That’s right, the one they want to sell!

We not only tend to compare things with one another, but also tend to focus on comparing things that are easily comparable and avoid comparing things that cannot be compared easily. In essence, introducing set C, the cheaper version and decoy, creates a simple relative comparison with set B (the one the store wants you to buy), and hence makes set B look better, not just relative to set C, but overall as well.

As a consequence, the inclusion of C, even if no one ever selects it, makes people more likely to make B their final choice. The same twisted logic applies for the expensive option, but in reverse. After all why pay more for something that you can get at a lower price! This is the problem of relativity we look at our decisions in a relative way and compare them locally to the available alternative.

Example 2: Anchoring – First Impressions Last

We’ve all seen the cartoon. The egg hatches and the chick identifies the first live thing it sees as its mother. Ariely wanted to explore if the human brain is wired like that of a gosling. Do our first impressions and decisions become imprinted? And if so, how does this imprinting play out in our lives? When we encounter a new product, for instance, do we accept the first price that comes before our eyes? And more importantly, does that price (which in academic lingo is called an anchor) have a long-term effect on our willingness to pay for the product from then on?

What Ariely set out to prove (described in detail in the book) was the existence of arbitrary coherence. The basic idea of arbitrary coherence is this: although initial prices are “arbitrary” once those prices are established in our minds they will shape not only present prices, but also future prices (this makes them “coherent”).

In other words once consumers are willing to pay a certain price for one product, their willingness to pay for other items in the same product category is judged relative to that first price (the anchor). So take care when setting out charges for your products or services.

While initial prices are largely “arbitrary”, once those prices are established in our minds, they shape not only what we are willing to pay for an item, but also how much we are willing to pay for related products. Price tags by themselves are not necessarily anchors, but they become anchors when we contemplate buying a product or service at that particular price.

Example 3: Self Herding: In with the In Crowd.

You’re walking past a restaurant, and you see two people standing in line, waiting to get in. “This must be a good restaurant” you think to yourself. “People are standing in line”. So you stand behind these people. Another person walks by. He sees three people standing in line and thinks, “this must be a fantastic restaurant” and joins the line. Others join.

Ariely describes this type of behaviour as herding. It happens when we assume that something is good (or bad) on the basis of other people’s previous behaviour, and our own actions follow suit.

When Howard Shultz created Starbucks, he latched on to this concept. He worked diligently to separate Starbucks from other coffee shops, not through price, but through ambience.

Accordingly, he designed Starbucks from the very beginning to feel like a continental coffee house. Starbucks did everything in its power to make the experience feel different, so different that we would not use the prices at Dunkin’ Donuts as an anchor, but instead would be open to the new anchor that Starbucks was preparing for us. The third place.

Ariely takes this further and introduces the concept of self-herding. This happens when we believe something is good (or bad) on the basis of our own previous behaviour. You’ve already made the same decision many times in the past, so you’ve “brainwashed” yourself that this is the way you want to spend your money.

You’ve herded yourself, lining up behind your initial experience and now you’re part of the crowd. Where else can we see this effect? Clearly with Apple. From the “must have” appeal of the latest gadget, owned by the in crowd, to personally replacing that gadget with the latest upgrade, self-herding has been key to their success.

Example 4: Zero don’t mean nothing.

It’s no secret that getting something free feels very good. Ariely suggests ZERO is not just another price. He claims ZERO is an emotional hot button and a source of irrational excitement. Would you buy something if it were discounted from 50 cents to 20 cents? Maybe. Would you buy it if it were discounted from 50 cents to 2 cents? Maybe. Would you grab it if it were discounted from 50 cents to ZERO? You bet!

Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE we forget the downside, FREE gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is. Why? Ariely suggests it’s because humans are intrinsically afraid of loss. The real allure of FREE is tied to this fear.

There’s no visible possibility of loss when we choose a FREE item (it’s free). But suppose we choose the item that’s not free. Uh-oh, now there’s a risk of having made a poor decision, the possibility of a loss.

Zero is not just another discount. Zero is a different place. The difference between two cents and one cent is small. But the difference between one cent and zero is huge! If you are in business, and understand that, you can do some marvellous things. Want to draw a crowd? Make something FREE! Want to sell more products? Make part of the purchase FREE!

Example 5: Ownership creates a false perspective.

Ownership pervades our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do. Much of our life story can be told by describing the ebb and flow of our particular possessions, what we get and what we give up. Ariely asks: Since so much of our lives is dedicated to ownership, wouldn’t it be nice to make the best decisions about this?

Wouldn’t it be nice, for instance, to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, and an Armani suit, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? In his research he identifies three “quirks” of ownership.

The first quirk is that we fall in love with what we already have. Ariel postulates: Suppose you decide to sell your old VW bus. What do you start doing? Even before you’ve put a FOR SALE sign in the window, you begin to recall trips you took. You were much younger, of course; the kids hadn’t sprouted into teenagers. A warm glow of remembrance washes over you. This applies not only to VW buses, of course, but to everything else. And it can happen fast.

The second quirk he identifies is that we focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. When we price that beloved VW, we think more about what we will lose (the use of the bus) than what we will gain (money to buy something else). As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.

Finally his third quirk is that we assume other people will see the transaction from the same perspective as we do. We somehow expect the buyer of our VW to share our feelings, emotions, and memories. Unfortunately, the buyer of the VW is more likely to notice the puff of smoke that is emitted as you shift from first into second. So where does this apply in business? We must look at the world through our customer’s lens. We must make sure we see it from their perspective and not to get upset if they call our baby ugly.

Example 6: Options are Costly.

In the context of today’s world, we work feverishly to keep all our options open. We buy the expandable computer system, just in case we need all those high-tech bells and whistles. We buy the insurance policies that are offered with the plasma high definition television, just in case the big screen goes blank.

Ariely speculates whilst we might not always be aware of it, in every case we give something up for options. We end up with a computer that has more functions than we need, or a stereo with an unnecessarily expensive warranty.

We are continually reminded that we can do anything and be anything we want to be. The problem is in living up to this dream. We must develop ourselves in every way possible; must taste every aspect of life; must make sure that of the 1,000 things to see before dying, we have not stopped at number 999. But then comes a problem are we spreading ourselves too thin?

Doors of opportunity open regularly and running from door to door is a strange human activity. But even stranger is our compulsion to chase after doors of little worth opportunities that are nearly dead, or that hold little interest for us. What we need is to consciously start closing some of our doors. Small doors, of course, are rather easy to close.

But the bigger doors (or those that seem bigger) are harder to close. Doors that just might lead to a new career or to a better job might be hard to close. Doors that are tied to our dreams are also hard to close. So are relationships with certain people, even if they seem to be going nowhere.

Choosing between two things that are similarly attractive is one of the most difficult decisions we can make. This is a situation not just of keeping options open for too long, but of being indecisive to the point of paying for our indecision in the end.

Ariely believes what we fail to do when focusing on the similarities and minor differences between two things is to take into account the consequences of not deciding. More important we fail to take into consideration the relatively minor differences that would have come with either one of the decisions. So what’s the relevance to business?

If we offer every bell and every whistle to our client we are presenting them with options to evaluate. Options that will detract from the decision to purchase. Information overload. Let’s make it easy to make a decision. Take 37 Signals for example. A highly successful technology company but one that offers stripped down solutions. Solutions that meet the key needs and key needs alone. Is your service or product a gilded lily?

These are only a few examples of our irrational decision making. The book has so many more that I suggest you make a rational decision and go out and buy a copy. If you do, you’ll find many more ways that understanding our predictably irrational behaviour can help your business grow

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video http://coachforprofit.com/andy/access/ and book some time https://www.timetrade.com/book/6KC81 or email me at andy@vanguardbusinesscoaching.com to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.


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